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15 out of 16 gamers thought this was helpful

I am definitely a fan of what Gillespie Games has created with “Ultimate Baseball the Game” (UBTG). When I read what others have written about it, I come away feeling like it is both a misunderstood product and one that has not found its audience yet. The web site for the game gives a very detailed account of how it is different from ‘replay’ games like Strat, but I think that many people gloss over that and focus on the web site’s claim that the game is a “simulation of baseball”. This seems to cause a misalignment of expectations.

The majority of baseball gamers seem to interpret “simulation” a very specific way, a way more aligned to troves of real life statistics used to get the most realistic possible outcome for a proposed “what if” scenario with limited “player elected” decisions. UBTG isn’t built to do that, which I think frustrates many people who are looking for a “simulation”. UBTG is also not a “replay” game. It takes hours to play and doesn’t have a sanctioned solitaire mod (though it can be played solitaire with some effort – more on that later).

So what is UBTG delivering? To me, instead of being a “statistically driven simulation”, UBTG is actually a “baseball strategy role playing game” where, at any given moment, the player must make strategic decisions in the role of:
-The general manager
-The manager
-The pitcher
-The batter
-The baserunners
-The fielders

When I say “moment” above, I really mean it – far from being a “set your roster, roll the dice a few times and write down the winner”, UBTG actually includes some “bullet time” play for events like infield grounders where fielders and batters have to make split second decisions about, for the batting team, whether to try and take a base, and for the fielding team, where to go with a throw. You will spend minutes on a play that takes seconds in real baseball, but for the player who wants to ‘role play’, this is a good thing! UBTG is a first edition and, in my opinion, not quite perfectly engineered, but it’s exceptional as a first effort.

Now, the pitch by pitch mode Diamond Mind Baseball (DMB) comes close and has many of the same features as UBTG and (depending on how you see things) the “advantage” of automating some of the action, while also including more ‘real life stats’ (more sophistication for injuries, ballpark factors, wind) into its machine, UBTG seems to be the most complete “Baseball strategy role playing” game there is, where I’m measuring completeness not in the number of statistics used (where DMB and several others have a great deal more) but in the number of ‘player elected’ decisions that have to be made by a live person on every pitch and ball-in-play.

So, if you are wanting to simulate a lot of games quickly – if you are wanting results derived from a specific season from a specific player – if you want columns of SABR data down to the thousanth’s place in decimals all feeding into the results – you can safely stop reading knowing that UBTG is not going to satisfy your needs. On the other hand, if this notion of head to head strategic decisions using a simplified but still highly-thought-out statistics model, over several hours (it will probably take you all of 4 hours to play your first “advanced” game with all the rules) appeals to you, and you are ready to learn more about “Baseball strategy role playing”, Contact me for my full 6,000 word review!
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