Saturday, June 6, 2009



So you are a baseball fan. You and a bud have settled down to watch your favourite team on the tube, and there's a rain delay.
Your options are some silly craziest moments in sports fill-in, or a re-run of some television show that wasn't that good the first time around.
So you go looking for an option as to how to kill the time until the tarps come off the infield. If you are lucky you have Harry's Grand Slam Baseball to pull out and fill the time.
Harry's GSB was actually create by Harry Obst (somewhat obvious eh!), back in 1962. Now this is a card game, so the chances of having the game from nearly 50-years ago is rather slim. If you do have a copy, lucky you.
For the rest of though all is not lost. Out of the Box has reissued Harry's GSB through its Heirloom Games Series.
The new issue has kept the rule set of the original game, and most importantly the art work on the cards. And packaged it all in a nice presentation tin rather than a cardboard box, which is a very nice touch.
Now back to the art for a moment. The cards have art drawn pictures of baseball players in various game poses. The art is simple, with a highly nostalgic feel given the lens of time looking back nearly five decades now.
The game also comes with a rather quaint folding scoreboard, that actually stands like an outfield fence, and allows players to keep score. While there would be simpler ways to keep score, this so adds to the 'old game' feel.
In terms of rules, Harry's GSB keeps things insanely simple, yet they work perfectly in terms of simulating a baseball game.
Each player is dealt only three cards from a small deck. Each card has an action, ranging from batting actions such as home run, single, or steal, to defensive options such as strikeout and walk.
Players take turns playing their cards, with the player at bat of course wanting to use cards which create base runners and scores, while the player on defence looks to strikeout the side. However, with only three cards, there are times you have to lay a strikeout card when batting, and at times when on defence the cards will force you to give up a hit.
When you have played the three cards, you replenish your hand from the draw pile.
There are special cards too which add another realistic aspect to the game. If you draw a pinch hitter / relief pitcher card, you play it face down, then draw an additional card that is laid beside the special card. At any time you can use the card instead of one in your hand, giving you an unseen option which may work out, or may not, just as a real pinch hitter or relief pitcher.
There is limited strategy here. With only three cards in hand you don't have a lot of options. Yet as the game plays out you see that it does mimic baseball rather well.
It is hard to have a big inning on offence, you can't pull enough good cards at the sane time the opponent gets a bad hand, but at the end of the game scores are usually close, with extra innings a definite possibility.
If you are looking for a deep and detailed baseball simulation then Harry's GSB is not the ticket, but as a fun, quick game to fill in some time during that rain delay, it's perfect, and the nostalgic 'feel' simply adds to the fun.

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper June 3, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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