Strat-o-Matic Sunday! – How To Play Strat-o-Matic Baseball (by Dan Diljak)
How to Play Stratomatic
As I mentioned in “Why I Love Strat-o-Matic”, the beauty of this game is it can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be. Let’s check out the basics of playing three versions of the game to get you started:
First off, arrange your cards and game board (which looks like a baseball diamond) plus charts however you’re comfortable. When I play, this is my setup: to the left of the game board, let’s arrange the visiting team first. From nearest to you to furthest away: the starting lineup cards, the starting pitcher, the remainder of the rotation, the bench players, and, finally, the bullpen. For the home team, do the same except reverse the starting pitcher and starting lineup positions so that the starting pitcher is in front. For the basic game, you should only see 3 columns on each card, not 6; for the advanced game you should see 6 columns on each card, not 3. The batters are numbered across the top 1 through 3; the pitchers are numbered 4 through 6.
Arrange your cards so you only see 3 columns. Now check out your dice – you should have one 20-sided die (or 20 split cards) plus three standard six-sided dice. One of the three six-sided is a different color (let’s assume it’s white) than the other two dice (let’s assume they’re red). Roll the white dice. The number on the white die tells you what column to look at – if it’s a 1, 2, or 3 you’re going to refer to the batters card; if it’s a 4, 5, or 6, you’ll refer to the pitcher’s card. Now roll the two red dice. The number you rolled on the two red dice tells you what row on either the pitcher’s or batter’s card to look at. Most often, the result is straight forward and requires no other action. Sometimes, however, you’ll be directed to either roll the 20- sided die for a “split result” like “1-11 Single, 12-20 Double”. Sometimes you may also see that you need to refer to one of the charts included with the game for an error or a tricky play or an injury.
Obviously, you don’t need to roll the dice individually – you can roll them all at once. Part of the fun for me is rolling the white die and then seeing what possibilities await me before proceeding with the two red dice.
For the advanced game, the setup is the same except you will flip your cards to the other side so that you see 6 columns – 3 results vs. lefties and 3 results vs. righties. You’ll play the game the same as above except you’ll refer to the left side of the card vs. a lefty batter or pitcher and the right side of the card vs. a righty batter or pitcher. Now you’re stepping up the strategy as you decide should I bring in that lefty reliever to face the left-handed batter… or if I do that, will my opponent bring in a right-handed batter…. These are the uncomfortable situations that real life managers face every day.
Now we’re increasing that complexity just a bit more by adding ballpark effects. Ballpark effects are done using these same player cards numbered 1-3 and 4-6 combined with a Ballpark Effect chart. You’ll notice that your cards have diamonds and upside-down triangles on them. If your white die + two red dice land you on one of those results, follow the instructions on the Ballpark Effect chart to see if you hit a homer (diamond) or a single (triangle).
The game is a little more complex than what’s stated above. You can have situations with players playing out of position, bunts, hit & runs, steals etc. To see the complete directions for playing, refer to the official rules that came with your game. Some fans have also created “house rule” versions of the rules – use these as desired as you fall more and more in love with this simple but complete game.
(Coming next week – an interview with Hal Richman, the creator of Strat-o-Matic! Then, the week after, we’ll have a preview of the new Enemies set! After that… even more!!!)