Saturday, September 15, 2012

Walk Off Single Wins 1933 All-Star Game for the NL

I've long been a fan of APBA Baseball.  I started playing in a league during college (where my California Medflys beat the Newark Neanderthals one year for the title) and after graduating, played a few replays.  I wouldn't replay the entire season, but would replay the playoffs using a system similar to today's playoffs.

APBA Game box as it appeared when I started playing in the 1980s
After a while the game took a back shelf to raising kids but was renewed last year after my son and I traveled through Lancaster, PA and I paid homage to the home of APBA -- a few months before it relocated to Atlanta.  There, I bought the basic game and the 2010 season and my son and I had fun during the rest of our trip playing Red Sox vs. Cardinals.  When I returned home to St Louis I ordered a few past seasons, but my writing business spiraled downward after that and I spent most of my time job hunting.

Me in front of APBA office (Lancaster, PA)
 Then, I received the 1933 All-Star team via email and decided to replay that game.  Well, two months later, I finally got around to playing the game and what a nail biter it was!  Here is my summary of the game:

Philadelphia, PA (AP) - September 5, 1933 - After months of delay and change in location due to striking workers in Chicago, the inaugural all-star game was finally played at Shribe Park in Philadelphia and the all-star game tradition could not have gotten off to a better start, with the NL team beating out the AL team with a bottom-of-the-ninth walk off single by the Red's Chick Hafey.

Yankee teammates Ruth and Gehrig pose before the 1933 All-Star Game. 
They would disappoint fans by going a combined 1-for-6, though
Lou Gehrig would record the first-ever all star game hit.
The AL struck early in the second after NL starter "Wild Bill" Hallahan earned his nickname by loading the bases with a single, a walk, and a hit batsman.  Joe Cronin hit in Al Simmons with a fielder's choice, but Hallahan settled down and the AL was not able to score any more runs that inning.

The NL tied the game in the bottom of the second with an RBI double by Giant's first-baseman Bill Terry.   An RBI double by Philadelphia shortstop Dick Bartell scored Pepper Martin to give the NL the lead.  An RBI single by Al Simmons, who lead the AL All-Stars by going 4-for-5, tied the game in the top of the ninth, setting up and exciting showdown between Lefty Gomez and the best the NL had to offer.

Wally Berger led off the bottom-of-the-ninth with a fly out to right field.  Bill Terry then doubled to right and Gomez walked Jimmie Wilson to set up the double play.  Dick Bartell spoiled that plan with a sacrifice bunt that sent the runners to second and third.  With two outs, all-star game MVP "Chick" Hafey stepped up to the plate.  Hafey had already singled off Gomez and with Terry on third and Wilson on second, Hafey smacked the ball hard to right, scoring Terry and winning the game for the Nationals.

Al Simmons definitely had the best game, going 4-for-5 with an RBI and run scored, but played for the losing team.  While Bill Terry had a great game, I decided to award Chick Hafey the MVP for his walk-off single.

The St Louis Cardinal's contingent to the inaugural All-Star Game posing with former teammate Chick Hafey. 
The Cardinals accounted for four starters in all, including winning pitcher Bill Hallahan.
One of the great things about APBA is that it's more than playing a game - it's like your actually watching the game.  The flavor of the game (especially the master game) lends itself to a lot of enjoyable replay moments, like this 1933 All-Star Game.  Kudos to the new owners of APBA for sending out these free sample sets on occasion, it really helps to build and create loyal customers.

PS.  I know the actually game was played in Cominsky Park,  but I didn't think about looking up the exact location until midway through the game.  Oops.  I promise to do better research ahead of time :).

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Twilight Imperium

Like most people who've played TI3, I loved the game, but wasn't happy with how the ISC card is used. It just seemed like it was a "cheap" 2 VPs and that whoever ended up with the card the most ended up winning the game.

My group experimented with different variants. We played that it was worth only one point and we tried it worth 2 points until the stage II objectives were revealed, at which point it was worth only 1. My group disagreed on how to use this and the game was eventually shelved.
The infamous Imperial Strategy Card
Recently, my son (23) and his group wanted to play and we played with the original rules and his group's reaction was pretty much the same, so we took to the task of doing additional research. Of all the variants we came across, we decided to use the one put out by FFG and the how the card (I think) is used with the expansion.

Basically, a player gets one point for Mecatol Rex (making that even more important) and can qualify for any number of public objectives that turn (using the optional rule that the game is played with the objectives exposed, which we've liked the last several times we've played). Or, the player can chose to conduct a "free" build while not allowing others to do so.

I must admit that I really enjoyed the game. It seemed to me there was much more strategy and that we got to do more toward achieving the objectives. In fact, one time I picked the ISC card I chose the rapid mobilization option instead of the objectives option, although I realized after that turn I could have won the game had I been able to qualify for several objectives. But then again, if I hadn't of built, I could have been invaded and lost a few of those objectives, so who the heck knows.

Toward the end of the game.  I played blue and had the "Universities of Jol-Nar."
Having said that, the player who invaded Mecatol Rex (MR) early and garrisoned it with troops (it was the Federation Sol player) ended up winning the game. Yes, we failed to retake MR (no one had the army to do that) and we could have tried to take his homeworld (it was wide open) but, we were all busy with our own objectives, none of which involved MR (out of five players only one had a MR secret objective).  I actually tried this strategy the last game we played, but someone had a "knock out the population of a planet" card and I was unable to hold on to MR.

Federation of Sol (red) garrisoning Mecatol Rex
Federation of Sol "Race Card," giving them what we call the special "breeding" ability
Overall I liked the variant card and will probably use it from now on. In fact, it does motivate me more to purchase the expansion, but I have several other games on my wishlist ahead of the Shattered Empires expansion.