Hardball Wars baseball game, reviewed
by Ken Sell -- May 2008
Unlike other, more traditional baseball games, where most of the results are contained on
individual player cards, Hardball Wars uses charts. There is a Main Event Chart, in which
most of the results are generated, an Extra Base Hit chart, a Fielding chart that comes into play
for error possibilities, a Stealing chart, a Hit & Run chart and a Sacrifice chart. All of the charts
are laid out well, colorful, and easy to read. I purchased the e-mail download version and
printed up these charts front and back on card stock to save on paper.
To play the game, batters are given an overall hit rating from A-Z, an extra base hit rating,
a home run rating, an eye rating for walks and K's, fielding ratings in four categories from
good to poor, and a baserunning/steal rating. Pitchers essentially adjust the ratings of the batter
either negatively or positively based on their overall quality and what hand they throw.
For example, Johann Santana might adjust a batter's overall hit rating a -3 while Woody Williams
might add a +1. Pitchers are also rated for fielding and their propensity to get more SO's or
give up more walks. They also have hit ratings and baserunning ratings.
The game is played by rolling three D6. One die is entirely optional as it tells you to whom
the ball was hit. I replaced this one die with a D20 as I believe it gives me more varied results.
The other two D6 are read with one being in increments of 10 and the other in increments of one.
Thus, a roll of a 4 and a 6 would yield 46. You roll these two dice and consult the Main Event Chart
for a result. This result is based on the batter's rating adjusted by the pitcher's rating and
throwing hand. The final result can be a FO, GO, LO, PO, DP, 1B, 2B, K, W, an F (which is
a fielding check; you reroll the dice and consult the fielding chart to obtain a result), an X check
(unique to this game is an X deck that contains rare plays; if you roll an X on the Main Event Chart
you draw a card from this deck and it gives you the play result), and an EBH. This stands for
Extra Base Hit and can give you identical results as the Main Event Chart but HR's are also included.
Each player is given a home run rating and if you roll a HR on the EBH chart, it contains a number.
If the player's home run rating exceeds this number then a home run is given, but if not, it is only
a single. This gives an individual flavor to the power numbers.
In playing the game, the two most frequent charts you will consult are the Main Event Chart and
the Extra Base Hit Chart. Most at-bats are resolved with one roll of the dice but two rolls are
often required when you roll an EBH result on the Main Event Chart. Plus, an extra roll is required
if you roll a fielding check and stealing a base is a two-roll process. Most games will clock in at
about 30-45 minutes depending on the amount of scoring produced. Overall, it is a very easy game
to play and get into. The stats produced might not be as precise as other games, but they are not bad.
It is a good, easy to play game that can serve as an introduction for others into tabletop baseball
I hope this helps. There is more information about this game on the tabletop sports Delphi Forum
and Jeff Downey has a forum devoted to all his games, including this one, as well. And Jeff's
customer service is top-notch.
My personal take on this game? Overall, many players on the two forums mentioned give this game
a positive review, but personally, I am not as impressed. It is not a terrible game but I wish I had
spent my money elsewhere. My purchasing decision was between Hardball Wars and Inside Pitch.
Now that I have played Hardball Wars more, I wish I had chosen Inside Pitch. I have the demo
for Inside Pitch and really enjoy that game. It plays just as easily as Hardball Wars, and takes
just as long to complete a game. Plus, I believe that the outcomes for Inside Pitch are more realistic
than Hardball Wars. I had a difficult time getting into the flow of Hardball Wars with all the chart
look-ups. It also appears to me that pitching seems to dominate more than it should, and I seem to
roll a high number of walks per game. I think Hardball Wars has a lot of potential and Jeff Downey
is cranking out seasons for this game by the truckload, and you also get a decent game for the price
(especially the download version). I am sure that there are those out there that will disagree with me
and love this game, so hopefully you will also hear from them. As I said at the beginning of this
paragraph, it is not a bad game, it just did not excite me like other games I have played. But
thank goodness we have a wealth of baseball games to choose from so that we can find one that
suits our tastes. If you do decide to purchase Hardball Wars, I would like your take on this game.
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