Are your games taking too long to complete in 9 innings?  And if you are keeping score along the way, how much longer is that taking you?  If the answer to either of those questions is longer than 15 minutes, then this article is for you.faster game play

The prior post covers a very fast way to play Baseball Classics using your mobile device such as the iPad.  However this article will cover playing without any electrical type of device, just the game parts, paper, and pencil or pen.  Ready?  Let’s roll!

Now there are some games that are meant to take a good hour or more to play a nine-inning game.  Some go pitch-by-pitch, or require moving the fielders to where the ball is hit in the field of play.  Naturally, those are not for the gamer who is looking to shortcut their playing time.  However there are plenty of baseball games on the market, like our own Baseball Classics that are designed to finish in less than 30 minutes.

Let’s get right to it.  Here are 4 ways you can use immediately to pick up the pace of your tabletop baseball board game play.

Reduce Dice Rolls

Dice rolls typically take around 4-5 seconds each roll.  With at least 52 batters coming up during a nine-inning game, that’s at least 4 minutes spent just rolling dice.  For some nine-inning games it’s likely closer to 5 ½ minutes of dice rolling.  That leaves less than 10 minutes to complete your game in 15 minutes or less.

By using a duplicate pair of dice and rolling them with your initial pair, you can reduce your dice rolling down by at least half.  Here’s how this technique works.  There are some plays where you can’t know what the next roll is without spoiling that upcoming result.  Such as a batter reached base on a walk, then a subsequent roll will determine if the player can steal a base.  Then there are plays where knowing what the subsequent roll is will be inconsequential to the current play.  This is where rolling the second pair of dice at the same time will reduce the number of time you need to shake and roll the dice.

It’s best to use a second set of dice that are different in size and/or color than your initial dice.  You can roll all of the dice at the same time in one hand, before spilling them on to your playing surface.  Or you can put together a make shift divider in a see through container of some type and roll your dice that way.  Either way, this technique will cut your dice rolls in half saving you around 2 ½ minutes on average game played.

Hold’em, Don’t Fold’em

This tip will come in very handy if you’re only keeping track of the score of the game, but not keeping score.  Keeping track of the score, outs, and runners on base is very simple when using a game board.  For example, with Baseball Classics Scorefield game board, there are 7 transparent chip markers that simply slide over the numbers for which inning, what the score is, outs, and where the base runners are.  Yet, where it still can get a bit tricky to remember which players are on base?  You can try and memorize that, though that is not very effective.  Especially with force outs, etc., before you know it you’re spending more time back tracking trying to remember or figure out who is on which base by process of elimination or some other ineffective method.

Instead, try this.

When you play any baseball board games that have individual playing cards you simply slip the player card that reached base at the bottom of the current lineup deck and slide that card up a good inch or so to indicate that player is on base.  As any player card(s) either score or are no longer on the base path for any other reason such as getting thrown out attempting to steal, etc., then slide there card back down level with the rest of the cards in your lineup.

Keeping Score Faster

It’s important to use position numbers for this scoring, 1=pitcher, 2=catcher, 3=first base, 4=second base, 5=third base, 6=shortstop, 7=left field, 8= centerfield, 9=right field.

Using one standard sheet of 8 ½” x 11” paper, you can score 4 games.  Fold the paper in half; then fold that in half.  That will give you one quarter of the sheet to write down the lineup for the visiting team, and the flip side for the home team.

Now for the format to use for keeping score, this is key.  Write down each player’s last name in the batting order from top to bottom with a comma after each name.  After each play result, you will write down next to their name followed by another comma.  When a player drives in a run, place an asterisk next to the hit or play for each one.  When a player scores, place a shaded in triangle or diamond next to the hit or play he scored from.  At the end of an inning, indicate so with a slash mark (/) instead of comma.  Pinch hitters or runners will be inserted on the same line of the player they are replacing with a line (|) indicating their insertion.

Hits are simply 1B, 2B, 3B, and HR.  Here’s what a single would look like that drove in 2 runs and scored: 1B**u.

You have a couple of styles you can use for indicating the play results; indicate the out such as PO for popout or if you’re playing a game with a result that indicates who fielded the play you could instead use first initial of the type of out and number of the position who recorded the out, for example a popout to shortstop would be P6.

Use K or SO for strikeout and W or BB for a walk.  Errors would be E or to show who made the error E and the position number; for example an error by the shortstop would be E6.

Squeeze a stolen base or passed ball in with a lower case sb or pb respectively next to the way they reached base.  For example 1Bsb.  If that player stole 2 bases, it would look like this 1Bsb-2.

A sacrifice bunt would be S or sacrifice flyout would be SF.

When a runner on base is thrown out or picked off, put  a line through the way they got on base.  For example a batter who reached via a walk and was then picked off score it this way: W

Here’s what it looks like using one of my favorite classic MLB teams, the 1962 San Francisco Giants as an example:

Kuenn, K,1B,W,1B,S,

Alou, 1B,FO,GO/2B*K,

Mays, DP/1B,FO,HR**,LO/

McCovey, W,K/GO,FO/

Cepeda, FO,LO,2B,K,

Haller, PO,GO,W,W,

Hiller, 2B*,GO/LO/DP/

Pagan, LO/FO,K,1Bsb,

Marichal, K,PO,GO,|Bailey W,

Marichal 8 | 7 | 2 | 7 | 2 | 2  W (the pitcher’s line reads IP, H, W, K, R, ER, and W/L/S

Miller      1 | 2 | 0 | 1 | 0 | 0  S

What I really like about this besides the simplicity, small real state, and speed in keeping score is that it’s easy and quick to see how many innings have been played, how many runs have been scored, and the best part is with one glance getting a nice visual of what part of the order is producing for you.  Since it’s a tight formation, it’s almost like a graph measuring your lineup results.

Note – Since you made the lineup, it’s likely not necessary to write down their positions as you already know who is playing where.  However you can always add that too just before their name.

Bench and Bullpen Ready

This one is fairly obvious; yet not everyone does this so worth including as the 4th way to speed up your game play.  A little prep ahead of time in organizing your player cards before the game starts will save time.

Here’s how I have my player cards sorted so I’m ready for my rapid game play including any changes I need to make throughout the game.

I split my team into 2 decks.  My lineup player cards are in batting order in one deck.  In my second deck, which I rubber band, I have my current pitcher on top, followed by the other top rotation starters; they are followed by my closer, then next best relievers in order.  After that I have my pinch hitters, fielders, runners in priority order that I would likely insert them into the game if at all.  This way any batting and pitching substitutions should take a few seconds or so each.

When playing Baseball Classics and using these tips you should be able to easily play 3 games, though surely 4 within an hour unless you’re using the Fielding Grid.  The Fielding Grid is for those that want to know where the ball was hit in the field of play, so naturally they will require extra time for each play.  It’s up to you if the trade off for saving time of the type of out vs. the type of out by which fielder is your favorite way to play.

Here’s a general time table when playing Baseball Classics:

Basic – less than 10 minutes

Intermediate – less than 15 minutes

Advanced without Fielding Grid – less than 20 minutes

Advanced with Fielding Grid – less than 30 minutes

Whichever tabletop baseball board game you play, these tips will speed up your game play without sacrificing your enjoyment.  What tips do you use to play your games faster?  Let me know how incorporating these work for you.