APBA vs Strat-o-Matic: my reasons I stayed

Every so often I get an email asking me to compare APBA to Strat-o-Matic, APBA’s major competitor.  I’m not about to ask a man to change his religion and in the same vein, I would extend the same courtesy when it comes to his favorite baseball simulation game, as much of a fan I am of APBA. 

That said, Bruce Marcinczyk and I have been corresponding over email about the virtues (and perhaps the inadequacies) of both games.  Thanks to Bruce for inspiring this article.

apbawagner While I won’t waste my virtual breath by saying that the APBA sports gaming system is better (everything is so subjective), I can say that certain sports board game engines are more suited for some and their competitors are suited for others. 

And the interesting thing is, the reasons why the APBA model works for me has little to with complex statistics comparisons.  Mostly they are practical reasons. 

Before I go on, here’s my disclaimer… I’ve played Strat-o-Matic enough games to know how it’s played but not enough to be an expert.  If any Strat fan reads this and still totally disagrees with what I say in this article, flame away. 


My reasons for staying with APBA:


1.  Rhythm/Pace of Play

This is a big reason for me.  This assumes you are either playing solo or have two managers who know the boards pretty well.  If so, the dice rollin’ gets into sort of a cadence and not only can you get a few games in a short period of time, you and your opponent might be able to trash talk as well. 

PS this doesn’t work when one manager knows the boards well and the other is a beginner at APBA.  It almost works best if two beginners learn the game together unless you have a very patient teacher (“Strikeout.  It’s a strikeout!  I promise you every 13 is a strikeout!  Don’t bother looking it up!”  *fingers tapping*)


2.  Cards are easy to “Read”

This seems like a piddly thing but for some reason, it matters to me.  In APBA, all the numbers are where they’re “supposed” to be (usually).  The best result is at 66, the next best at 11 etc.  The result at 45 is almost always a 14, you know where I’m going with this. 

The point is that I can look at an APBA baseball card and within 10 seconds, I could give you a good sense of what that card should hit in a full season (assuming average pitching). 

On the same note, a good dice roll is a good dice roll and vice-versa in APBA.  I can count on getting a similar result with Ryan Zimmerman as well as Eric Hinske with a dice roll of 44. 

Like I said, it seems small but we (ok, maybe I) like to root for certain numbers to come up.  It just makes it easier if you know what those numbers are on a consistent basis.


3.  APBA is more Accurate

Again assuming MLB average pitching, APBA hitters tend to be more accurate (I’m talking accurate not necessarily realistic.  see below) to their real life stats.  Now when you’re in a 10-team league like I am where pitching is incredibly heavy, you can throw that out the window.  But overall, APBA tends to recreate stats better in my opinion. 


4.  The APBA Game Engine is very modifiable

The game of APBA is immensely customizable.  Like the game but don’t care for one or two of its features?  Change it! 

These days when we are getting away from from the do-it-yourself culture and are told we need to have everything force fed to us, the idea of getting a game AND CHANGING THE RULES is foreign to most people.  But this is one of the best reasons I like the game of APBA dice baseball. 

Don’t particularly care for the way handles the unusual numbers or error results?  Then implement a randomized charts like the Unusual Play Chart or Error Chart.  APBA’s pitching system not specific enough for you?  Well there’s always the Master Game but you could also implement recognized and tested systems like the Coxx Pitching system, too.

To be fair, I’m sure Strat-o-Matic most likely has modifications to its game as well.  I’m just not as familiar with the game.



Am I bashing the Strat-o-Matic game?


Not at all.

As I said, I’ve played the game (at least 20 or so games) enough to get an idea of how it is played.  I found it fun and as near I could tell, it was realistic and accurate. 

But I came back to APBA for the reasons I explained above but mostly… because it was the game I grew up with.

In the midst of writing this, I spoke to Brando, one of our managers in the IAL.  Despite being in our APBA league, Brando enjoys Strat and finds a lot of advantages in the game.

It does incorporate some facets of baseball that APBA does not such as L/R matchups, increased fielding/range ratings, and more specific pitchers ratings.  To put it simply, Strat wins the “realism” (as opposed to accuracy) battle (though I am sure there are some arguments to contrary). 

I could go on about the other features of Strat but one, I’m not really qualified and two, it’s not really the focus of this blog. 

I’d love to hear comments on this article especially from APBA fans who have played Strat-o-Matic.  What was your impression of the game and why did you come back to APBA. 




  1. Lon: Great analysis sir….With regard to you observation about SOM base stealing….I require the runner to first obtain a lead before attempting a steal….The lead obtainment range is the same as his safe range (just to keep it simple)…I also have a pick off on a roll of 20 just to raise that possibility…..A little arbitrary is all of this and in need of refinement based up actual individual attempts +and even frequency of pick offs for that part if it) but it does serve to control the exaggerated usage of the higher rated base stealers….Again, great analysis Lon and thanks!

  2. My above comments relate to SOM basic game….The advanced game has establishing lead requirements which are very well done…..Sitting down today to playy annual Jackie Robinson APBA Classic….1953 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. 1931 Homestead Grays-one of greatest teams many say of all time.

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