Baseball Boss Revisited – What a Difference a Day Makes
August 22, 2009
by William Szczepanek
Baseball Boss has since shut down operations on March 10, 2010. At this time Challenge Games will cease to exist. Continue to read if you care.
It was last year about this time that we first reviewed Baseball Boss. We gave it a decent review even though there were many technical problems with the site. I thought there was great potential, but quite honestly I did not think they would overcome the difficulties.
What a difference a day makes, or maybe, what a difference a year makes. The interface has been upgraded and is very slick. Graphics are outstanding, and considering everything that’s going on under the hood, the game performs very well. Problems still persist, but they are minor irritants rather than being a game breaker.
In preparation for writing this article, I noticed that some severe problems existed on various browsers. Some things worked on IE 8 that didn’t on Firefox, and vice versa. On one browser I couldn’t open new packs of cards. On another, I couldn’t highlight the cards to see the data. Those problems seem to have been resolved and maintenance continues with the entire site improving over time. I give them much credit for their persistence in solving these problems.
If you like watching a quick game, you can. If you like reviewing a game summary, you can. If you just want to get the results of a series, you can. It still doesn’t seem possible to view lifetime stats, but I can see that that would be a difficult item to maintain for the thousands of players in the many leagues that you can work your way through.
My biggest frustration was that if I neglected the game for a short period, I got penalized and forfeited all games of a five game series. I left the game late one afternoon and the next morning I had lost 25 games in a row. As before, the help system doesn’t lay out all of the rules. In some way it gives an advantage to those who play the game more often and learn the idiosyncrasies of the game as they go along. This approach has merit, but can be frustrating for those who aren’t heavily into it. With all of these frustrations, Baseball Boss is still very good and for the serious player can be very rewarding.
New teams are introduced from time to time, like a new set for 1998 and another that is done Simpson’s style. To each his own and it seems like Baseball Boss has something for just about everyone.
There is a good amount of inconsistency or “luck factor” that makes the game realistic, particularly when challenging better teams. You can’t count on consistent wins from your “stopper”.
Now, getting to the subject of baseball cards. I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the cards. I do get wrapped up more in the games, but the cards are very attractive. The most interesting aspect of the cards is that they are different. They contain pictures I’ve never seen before. That makes them look refreshingly new. They also don’t copy the look of any current or past baseball card manufactures. I am sure they can’t do that anyway for fear of being sued, but many real card manufacturers have crossed the line when it comes to copying the look of cards and have paid the price. You can also buy cards. This allows you to build the team of your dreams and compete with them. I refuse to buy cards for fear of being lured into the game so much so that I can’t get out.
I would really like to know the demographics of who plays this game. Are they kids or twenty-somethings, like those who buy cards now? Or , are they older people with time on their hands? It could be a good mix. I’d hate to think I was losing games to a twelve year old girl, but that seems very possible. Strategy appears to be largely that of balancing salary and skill level with roster size.
Cards also lose their abilities over time with the condition deteriorating, much like real baseball cards dropping in value if they had been played with. It would be cool if they actually showed the card getting creases and rounded corners as they age. Cards can be restored to mint condition in exchange for tickets that you win as you play the game.
Overall, Baseball Boss has built a winner that should attract many more players in years to come as they release more and more sets. The mix of fantasy league, virtual cards and computer gaming has been combined to provide a thrill for the kid in all of us.