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OS Scores Explained Baseball Mogul 2013 Overview (PC)
Pros
Good simulation engine, incredible depth, lots of opportunities for creativity
Cons
Poor handling of aging superstars, mediocre graphics and sound, not hugely different from previous versions
Bottom Line
This is the best Baseball Mogul title yet, and a good choice for gamers looking to play their first text sim.
7.5
out of 10
Baseball Mogul 2013 REVIEW

Baseball Mogul 2013 Review (PC)

The Baseball Mogul series has always felt like the “other” PC baseball text sim, living in the shadow of Out of the Park (OOTP). But for baseball fans looking for a more streamlined experience than that offered by OOTP, the Baseball Mogul games are an appealing alternative. Does Baseball Mogul 2013 continue this series’ long streak of solid offerings?

Gamers who don’t play text sims might not understand how the market can support both OOTP and Baseball Mogul, but the two series offer very different experiences. OOTP is a much deeper game, in that every team has full minor league rosters for you to manage, as well as the potential to add independent and international leagues.
 
Baseball Mogul, though, keeps its focus on the major league level, with the minor leagues serving as a place to stash a few players until they’re major-league ready. The game generates comprehensive and useful minor league stats for these players, so they never feel superfluous. In addition, players who remain in the free agent pool for a while will eventually accrue stats in independent or Central American leagues as they wait for their shot, which is an awesome touch. While the focus is on the MLB, it feels like you’re managing inside a larger world.
 
 
Gameplay
 
Baseball Mogul gives players the ability to play each game individually, even selecting pitch locations and controlling every aspect of each at-bat. If you choose to take this level of control, each game takes only about 10 minutes. But this feature has changed only in subtle ways over the past few years, and while the little tweaks are much-appreciated, the best features of this game really don’t shine when you play through each season so slowly.
 
At its heart, this game is about simulation, and there aren’t many better tools out there for doing just that. In less than an hour, you can set your favorite team up in six different ways and simulate a season to see how they might perform. You can even use the game’s built-in single season simulator to simulate a season dozens of times and see how often various teams made the playoffs, as well as their average wins and losses.

Unlike in other sim games where you have to perform well or risk getting fired, Baseball Mogul basically gives you a giant sandbox to play in. In one game, I took my beloved Seattle Mariners and traded away every player that wasn’t making the league minimum for pre-arbitration players including Bryce Harper and Brandon Belt in an attempt to field the cheapest team possible. We only won 65 games, but we weren’t the worst team in the league despite fielding a payroll of less than $14 million. We also turned a $73 million dollar profit, and ownership gave me an additional $70 million in payroll for the next year. I spent that money on five new starting pitchers and snuck into the playoffs the next year. You’ll have fun doing similarly stupid things with a team.

Yes, Bryce Harper is in the game, as are many other top prospects that haven’t appeared in the majors yet. Baseball Mogul doesn’t use likenesses of these players, so there are no restrictions on who the developers can include. You’ll start with only 15-20 players in your minor league system, but they’ll all be real.

Things like fielding a team of nothing but prospects remain fun because player progression works. If a young player has a solid season, you’ll see his ratings increase accordingly, and vice versa. You’ll also see some veterans have sudden huge spikes and declines in their ratings, mirroring real-life breakout performances and collapses. Finally, some of your pitchers may improve by learning new pitches from veterans you keep on your staff. Mariano Rivera’s cutter doesn’t have to leave the game when he does – if you’re lucky, he’ll teach it to one of your young relievers.

Past iterations of this series had a forgiving trade engine. It was never very difficult to acquire a solid player by just adding one scrub after another to your trade offer. Now, though, it seems like the AI has gotten more protective of its best players.
 
Throwing 10 mediocre middle relievers at the Nationals isn’t going to get you Stephen Strasburg, and that’s the way it should be. The AI still offers you trades that don’t make any sense, but it’s easy enough to decline them. Also, there’s a handy “balance cash” button on the trade screen that adds money to one side or the other of a trade to make it “fair,” according to the game. It’s particularly useful when you’re just trying to unload a player with a bad contract, as the game will tell you how much money the AI expects you to absorb before they’ll take the contract on. It’s probably a little too easy to remove dead weight from your roster, but it’s better for novices to be able to clean up their mistakes easily.
 
 
Simulation Realism
 
A game like this wouldn’t work at all without a good simulation engine. Thankfully, the Baseball Mogul series has always been able to produce reasonable statistics, and this year’s game is no exception. You’ll see plenty of slumps and breakout performances, but they all fall within the realm of plausibility. Because of this variation, you’ll never see the same game twice. Your favorite prospect might develop into a superstar in one game and fall on his face in another.
 
The same variation extends to real-life players that show up when you’re playing games set in the past. Yeah, you might be excited to draft a 17-year old Alex Rodriguez, but don’t pencil his name into your starting lineup for the next 20 years yet – he may not develop into the A-Rod you know. In general, players of A-Rod’s caliber at least develop into useful major leaguers, but there are no guarantees, which enhances replay value a ton.

Playing in the past is awesome, as even the randomly-generated players have period-appropriate names, and the game legitimately feels different. You’ll see legends of the game come and go, and it’s a blast to try to put together a lineup of as many Hall-of-Famers as possible. But playing into the future is great too, as you’ll see things like the appearance of the first female MLB players (if you enable the option). On top of all of that, you can easily create a fictional league with entirely fictional players. If you’re a gamer that places a premium on content, you’re not going to be disappointed.

One of the benefits of Baseball Mogul’s lack of graphics and depth relative to OOTP is that simulation takes hardly any time at all. As a result, you can plow through an entire season in less than 10 minutes. It’s really, really cool to take a couple of hours and simulate 15 years in to the future and then look at how different players’ careers played out. The game tracks things like all-star appearances, World Series rings, and career milestones on each player’s card, so you can get a great sense of the ups and downs of each player’s baseball life. The game even follows players after they retire, as you will eventually see Hall-of-Famers die, with their dates of death tracked by the game.

A problem with the game, though, is that it handles aging players on AI-controlled teams unrealistically. Simulate 15 years into the future and look at the Hall of Fame, and you’ll find that most former superstars close their careers in AAA. Do you really think that Albert Pujols would spend the 2021 season in the minors? Or that Stephen Strasburg would spend the 2025 season anchoring the Nationals’ AAA rotation?
 
Players’ MLB careers also tend to end suddenly, even after productive seasons. Players also hang on in the baseball world long after they’re wanted. Ichiro almost never gets a new contract after 2012, no matter how well he’s done, so he heads to the independent leagues. The same happened to me with Adrian Beltre, who remained unsigned after a productive 2015 season and hopped over to the Frontier League for a sad ending to a great career. I just can’t imagine either of those things happening in real life.
 
 
Final Thoughts

As with nearly every game, there are a few rough spots. Career splits aren’t accurate, as every player has apparently only faced right-handed pitching in their stats menus. Also, I once hit a game-winning single in the bottom of the 14th inning and was told that I won the game 9-7, not 8-7 as it should have been. But those kinds of bugs don’t really detract from the overall experience.

Baseball Mogul games will always be compared to OOTP, but I don’t find the comparison to be particularly apt. This is a pick-up-and-play game where you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. No, it’s not as deep as other titles on the market, and the lack of graphics and sound might be off-putting to some. But for what it is, it shines.

If there’s a downside to this series, though, it’s that not much changes from year to year. If you put Baseball Mogul 2013 side-by-side with Baseball Mogul 2009, you’ll notice some improvements and refinements, but the game is largely the same. This game has my unqualified recommendation for gamers who are new to the series. But if you have last year’s version, I’m not sure that the extra polish on this year’s edition justifies buying the game again, especially considering the downloadable rosters, logos, and player photos that the modding community makes available online.

Graphics: There’s not much to see, but the menus and screens are clean and easy to navigate.

Learning curve: Unlike other, more complex text simulations, it takes only a few minutes to figure out what you’re doing. However, some of the more advanced features are hidden within menus, and although the game’s documentation online is strong, you might miss some features if you don’t take an hour to explore all of the dropdowns.

CPU resources required: Thankfully, the lack of graphics in this game means that most computers should handle it with little trouble. Plus, the game runs in windowed mode, which means you can do something “productive” while the game is simulating.

Sound: Sound is limited to a cheering crowd and some minor incidental baseball noises. It works, as the crowd sounds excited and boos at appropriate moments during the games you play yourself, but you’ll probably find yourself muting the sound after only a few hours.

Replay value: Practically infinite. You’ll never run out of new things to try.

Score: 7.5 (Good)

Member Comments
# 1 Octane @ 04/27/12 12:37 PM
I loved Mogul 2003? or something, the last one I played when I was in my teens. its a good game if you like the pure GM aspect.
 
# 2 waspman3 @ 05/24/12 09:09 PM
I'm like in my 50th game or so and like it. Injuries are starting to really kick in, Not into the Amateur draft. I'm 1.5 GB in the National League Central (Cards).I did finally turn the sound off as it can get annoying especially if ya play 2,3,4, games in a row. I'd rather play this baseball game than say the show and for different reasons than most. I love the excitement of most games and the sight's and sounds but this one in particular because of time constraints. Can play a game in like 15 minutes just before I head out the door.
 
# 3 Jessrond @ 12/20/13 05:46 PM
I much prefer Mogul over OOTP. I have purchased every version of Baseball Mogul since Mogul 2000 and I do not regret it.

For OOTP I've had a couple of them and "Season Ticket Baseball", which was OOTP on a CD for retail stores.

Yes OOTP has more detail but there are some things that frustrate me... it takes way too long to play with it, and the player development for minor leaguers doesn't seem as realistic as it does in Mogul.
 

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