When it comes to tabletop baseball board games, one of the more passionate topics is whether a player’s card will provide accurate statistics.  Baseball and statistics go together like a steamed ballpark hotdog and mustard.  Many tabletop baseball board games strive to achieve accurate player results based on their on actual statistical performance.

All tabletop baseball board games possible player at bat results ultimately reflect x% of time those outcomes could occur.

Perhaps at the end of this article, you may even be inspired to build your own baseball game, let alone gain insight into why accuracy has been such a hot topic for tabletop baseball board game fans.

Generally speaking, player cards will list various outcomes such as a single, strikeout, fly out, etc., based on their actual season performance.  Player cards list any possible outcomes such as Strikeout, Single, Walk, etc. a player has based on formulas they created based on that player’s statistics.  Achieving player outcomes when playing a tabletop baseball board game as closely as possible to that player’s statistical performance is key.

For example, when Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs over the course of the 1927 season, the game needs to reflect that as closely as possible when replayed.

There are 2 fundamental areas to look at when it comes to accuracy of player card results in tabletop baseball board games:

  1. Will the game play method allow for accuracy?
  2. Is the player outcome design accurately going to reflect the player’s performance based on their statistics?

The topic of tabletop baseball board game accuracy has filled conversations, forums, and emails with plenty of debate time over the decades.  Let’s explore further.

Game Play Method

Let’s define game play method as what is used to determine where to look on a player’s card for the outcome of an at bat.  There are various methods used such as dice, cards that are shuffled, spinners, etc., or some a combination of them.  The method used varies from game to game depending upon their design of game play.

Dice are by far the most popular and I believe the very best.  Here’s why: each roll is random, they are accessible, simple to read, fast results, convenience, and there are a great number of possibilities offered to then refer to player cards.

Check out the dice roll probability table below, showing the odds of rolling using 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 dice.

Dice Roll Probability Table

When I think of 5 six-sided dice, I think of Yahtzee, not a tabletop baseball board game.  Since Yahtzee is designed on 5-card poker (adding “5 of a kind”, it’s a perfect fit for their game play method.  Notice the number of 7,776 possibilities in this column and how granular the lowest probability is at 0.013%.  Hence why rolling a “Yahtzee” is so hard to do.  Though think of the times you played and had 2 in the same game!  This leads to another point towards the end of this post.

I will use Baseball Classics to demonstrate game play method using dice.  Baseball Classics uses 3 six-sided dice and 1 binary die.  The binary die has a 0 or 1 on it, simply with 2 possible outcomes.  3 six-sided dice have 216 different total dice roll possibilities.  When combining the binary die with the 3 six-sided dice it now makes the possibility twice as hard to achieve.  Adding an extra die to be used with a group of six-sided dice is a common approach used by tabletop baseball games.

Here is how it works in Baseball Classics.  Rolling the 4 dice, when a 1 is rolled on the binary die you would refer to the batter’s card, if a 0 the pitcher’s card.  This 50% chance is then factored into the roll of the 3 six-sided dice possibility as such:

50% * ((combination of possible roll outcomes for a number)/216) = probability of roll on player card

What does this mean regarding our game play design?  It means we designed our game play to get within less than ¼ of 1 percentage point (0.02315%) of a player’s outcome within 1 dice roll.

Here’s the math:  50% * 0.463% = 0.2315%

And there are a number of games out there that provide a granular possibility of less than 1%.  Especially when you combine a dice roll and then some other factor like picking from a stack of cards to determine the outcome.  Baseball Classics can even get within 0.011575% of a player’s outcome in 2 rolls.  It’s not often necessary simply because that type of statistical outcome is rarely performed by a baseball player.

Let’s put this into perspective.  How many times do players produce anything statistically less than 1% in a season?

It happens, but not that often, and when it does it’s rarely less than ¼ of 1 percent.  After generating thousands of player cards over decades I can tell you that players doing something less than ¼ or 1/10 of a 1 percent is extremely rare.  And when it happens, baseball board games can achieve it with 1 or 2 dice rolls, card pulls, etc., or some combination there of.

However, what’s is important is the ability to achieve virtually any type of result outcomes from an at bat.  Thus having a game play method that supports a healthy number of granular possibilities close to or at 5%, 4%, 3%, 2%, 1% or less.  Here’s why:

  1. In the event an at bat outcome shouldoccur less than 1%
    • One case in point are triples, quite a few ballplayers hit a triple less than 1% of the time.
  2. A smaller number possibilities support more flexibility in the player card design
    • It’s necessary to have this flexibility to add smaller possibility increments together or with a larger possibility increment to attain as close as possible to the % of time that outcome could occur based on the game designers formulas.
  3. Add more drama, style to the game player result
    • If every player result had only 1 possibility to achieve an outcome such as groundout, many of these would look the same.  However by having more possibilities, these can be divided up in different ways so an outcome looks different, even when they are the same statistical possibility between two players.

Player Outcome Design

This gets into how the baseball game formulas have been designed to derive an outcome on a player’s card.  It’s how you want the card to look and feel as well as reach the results based on a player’s statistics.  Some like Baseball Classics choose to have a batter and pitcher card with the result ultimately referring to one or the other card, others went with a different direction.

With statistical possibilities, one can design a game to reach what I call the “nth” degree, such as 0.000000001%.  Naturally the benefit is being able to have such an incredible degree of accuracy to the nth degree based on the formulas designed, that the outcome could be achievable to the penny so to speak.  Naturally, the trade off is how many dice rolls, cards, spins, etc. would someone need to achieve that level?  That is another topic that I’ll cover in a subsequent post.

Now back to the Yahtzee reference above and rolling a couple of Yahtzee’s in the same game.  It shouldn’t occur that frequently, but of course it can.

Note the italics used throughout this article.   These emphasize ultimately, our games are developed relying on a random generation of the possibilities.  It’s the nature of the beast.  The odds are high that the game play method will likely honor the formula’s, hence the player outcome should be either right on target or close to the statistical performance after a replay.  This is proven out for many tabletop baseball board games, which is one key reason they have faithful followers that stick to their favorite game or games.

This specific area is the secret sauce for most baseball games.  Most don’t typically care to share their formulas and/or debate them.  We don’t share or debate ours for Baseball Classics either and like many others, prefer our customers speak for game play accuracy based on their player results.  Though this could be a lengthy section, I will leave this area for other’s to elaborate further should they choose.

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In summary, baseball beckons accuracy considering the how closely millions of baseball fans follow player and team stats.  Rest assured game designers have worked hard to ensure the game play methods and player outcome design is going to provide you with a highly accurate representation.  I’ve tried many games throughout the decades; most are superb in this area and have a variety of game play methods behind them.  You are likely very satisfied with the accuracy of your tabletop baseball board game of choice.  And if so, please share your experience and/or favorite method of game play and why.  Comment about Baseball Classics or any of the other fine, outstanding tabletop baseball board games on the market.