As most know, HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL was designed to be played with ordinary baseball cards. While time/experience has proven that most of our sports game hobby crowd prefer game play with pre-rated cards, my sense/hope is that there's still a space in the non-hobby crowd for a game that uses baseball trading cards. So, in a sense, this closing event of the convention served as a "grand experiment." It went so well, we're going to take this idea to the Recruits convention in Kansas City, and try it out there with non-sports gamers.
Here are the "need to know" essentials leading up to the tournament, for those curious as to how it works...
Everyone got four packs of baseball trading cards and a set of HMB "Quick Rate" cards in their swag bag at registration. Each pack of cards contained six trading cards, providing a starting collection of 24 players from which to build a team. Everyone was strongly encouraged to begin building their team right away, and it served as a great ice-breaker activity.
For "trading card baseball," players are rated based on the most RECENT single season MAJOR league statistics listed on the back of their card. Usually, these statistics will be listed as the next-to-last line of numbers, with the bottom line typically presenting the player's career major league totals.
While the Trading Card version of HMB uses the same game materials as the "classic" version of the game, there are some key differences in game play...
This tournament featured "group play." That is, each person was assigned to a table with three other managers, and played each of the other managers once, for a total of three, six-inning games. To start group play, managers decided amongst themselves who-played-who. Then a decider die roll determined the home teams. For the second game of group play, we had the two "away" teams play at home, switching opponents. For the third game, we used the remaining un-played match-ups, and rolled a decider die to determine home team.
We required every manager to use a different starting pitcher each game. Relief pitchers who go more than two innings cannot pitch the next game.
This rules list wasn't intended to be entirely comprehensive, as we are breaking new ground here. We simply asked that gamers use common sense, courtesy, and a spirit of fair play, and treat the other player with the same respect they'd want given themselves.
Once play began, things went remarkably smoothly—even more smoothly than I had anticipated! We probably could have played nine-inning games, as things sped up noticeably after the first game. The consensus was that it was VERY fun! It was a very different experience than a classic tabletop baseball tournament, especially in the personnel aspect. Many of our cards represented players with whom we were not that familiar, and even the familiar players required an inspection of the numbers generated in season for which they had been carded. But as you played more, you began to become familiar with your players abilities and skills, and a bond began to develop! These guys became "our" guys. Pretty cool.
In keeping with more informal "fun" nature of the event, the competitive structure of the Trading Card Tournament was left open and flexible. As it turned out, though, we had an indisputable, clear-cut champion: Scot Long won all three of his games, the only trading card manager to do so. So we awarded Scot the encased, autographed baseball, signed by every attendee of the convention. Congratulations!
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