The Talk Show – March, 2008


Host: Glenn Guzzo


You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.



Reminder: Send us your “Great Moments in Strat” – your playing experiences that you just have to share.



The Therapeutic Value of Strat-O-Matic


            I made my order for the new season on Jan. 3. I forgot about it since I have other worries like getting a job, since I lost mine. On Monday, Feb. 11 I was doing my dishes about 2:30 p.m. and I heard a honk. I went outside and the mail lady said she had some packages for me. When I saw the familiar color and size of the package, I got so excited! Yesss! It was my new SOM!


            The last two years I have been buying the computer game and the cards and now I have almost every season (except the 1800s) in my computer, and I have about 18-20 sets of cards. My brother loves to play the old-fashioned way, so I have been getting the cards. I prefer the computer game.

            I have been so depressed after losing my job, I have been seeing a therapist, but this SOM game is like a therapy to me. I started separating the cards and getting the cards ready for the weekend when my brother comes. I loaded my game in the computer and you don’t know how much this game means to me. Through the years it has carried me in some of the worst things that can happen in life – loss of a son, father, mother, divorces. Definitely God put Hal Richman in this world for something even greater than what he thinks. I have been so concentrated in making lineups, starting pitchers rotations that I even told my therapist today.


            This 2007 has the most amazing cards I have ever seen in my 40 years of SOM baseball playing. Like Joba Chamberlain’s amazing 0.38 ERA. Yes, you guessed it, I am a die-hard Yankees fan, but I always say I have two religions – Christian and SOM fanatic. Thank you, God, or Hal Richman and SOM, you have pulled me out of another dark moment. I hope before I die I can visit the Headquarters in Glen Head.

            Long Live Hal Richman and SOM!

Orlando Leon, Polk City, FL



            I can see it now, Strat-O-Matic’s new marketing message: Costs Less Than a Therapist! Seriously, this is powerful stuff, Orlando. I do hope the new season is not taking time from your job search, but otherwise yours is another in the testimonials about how this hobby helps so many of us get through times of loneliness, ill health and misfortune. During times of economic distress, it provides daily enjoyment for many months, all for the price of one or two trips to the ballpark or a few movie tickets and popcorn. It is a loyal companion, always there when you need it. And it is a link to other people who share the joy and who, in turn, can help lift your spirits. Those are blessings, indeed. I pray that as the game lifts your spirits it provides you with the outlook that will help you be successful in other ways, too.



Rookie’s Luck Won’t Happen Again if he Lives to be 1,000

            It was my first time playing Strat-O. A friend taught me how to play and let me borrow his 1984 baseball set. My brother and I, along with one of his friends, lotto drafted every player into 9 teams and we each randomly drew 3 teams.

            Forty games later, anchored by Dwight Gooden and a 35-5 record, my team enters into the championship. Many long-time Strat-O players will tell you, no matter how good your team is, sometimes you fall prey to “the dice gods.” This was one of those days, my brother literally dropping everything he needed.

            Coming up in the bottom of the 9th, I find myself down three and at the weakest part of my lineup. I roll a 1-10, an out. Next batter and I roll another 1-10, this time a walk. Have “the dice gods” started to shine on me? I am amazed as I drop a third 1-10 to get a single, making it 1st & 3rd and one out. A decent hitter up now and I notice there’s nothing in the 1-10 slot but an out. How is it possible to drop four straight 1-10s? I take the chance that I couldn’t possibly roll another 1-10 and the 1-10 drops AGAIN! I’m scrambling for ANYTHING off my bench with a 1-10. All I remember from this point is Gary Redus and a 1-10 walk to load the bases. The lone hope off my bench, Eddie Milner has a 1-10 homer split that I can’t ignore now. I watch as the dice tumble across the table, seeming like they were laughing at my brother as the 1-10 roll comes up! I’ve never rolled a 20-sided that fast before knowing one result ties the game and the other is a sixth 1-10 – a pinch-hit, game-winning grand slam! My brother’s frustration was my complete amazement as the latter roll scribed into our memories the most uncanny Strat-O game ever!

Clark Webster, Cleveland

            Truth is stranger than fiction. But we’re not likely to hear of this again. Six straight 1-10s is about a 1-in-140 billion chance. In other words, if you rolled the dice once per second for 24 hours a day without a break, you would expect to roll six straight 1-10s once in about 4,440 years. However, the chances of rolling any 10 or any 4 (which has the same chance of coming up as a 10) on the two dice added together is a mere 1-in-1,679,616. With rapid-fire, 24-hour-a-day rolling, you could expect to do that in less than 20 days. If it takes you more than one second to roll and re-roll the dice, multiply accordingly.



Wishing on a Starr (and a Bradshaw, Montana, Aikman …)


            Can SOM do a set of football cards that takes the top Super Bowl teams from America’s Game on NFL Network? How about carding these eight teams according to NFL Network:


1. 1972 Miami Dolphins

2. 1985 Chicago Bears

3. 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers

4. 1989 San Francisco 49ers

5. 1992 Dallas Cowboys

6. 1966 Green Bay Packers

9. 2004 New England Patriots

10. 1976 Oakland Raiders


            These are their actual rankings. I left out 2 teams where a team was duplicated (i.e., 7. 1975 Steelers, 8. 1984 49ers).


            If not the top eight, how about the top six? Is there any chance of this happening? Can someone float this idea out there to the powers-that-be at SOM? This seems that it would be very popular.


Dave, Kentucky


            I’d guess there’s no chance of this happening, at least not for many years. That’s because the ’85 Bears, ’78 Steelers, ’92 Cowboys, ’04 Patriots and ’84 49ers are available in card form from SOM right now, each in a single-season issue. They are not likely to be repackaged into a great-teams set. The ’89 49ers,’76 Raiders and ’75 Steelers eventually will appear in card form, as SOM is carding the best teams from three historic seasons per year. Finally, the ’72 Dolphins and ’66 Packers are available in the computer game, though not on cards.



Hockey Stats Back on Track


            I wrote you last year about how disappointed I was with the 2005-06 SOM hockey card set.  The goal scoring was off about two goals a game total in my Sabres replay.  I almost didn’t order the set this year but noticed a note in the flyer that said the formula had been tweaked to reflect the higher goal scoring.

            I replayed the Sabres’ 2006-07 season using the super-advanced rules and half the Red Wings’ season using the basic rules.  The results were much better, especially the basic game. 

Jerry Magoffin,
Williamsville, NY


            Glad to hear it. It’s both helpful to others and gracious for you to write about the improvement. Your experience with the 2006-07 season seems to match the statistical realism others have found, so there’s widespread encouragement.



Hockey Q&A


            Two questions concerning SOM Hockey:


            1. What is the asterisk that appears next to some assist ratings?


            2. Has SOM considered updating the action deck for C&D to increase the number of penalties (to reflect the higher number in the "new" NHL)?  If so, is there a timetable or have they already done so?


Scott Dicken, Ft. Lauderdale, FL


            An asterisk in the boxed assist rating is for a defenseman whose rating is to be reduced by one when playing on the power play.


            The board game aims to reproduce individual penalty minutes rather than total power-play opportunities, so the Action Deck has not been changed to account for the extra penalties in the “new” NHL.



Facing the Press Was Tough This Time


               I just spent an enjoyable evening catching up on the past year’s Talk Shows.  I should visit more often.  You do a great job and it’s a lot of fun to hear from other gamers.


            I have a suggestion for the computer hockey game.  I am often frustrated by the inability to alter a team’s lineup once the game has started.  For instance, if a player is knocked out of the game by an injury I’d like to edit the lines to my liking rather than using what Hal picks.  It’s also not uncommon for my pre-game strategy to be ruined by early scoring and I want to change the offense and fore-checking numbers before the third period.  I could make these changes every time the line comes around, but it would be a lot easier if I could access the team line-up during the game to make the changes once and then forget about it.


            One note about the Mahovlich-Ullman trade that was mentioned in an earlier Talk Show.  I recently completed a 1967-68 replay where I used actual line-ups.  In real life the Leafs and Wings were 5th and 6th place teams playing out the string when they made the big trade.  In my replay, though, Toronto was in first place, 4 points ahead of the Canadians with two games in hand.  I made the trade, but I had a real hard time justifying it to the imaginary reporters in my brain.  To make things worse, the Leafs went 4-5-4 after the trade and barely hung on, finishing 1 point ahead of Montreal.  The Canadians then beat the Leafs, 4 games to 2 in the eastern finals on their way to the Cup. Ullman scored 7 goals and 15 points in his 13 games with Toronto, and added 6 goals and 11 assists in the play-offs, so the slide wasn’t his fault.


Joe Smith, Phillipston, MA


            It’s Strat-O-Matic’s way to build a lot of flexibility into its computer games, so if the programming challenge is not too great, your wish-list item is bound to get consideration. The reasons you want these changes certainly are sound and reasonable.


            In your 1967-68 NHL replay, you encountered something that can confront any gamer using an as-played style.  What if, instead of playing out the string, a team is contending late in the season? This could be a team like your Leafs, who were not real contenders. But it could also be a real champion that, in the replay, has not clinched the title early. In both cases, little-used players got real-season starts and serious playing time down the stretch. And it could be 90-100 percent of their actual, full-season playing time. But to use them in the final games of your replay could sabotage the team’s chances.


            You can make the case either way. You could say the as-played goes out the window for the contending teams. It’s only fair. Who would play the bums and the late-season call-ups in those games? But how soon would you justify changing course – only on the final weekend of the season? The whole final month?


            On the other hand, you could just say “too bad” to the contenders. The non-contenders had to play their bums early – you know, the players whose terrible performances early in the season doomed their team’s chances before those players were shipped to the minors. You could reason that it’s only fair the lesser players on the better teams get their actual playing time, too. Failure to use them down the stretch not only will wipe out their stats, but will inflate the usage of the better players.


            I’m inclined to choose the first option, but only for the final 1-2 games of a football season, the final 5-6 games of a hockey or basketball season and the final 10 games of a baseball season. Changing the rules as you go along can get sticky, though. What about that team that isn’t contending for the title, but has a shot at the playoffs? In today’s leagues with small divisions, that could be half the teams.


            It’s even tougher to justify reversing a trade. But in many NHL seasons, trades were permitted very late in the season, and they often sent high-salaried stars from non-contenders to the contenders in exchange for players with minimal current value. At least in your case, the Leafs and the Red Wings exchanged future Hall of Fame players in their primes, so both clubs received value.