Dynasty League Baseball Online Review
Learning to drive doesn’t require any real knowledge of how a car works. That said, many people take real pleasure in learning the intricacies of the combustion engine anyways. From there, they can tinker and tweak, with the end result being greater (or at least more personalized) performance.
The same can be said about Dynasty League Baseball Online. You can jump in with only a basic understanding of how the game works, and still find success. But with a little bit of study, you’ll unearth the complexities of the game; in doing so, you’ll set yourself up for a great--and very deep--game of baseball.
I’ve written a lot about this gameplay in the past few years (http://www.operationsports.com/games...ball-online/); the game remains largely the same. Dynasty League Baseball Online is a baseball simulation, driven by dice rolls and player cards. These player cards are very intricately tied to real stats; play long enough, and your stats should mirror what actually happens on the field.
The beauty of this system is that it doesn’t necessarily require you to fully understand how it all works. The essential stats--things like batting average, throwing rating, stamina--are clearly visible. In fact, the game allows you to limit the information you receive to just the results, or play-by-play.
On defense, you can set your defense, intentionally walk, or pitch, based on the current match-up. When batting, you can call for bunts, steals, hit and run, etc. You can do all of this based on just those visible basic ratings.
But again, if you dig into the actual player cards, you can grasp a greater sense of what can and might happen. If you call for a hit and run, do you limit your batter’s potential power? Should you even try to steal, based on catcher’s throw rating and pitcher’s hold rating? Looking into the numbers, you can get a real and accurate percentage of what the results might be. By carefully reading the rules and cards, the level of care applied to the ratings is becomes fully apparent.
Speaking of results, the game factors in nearly everything that can happen over the course of the game. Injuries, ejections, weather effects, individual umpires, stadiums, and team chemistry all have a role in the outcome of the game. In one of my recent games, a thunderstorm delayed the start of the game; this resulted in a double-header and reduced player stamina. I witnessed a player beat out an infield hit based on his hustle and team chemisty.
Dynasty League Baseball Online is a browser-based game, which is really a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can play it on nearly any computer, simply by using a standard web browser. It loads easily and quickly, and the interface is clean and simple.
On the other hand, don’t expect flashy visuals. Animations are reduced to sliding player icons; die rolls are static photographs of actual die rolls.
Much like other text sims, though, graphics are perhaps the least important part of the game. That’s not to say that this is an ugly game. In fact, there are relatively high-quality day and night photographs or artist representations of each stadium depicted. Play in Milwaukee in the 80s, and you’ll see play on a great retro photograph of County Stadium. Additionally, the textual play-by-play is well-authored and sufficiently varied.
Dynasty League Baseball is best when played against other users, in either a league or tournament. While you can stick to a particular season (including 2012), I’ve had the most fun competing in “Greatest Team” leagues and tournaments. These are limited to 83 of the greatest teams ever, and create a great sense of “best of all time” each time you play. However, there are options for “keeper” style leagues, drafted leagues, varied playoff structures, and one-off games or series. The options are, frankly, a little overwhelming if you are new. You can also play against a computer manager if you’d like to hone your skills before facing a live opponent.
Human players offer the best experience, and thankfully, the game makes scheduling (or rescheduling) a match-up very easy. If you can’t make a game, proposing a new time/date is simple using game’s internal messaging system. Beyond that, you can “program” a manager to handle your team for you in your absence.
I will say that playing a series can take a while; I’d estimate a three game series can take roughly two hours. They are an enjoyable two hours, but committing to that long play time can be tough for some. Of course, you don’t have to play all the games--but you’ll probably want to.
One of the neatest things about playing in a league is comparing the real stats to the simulated stats. By keeping track of a wide variety of statistics, the game creates a unique world with interesting (but statistically probable) storylines and outcomes.
The only hurdles I can see in fully recommending this game are the graphics (not a big deal), time to play games (maybe a bigger deal for some), and the price (perhaps the biggest deal).
This game does operate at a monthly price point of $14.95 (it’s cheaper if you lock in for six months). For those who play other online multiplayer games, this is a reasonable price considering all of the modes and teams you have access to. For those used to paying a flat $60 for a game, I’d recommend trying the six month plan. I’d wager you’ll get your $60 worth (or, at least try the two day free trial).
Dynasty League Baseball Online occupies an interesting place in baseball gaming. It’s a text sim with roots in a dice and card game. It can be played solo, but is much better with others. It produces ultra-realistic stats and scenarios in a fantastic, all-time great setting. It’s very accessible, but also tremendously deep. It is also sort of like a multi-player fantasy game, without the dependence on current results.
If you like baseball and want to try something different, challenging, and accessible, I can’t recommend Dynasty League enough.
Score: 8.5 (Great)
Learning Curve: Again, as deep as you want it to be. The more time you spend learning the intricacies of the game, the more you’ll feel rewarded.
Visuals: A very basic but usable interface. Background era-specific stadium pictures are nice.
Simulational Realism: The players are carefully rated in numerous ways; technically the longer you play the more your created stats should match the actual/historical stats.
Lasting Appeal: So many ways to play, tons of teams, and plenty of historical seasons. The biggest limitations are time and price.