Ah, the national pastime. Nothing beats it. Heck, if we had our way we’d play it all the time. Sadly, we don’t have nine friends. Heck, we don’t even have two friends. Okay, I’m gonna go cry now. But you should play this kick-ass but simple card game.

What You Need: A 52 card deck, something to represent bases, something to represent base runners.

Object: Score the most runs in three innings.

Number of Players: Two

Setup: Set up a three or four objects in the shape of a baseball diamond. If you have three jokers, or two jokers and two rule cards, perfect.

How to Play
If you already know the rules to baseball this’ll be easy. If not, you’re probably a terrorist commie and don’t want to know the rules to Norman Rockwell the card game, or Apple Pie the card game either.

Pick which player is the home team in whatever manner you like. That player will start as the pitcher, and the visitor will start as the batter.

The pitcher deals six cards to himself and three cards to the batter. He then looks at his hand and decides on one of the following pitches:

Fastball: Both players draw three cards.

Curveball: Both players draw two cards.

Slider: Both players draw one card.

Changeup: Both players draw no cards.

Of course, if you don’t want to memorize the pitch names, you can just say how many cards you want both players to draw – any number between zero and three.

After both you and the batter have drawn your hands for the pitch, the batter decides what kind of swing he wants to take.

Single: The batter draws three cards.

Double: The batter draws two cards.

Triple: The batter draws one card.

Home Run!: The batter draws no cards.

After he draws his cards, the batter and pitcher compare hands. Whoever has the better five-card poker hand wins. If the pitcher wins, the batter is out. If the batter wins, he gets whatever he was swinging for – So, if he was swinging for a single, put a base runner token on first.

In case you're rusty, here are the poker hand ranks. (Source: Jeremy Voros, Creative Commons-Share Alike)

Put all the cards used on the bottom of the deck. The pitcher is allowed to shuffle the deck whenever he wants – imagine the catcher is running out to have a chat with him – but you only have to shuffle between each half inning.

When the pitcher gets three outs, the players switch positions, just like in real baseball, and the deck is shuffled. Just like in real baseball, once each team has had a chance to bat you move on to the next inning. Unlike in real baseball, games only last three innings. Of course, if you really want to play nine no one’s going to bust down your door and stop you, but personally, our attention spans are too short.

Whenever a batter gets a hit, advance all runners on base one for each base the hitter took. So, if you have a man on second, and you hit a double, that man comes home.


Optional Rules

You can play with just the rules above and have yourself a grand old time. But we recommend spicing up the game with these strategic options.

Double Plays
If there is a baserunner on first and the pitcher gets the batter out, he can attempt a double play. The batter adds two cards to his hand. If the pitcher’s hand is still higher, the baserunner is out. If the batter’s hand is now higher, advance all his baserunners one base.

Before the pitch, if there is a man on first or second, that runner can attempt to steal. Flip the top card of the deck over first for the runner, and then for the pitcher. If the pitcher’s card is higher, the runner is thrown out. If the runner’s card is equal to the pitcher’s or higher, advance him a base.

Sacrifice Flies
When it comes time to swing, the batter can choose to try for a Sac Fly. He draws four cards, but is automatically out. If his hand is higher, you instead advance all runners as though he hit a double.

Pinch Hitters/Relievers
Once per game, after getting your batting hand but before the pitch, you can call for a pinch hitter. Discard that batting hand, and draw a new one. Similarly, once per game after dealing yourself your pitching hand, but before the pitch, you can call for a reliever. Discard the pitching hand and draw a new one.

Want the story of how we designed Playing Card Baseball? Read the Designer Diary here.

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