Since Ultimate Baseball The Game’s launch a few months ago, one of the biggest questions we have been asked is: Does UBTG provide solitaire baseball mods? Some veterans of the “replay” genre (Strat, APBA, etc.) have even expressed hesitancy to buy UBTG because of this very issue.
We provided some answers previously, and customers are welcome to to read these articles regarding Strat-o-matic and APBA Baseball that contain detailed information and analysis, but we wanted to take some time to focus on this question candidly in our new blog/forum format. We hope you will read this post and add your own comments below via Disqus.
Our short answer to the question, “Can UBTG be played solitaire?” is: Yes… and No. Yes, because most any game can be adapted for solitaire, if that is really what you want. No, because we have designed UBTG to be a two-player game of intriguing strategy, and a solitaire mod would miss out on what makes UBTG so exciting and unique.
The fact is that games like Strat and APBA can be adapted easily for baseball solitaire play precisely because they do not involve that much gamer-elected strategizing. UBTG is not another replay clone.
We are confident that UBTG could be played with solitaire board game rules, and we welcome any ideas. Many simulation game sites welcome customer suggestions and even customer-designed mods, and we certainly are open to suggestions. But we wonder whether gamers really would want to play UBTG solitaire, even if such a mod existed. The fact is, we have not designed UBTG as a baseball solitaire game for a reason. The main reason is that UBTG’s game play involves a great degree of strategic cat-and-mouse interplay between gamers which would be lost in a solitaire setting (it is hard to outfox yourself!).
It is noteworthy that this is such an important issue to many veteran replay gamers. If you were about to purchase, for example, classics like Chinese Checkers, Chess, Monopoly, Dungeons & Dragons, or Magic: The Gathering, the solitaire question wouldn’t even be relevant. Yes, you can play Chess and Monopoly solitaire (at least in some sense), but these games are designed to be played by real live opponents. The real heart of these games would be lost if you took away gamer interaction. Most folks would not stop in their tracks at a game store and refuse to buy these games because they don’t include solitaire board game rules. This is because no one assumes these games are meant to be played solitaire.
Unfortunately, what has happened in baseball sims is that they all have tended to follow the baseball solitaire lead of Strat and APBA. Even the computerized replay genre has little new to offer. The fact is that games like Strat and APBA can be adapted easily for baseball solitaire play precisely because they do not involve that much gamer-elected strategizing. Yes, play results can be realistic, but they are achieved mostly by rolling the dice. So it follows that playing with solitaire board game rules really doesn’t affect how these games play. You don’t lose out on strategic excitement precisely because these games do not afford that much strategic opportunity to begin with.
In other replay-style games that include pitch-by-pitch play (and I’ve played them all), the options are only pitch, pitch around, and pitchout or pickoff attempt, with none of UBTG’s true cat-and-mouse feel at all. Bottom line there has to my knowledge never been a game–board or computer–where the two players can become so closely aligned with the true narrative of the game within a game of the duel between pitcher and batter! You are right there in a way no other game reproduces. In UBTG you indeed step into the role of the players on the field–throughout every aspect of the pitch, the ball in play, and base running–IN ADDITION to that of GM, manager, and base coach. UBTG is the ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER of baseball simulations. – David Hassler, Indianapolis, IN
It is not our wish to denigrate these great games. They certainly have developed quite a following over the years. If collecting player card sets based on past seasons and replaying games and seasons using solitaire board game rules and rolling the dice is your thing, then we say go ahead and play these games. But if you are looking for something new and different, even revolutionary, then UBTG is the game for you!
One of the points we have tried to stress is that UBTG really is not another replay clone. It really is a different game system altogether. So we want customers to know how UBTG is different from the replay genre. But we must stress that UBTG is not part of the replay genre (with just a few minor differences here and there). Yes, it is an extremely realistic simulation of baseball, but that is where the similarity ends. UBTG is an entirely different kind of game. So we really are not trying to replace solitaire baseball games, as it were. They have their place and fulfill their purpose, and that’s fine. UBTG, on the other hand, is an entirely different gaming experience, the heart of which is real live gamer interaction. So, we highly recommend that gamers approach UBTG with a clean slate. Try not to project your Strat or APBA experience onto UBTG. If you allow that UBTG really is a different game, you might be delighted and surprised by how fun and exciting it is!
UBTG simulates the decisions that real-life players and coaches must make on nearly every pitch and play. UBTG feels like real baseball.
This is not to say we do not welcome close scrutiny, or that UBTG is not a serious simulation. We are not shy about the years of research we have put into UBTG. We believe UBTG accommodates casual and serious gamers alike. We will put the accuracy of our game design and our player pool up against any simulation out there. We have played hundreds of games and are confident that UBTG is at least as realistic as any sim on the market, if not more so. In fact, we stand by our claim that UBTG has a more intriguing and accurate pitcher and pitcher fatigue sim than any computer or board game on the market (one customer called UBTG’s pitcher fatigue system “unparalleled”). And, as we claim in several other areas of our website, UBTG includes opportunities for many more plays and gamer-elected strategizing than any other sim on the market today. UBTG really can simulate every possible play in baseball. But it’s not just that we simulate more play results. UBTG simulates the decisions that real-life players and coaches must make on nearly every pitch and play. UBTG feels like real baseball. Many games claim realism. We deliver it.
We have been hesitant to address the following point, but perhaps it’s time we came right out with it. Surely many of us have busy schedules and may not be able round up real live opponents with ease. Many of us may not have that many friends who enjoy baseball and gaming all that much. So, admittedly, the idea of a solitaire baseball sim that can take less than an hour to play is appealing (UBTG’s Advanced Version can take as long as a real-life game). Nevertheless, we wonder if there might be another reason lurking somewhere in the shadows of replay gamers’ wish that UBTG provide a solitaire mod.
If we trust a replay sim to be realistic, and if most of the play results are attained merely by rolling the dice, then our baseball acumen really is never tested.
Because UBTG challenges gamers to make so many more strategic decisions, could it be that some replay gamers are hesitant to tackle this challenge? If we trust a replay sim to be realistic, and if most of the play results are attained merely by rolling the dice, then our baseball acumen really is never tested. If we win, we can claim it’s because we know our history and picked a superior roster (from a given season); if we lose, we can claim the sim is not that realistic or that Lady Luck was not with us. Our baseball strategy acumen, on the other hand, remains unscathed. Not so in UBTG. Your win-loss record will be an accurate reflection of how your ability to manage your team compares with your real live opponents. In fact, if you aren’t all that stellar a baseball strategist, UBTG is an outstanding way to learn!
If you want a game that challenges your ability to manage and affords hours of intriguing and realistic baseball excitement… a game that, even regardless of the baseball component, is full of strategy… and a game that can teach sound baseball strategy (great for fathers and elder brothers bringing youngsters up in the great American tradition, not to mention friends who love to compete), then UBTG is for you!