Before I get started, you did read that right.
Blaseball. Not Baseball. Blaseball
When I find a new interest, most of the time I immerse myself into the community that is attached to said interest. After playing CCGs casually in high school, I found myself going to local card shops and even regional tournaments. When I found the Indianapolis Smash Bros community, I volunteered to help run events in conjunction with training to get better at the game (spoiler, my results never showed my improvement). And when I started researching board games and playing more of the highest-ranked games, I somehow ended up on a podcast discussing my newfound love of tabletop gaming.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I and thousands of others flocked to the browser-based video game Blaseball, if you can even call it a video game. For those that are unaware, Blaseball is an online baseball simulator where 24 fictional teams play one game an hour, resulting in a full season finishing in a single week. Players of Blaseball (like me, not players on teams like Blimp Hardison of the San Fransico Lovers. We players will be called fans from this moment on) can bet on games, earn money from the performance of players, and use their in-game money to help their favorite team through elections, gifts, and ballpark renovations. The discord server is used to create lore for team favorites, strategize for each Sunday’s election, or just talk with fellow fans. The hook is that there is a horror element like when players are tragically incinerated by umpires or dealing with the ever-fickle management team.
One day I got to thinking that Blaseball fans probably play tabletop games too! So why not offer some recommendations that are off the beaten path of games? Certain games like Catan or Ticket to Ride may be familiar to most, but don’t necessarily have direct connections to the online splorts sensation. This list will feature ten games that have aspects of them that fans of Blaseball can relate to, whether it is money management, roleplaying, absurd powers, and many other elements.
Top 10 Board Games for Blaseball Fans
10. The 7th Continent: Classic Edition
Blaseball fans love stories and exploration of those stories, and The 7th Continent is a great offering for that. In many ways similar to an RPG video game, The 7th Continent has an open world to explore with permadeath as a driving force for the game. When you die, you are back to square one. But additionally, there is a neat way to save your game and pick it up from that moment in your next session. The world is vast, and each play will offer new and sometimes horrific challenges to overcome. I won’t spoil this too much, but for those that enjoy the mysteries of Blaseball, you’ll enjoy a lot in this box. I’m listing the Classic Edition due to its availability, even though it contains less than the original Kickstarter version.
9. Food Chain Magnate
Maybe the game with the most depth, Food Chain Magnate is a complex economic game where players operate their own restaurant in an attempt to earn the most money. Like many of the featured games, Food Chain Magnate offers a wealth of absurd powers, here earned through milestones, which are the crux of where the branching strategies lie. Similar to how teams are micromanaged to win championships (or even under championships), the restaurant staff is managed to best churn out food, drinks, or advertisements. Money can end up in your hands in various ways, and managing those sources of income while pivoting on a dime makes for some tough decisions. Just be warned, early mistakes can quickly lose you the game.
Not a fan of the novel, movies, or universe? Not a problem! Neither was I when I first played this negotiation masterpiece. Dune’s biggest strength is the ridiculous powers that the six factions start with. Similar to how fans and teams have buffs through elections, each faction feels so broken to the point where you question if that player is playing the game properly. Being a game with shifting alliances, Dune is a very social experience that Blaseball fans will be quite accustomed to. And under their hoods, Blaseball and Dune both have a complexity that is difficult to explain or teach to a newcomer but has rewarding outcomes.
7. Tales of the Arabian Nights
As a fan of the Mexico City Wild Wings, we live by our motto “pase lo que pase,” which translates to “whatever happens.” This is true of both Blaseball and Tales of the Arabian Nights, a storytelling game set in the universe of 1001 Arabian Nights. Players play as one of the legendary figures who set about on a journey in the Middle East and the surrounding lands, encountering mythical creatures and attempting to interact with them in a way that could result in a positive manner. But like the Wild Wings say, pase lo que pase. You may be generous and gift a beggar money and the locals hate you for it. You may be flat-out rude to a genie who blesses you with riches. These interactions are read out of a storybook with details that make the entire table laugh out loud. Less of a game and more of an experience, the same can at times be said for Blaseball.
6. Oath (review)
The newest game on the list, Oath features both mechanics and themes that fans of Blaseball can relate to. Oath revolves around the fictional history of a kingdom that goes through drastic changes each generation. Like Blaseball, players are put in conflict with a ruling power (management in Blaseball and the Chancellor in Oath). Both games have a wide cast of individuals that you grow attached to as you play. The mechanics mirror Blaseball just as much as the story elements. The colorful cast also represents powerful abilities players may harness. Oath also requires a lot of dedication to fully grasp and explore. And remember those shifting alliances I mentioned in Dune? Oath is basically Shifting Alliances: The Game. While it may be one of the most difficult games to rock, Blaseball fans can overcome those if they’re the type of fan that does the deep dive into stats, both hidden and game stats, as well as understanding the video game’s ever-shifting economy.
Of all the entries, this may be the one most readers have heard of. Telestrations is a party game that is like the classic whispering game Telephone, but with drawing instead of speaking. Telestrations and Blaseball both thrive off of laugh out loud moments where no one understands how we as a group arrived at this point. Many of Blaseball’s talented fans participate in fan art for their favorite players, so it fits right in for that subsect of the community. And like the majority of Blaseball, the game itself isn’t the key, but the social dynamic that is produced, and Telestrations offers that in spades, potentially more than any other listed game.
4. Camel Up
Outlandish premise + betting on games + ridiculous outcomes. What does this equation equal? Well, there are two answers: Blaseball and Camel Up, as everyone expected. Camel Up is an award-winning betting game focused on camels that can stack upon each other. It uses a pyramid dice shaker to randomize which camels will move in what order, while players can bet on which Camel will be in first during a leg as well as the overall winners and losers. Blaseball provides the options of going all-in on positive or negative results, and Camel Up does the same. It provides a large number of hilarious gaming moments and produces a great social environment similar to the roars one might expect from a Craps table. Both the first and second edition have their merits. The first edition has lower component quality, but the Super Cup expansion adds modules that increase replay value. The second edition has much higher component quality, is readily available, and adds two camels that run backwards on the track, but is not compatible with the expansion. So whichever you can find will be a good game for some light, family fun.
3. Fury of Dracula
When I mentioned the idea of doing this list with members of the Blaseball Discord, the majority of responses were in relation to horror games such as any of the Arkham Files games. But to be honest, my exposure to the genre is limited. So other than The 7th Continent at No. 10, I went with my favorite horror game: Fury of Dracula. Like Oath, there is one player that operates as the baddie of the game, here playing Dracula, who runs about Europe planting traps and raising an army of vampires to fight the four hunters. Events change the landscape of Europe, from the fog that hides Dracula’s location or storms that make traveling about water even more of a chore. It’s a game that if the theme and narrative are your driving force, then it’s a solid choice.
2. The Quiet Year
There’s debate if this is a board game or a one-off roleplaying game, but for the sake of this list, I’m including it. The Quiet Year is a storytelling game set in a post-war village that is attempting to build a peaceful community in the year before the Frost Shepherds arrive. The gist of the game is that you are drawing a map of the village, containing problems, solutions, projects, and ideas that drive the narrative of the citizens. You do not play as individual characters but as outside forces driving the motivations and story while also roleplaying as unnamed characters in certain situations. In terms of a game that I would recommend for the lore-lovers of Blaseball, this would be where I’d turn first. And best of all, you can play the game for free using a traditional deck of cards and the Oracle on the Buried Without Ceremony website.
1. Baseball Highlights 2045
This is the game that prompted me to make the list. Baseball Highlights 2045 is a deck-building game where the cards you have make up a team that simulates the highlights of a single season, crowning a champion by the end. Games themself are abstracted more than traditional baseball but provide card play that is a fun back-and-forth experience. In conjunction, the players you play have point values to purchase new recruits to your teams with abilities and new stats. This is where the strategy comes in because you can play defensively, offensively, or counter how your opponent has built their team. In addition, due to the game being in the near future, the recruits are humans, robots, and cyborgs, and that’s an element that fans of the simulation will enjoy. Blaseball isn’t made up just of humans. Let’s list off some of the most popular players: a glove, a literal pitching machine, the space in reality left by the former Wyatt Mason, and many, many birds. So from a mechanics perspective and just being a baseball game, Baseball Highlights 2045 is the game I’d most recommend to Blaseball fans.