Dice Rollers & Automation

My time as a tabletop gamer has thoroughly turned me against technology when it comes to the gaming. I used to play some PC baseball sims, but anytime I try to get back into playing on the PC, it’s just too sterile. There’s something about watching the dice settle on the digits of their choosing, knowing that certain rolls are good or bad, and having the neurons and lobes make the necessary connections to piece together what happened. As opposed to clicking the mouse and instantaneously finding out the result.

Then there are dice rollers. These apps – you can find them on the web, in the appstore of most of your devices, or one can even design your own rolling spreadsheet – are somewhere between the processor and the gamer doing all the work. Throughout most of my gaming, I’ve been hesitant to even consider trying the dice rollers. It can feel a bit traitorous to turn your back on the ol’ plastic cubes.

But doing a 3rd playing of Buffalo at Oakland in my Second Season project (Oakland won Game 2 on a 35-yard Janikowski FG in overtime after a Lesean McCoy fumble) is making me reconsider.

The primary reason I’m going to try the roller when I get back to the game is because I’m using the Replay Game’s play calling chart. Using that requires you to roll 2 D6’s and a D20 to set the offensive and defensive plays. Add that to a D6 for personnel, 2 more D6’s for the actual play execution, and a D20 for rusher/intended receiver, and it feels like I’m throwing a fistful of rocks.

So this is my plan: I have a roller app picked out, which lets you customize colors and such. I will roll the 2D6/D20 playcalls, the personnel D6, and the rusher/intended receiver D20 on the app. Once I’ve nailed everything down, I will snap the ball with the black & white D6’s.

Maybe the biggest positive about a dice roller app is that you shouldn’t have to question the randomness generated from the app. The developer should have no reason to sabotage the mechanics of the random number generation. Because we’ve all been there, where your enjoyment gets interrupted by remembering that the last several throws have all been a bit too consistent.

Hopefully I’ll have a chance to post a video about all of this during the weekend sometime.

Play, Learn, Adjust. Then Play, Learn, Adjust Again.

I’m going to try and keep feeding this blog with information. I’ll probably redesign it a bit in the near future, but I’d also like to push more info in the form of written items.

So yesterday we discussed personnel, formations & playcalling and such. I went ahead and did a lot of work on what I thought was my actual “first” game in the NinFL last night. It isn’t quite done yet, as the score is tied with about 30 seconds left in the game and the Bills kicking off to the Raiders (an end-of-game Bills kickoff has NEVER gone wrong, after all…).

Scoresheet of Wk 1 Buffalo at Oakland, Take 2 – 20-20 with 0:30 remaining in the 4th Quarter

Above you’ll see my scoresheet thus far. This was with me calling offensive plays for both teams, using all of the things I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

Upon doing some initial analysis, it was easy to see that this wasn’t a good model. Most glaring is the fact that the Bills were at best at 50/50 run/pass team. In this game, Tyrod Taylor attempted 45 passes (never hit 40 once in 2016), to only 30 rushing attempts. Additionally, most Bills fans are aware that Taylor rarely eclipses 300 yards, and at this point in the game, he’s at 291. In 2016, he did accomplish a 300 yard passing game in the 2nd-to-last game of the season against Miami. Suffice it to say though, this doesn’t give me a good feeling that 1 game in, I’ve already set Taylor’s career record for attempts in a game.

Clearly it’s not a bad thing to have a banner day. But we’re looking for realism, and to me, this isn’t realism.

My plan is to finish out this game and see who wins, but I’m going to scrap this one too. The best course forward is to use Replay Game’s coordinator functions to dial in the right balance of play calls based on each team’s tendencies in real life. I have to figure out how to meld in personnel choices – I may go back to my original thought of using a 6 sided die to determine the sets.

But my advice in this:

  • Play – get the game in your hands
  • Learn – Figure out the things that aren’t optimal, and
  • Adjust – See if you can find workarounds that will improve upon them.
  • Repeat, repeat, and repeat.

It’s all about having fun, while trying to accomplish goals that bring you joy. Go to it!

Project Reboots & Learning From The Unforeseen

Have you ever gotten into something where you realize you lacked some foresight, to the point where you can see your result is going to be undesirable?

That’s the story of my life as a handyman. Grills, lawnmowers, toys…I don’t think there’s an assembly project I’ve completed where I haven’t gotten 3/4 of the way into the build before realizing I used the wrong part in the wrong place. Or connected something too early in the sequence, such that a later step was impossible to complete. Or left off an essential component, and having a fully assembled contraption and one measly part staring me in the face saying, “Earl, you’re an idiot!”

Well my Second Season football project thankfully isn’t 3/4 of the way through…but I have realized that I made a significant error in my plans for carrying out the Nineacious Football League.

Bark-leying Up The Wrong Tree

The trouble came in the 3rd game, pitting 2016 Chicago against 2016 Miami. My original plan was to use each team’s depth chart as listed. Chicago proved to be the challenge. Matt Barkley is listed as their #1 starter, which is understandable since he started the most games of any Bears QB in 2016. But he was relied upon mostly because Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer both sustained severe injuries in the season. Barkley’s 6 games started beat out the other two, who each started 5.

That leaves me very conflicted. I could just go with Barkley, but Cutler and Hoyer were both better than Barkley when they were available. I could go with Cutler, and let the game dictate whether he gets injured or not.

Or, I could do the preparation work to plan out the way the team’s fielded their squads in real life. That would mean I take Cutler & Hoyer’s injuries into account when the time comes.

But it also means I used Marcell Dareus in Game 1, when he was suspended by the league for the Buffalo Bills. And so my data is already tainted a bit.

Cut-lering a New Course

So my decision, since we’re only 3 games into a 72 game schedule, is to reboot.

I had some similar quandaries in the first Tenacious Baseball League, where I had not planned rest days and such into the schedule. That was easy to remedy – just start adding them from the point you realize. No team had unreasonable adverse effects from a lack of rest.

But in this project, I felt that the Buffalo-Oakland and (more crucially with a 3 point margin of victory) the Tennessee-Jacksonville results may be tainted by the inclusion of unavailable players.

So I am going to restart my league with Game 1, Buffalo at Oakland. It’s true that it is wiping a 48-7 loss off the board for the Bills. Trust me though, if I thought this wasn’t a necessary change, I would stick with the results and just move forward.

Additional SOP’s

A few other items:

  • My offensive personnel & playcalling are changing slightly. I am setting up sets for each team on a game-by-game basis using:
    • 21 (2 RB/1TE/2WR)
    • 12 (1/2/2)
    • 11(1/1/3)
    • 10 (1/1/4)
    • 22 (2/2/1)
  • I will make all offensive calls without the aid of a D20 – set, play-call, rusher, and/or intended receiver. Upon further understanding of the rules of Second Season, there are significant penalties for overusing receivers and running backs. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to try and gin up a result by overusing a receiver with a high R rating, as R passes are nullified once a receiver exceeds his catch limit.
  • The defense is set using Al Wilson’s simplified play-calling method. I have also considered changing over to a more complicated defensive coordinator, such as the one Replay Games designed. One thing that detracts from using the latter charts: they are set up to factor in the tendencies of the opposing offense, working hand-in-hand with the accompanying offensive play call tendencies. Therefore, for the solo player calling plays for the offense, it may be best to have a generic DC sheet that doesn’t skew too far to passing or rushing.
  • The previous recordings of the two other games on Tabletop Baseball + will be made private. I’m hanging onto those results and such for posterity sake, but the videos will be taken off our feed.
  • If I am going to record future game coverage of Second Season and the NinFL, I will probably stick to the 4th quarter only unless the game has significance.
  • I will try to post game recaps here on the blog or on the TTB+ Facebook page.

Thanks for understanding!

Learnings From A Rollercoaster Replay

I enjoy writing, but often struggle to find the right topic to unpack. Back when I wrote about soccer, I had a standing commitment to produce an article a week. That wasn’t for me. There are times I have a bag full of ideas, and others where it’s empty. Of course, when you’re producing a half-dozen videos per week about tabletop sports, a lot of those ideas get teased out on camera.

But it’s impossible to avoid writing a final few words on Tenacious Earl’s 2008 Phillies Super-Advanced As-Played Replay (could I have added any modifiers? Delicious? Exquisite? Over the top much?). Again, some of these thoughts were tossed around on the YouTube machine between March 29, 2017 until now. I don’t want to harp on this. Yet, I think it helps me to drop a post in here as a kind of time capsule to reference someday when I want to remember this project.

  1. Single-team replays aren’t my thing. There are members of our community who have done some excellent work replaying a full season for a single team (Tribefan first comes to mind). The monotony of trotting out largely the same lineup day in and day out wore on me. Some of the same guys I remembered from 2008 (Jimmy Rollins most of all, but also Carlos Ruiz, Brett Myers, and Pedro Feliz) as being super-influential fell short on many occasions, and having little variation from game-to-game was tough.
  2. As-Played replays aren’t my thing. A great part of my joy in the original TBL (2015 ed.) was managing the teams the way I saw fit. As-played gives you the feeling that you’re going to try and do better than the real manager. You quickly realize, however, that situations can’t be recreated, and any thought you had to using the same pitching changes, pinch-hitters, and defensive replacements in every game goes right out the window. Score affects player usage. If you’re ahead by 10 runs, why should you force yourself into using your closer because Charlie Manuel did?
  3. Replays of my favorite team aren’t my thing. You’re probably sensing a theme…we’ll move on from it shortly, I promise. I think stirring together the two previous points with my propensity to dive deep into the emotion of the situation creates a dangerous cocktail. I’ve harped on this a bit, so I don’t want to overwork these points. But this replay turned into a pressure cooker – exposing the same ingredients in the same ways without variation, plus having those ingredients have some terrible luck just got to me. I’m sure there are lots of other replayers who have vented in worse ways than I did. But I didn’t like it, and likely won’t do it again.
  4. Luck can mean everything. There’s a saying that in baseball you win 60, lose 60, and it’s the other 42 that dictate your record. Both the dice and the StratPC sim of the other teams gives you a great view of that. The Braves didn’t have a whole lot saying that they’d be an 89-win team based on their actual performance in 2008. And the statistics didn’t change a ton (+0.09 OB%, +0.16 SLG%, -0.30 ERA), at least not enough to scream a 17 game turnaround. But aside from analyzing game-by-game – which would only serve to frustrate me more – I think it’s best to chalk it up to luck. A few big hits with RISP, an opposing batter getting nerves and popping out in the big situation, it could have been any or all of that.
  5. There is no shame in canning a project if it’s not fun. I’ve had this complex because I pigeonholed myself into the name, “Tenacious Earl,” due to the league I ran. It’s just a name, but after putting that name on this project, I felt like it would have been a real travesty to abandon the 2008 Phillies replay given that name.But given the fact I completed the replay, to each their own, and I think it’s wise to consider your level of enjoyment when you’re simulating a season, tour, league, or tournament. If you’re not having fun, just discontinue it. Or at the very least, take some time off and play something else. I did the latter several times in the Phillies replay, and it did help.Having said that, another recommendation: if you do abandon a project because it’s not for you, learn from it. Dig down and figure out what characteristic of the project turned you off. Make sure to avoid other projects like that! Don’t put yourself through that again. It’s not fun to walk away from something. I always felt empty thinking that I might not finish this replay, and that drove me to complete it. But it shouldn’t mean forcing yourself to endure a lot of disgust, boredom, disappointment, heartache, frustration, and/or feelings of tedium.
  6. Remember Point #4? The Phillies probably had a lot of that. Don’t get me wrong, the 2008 Phillies were a good team, at least on the top end. They weren’t deep. They were lucky in many ways: they avoided major injuries to their big dogs, Lidge didn’t give up leads, they got some timely contributions from undervalued players (Coste, Dobbs, Kendrick, Moyer), and they had some decent match-ups in the playoffs. Compare that to the teams that came later, who were deeper and more talented across the board, but dealt with more injuries, a weaker bullpen, and went up against much better opposition when it came to the playoffs.

In the end, this project stands for me as a milestone and a memory. I set out wanting to relive the joy I felt on that October night when Lidge struck out Eric Hinske to get the Phillies their second World Series title. I don’t expect I’ll ever get there, even as I embark on a playoff simulation based on the results of this Replay/Simulation. Those expectations were too high.

I would like to remember this project as a way to not get too down in future endeavors. Whether that desired effect becomes reality remains to be seen.

Until then, my plan is to simulate, simulate, simulate. The Tenacious golfing world is a fictitious set of golfers, so that’s pure simulation with no vested interest. My Tenacious-style leagues always promote a level of intrigue that isn’t so much historical as hypothetical. I will also find other ways to eliminate “rooting interests” as much as possible going forward, as my goal is to be a commentator much more than a fan.

Thanks to all who have ridden this rollercoaster replay ride with me. The playoffs & World Series are in the works, but in the meantime, we’ll get some History Maker Golf & maybe a new Second Season project rolling away.

Definition: Ten-acious League Structure

The purpose of this post is to define a specific type of project that I set up and conducted over the past 9 months. I’m calling it a “ten-acious” league structure. It could very well be that others before me have put together a league of the same makeup, number of teams, schedule setup, etc. If so, I do not intend to claim ownership of this structure per se. Instead, I want to give it a name because a) the feedback I’ve received about the structure has been positive, and b) it helps to identify what we’re doing going forward if we call it a “ten-acious” style league.

Project Type: Simulation

Season: Any Strat-o-matic (and perhaps other forms of tabletop game) season will be appropriate.

Teams: Ten teams are used in this league. The key is to choose them randomly. The point of this type of league is to attempt to simulate a full season results in a smaller subset of games. If you cherry pick teams for a reason, you will diminish the chances you’ll get a true cross-section of your league. The best way to do this is to use Random.org‘s list randomizer and enter in all available teams for the season you intend to simulate.

Division: This style is intended to model an association football (soccer) league, in the sense that it’s a “single table.” All 10 teams are combined in the standings into one division. This is reminiscent of the AL and NL of the 1960’s, where there 10 teams per league.

Schedule: The league schedule is set up as 18 3-game series. Each team will play its foes 3 games at home, and 3 games on the road. This also has shades of association football (where teams play their league-mates 1 home and 1 away), but blended into a typical MLB motif of 3-game series. It has been found optimal to add off days here and there to decrease the chances of staff aces constantly facing each other, and doubleheader days can also bring about creative rotation usage.

Games Played: Each team will play 54 games. The proprietor of such a league will need to conduct 270 games to complete the regular season.

Rule set: The first league was conducted using Advanced rules, but any rule set would be compatible.

Rosters: The original league structure utilized the end-of-season roster for each team used. In theory, the proprietor could take measures to consider players traded midseason, calculating the point where those players shoud be either subtracted or added to enhance the realism of the team’s roster. Additional players are highly recommended due to injuries that will pile up for some teams.

Injuries & Rest: It is highly recommended that the proprietor use injuries as well as the Super Advanced Rest Chart (SARC). This helps to moderate player usage so that low plate appearance players aren’t overused. Rest rolls can begin at any point, but starting in the 2nd series at the latest.

Lineups: Each proprietor can decide if they want to incorporate real world lineups or create their own. Again, using the rest rules and injuries will bring about the need for daily lineup adjustments.

Playoffs: Playoffs are optional. Recommendation is for the top 4 teams to play semifinal best of 7 series (1 vs 4, 2 vs 3). The champion is then crowned after the winners of those series square off in a best-of-7 finale.

DH Rule?: Again, completely optional to use, but it should be done uniformly across the league.

Therapy In Strat-o-matic

This blog has not been updated with TBL statistics in weeks. This post won’t further that initiative either. Suffice it to say, the league is continuing in due time, mostly over at our YouTube channel. As I said, this post will deal with a completely different topic.

I’m currently going through a lengthy vocational transition period. The uncertainty hangs over my daily routine: drive to work, split time between accomplishing tasks and commiserating with peers paddling in the same hole-filled canoe as myself, drive home, and try and conclude the day with something other than the desolation of the unknown.

For a period of time I tried other “stress relief” activities such as those adult coloring books or crossword puzzles or just plain ol’ throwing on the television. Nothing really stuck that much. I’m a hobby guy, and all but a couple of hobby activities have stuck for longer than 2-3 months. It’s just who I am.

An online acquaintance suggested Strat-o-matic baseball when he saw me post a scoresheet from an MLB Network broadcast of a Royals-White Sox game in May. Returning to scoring ball games was another attempt to preoccupy my mind.

At that point, things changed.

My parents helped enable this pursuit for me, knowing that I was in the midst of one of the more unsettling periods of my life. I looked forward to asking for the game as a potential Christmas gift; a frivolous board game wasn’t something that fit into our budget while pushing most of our funds into reducing debt. Instead I opened the mailbox, and there was a card with a check telling me to get the game right then and there.

And so I did. A few days later began my days as a cards & dice Strat player. After a couple of basic games, I realized just how much it took my mind off of the doom and gloom that would regularly creep into my mind as I’d be sitting and watching this or that. I then started the TBL after seeing the number of people doing solo projects out there. Adding a league structure that gave me my own world to control further distracted me, giving me something to strive towards on my off-hours.

The outlook is no better at the moment. Sure, as a Christ follower I don’t fear the future. But it doesn’t change the coming and going of unease, especially while I’m at work. But the TBL is my place to go to escape. Rattling around the dice, trying to decide whether to hit-and-run or play off the card, managing the lineups…it’s a fictional world where jobs and bills and mortgages don’t exist.

That helps to cope with unproductive feelings. Not to mention, I’ve found my next hobby.


Update On TBL Plans

So I’m trying to get this social media/blog thing down for the TBL. My access to PC’s is not always easy since I haven’t had a working personal laptop in a couple of years. Our family PC is often getting used by others, so finding the free moment to put together blog posts in front of the keyboard is tough.

I’ve adjusted my gameplay videos to be live streams on YouTube. The upside is that I don’t tie up my phone in post-production & uploading to YouTube. I also have been able to interact with viewers. I love that aspect!

The downside is that the videos are longer. I leave in prep activities and background activities. It also contains some of the discussion directly to commenters where the people watching the video after the fact don’t see the chat comments. 

But at this point, I like live streaming better, and I’ll continue. I need to keep rolling games in between as well to help move things along.

I’ve also adjusted the schedule to include off-days. I’d like to get it where it’s not just #1 starters vs #1 starters every time. 

So between Facebook, Twitter, and here, I’ll try to post updates to when live streams will occur. Stay tuned!

Standings And Statistics: Gameday 14 Recap

So looking back on here, I realized it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve been enjoying trying to put out YouTube content, including some live streaming events (such as tonight, will update with a link as soon as it completes processing).

The TBL continues to be decked in Dodger Blue after 14 games. Find the standings below:


If you notice, this is a different format than before. We’ve moved to BallStat as our statistic compiling software. The Rangers are two games back of the Dodgers, followed by the Cardinals and the Cubs rounding out the top 4.

In terms of league statistics, here are some of the key statistics for both pitching and hitting after 14 games:


And pitching:


I’ll try to keep things updated from hereon out. BallStat makes it a bit easier. I would prefer to use it to create a website that anyone can peruse on their own. Maybe down the road I’ll have the resources to afford such luxuries.

Gameday 11: Recaps


So we’ve gone to Ballstat here at the Ten-acious Baseball League. This program saves some time with compiling all the necessary information to bring you the league results.

We won’t have actual writeups again for Gameday 11; instead, please find boxscores below.