Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Diamond Fantasy™: Version 2.0 Debuts

Following are the enhancements added to the new version, available at the Baseball Card Cyber Museum:

2.0: Integrated DiamondTicker and DiamondWire

The most visual change to the game is that the DiamondTicker and DiamondWire windows have now been integrated into the game board. Having separate windows provided a few advantages, but overall it was more work to manage multiple windows in the course of the game. For example, if you wanted to minimize the whole game board, you had to minimize three different windows (then later open up three windows). Now it is just one mouse click. Also, the Diamond Ticker has greater importance now, as it is capable of showing your current reserves (a new feature).

2.0: New Preference: Auto-check Protected Card on Draft

If you find you usually end up drafting the players you protect, you can set the new preference "Auto-check Protected Card on Draft" to "Yes". This will check off the protected players' "Draft" check box for you, as a default. Of course, you are always free to change your mind and not draft the player. This was an option added almost as an afterthought, but after turning it on, you'll find you can blast through the early rounds of the game much quicker.

2.0: The Reserve Clause

St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder Curt Flood sued Major League Baseball in 1970 on account of the reserve clause, which allowed team owners to treat players like property or "chattel" and ignore factors such as player loyalty and fan sentiment. The reserve clause is long gone in baseball, but interestingly, baseball cards have always been treated as property. So, in Diamond Fantasy™ the reserve system makes a comeback.

In a nutshell, you'll now have the ability to add to your "reserves" (non-roster) up to three players previously passed on in the current protect/draft round. You'll have to wait until you have a full roster (nine players) drafted and up on the board to take advantage of this feature, but when you do you you'll be able to build up your very own reserve squad and begin treating your players like chattel, just like Mr. Busch, Mr. Mack and Mr. Rickey!

The fun comes in when you think it through and realize the number of different things you can do with three additional 'slots'. The number of permutations added with this feature alone are staggering. You'll be able to move players back and forth from your reserves to your active roster, and also waive reserves (put them on waivers, so to speak), when you no longer find it to your advantage to keep them around. Your opponent, the Kansas City Monarchs, will also be building a reserve squad, in order to compete with you at a higher level.

This is an advanced game feature that you can ignore if you like, and gradually introduce it into your game play as you start experimenting with it. Click on the "Help" link and then "The Reserve Clause" under "Advanced Game Play" in order to learn all the guidelines when dealing with reserves.

2.0: Extra Protect/Draw Investment

Everyone has heard the phrase, "It takes money to make money," usually in reference to the need to invest (or risk) funds in the hope of generating a greater return. And players of Diamond Fantasy™ are already familiar with the ability to earn an extra Protect/Draw per round when their roster is comprised of all National League or American League players.

But what if your roster is mixed across leagues, and you find your franchise flush with extra cash? Now you can put that money to work for you.

You'll now be presented, once per round after round 1, the opportunity to invest in one additional Protect/Draw, for an investment fee equal to roughly 10% of your current franchise's worth. This gives you the ability to see many more cards (if you use it a lot), or helps you to possibly complete a team (if used sparingly in the later rounds).

This is an advanced game feature that you can ignore if you like, and gradually introduce it into your game play when you feel you really need access to more cards. Click on the "Help" link and then "Protect/Draw Investment" under "Advanced Game Play" in order to learn more.

2.0: Tender Offers For Trades

A ubiquitous feature of Diamond Fantasy™ is the ability to trade players with the Monarchs whenever a Manager card appears on the board. Now there is an alternate way to swap players during a round, and that is, to accept a Tender Offer from the Monarchs to effect a trade. You'll see a link called "Browse Tender Offers for Trades" appear below the roster lists whenever this is possible. Click it, and you'll bring up the DiamondOfferSheet window, which lists all the possible deals the Monarchs are willing to make with you. All offers involve at least a million dollars in cash (your cash!) for the right to trade players immediately, without waiting for a manager card.

The prices may seem a bit steep at times, but remember to factor in the money you earn from any trade as an offset to the price. The prices fluctuate up and down during the game, and can get even higher towards the end of the game.

This is an advanced game feature that you can ignore if you like, and gradually introduce it into your game play when you see a Monarchs player you absolutely have to have immediately. Click on the "Help" link and then "Tender Offers" under "Advanced Game Play" in order to learn more.

2.0: New Preference: Revert to Basic Game Format

The new preference "Revert to Basic Game Format", when set to "Yes", allows you to play the game without the three new advanced 2.0 features (The Reserve Clause, Extra Protect/Draw Investment, Tender Offers For Trades). Why would you want to use this feature when each of the advanced features can be ignored during the game anyway? It is probably the best way to introduce a younger player to the game; without the distracting advanced features showing up, they can concentrate on protecting, drawing and building a team. Warning: once you've gotten used to the advanced features, going back to the basic version will make you feel as if your arms have been cut off, your cell phone's been stolen and you've been traded to Boise!

2.0: All-Area Team In-Game Bonuses

Do you have divided loyalties? This whimsical new in-game bonus may be just for you. Click on the "Scoring" link at the top of the game board, and you'll see a new in-game bonus called "All-Area Team Bonuses". This means if you build a roster of all players in specific team combinations (must be 5 players from one team and 4 players from another team) you can get a $10 million in-game bonus. You can also click there to get a list of combos, which are pretty easy to guess, such as the All-Chicago team (Cubs and Sox), the All-Canada team (Expos and Blue Jays), and the All-Bay Area team (Giants and Athletics).

It's more challanging than you might think, as many times you can get 6 players from one team and 3 from another and can't quite pull off the 5/4 split. Among the more esotaric combos are the All-Milwaukee team (Braves and Brewers, recalling that the Braves were in Milwaukee at one time) and the All-Mountain Time Zone team (Diamondbacks and Rockies). There are 16 combos in all; 4 teams didn't make a combo (Padres, Red Sox, Twins and Tigers), while 2 teams are in 2 different combos (Nationals and Cardinals).

2.0: Player Metrics

If you click the "Stats" link at the top of the game board, there is a link on that window called "View Deck", which shows you all the cards in the current deck at the same time. You can now click on "Stats" to see a new link next to "View Deck" called "View Player Metrics", which lists all the players in the game (grouped by position) and the basic stats that were used to create an initial player value. Sometimes you might be curious to know why a player such as Cesar Cedeno is the highest rated centerfielder in a given deck, while a power player such as Nate Colbert rates a measly $500,000 valuation at first base. The Player Metrics has the answers. Remember, the valuations are based upon the last season listed on the player's baseball card (ie. the 1972 season on Cesar Cedeno's 1973 card).

2.0: Game Log

A new link at the top of the game board, "Log", shows you an in-game, round-by-round summary of activity. The display can be set to show just scoring activity, or scoring activity plus all roster moves. There is an additional option you can use at the end of the game to show everything (cards drawn, cards passed up, Monarchs' discards, etc.) for a more-than-you-need-to-know breakdown of the activity taken by you and your opponent. The reason it's only available at the end of the game is that, if you think of Diamond Fantasy™ as a computer assisted, simulated card game, then looking at the complete game log during play would be like rummaging through the stack of discards in a rummy game - bad form!

2.0: Game Save

There has always been kind of an "accidental" game save, but now it works a little better. The game save is automatic, so closing the game board window and opening it up later (or the next day) will place you exactly where you were before. Just make sure there are all player cards showing on the game board, in other words, that you have the big green "Draw" or "Draft" button showing, so when the window is closed, you'll pick it up at that point. Note: games older than 30 days will be deleted.

2.0: Window Locations

External windows opened up from the links at the top of the game board (About, Help, Stats, Team Zoom, etc.) now hug the right edge of the game board (assuming you haven't resized your game board window, in which case, all bets are off).

Your comments are welcome.

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