Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Clutch Baseball or its employees. They asked me to do a write up of their new game and I accepted, therefore I have no intention of sugar-coating any flaws. If you want to look more into the game after reading – http://clutchmoment.com/
You may be asking yourself, what the hell is Clutch Baseball and why do I care about some card game? So why not begin by answering those two questions.
What the hell is Clutch Baseball?
According to their website, Clutch Baseball is “an exciting, fast-paced fantasy game. Build a team, craft the perfect strategy deck, and choose a home stadium. “This about sums up the game, you organize your team and just go at it. If this interests you at all – then why not give it a shot.
Why should you care about some card game?
The classic baseball card is a good time. You get to break the seal on a crisp pack of possibility hoping you may get your favorite player or a card worth some money. Unfortunately, the baseball card has become outdated for a number of reasons; for starters, the statistics provided on the back of the card are no longer relevant to modern baseball (see Kieth Law’s Smart Baseball for more information) and the appeal has been diminished by more complete ways of enjoying baseball (see MLB The Show and OOTP). In truth, the baseball card has been dead for a while now, but Clutch Baseball has the opportunity to revolutionize the Baseball Card.
With such being established, let break the game down into its three major components: Presentation, Gameplay, and Clutch Hobbies, LLC.
Everything is Perfect. The presentation of the game is absolutely superb and the team behind the product did a great job putting it all together. I opened the box they sent me and immediately was impressed. They sent a base copy of the game along with some booster packs and a pack of big league chew (which unfortunately melted and reformed into one massive blob of amazing).
After that I got into unwrapping my bag of goodies and was again impressed by everything I saw. The cards themselves are neatly organized, wasting almost no space but still looking crisp. The three styles being Players, Stadiums, and Strategy.
Along with the variety of cards, I received the game mat. The mat reminded me of and plays a lot like a Pokemon card map, it’s not that hard to figure out even without an instruction guide and looks great. The team even took the time to sign the mat for me, which was really cool on their behalf.
Speaking of “really cool on their behalf,” the guys behind the game have great costumer service with aids their presentation a lot. Anytime I needed anything, they were responding immediately and seemed truly eager to get the feedback of baseball fans. You will see that level of commitment later with the Q&A.
The Gameplay is rough at the beginning. The quick-start guide covers how to set up the mat and the basic formula of an at-bat but is a little vague on strategy cards, stadium effects, and where to set up a defense. I found myself reading the guide about 15 times before I felt that I knew what I was really doing. After you get through the initial confusion, it becomes a lot of fun. Being a baseball fan, coach, player, and writer, the Gameplay was addictive and interesting. I wanted to explore all of the strategies and match-ups and styles and cards, however, the games are a bit time consuming, and my friends are not as big baseball nerds as I am. I plan on exploring the game more in full once I have the chance, but for now it is mostly positive and I am excited to play it again and again.
Clutch Hobbies, LLC (Q&A)
I figured I would use the Q&A to give you all a glimpse into the company and the decisions that went into making the game. One of the creators, Jordan, is answering most of the questions.
Q: What are your personal backgrounds in Baseball? Former players? Fans? Writers?
Jordan: Just a Red Sox fan pretty much
Sean: Former little league player now little league umpire
Mike: Former little league player now little league coach
Q: What is your background in the card game industry?
Jordan: Life long TCG player. Magic: The Gathering, competitive Yu-Gi-Oh, Dragonball Z, etc. Also tabletops such as Mage Knight, Small World, Zombicide, Thunderstone, etc.
Sean: Former MLB Showdown tournament player.
Mike: Pretty much just casual MLB Showdown.
As far as the industry, this is the first crack at the market for all of us. The company is Clutch Hobbies LLC and our premier product is Clutch Baseball but we hope to expand into other sports, other genres, and even other media.
Q: What inspired you to create Clutch Baseball?
Clutch Baseball began 10 years ago when me and Mike were in high school study hall together along with 2 other friends. We began reminiscing about MLB Showdown and how they had canceled the game. Mike was just getting into graphic design at the time so he said hey I’ll make some of our own cards and we can play. Thus, EH Showdown was created (EH for East Haven, the town we grew up in). 8 years later I’m now in college and Mike has graduated with a degree in graphic design. I needed graphics help with a presentation I had to create for my Basic Computer Applications class. He shows me some EH Showdown style stuff he had been working on. I didn’t think much of it, more amused than anything. The next year I came back to him for help with an advertisement I had to make for my Marketing 101 class. I came by his house and stuff was really fleshed out by now and I was hooked. He had found a guy on Reddit (Sean) who was down to make the game. I asked him if I could join up and we hit the ground running. We really focused on making our own, unique product that was different than any past games this time around.
Q: Why now? Where do you see the current MLB marketplace going?
The median baseball viewer is getting older every year but I feel there are a lot of quality young players coming up that could help interest rebound. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are both superstars under the age of 25. The Yankees and Red Sox are touting some exciting young players in Judge, Sanchez, Bird, Bogaerts, Benintendi, and Betts. The MLB also seems to be trying to appeal more to younger audiences by updating and streamlining the game. Adding instant replay and pitch timers, not allowing batters to leave the batter’s box, making intentional walks automatic, stuff like that.
Q: How has business fared to date?
Business has gone far better than we every could have expected. We set up our Indiegogo campaign with a goal of $5,000. We said to ourselves man if this hits $10,000 wouldn’t that be nuts? We ended up breaking $16,000 when all was said and done with. The only issues we’ve had is trying to continually keep up on stock and the orders we’re receiving. We have some amazing fans that truly believe in us and want this game to succeed more than anything. However it’s a very long road to get to where we want to be and we aren’t letting the success get to our heads in any way.
Q: What company or aid did you receive in designing and packaging the game?
Thankfully we have an experienced and talented graphic artist on the team so we’ve done pretty much everything ourselves. From there it was just about finding people we could rely on to manufacture us quality products at a reasonable price and timeframe. That’s been the hardest part. From stickers, to game mats, boxes, and even the cards, there’s always been issues along the way but we’ve been able to rectify them fairly quickly. As of now we believe all our business relationships are in good standing moving forward.
Q: Do you feel the game is unmarketable to non-baseball fans?
Not unmarketable but definitely a much harder sell. However we have play-tested the game with friends and family who had no interest in baseball and they found it very enjoyable. At the end of the day, there’s different numbers and different names but it’s still just a strategy card
Q: Do feel that the game is harder to get a grip of then most other card based games?
If you are not a baseball fan, yes. If you are a baseball fan, I’d say it’s probably easier since you come in knowing most of the rules already. We’ve taken great lengths to make the game accessible and casual-friendly so you can pick up and go right away. It’s a lot simpler than most of the other sports simulations out there.
Q: Why did you choose an assortment of more unknown baseball writers to help with publicity?
Honestly we just scoured social media and the blogsphere to find talented writers creating quality content regarding the game of baseball. It didn’t matter to us if they were famous or unknown as we’re pretty unknown ourselves.
And that about wraps things up. Big shout out to Clutch Hobbies for giving me the opportunity and I look forward to seeing where they go from here.
If you want to purchase the game, head on over to http://clutchmoment.com/shop/ and find the team on twitter, facebook, and Instagram.