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     " You will end up spending more money to get a good game going than you ought to have to. "

      Title: MLB Showdown by Wizards of the Coast

      Format: Baseball card game

      Reviewing Monkey: Simi N.

      The Hype: Be the next manager of the year! Create your own all-star team with your top picks from 350 of the best Major league players whose ratings are based on actual MLB stats!

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Playability: This game comes with three ways to play in one package (almost). First you are supposed to start off with the basic rules (of which there are about five) that are listed on the game mat. This version of the game is very, very simple and neither player really has any say as to what will happen in the game, it is almost entirely left up to chance. After you've played this once you will want to move on to the advanced rules. In this version of the game you get to act more like a real manager as you can make player substitutions and can send in relief pitchers and pinch hitters. But there is still a whole lot that you don't control directly. After you've mastered the advanced rules you get to move on to the expert rules and here is where the game falls apart. Sure you get to have a lot more control over what happens during the game, but now there is the introduction of strategy cards (which you have to buy separate hence the, "almost" at the end of the first sentence in this section. The addition of these cards allows you to make good defensive plays or take extra bases, etc. but they really end up slowing the game down as you play them every pitch in an at-bat. The worst part about this game however is that even in the expert rules it doesn't touch on the most fundamental aspect of baseball: pitching. The creators really could, and should, have made cards for the pitching where one player chooses a pitch and the other guesses at the pitch and based on the roll of the die and the batter's and pitcher's stats the outcome would be changed. But one way that they could have made the game much better. 3 out of 5.

      Aesthetics: Really this is one of the best aspects of the game. The cards themselves are very cool looking with good in-action shots of the players. The stats are presented in a way that is easy to read, yet unobtrusive. And there are special holographic cards for some of the really good players. The mat that the game is played on is pretty cool looking with a full baseball field, but they really should have made the field look like an actual stadium with a crowd and perhaps a generic mascot. Hell if they wanted to make more money they could have made mats that you could buy that look like your favorite teams stadiums. 4 out of 5.

      Balance: The two sets of cards that this game comes with will make for a very fair and even handed game. However since the other packs that are sold come with random cards, you really don't get to choose what players you get to use unless you spend craploads of money trying to get the ones you want. So overall I would say that the balance is decent in the basic and advanced game, but is higher in the expert rules. 3.5 out of 5.

      Value vs. Cost: The game will provide hours of entertainment for you and your friend, but due to the fact that you really don't get to control as much of the game as you ought to and also due to the fact that to get some of that extra control you have to buy a lot of separate strategy cards you will end up spending more money to get a good game going than you ought to have to. 3 out of 5.

      The Verdict:

       The biggest thing that this game lacks is control over your pitcher. There is far too much left to chance during each at bat. This takes away a lot of the baseball fundamentals that we grew up learning. But it is fun for a quick game now and then nonetheless; you probably won't want to spend too much money building up your teams though.

      The Good: Good presentation, good overall concept, decent balance

      The Bad: Not enough control without sacrificing game speed, no real control over pitch selection, to get the control that you desperately seek you have to shell out a bunch of extra cash.

      The Overall Ugly: If you really want a baseball card game this one will suit you for a while, but don't be surprised if you keep wishing you had more control over the pitching.

      What it's Worth: $10.00.

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