Last week, I did a review of APBA Baseball 5.75 but I focused only on the game itself. I knew from the outset, that most replay and simulation fans would get more from the game if they incorporated the Advanced Draft and League Manager. Those sub-programs are what help you plan and carry out a more realistic simulation or replay.
I had some time this past weekend so I delved into these more complex features and learned how to use them. I do want to stress what I said in my initial review… this is my first foray into APBA’s computer games since the 1990s so I’m learning all of this from scratch.
One more note before I get into the review: If you are new to APBA Baseball, I suggest following the tutorial that’s found on the APBA website. It’s quite comprehensive and maybe even remedial for those who are used to version 5.5 but it will show you how certain tasks are accomplished in APBA Baseball 5.75.
Let’s start with Advanced Draft.
‘Professional Baseball’ is the protected set which cannot be edited
What is the purpose of Advanced Draft? Essentially, here are the main functions:
- Preparing an organization for simulation
- Drafting players (dropping or adding players from teams)
- Editing available lineups and rotations on each team
Just to be clear, an ‘organization’ in this context, could be a full 30 team league or it could just be two teams playing head-to-head in a seven game series. It depends on what you want your simulation to entail.
An APBA Baseball 5.75 season disk set begins with one ‘protected’ file. That is, you can’t edit it. That’s a good thing. However, you can make a copy of that organization which can be modified to your liking. Teams and players can be dropped, added, and lineups can be edited or added.
haha just kidding, Yankee fans!
The user interface isn’t perfect but once you get the idea of how it works there aren’t any glaring problems with it (once again, I encourage new people to refer to the tutorial… I had to a couple times). Once I had the gist of setting up an organization, deleting teams (if necessary), adding and dropping players, and editing the lineups was pretty simple.
Advanced Draft does include a couple of optimization tools to help with lineup generation. Give them a shot. They may never fly in real life (the Pankin Optimizer suggested I lead off 1961 Frank Robinson who hit 37 HR) but it will give you a starting point.
Now that you have your organization or league set up and ready for simulation, you’re ready for the League Manager. The League Manager will help you:
- Set the schedule for your simulation
- Determine how injuries and rest will be handled throughout the simulation using APBA’s AIM (Advanced Injury Management) feature.
- Assign your AI manager, pre-set lineups and rotation for each game
- Specify rules and assign home parks for the games
- Determine which games will be played by you, the computer, or will be watched in ‘Spectator’ mode
Configuring Advanced Injury Management (AIM)
The advantage of League Manager and Advanced Draft is that you can be as hands off or hands on even if you let the computer play the games for you. There are many decisions that can be made before you start your simulation that can affect the course of the play of game. Decisions for each team can be made such as what type of player replaces an injured player or how long a starting pitcher should pitch.
The flexibility of the League Manager allows the replayer to play every game or to choose which teams he would like manage while letting the computer AI manage the rest. For that matter, he could have the computer manage a full 162 game season in less than 15 minutes.
For my testing, I set up the 1961 World Series New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds focusing mostly on the features of the Advanced Draft. I also set up a full 1961 NL and AL season this time, dealing mostly with the League Manager features.
For the record, Whitey Ford was the big hero in the Yanks-Reds matchup. He won two complete games allowing two earned runs and led New York to a 4-2 World Championship. Maris and Mantle both hit three homeruns and drove in eight runs. I’m through May 2 in my 1961 full season replay letting the computer run through a few weeks on auto-manage. So far, Baltimore is leading the AL with a 12-6 record thanks in part to a 16 game hitting streak by Jim Gentile. In the NL, San Francisco is tied with Chicago (and their College of Coaches) with a 10-7 mark. Cincinnati isn’t far behind at 10-8.
I haven’t really addressed StatMaster till this point. StatMaster, the statistics program for APBA Baseball, has been around since the days of APBA for DOS. I remember loving it back then and quite honestly, the updated version is still a good program. This is the one of the big advantages of BBW it can be claimed. Every stat category can be easily calculated automatically at any point. It’s not flashy but it does its job very well. It calculates standings, team stats, individual stats, leaderboards plus time sensitive stats like streaks. All stats can be displayed by division, team or league.
As I said in my review of the actual game, playing a simulation sport game may be fun but when you put it in the context of a season or a series, it gives it meaning. When I play APBA Baseball 5.75 and see the batter replay stats in the corner, it gives it significance. That’s what Advanced Draft and League Manager is all about.
Overall, I found Advanced Draft, League Manager and StatMaster delivered as promised. I’m certainly not an expert and I’m sure the BBW aficionados out there could find shortcomings but for the most part I enjoyed the overall package. In some ways, I almost enjoyed the process of setting up the simulation and watching the progress than playing the game itself.
Keep in mind, there is plenty about APBA Baseball 5.75 that I haven’t even touched. I haven’t talked about ballpark effects, display customization, importing and exporting and the migration tool.
After playing with it for a couple days, what is the one thing I would change? It’s a small thing but if they could add an ‘undo’ feature that might be nice. When editing lineups, I find myself adding the player to the wrong lineup spot too often. A quick Ctrl-Z keyboard shortcut would be nice to undo what I just did so I could do it right (instead of moving him to the right spot and figuring out which player I displaced by mistake and putting him back).
As an avowed dice gamer, will I switch to APBA Baseball for Windows? Most likely not. I love tabletop gaming too much. Will I play with APBA Baseball 5.75 now and then? Most definitely. At the very least, I will see how long my Cubs will last in the 1961 NL race.
The Cubs always were hot in April anyway.