Video: Baseball is Not Symmetrical

This video, my first, serves two purposes. One, to test my new video equipment and all that goes into making a video. Two, to briefly explain my theory of the ways that the game of baseball is and is not symmetrical. This theory impacts some of the design elements of a game I designed, the RallyBird Baseball Boardgame. Available late spring 2018. While the field is symmetrical, baseball’s game play is not.

Play is counter-clockwise. The significance of first base is a lot different than third base. Home plate is not much like second base in value. I try to explain the asymmetry of a common short hit to the right compared to the left. Because runners move counter-clockwise, the opportunities for offense and defense do not work out symmetrically. To offer one example, with a runner on first base, a short hit is likely to see the fielder trying to throw to stop the most advanced runner shortstop covering 2nd base. If the hit is to the right, the throw might hit the advancing runner, so the only play is sometimes at first base. If the hit is symmetrically to the left, the fielder’s options to get the out at second base don’t have that runner obstacle. This is not a 100%, rigid prediction of events, but a tendency that is not symmetrical.

Because this was my first video I left some observations about the diamond unstated… the uphill topology from home plate to first base, the slightly uphill slope to second base, the slight down slope to third, and the steep fall from third base to home plate.

PS. I’m still waiting for what I hope is the final prototype for proofing and then publication!

Edit June 5, 2018: I replaced the video link above to the current version without feline interference. This second attempt allowed me to make a few additional observations.

Project Update: RallyBird Baseball Board Game Publication Date

I’m back from my baseball research trip at Dodger Stadium. What’s left for me to do before the RallyBird Baseball Board Game is ready for sale?

  1. I’m waiting for the updated prototype to arrive in maybe two weeks (early May). This is the 4th and, I intend, final prototype.
  2. I’ll check the rules booklet and cards for typos, make sure the box illustration margins are symmetrical. It should be ready to go, with no more than minor adjustments. Or so I hope.
  3. I’ll use this updated prototype for commercial photos that help consumers understand what it is and the fun it offers.
  4. I’ll use it for a How to Play video. I’ve been promising this and think it’s a good idea. The game is simple, but probably easiest to understand through this method. Now, making a video entails a lot of things. A place to shoot, image and sound quality, light, framing, memory space in the camera, editing. I don’t want it to become a complicated task. If people unconsciously expect professional quality, well I hope I don’t completely disappoint them. I haven’t done this before and need to get it right. I was hoping to use my phone, but my tests suggest this won’t work. So I may need to buy a video camera. While I could offer the game for sale before I finish this video, I do mention this video as complete in the rules booklet. So I’m hoping to complete this first and do it quickly.
  5. Then the game is ready for sale! I want this to happen before the end of May, 2018.

April 2018 Update on Progress: Rallybird Baseball Board Game

The Rallybird Baseball board game moves forward. In March it was 90% final. Now it’s about 95% final. I resisted the urge to rush it out for Opening Day of MLB last week.

Play testers reported it took about a 1/2 hour to learn the game and play one inning as a way to figure everything out. This seems pretty good to me.

Play test games included innings that faltered at 2nd base, home runs and key suicide squeeze plays. Play testers called out the special “rally bird” rule as extra fun. I’ll ask permission to post some of the photos they sent me.

While the play testers had their copies of the game, I found out that I could reformat the rules booklet to a full sized page. This allowed me to use a bigger font and make some prose revisions.

That gave me a moment to pause and think about rules presentation.

People have different preferences for the way they learn. This applies to board game rules too. I have a friend who, as soon as I teach the first rule in a board game, she immediately interrupts and asks a pointed question how to apply it in strategy. I have learned not to throw up my hands and sigh. To me it doesn’t make sense to think of it that way since I hadn’t explained much yet. There is never an easy answer I can give to her question. But that is the way her strong mind wants to organize the information. So I respect that.

The play test sessions were the first time people learned the game from written rules and the game materials in front of them. I think the rules to the Rallybird Baseball board game are quite easy. When play testing my hand made copies over the course of years, I never bothered to write down the rules. I could teach them in about 5 minutes. But I didn’t consider that baseball tactics intimidate some people. Since we’re also talking about a board game, it might be that we’re also talking about people who find board game decisions intimidating. To them, it might seem like this game requires a sort of baseball occult knowledge. I disagree, but maybe the real issue is that someone has to like making baseball tactical decisions. To me that’s vital.

Aside from learning the rules, my game is easy to play. I designed it as a fun, leisurely 1-hour board game with meaningful decisions for Offense and Defense. It’s not complicated. The dice assure this is not chess. But there is that “meaningful decisions” part. This was a key part of my motivation to create the game. Offense and Defense must each make one calculation of risk and hope for each At Bat. And there is drama. You’re down by one, you have a runner on second base and two Outs. How do you get that run? The person I play this game with most often rocks back and forth with nervous tension.

However, play testers included players who liked baseball but weren’t knowledgable about it or board games. I don’t want anyone who wants to learn to feel intimidated… Nor am I willing to change the rules to remove the decisions that make the game play meaningful. So in response, I added a couple pages to the rule booklet that discusses some ideas about Offense and Defense in game terms. I also added a “FAQ” page to help… I explained a couple of baseball terms and also some rationale for game design.

I ordered a new prototype for myself to test out some nuances with At Bat card revisions. If I don’t make further changes to the graphics–which is plausible–I can use that copy to make a How to Play video. I’m hoping that if I can do this reasonably well, it will help anyone learn the game quickly, and see that it really isn’t complicated.

Who might enjoy Rallybird Baseball board game? People who like baseball and board games, who want to make tactical decisions in a 45-90 minute leisurely, high-spirited game session. Who might not enjoy the game? People who don’t care about baseball, board games, or this kind of decision making. I wish them well! However I suspect that some people who don’t care feel that way because of intimidation. If true, I’m hoping my rules additions and clarifications, and the explanatory video, will encourage some to break through. Then maybe they could see how easy, fun, and dramatic it can be to make these competitive decisions in a casual 1-hour game.

When I make the  a How to Play video, I will be sure to post it on this website.

Thanks for reading! Please know I’m trying to get this out as quick as I can, and get it right.



A 1-hour board game of baseball choices.

Let’s Play Baseball! – “The Thinking Person’s Sport”

RALLYBIRD BASEBALL is a baseball board game designed to emphasize meaningful decisions for both offensive and defense, as well as playability.

It’s designed for quick play (about 1 hour) and rules that are easy to master and teach. Instead of referring to the booklet over and over, you’ll be immersed in the thwack & ploompf of baseball’s bats and gloves. You’ll be thinking about your next gambit.

With clear graphics, poker-sized At Bat cards, chunky 2-inch tiles, and large wooden meeples to run the bases on the 18-inch board, this game is designed for play. This family-friendly, pub-natural board game benefits from thoughtful measurement of the field situation and the beautiful bell curve of possibility that two six-sided dice provide. Basic knowledge of baseball helps. You may like to add some good-natured trash talk.

Find the Gap to Bang-Up the No-No for a Walk-Off Rally

RALLYBIRD BASEBALL – Here’s how it works. The score is 0-0 as the 7th Inning begins. Offense decides how to handle each At Bat. In anticipation, Defense decides where to balance the fielder’s strengths and weakness. One roll of two standard dice, and the result is clear. Move the runners, take an OUT token if needed, a RUN token if earned. It’s not easy to score, but you will, sooner or later. Right, Offensive coach? Meanwhile, the Defensive coach worries, How to get that 3rd out? Are the fielders losing their mojo? How to escape this inning? Whether offense or defense, you as coach make a meaningful decision each At Bat.

Decisions Each At Bat, Not Each Pitch & Swing

RALLYBIRD BASEBALL is not a baseball simulation that replicates the statistics of individual historic players, nor does it simulate each pitch and each swing. It focuses on the basic tactical options for offense and defense each At Bat, and lets fate and probability them in one dramatic roll of the dice. The rules are easy, but the decisions can be tough. For a play session that lasts up to one hour, play the 7th thru 9th inning. The game includes everything you need to play a full 9-inning contest if you wish.

Shade the Hot Corner or Hang a Crooked Number

RALLYBIRD BASEBALL – Example of play… Score is 1-0. It’s the bottom of the 7th inning, with one out, runner on third base. The offensive coach selects an At Bat card (perhaps a shot Up the Middle) and places it face down. Then the defensive coach places the six Glove tiles on the board zones (perhaps emphasizing strength in the deep outfield). In this example, there’s a Glove strength 3 and 4 (a sum of 7) covering the two zones responsible for defending against Up the Middle. Offense rolls the two dice–the sum is also a 7. Offense’s At Bat card shows that when the die result exactly equals the Glove sum, the result is a single. Any runners on base advance only if forced. The runner on 3B holds. No change in score, not yet anyway…

If the dice sum had been an 8, the hit would have been a single, but runners on base would have advanced one base without needing a force, resulting in a score that tied the game.

Because offense succeeded in advancing a runner (the batter), Defense must react by flipping one of the two black Glove tiles that failed to stop the offense. Defense flips the black 4 glove, revealing a red 5. (If Defense must flip a red numbered glove, he/she must remove it for the rest of the half-inning.)

Now the Defensive coach slides the Gloves from the board temporarily, and waits for Offense to select another At Bat card… Surely they’ll go deep this time… then again, maybe small ball is the choice. And 2B is empty… they wouldn’t dare to try to steal it, would they? Why is the coach taking such trouble to hide a smile?

Give the Sign for the Green Light

RALLYBIRD BASEBALL – What’s in the box? …an 18-inch square board of the playing field, a 24 2-inch GLOVE and RUN tiles made out of chipboard, a concise illustrated rules booklet, 2 dice, 8 large wooden player tokens, 16 poker-sized AT BAT cards, 2 yellow OUT chips, all in a box with a colorful cover.

Note: The rules explain how to play on 1 page! But the booklet also includes a page that explains the game equipment, and another page for an example of play.


I started years ago searching for a baseball board game I wanted to play, and play it with friends, not alone. I found many that I liked but took too long to play, forcing solitaire. I found many that did not offer decisions for both offense and defense, or even any decisions at all other than that determined by a die roll. I realized that I needed both–a 1 hour play time, and meaningful decisions for offense and defense. How to achieve all this? With my goals as my guide, I began to construct my game and play test it. My decision to use two 6-sided dice add further structure, allowing me to think about defensive zones and At Bats. I was also aware of a 3-round limit early in my process. In modern board gaming, there is a correlation between concise play and enjoyment. In modern baseball, I’ve often felt that the 7th inning represents the peak of the game’s story, the climax. Do you remember from English class the graph of the novel’s plot with rising action? Framing this board game on those last 3 innings (with a possible extra inning) emphasizes the peak of the ballpark struggle. It’s often the 7th inning starts with the starting pitcher out of gas. What follows is the coach’s choices of relievers, sometimes tailoring the type of reliever to the batter and the baserunner situation. Pitchers who enduce ground balls and pop outs. The modern shift of fielders leaves vast area of grass undefended.Have you ever heard the old baseball addage “Hit ‘Em Where They Ain’t”? While some baseball boardgames focus on players, this game focus on zones. With zones and 3 innings, and a single decision required each At Bat for both players, I aimed to create a satisfying and original 1-hour boardgame that felt like baseball.