851 BASEBALL BOARD GAME
While 851 Baseball has only been on the market since 2006, its roots date back to the mid 1980s. The game as it is known today was twenty years in the making. A stripped down version of the game was developed by Dennis McMahon of Madison, Wisconsin around 1985. His brother Rich McMahon of Champaign, Illinois made many changes over a three year span and finally released the game in its current form in 2006.
851 Baseball Tabletop Game
The game has some things in common with most other baseball board games, like rolling dice and referring to charts. However, there are many differences.
The game includes 10 teams of 20 fictitious players each. Each team has a Pitching Card that has all the pitching stats for the team's 7 pitchers and a Batting Card that has all the hitting stats for the team's 20 players (13 position players and 7 pitchers). The Pitching Card will determine if the at bat results in a strikeout, walk, hit by pitch or a ball that is put in play (fly ball, line drive or ground ball). The Batting Card will determine what direction a batted ball will travel. Also, the batter's power rating will directly affect how far a batted ball will travel. The game was made this way to allow both the pitcher and batter to influence the outcome of most at bats.
851 Baseball Game Team Charts
The biggest difference between 851 and other baseball games is seen when an at bat results in a batted ball. Instead of rolling the dice and seeing 'Line Out' and the play being over, you would see 'L' for line drive and know that the at bat is not done yet. Where the ball was hit, how far it was hit and the fielding rating of the defensive player would all combine to determine if the line drive was caught.
The entire field is laid out on a grid. Fielders and base runners use these boxes to move around. Fielders also use these boxes to throw the ball. The rules explain the order in which things have to be done on a given play such as fielding the ball, running the bases and throwing the ball. If these things are not done in the correct order it will dramatically affect the outcome of a play and decrease the realism. The rules might seem confusing at first and you may find yourself crawling through the game the first couple times you play it. However, it doesn't take long for the order of play to become second nature.
851 Baseball Game Rules
The design of the game board is unique. It is made of one half inch thick MDF board with a wood trim. The trim serves a very important purpose, besides dressing up the edges of the board. The Batting Stick, which is a ruler shaped object that is used to determine where batted balls land, rests on the trim as it is moved across the board. The trim keeps it elevated above the playing surface, thus keeping it out of the way of the playing pieces (fielders and base runners). The design of the game and the fact that Rich manufactures it himself makes it more expensive than most board games, which is certainly a drawback.
What 851 does well is provide a fun way of creating the "action" of a real baseball game and doing it on a high quality game board that should last forever.
You can read more about the 851 Baseball game at the official 851 Baseball Game site.