If Horse Racing is the Sport of Kings then surely Blaseball is the Splort of Kings. This game is simple on the surface but has a lot of depth, complexity and a ton of lore. So join me for this tale of fun, splortsmanship and Eldritch Gods.
“One of the Beautiful Things About Blaseball is the History“
Blaseball has a long and celebrated history dating all the way back to 20th July 2020 when the game first launched in open beta by The Game Band, who are also developing Where Cards Fall. It described itself as “Baseball at your mercy”, a very fitting description as it turns out. It was a simple baseball simulator, devoid of any fancy graphics or actual control over the action. But you could follow along with the action with text updates in real time as the games were played!
On top of this there is also gambling. You start with a small amount of coins and can bet on the outcome of each game, earning more and betting more. You can also use coins to buy upgrades to increase the amount you bet and how much you earn from your team winning. There’s no microtransactions at all, the currency is all in game.
So what is the appeal? After all this just seems like a standard Baseball sim. What’s so exciting?
Each season lasts for 99 in-game days which last an hour meaning a season lasts about a week, there are also Decrees and Blessings that fans can vote on. You can buy votes with coins and contribute as many as you like to each one. Decrees permanently alter the game of Blaseball itself. Blessings are alterations to your team that may be permanent or temporary. They were mostly normal things, aside from a few… oddities.
A couple of nice stat boots essentially. Teams voted and fought over these but the one place where they seemed to be united was on the Decrees.
Being the curious types, Blaseball fans voted to open the Book with an overwhelming majority.
What happened next was… Chaotic.
The Discipline Era
The Book opened and brought forth strange events, all of which were bad. Solar Eclipses were now a frequent occurrence. The Umpires’ eyes turned white. Star Player for the Seattle Garages, Jaylen Hotdogfingers, WAS INCINERATED, and a Hellmouth swallowed the Moab Desert resulting in the Moab Sunbeams being renamed to “Hellmouth Sunbeams”. These events marked the beginning of what would be known as “The Discipline Era.”
This kind of overshadowed the fact that the Philly Pies were the first Internet Series Champions.
Season 1 was a prologue, a mere introduction to the concept and a chance for fans to get acquainted with how the game would work. Starting from now, the game had truly begun. Season 2 starts…
As it turns out, the Umpires’ eyes turning white means that they can now incinerate players at random in games during Solar Eclipse weather. 16 players lost their lives playing Blaseball this season (not including Jaylen.) Fan favourites found themselves being set ablaze and replaced by new players who were often incinerated just as quickly. Blaseball was becoming a dangerous game. The season was eventually won again by the Pies.
And this is just the start of things. Blaseball evolved into a completely chaotic experience where depending on the weather event, your favourite player could be incinerated, swap teams in the middle of a game or gain a peanut allergy. Events that occurred during the first Era include awakening an angry peanut God, using necromancy to revive Jaylen Hotdogfingers, an ungodly amounts of birds, and eating the rich.
“It’s Fun; Blaseball is Fun”
So what is the appeal of this? Sure it seems wacky but what makes it tick?
Well I’m glad you asked. The most important thing to understand about Blaseball is that it’s extremely bare-bones. The picture I posted above is about the extent of what the game gives you in terms of information. You get a text box that tells you what’s happening and that’s your lot. Where things become interesting is the fan interaction. Because Blaseball is so bare-bones, fans decided to fill in the blanks. Almost everything is made up by the fans including the fan culture of each team, team logos, stadiums, players’ appearance, personalities and pronouns are all decided by the fans.
When you sign up you’re given a list of 20 teams to choose from, you can do some research on the excellent Blaseball Wiki to get an idea of what each team is like or you can choose by whichever silly name you like the sound of most. Are you going to pick the Canada Moist Talkers? Maybe the Charleston Shoe Thieves? Personally I chose the Seattle Garages because I like Seattle as a city. Turns out I made the right choice as they’re an anarcho-syndicalist band that formed a team. Fans actually produce music under their name.
And this is just the norm with Blaseball. Each team has their own fan culture. You can contribute to the lore, draw art and interpret characters however you wish, make music, make RP accounts and even report on the games. The community is one of the biggest bonuses when it comes to joining in the cultural event that is Blaseball.
There are dozens of RP accounts on Twitter, each one acting as a player, sometimes they’re ‘official’ team accounts, sometimes they’re reporters. Even the developers are in on it with the official account being the
Commissioner CEO who frequently updates and interacts with fans and is well known for their flat “what” reaction.
There’s something for everyone in this community and no matter what you end up doing, you’ll find fans eager to welcome you to this exciting world. The inclusivity of the community is nothing short of spectacular. They are extremely accepting of everyone. As long as you don’t push hateful messages, you’re welcome to join. I found it very easy to just be myself and everyone I’ve met is just wonderful.
The other aspect is of course how much influence over the game you have. The Decrees we pick make the game different and interesting and the Blessings make our team stronger (or sometimes weaker.) The best part of all this is that it’s not just the fans playing the game, the developers are players just as much as the fans. In a way it’s far more like a tabletop role-playing game with the unique twist that no one is really in charge. The developers can make changes to the simulation but mostly only by the will of the fans. They write things that end up in the game like the Peanut God or the Hall Monitor (A giant squid) or The Microphone but ultimately the only one who decides things is the simulation.
No one can make a team win a season, no one can force the narrative a certain way, no one can directly influence the game in any way (Okay, the devs could if they really wanted to but they don’t.) The magic here is that the simulation is in charge and it doesn’t care about sides. Take for example the story of the Tacos. After shelling was introduced, a mechanic where certain players got trapped in giant peanut shells so they couldn’t play, they decided to run an experiment (The Snackrifice) and called on the community to get all their pitchers shelled, partially in protest against the Peanut God, partially just to see what would happen if they had no one to play. They were successful and the next season the developers decided the appropriate thing to do was give them a 1-star Pitching Machine as punishment for “going on strike.”
Every game that season was pitched by Pitching Machine. Due to events such as blooddrain (which allows players to siphon stars from other players) and party time (players get random stat boosts in games that occur after they’re mathematically eliminated from the playoffs), the Pitching Machine ended up with 5 stars in pitching. The developers attempt at a punishment backfired horribly as they ended up giving the Tacos a new star player. The algorithm does not play favourites.
Essentially the ‘game’ consists of each side putting something into the machine and seeing what comes out and then reacting to that. Even things that aren’t meant to happen become lore. At one point the website crashed during a game, when it came back the Tacos had an extra game recorded resulting in them having played 100 games in a season instead of the standard 99. This event was just left as is and named “The Grand Unslam” by fans. It was then the devs turn to react and they did so by making it canon and establishing that as a result of The Grand Unslam, LA, the place the event occurred in, had a space-time rupture and was made into an infinite city of LA from every dimension. To reflect this, the Los Angeles Tacos were renamed to the Unlimited Tacos.
“Blaseball is Not a Splort You Can Achieve Individually”
This shared-initiative approach to design makes for an extremely engaging game where things are always changing. It’s not the only game to update over time, many Games as a Service do that, but they usually have established roadmaps, features planned out long in advance and bugs are squashed in development. Blaseball has none of that. Events happen at random and the developers are frequently just as surprised as the fans.
Blaseball lives alongside its fans and developers. It’s always growing and evolving, frequently in ways no one predicted. I’ll never forget the reaction of the fans, myself included, when Season 9 concluded with an extremely exciting game between the Shoe Thieves and the Crabs. The Shoe Thieves managed to scrape a win at the bottom of the ninth for the Championship when suddenly…
The Peanut God had returned. Angry at our blasphemy against the Gods, he gathered the best players who had been shelled and made a team with them. The Shoe Thieves were forced to play one last game that season on Day X against their friends and fellow players, forced into thralldom at the hands of this maniacal Peanut. It was a heart pounding experience, terrified that these simulated people who we had given appearances and personalities, who we cheered on despite not being able to hear us, were lost to us, under the command of a powerful God. The fear that a terrible fate would befall the Shoe Thieves for their defiance. We all watched in anticipation as the game became a JRPG.
The community exploded, no one knew what was going on but we were on the edge of our seats the entire time. What was going to happen next?
This is the power of this kind of game. The developers created this scenario and we, the fans, were now reacting to it with powerful emotions. Because of the free-form nature of the narrative, we had all constructed a world full of players that we loved and stories about them that endeared them to us. We had created something we cared about and we watched on in horror as the realisation that something terrible may happen to them sunk in.
Few games can boast that level of emotional involvement. Out of what is ostensibly a simple baseball simulator, the community created a rich and compelling world. The developers just poked and prodded at the machine they had created, seeing what would happen if they got a giant Peanut God to attack a beloved team. Blaseball isn’t so much a game, it’s a machine for creating fun, for creating stories, for creating community. It’s compelling in a way few other games are.
Blaseball is described as an “Absurdist Surreal Horror” game and that’s a pretty accurate description. I’m sure I’ve made it clear that the game gets pretty absurd a lot of the time, surreal too. It is also very much a horror game, we contend with Umpires who incinerate our players daily and Eldritch Gods who seem to have it out for us.
The scariest part of Blaseball though is that we are not in control.
“I Chose Blaseball Because to me Blaseball is the Best Game of All”
So why should you get into Blaseball? Well that’s up to you. If you want a baseball simulator that you can bet on then that’s why. If you want a community that is welcoming and caring then that’s why. If you want a free-form setting that you can contribute to then that’s why. The only reason not to take up Blaseball is if you hate fun.