Pizza Box Baseball
List Price: $29.99
Your Price: $23.95
(Worth 2,395 Funagain Points!)
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Fast-paced, card-based baseball action in a Pizza Box!
The pitcher takes the mound. The hitter steps up to the plate. The battle begins. Both players try to work each at-bat to their advantage.
The pitcher must figure out the best way to approach the hitter. Try to get ahead using balls or strikes? The batter must figure out whether to be aggressive or patient at plate. Attack and swing? Or stay away from pitches outside strike the zone? Its a game-long showdown in this fast paced game of baseball. Play ball!
When I was in South Korea during the 2002 World Cup, I found myself enjoying soccer (football - whatever!) more than usual. But I must tell you, nothing - and I mean NOTHING - comes close to sitting in a ballpark, yelling at the ump, cheering for a strikeout, and hearing that distinctive "crack" as a bat connects with a ball. In short, baseball is the sport that comes closest to being a board game for me. And as much as I loved Pizza Box Football, I was tremendously eager to see my favorite spectator sport turned into a simple, enjoyable game. Pizza Box Baseball (On the Line Game Company, 2008 - Erik and Scott Smith) is exactly what I'm looking for; a simple game that manages to feel like an actual baseball game.
Board games about baseball have been around for quite a while, with most of them featuring statistical analysis of a game. And while I'm certainly a fan of baseball statistics, there are times I want a game that plays quickly and that has the feel of baseball game. The excitement of two men on, two outs, bottom of the ninth - it can't be rivaled, and I want it in a box. Pizza Box Baseball delivered on this; and while the choices are fairly simplistic - a cynical person might accuse the game of playing itself - I felt that it delivered the baseball experience.
In the basic game, players take turns for nine innings, playing the pitcher and the batters. The pitcher draws five pitcher strategy cards for their initial hand - cards that either show "ball" or "strike". The batter takes two cards, the "Take", and the "Swing" cards. The pitcher and batter each select a card and reveal them simultaneously. Depending on the combo of the cards revealed, the top card of one of three decks (hitter advantage, no advantage, and pitcher advantage) is flipped over, and the results noted (single, fly out, strikeout, double play, etc.) The pitcher's card is discarded, and the next play occurs. The inning continues until the hitter incurs three outs. If the pitcher runs out of cards, they may draw three more and use them. After that, they simply draw the top card of the pitching deck randomly. All other baseball rules apply to the game.
In the level two game, the hitter is given extra cards, giving them the additional abilities of attempting to steal bases or bunting. When stealing, the player shuffles a Base running deck that contains seven "safe" cards and three "out" cards. They then draw one card, and that determines the result of the base-stealing. However, if the pitcher suspects the batter is attempting a steal, they may announce "Pitchout" when playing a Ball card, causing the hitter to draw three cards from the Base running deck - all of which must be safe for the steal to succeed. The steal card also acts as a "take" card when determining what happens to the batter. Bunts are handled in a similar manner, although they almost always result in the batter being out - hopefully advancing any runners on base.
In the level three game, it is important to keep track of which batter in the lineup is batting, as they often have different results when the cards are flipped over. For example, one card might have batters 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, and 9 get a single, while batter 8 grounds out.
In the level four game, players can use different pitchers, which give them different-sized pitching hands, depending on the inning played. Players can bring in relief pitchers - even allowing pitchers to bat (which is dismal - just like real life).
No matter the level of the game, the player with the most runs after nine innings wins the game, or the first player to break the tie in extra innings wins.
Some additional comments on the game...
I love reading Baseball Digest, and how they will make lists of players who hit the most triples in their thirties, but the fact that Pizza Box Baseball glosses over superfluous statistics is still okay. I want a game that I can quickly play, and yet gives me a good feeling of a hard fought baseball game. Pizza Box Baseball does this quite well, with high quality components, and a light, easy game play. The levels of game play allow adjustments for those who want more or less complexity, and the whole experience has me yearning for more sports to be given the "Pizza Box" treatment, although none will ever beat the ultimate sport - baseball.
"Real men play board games"