For a game that started from humble beginnings, the Strat-O-Matic Baseball Game has had a very strong influence on the fans of America’s favorite pastime over the years. A sports-infused game of dice that has kept fans enthralled for decades, Strat-O-Matic’s baseball game is still the one that draws the most dedicated followers.
In 1961, Bucknell University math student Hal Richman developed the initial concept for the game and began to sell a forerunner of the current version from his basement. He advertised his new tabletop baseball game in Sports Illustrated, but sales remained so low that Richman was still losing money two years later. Once he changed the game to include a well-researched and easy-to-read card for each individual player in the league, however, his company slowly began to turn a profit. Although he went on to release other sports-related games based on football, hockey and basketball, none of them caught on with gamers in the same way that his baseball version was able to.
The Strat-O-Matic baseball game can be played on your own or with a group of friends. It is well-known for being easy to pick up, but the game remains challenging enough to keep players engaged for hours. In this very interactive dice game, the player gets to decide on what MLB players will play, as well as have a part in making offensive and defensive calls that can have a big impact on the final outcome of the game. It’s up to you to create your lineup and to make strategy decisions throughout the course of the game. Players can decide between playing the Basic, Advanced or Super Advanced version of the game, with an increase in the amount of information and responsibility in decision- making at each level.
How to Play Strat-O-Matic Baseball
A Strat-O-Matic baseball game comes with all of the players of all thirty major league teams represented on cards, a playing field, markers for locating baserunners and keeping up with outs, score sheets, hitting cards for eight pitchers, a strategy chart and fielding charts for all three levels of play. There are also a set of four dice included: a six-sided die, a twenty-sided die and a pair of colored dice that are also six-sided. The different dice are used at different points during the game, in order to guide players in their calls. An additional two charts that are used for the Advanced and Super Advanced play are also included, one with ballpark effects and the other covering weather effects.
At the beginning of the game, each player is allowed to choose a team and, based on the information on their players’ cards, determine who will be their starting pitcher, as well as which players will play in all of the other positions on the field. A player must have the position that you want to use him for listed on his card, with the exception of the designated hitter, for which any player can serve. Each player’s stats are listed at the bottom of his Basic card, in order to help Strat-O-Matic users determine their initial lineup.
The pitcher goes in the box on the playing field that has an image of a pitcher in it. In the upper right hand corner of his Basic card, you will find a batting number. That number indicates which of the eight pitcher’s hitting cards you should select. Create a stack of the card of the batters that you are using in your starting lineup in order, with your first batter on the top of the pile, and keep the reserve players separate. With the outfield team’s pitcher visible and the infield team’s batter in full view, the batting team will roll the dice to begin the game.
The three six-sided dice are the ones that are used for a batter’s roll. The standard white die is read first. If it turns up a 1, 2 or a 3, the player should look at that column on their batter’s Basic card. If, however, it comes up as a 4, 5 or 6, the player will want to look at the pitcher’s card. Take the sum of the two colored dice and refer to that line in whichever column the white die steered you. This cross-reference will indicate what happened in that play based on the stats of your players and it will direct the next movements of the game.
For example, if a player’s white die landed on a 3 and their colored die landed on a 4 and a 1, the roll would be read as a 3-5, which would automatically direct the player to third column on the player’s batter card, and to the fifth line down. That would indicate a strikeout for say, Don Kelly, but it might represent a homerun for another player.
Secondary Rolls in Strat-O-Matic Baseball
The die with twenty sides is used in later rolls, for moves like fielding or baserunning. It can also be used in splits, which is another game feature that adds to the overall sense of truly engaged excitement in Strat-O-Matic’s baseball version. If the line for a player isn’t a simple call, like a walk or a foulout, it’s referred to as a “split.” A split might read something like HOMERUN 1-10, DOUBLE 11-20. This means that the twenty-sided die should be rolled. If it lands on any number from 1 through 10, the player hit a homerun. If any number from 11 through 20 turns up, however, it means that the player hit a double.
This game is both versatile and timely, with the cards updated every year to reflect a player’s latest standings. With its uniquely interactive format and the chance to make decisions that are normally reserved for the owners and managers of Major League Baseball teams, it’s easy to see why the Strat-O-Matic baseball game has been such a hit with baseball fans for the last fifty years.