Harry's Grand Slam Baseball
Designed by Harry Obst
Published by Out of the Box Publishing
The Spin: “Each Player manages a team and plays cards that simulate actual baseball plays”—from back of game box.
The Story: Harry’s Grand Slam Baseball Game “recreates” a nine-inning (or more) baseball game with cards that have effects based on happenings from real baseball games. The offensive and defensive events are in the same deck, which is shared by both players.
The Play: Harry’s is an exceedingly simple game. Players have hands of three cards that they draw from the same deck. The deck has a set of offensive plays (single, double, triple, home run, walk, hit by pitch, error, wild pitch, passed ball, stolen base, and balk) and a set of defensive plays (Ground Out, Strike Out, Fly Out, and Double Play). It also has some cards that can be used to a benefit on offense or defense (Sacrifice Bunt, Pitch Hitter/Relief Pitcher).
The two players choose which one is the home team and the visitor starts on offense. On a player’s turn, he or she simply plays a card from a hand of three, moves the runner and/or records outs, and then the other player goes. The cards themselves act as the base runners and are positioned around the bases of the small die-cut infield that comes with the game. After three outs have been recorded, the team’s half of the inning is over and the two teams switch sides. If a team is in the lead at the end of regulation the game is over. If not, the teams go to extra innings.
The interesting element of game play is that other than at the end of every third innings, players do not reshuffle their hands. So, tension is created by the fact that the awesome defensive hand that you have will any moment become a terrible offensive hand. Also, since players must play a card each turn, one is often forced to play a card that benefits the opponent. I’m not sure which is worse—having to play a hit on your opponent’s half of the inning that drives in a run or having to play an out on your offensive set with the bases occupied.
My Take: There isn’t an overwhelming amount of strategy. This isn’t a simulation by sport’s game standards certainly. It is a light card game that is themed around baseball. The theme is rock solid though. The game mostly follows baseball rules and any player without basic knowledge of baseball will be lost. That said, this isn’t APBA or Strat-o-Matic. It is to those games what Crazy Eights is to Contract Bridge.
I found this game to be a wonderful, light filler. As a baseball fanatic, having a quick-playing baseball-themed game really scratches a particular itch. Since there is hardly ever a tough choice, the real fun is watching how the game plays out.
The Components: Harry’s Grand Slam Baseball Game is part of Out of the Box’s Heirloom Game series. As such, the components are amazing. The game comes in a small tin box slightly larger than double deck of cards. Inside is an exact replica of the original Harry’s from 1962—box, cards and ruleset. In addition to the original rules, the game contains larger, better organized rules that aren’t as detailed but cover most of the situations players may encounter. There is also the aforementioned infield used to mark outs and base runner positions and, most impressive, a great tri-fold scoreboard with working dials used to track both score and inning. The entire package is attractive and the quality adds to the playing experience.
Pros: Fast Playing, well integrated theme, great production value
Cons: very light on strategy, limited number of choices