Strat-O-Matic Review: A Healthy Dose of Nostalgia

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William Barton Avatar by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Jan 14, 2021

If you’re a long-time sports fan and thinking about getting a Strat-O-Matic season, there are a few things you need to know.

Our review will break down the shopping experience, plus run through a few of the brand’s baseball offerings to see if their games still hit a home run.

The original baseball simulator
The Adult Man Image/Icon Image source: Strat-O-Matic

Strat-O-Matic

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Bottom line: Strat-O-Matic packs a dual punch of nostalgia and fun for hardcore baseball enthusiasts. Shopping with the brand is a breeze through their online store

Ratings:

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Pros:

  • Simulate baseball games going back to the 1911 season
  • The in-depth stats and thorough gameplay algorithm result in realistic outcomes
  • The nostalgia factor is high
  • Easy to shop online and find unique seasons

Cons:

  • Slower paced than digital simulators

You’ll remember 2020 as the year the Dodgers won the World Series. 

As a lifelong fan of the Dogs, it was great to see. I grew up in San Bernardino, which is sort of like LA’s neighbor that leaves a bunch of trash in their front-yard. 

But with this year’s abbreviated season, I didn’t get my full baseball fix. 

That’s when Strat-O-Matic stepped in and sent along their classic board game to help me through the offseason and into the 2021 season. 

So what’s a Strat-O-Matic tabletop board game really like? Keep reading to get the full scoop. 

What Is Strat-O-Matic?

Strat-O-Matic was created in 1961 by a Bucknell University student with a passion for baseball statistics. 

For the last 60 years, many kids gathered around the table and simulated heated pennant games by consulting their player cards and rolling dice to determine the play. 

In case you’re not familiar: it’s a tabletop baseball simulation board game. 

Strat O Matic fielding card

But what makes Strat-O-Matic unique, besides being one of the original simulation games, is the attention to detail in determining a player’s abilities and translating that into an algorithm that results in realistic gameplay. 

The idea behind the game is that you feel like a club manager. Are you going to put on a pinch-runner to try and get the steal? Which closer should you use when you’re going up against the heart of the lineup in the bottom of the 9th? These are the hard choices you get to make in every Strat-O-Matic game. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Board Game from Strat-O-Matic

Strat O Matic game

Strat-O-Matic is best suited for hard core sports fans who follow several teams closely and understand their strengths and weaknesses. And they don’t only cover baseball—football, basketball, hockey, college sports—Strat-O-Matic does it all. 

Beyond that, the game will be a trip down nostalgia lane for baseball fans who can play with their favorite childhood teams.

Strat-O-Matic is also a great way to get your teenager playing games that are fun but also teach them math, statistics, and baseball along the way.

Strat-O-Matic

What do you mean you couldn't get 17 other people together to play a baseball game? That's fine. All you really need is a pair of dice and Strat-O-Matic for endless baseball fun. Oh, and the dice are included.

Visit Strat-O-Matic Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Strat-O-Matic Baseball Board Game Review

Classic: 2019 Season

Unboxing the stratomatic

Strat-O-Matic releases new player cards with updated statistics every year so you can recreate and simulate the season. 2017, 18, and 19 have all been really popular as many folks wonder what would happen if the Astros weren’t sign-stealing the whole dang time (I said I’m a Dodgers fan—you didn’t think I’d bring it up?). The 2020 season will be coming out in February 2021.

Strat-O-Matic also releases upgraded older seasons every year. They have seasons all the way from 1911 available. If you wanted to learn about baseball history, there’s no better way than playing some Strat-O-Matic games with Walter Johnson and Ty Cobb.

Strat O Matic player card

This board game takes between 15-30 minutes to play after you learn the rules and get used to reading the results. My first game took 45 minutes but it’s quicker after that. It’s just enough to get into the game and have a decent amount of strategy to it, but it’s not so long that you have to break it into chunks. 

In my simulation, my Dodgers punished the Giants 6-1, just like real life. It was great. 

Hall of Fame 2020

Strat O Matic game mode hall of fame

This is where the game gets really fun, in my opinion. The Hall of Fame 2020 edition of Strat-O-Matic features the best players of all time, and the stats are compiled from the players’ seven best years. 

So you get a good feel for how great the player was over time—not just in their best year. 

As someone who loves the question, who would win in a fight: a tiger or a bear, this is a fun way to simulate games. 

playing stratomatic 3

Where else do you get to pit Cy Young against Mike Piazza? Nolan Ryan vs Ken Griffey Jr.?

If you’re a lifelong baseball fan, playing this fantasy-style game will bring back a lot of good memories of watching your favorite players and hearing stories of the great legends that came before. 

Baseball Enemies

Strat O Matic rival enemies card

Strat-O-Matic created this one for the folks who love a good rivalry. Again, this version of the game takes the same statistical precision that makes the simulation realistic and puts a fantasy spin on it. 

There are only six teams in this edition, which might not seem like a lot, but their lineups are enough to keep you entertained for days. 

Boston, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, LA, and San Francisco all make the list, and there are some fantastic matchups. 

Strat O Matic pieces and dice

Of course, I played LA vs SF. 

Two of my favorite matchups were Madison Bumgarner pitching against Jackie Robinson, and Kershaw vs Mays. If those don’t sound like epic games, then I don’t know what does. 

And for even more scope, just imagine managing the New York outfield: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Babe Ruth. You have to bench one of those guys. Oh, and you have Lou Gehrig, Derek Jeter, and A-Rod in the infield. 

What do Other Reviewers Say About Strat-O-Matic?

Reviewers on BoardGameGeek give Strat-O-Matic a solid 8/10 with over 1,000 reviews. Many reviewers returned to the game after 30 years, while some folks say they love it after playing their first game. 

There are a few other baseball focused board games but none have the combination of ease and fun to play with the realism that Strat-O-Matic has.

My Thoughts Overall On Strat-O-Matic

What I Like

  • I love all the different impossible matchups you can get by mixing and matching different sets.

  • After playing a few games, it’s clear that the simulation is consistent with realistic outcomes. 

  • The nostalgia factor is high, which makes this a fantastic gift. 

  • It’s easy to find unique seasons and shop through Strat-O-Matic’s online store.

What I Don’t Like

  • Looking up the results of a play takes longer than a digital game. 

Who is Strat-O-Matic for?

Strat-O-Matic is an excellent choice for anyone who loves fantasy baseball but wants to take it to the next level.

The Verdict

Strat-O-Matic takes all the best parts of Fantasy Baseball and turns it into an intimate game you can play with a friend or by yourself. 

If the managerial aspects of America’s game excite you, you’ll get a kick out of pulling Mickey Mantle out to have Babe Ruth step in as a pinch hitter. 

While I enjoyed simulating a game from the 2019 season, I had more fun in the impossible matchups. Bumgarner vs Robinson is a matchup to get excited about. 

There are a few minor drawbacks to playing a card and dice game of this magnitude, mainly just in the time it takes to pull the cards apart. But once you’ve got the initial set up done, this game is an excellent piece to go to on a rainy day or when you feel baseball season ended a little too soon.

Strat-O-Matic

What do you mean you couldn't get 17 other people together to play a baseball game? That's fine. All you really need is a pair of dice and Strat-O-Matic for endless baseball fun. Oh, and the dice are included.

Visit Strat-O-Matic Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

FAQs

How realistic is Strat-O-Matic?

In the games I played, Strat-O-Matic had very realistic outcomes. There weren’t too many errors, no outrageous amount of home runs—I felt as if the box score was something I watched just last season.

Can you play Strat-O-Matic on iPad?

Yes, Strat-O-Matic has a Windows game that has seasons back to the 1800’s. They also have a mobile/web game that’s more fantasy style called Strat-O-Matic Baseball 365.