I recently found one of my old MLB Showdown decks and it brought back a lot good memories. It is the still the best sports themed CCG in my opinion (although to be honest there are not a lot of them nowadays).
Without going too much in detail, you can simulate a full of game of baseball with MLB Showdown by rolling 20 sided dice and by comparing the results to charts to find out the outcomes. There is also a deck of modifier cards to help mitigate some of the luck. One of the best features was there was a fatigue factor as you play from game to game so you can’t use the same starting pitcher all the time and you had to rest players from time to time. Here is my team.
There was a hard cap to build teams so you can’t just play with all the best players. The deck that I found was honestly one of my weaker teams (I am not sure where my other teams are). This team is kind of top heavy with players like Larry Walker, Cliff Floyd and Roy Halladay. It came at the cost though. There are a bunch of below average players like Darren Oliver, Einar Diaz and Geoff Jenkins. They were needed to round out the team and to get under the point limit.
So why did MLB Showdown fail? First off, I remember MLB Showdown was controversial in the fact that foil rare cards came in exactly every X packs so it was very easy to map boxes. Thus if you knew this fact, you would never buy loose packs from an opened box which had to hurt sales. Also MLB Showdown had a weird rule that bench players were worth 1/5 of the points but had to come in the 5th inning or later (if my memory is correct). So tournament decks would have the best baseball players at the time like Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds in the bench that would never happen in the real world. And last but not least, to be honest, this is game was very repetitive. A game can get a little long and I wouldn’t even think about long MLB Showdown tournaments. For me most of the fun actually came from building teams and designing decks.
All in all, MLB Showdown simulated a game of baseball quite well but unfortunately that also meant that it got boring after only one or two plays. But if you love statistics and numbers crunching then you might even like the mechanics. If I can find another deck, I definitely want to give this game another go.