One of the things I try to do is to get kids to play baseball games. I don’t mean the sport of baseball. I mean any kind of board, video, or table top game that will help them get a better view of baseball. There are lots of great baseball themed games out there. One of the classics is called Strat-O-Matic Baseball. In this post I am going to talk about the much smaller, more manageable Strat-O-Matic Baseball Express.
What is it?
Strat-O-Matic is a turn based strategy game that uses cards and dice. It allows two players to simulate a full 162 game season of baseball. The simulation is said to be so accurate you can replay classic seasons from the past and produce similar outcomes. Strat-O-Matic really brings the “stats” of baseball to life.
So what is Strat-O-Matic Baseball Express? SOM Baseball Extress is a smaller bite size version of Granddaddy Strat-O-Matic. You get two “All Star” teams instead of the full 30 team league.
What is a turn based strategy game?
Monopoly is a turn based strategy game. Players take turns, roll dice to determine outcomes, and collect cards and accumulate points (dollars) to determine a winner. Strat-O-Matic follows the same basic principles only with a baseball theme. You select your lineup from a pool of superstar player cards, then you take turns, rolling dice to determine the outcomes of each at bat. The structure of the game very closely resembles a baseball game.
What Makes It Fun?
This is perhaps the best simulation of baseball available in the sense that you are able to make the kinds of decisions you imagine managers make during a real game. You can steal bases, you can bunt, you can intentionally walk batters.
But what really makes it fun is the pitcher / batter battle. SOM’s game designers realize that in any at bat there is a winner and a loser. Someone wrestles for control of the outcome. So they roll one 6 sided dice to determine whose actions will determine the results of the at bat.
1–3: The batter controls the outcome
4–6: The pitcher controls the outcome
That does not mean the batter always gets a hit when he controls the outcome, or the pitcher always gets an out when he controls the outcome. That is why you then roll two more dice to figure out what happens. Nevertheless, Strat-O-Matic does an amazing job of using real baseball statistics to determine the likely outcomes depending upon the player. An ace like Justin Verlander is much more likely to get outs than your average pitcher. And if Albert Pujols wins control of the at bat, chances are he will get a hit. But not always.
In the end I find Strat-O-Matic Baseball Express fun because it feels like a baseball game. You can even use a real scorecard to track results. It’s just another way to immerse yourself in the game that is baseball.