Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Review

Harry's Grand Slam Baseball card game in play

For my wife, there are two seasons - baseball season and the off-season.  And, since she's busy watching baseball during baseball season, the off-season is a good time to try to get her to play games - like Harry's Grand Slam Baseball.

In Harry's Grand Slam Baseball, two players play a very fast paced game of baseball.  Just like in baseball, the game consists of nine innings of players alternating who is at bat, and the person with the most runs at the end of the game is the winner.  In any given inning, whichever player is "at bat" will get to play the first card.  Cards represent possible outcomes of an at bat - they can be an out (of various kinds), a double play, a single, double, triple, or home run.  They can also be something that occurs during an at bat - such as a balk, a stolen base, or a wild pitch.  As each player plays a card, it affects the runners on base, and sometimes causes some of them to score runs.  But, once there are three outs, the inning is over - all runners are cleared, and the next player starts their turn "at bat."  And, to mix things up, after the third and sixth innings, the entire deck is reshuffled (along with both players' hands), and everyone gets new cards.  After nine innings, whoever has the most runs wins!

The first pro that I found for Harry's Grand Slam Baseball is that it gives you a taste of baseball, but is very fast paced.  The game doesn't attempt to be a simulation, which is obvious by the fact that an at bat consists of a single card - you don't have to worry about pitch counts, or anything else complicated.  You simply play a card to determine the outcome of the play.

cards from Harry's Grand Slam Baseball board game
Pinch Hitters - ready to be played
The next pro that I have for Harry's Grand Slam Baseball are the "Pinch Hitter" cards.  These cards represent putting in a new hitter (or pitcher), in place of the ones in your hand.  Whenever you draw a Pinch Hitter, you must immediately play it in front of you, and you draw a card from the top of the deck and put it face down with the Pinch Hitter card.  (You also get to re-draw your hand back up to three cards).  At any time later in the game, if you don't like the cards in your hand, you have the option of playing your Pinch Hitter instead.  Simply flip the facedown card over, and this is your new result - it may be better than what you had in your hand, but it might also be a homerun for the other team!     

The last pro that I will mention for Harry's Grand Slam Baseball is that you can easily play it with kids.  As long as both players have a basic understanding of baseball (runners advancing, played over nine innings, three outs, etc), you can play with anyone.  There's not especially much text in the game, so I'd imagine that you could even play with children as young as 3-4 if they were interested in baseball.  It might push their attention span slightly, but the game only lasts about 15 minutes, so they could probably handle a full game with no problems.

However, the speed and simplicity of Harry's Grand Slam Baseball also has a negative side - the game really isn't deep.  There are a few strategic decisions, such as whether you should try to get runners on base before playing your homerun, and when you should play a Pinch Hitter.  But, for the most part, the game is very luck based.  If I am at bat and my opponent happens to not be able to draw any out cards, then I'm likely to have a high scoring inning.  But, if I'm at bat and all I can draw are outs, then I'm going to do very poorly. 

Overall, I give Harry's Grand Slam Baseball a 7.0/10.  I can appreciate the game, and I can see why people enjoy it, but for me there isn't enough decision making to really get me to keep playing the game.

If you Harry's Grand Slam Baseball sounds like something you would enjoy, you might also check out Gubs, Jab: Real Time Boxing, and Tsuro.

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