Before there was WIS ... there were tabletop and PC basketball simulations.

Here's a "ranked" list of tabletop sims that I have played from the early-90's to the present.
I'm curious if there are some good ones I may have missed (or bad ones to avoid)

1. Replay Basketball
2. Strat-o-Matic Basketball
3. Pro Basketball (SI and Statis Pro)
25. Basketball Strategy
99. APBA Pro Basketball

Replay Basketball is a very playable sim that yields realistic results, and has "enough" coaching options so that you feel you can influence the game results.   Has particularly nice models of usage, rebounding, fatigue and injuries.   The last 10 NBA seasons are available and the designer occasionally releases earlier seasons, including some ABA models.   Very active set of users that collectively simulate NBA seasons as player cards become available.   Takes a few games to learn but then plays in about an hour even when keeping statistics.   Has both "fast-action card" and "cards+dice" for randomization with a few charts to consult.   Designer regularly visits and responds to questions in discussion forums...   Probably best as a solitaire game.   Elegant and fun!

(for stat geeks, a deck of "fast action cards" have a weighted distribution of various game-play results for each possession)

Strat-o-Matic Basketball  has been around since the 1970's.   It has a Basic, Advanced and Super Advanced gameplay.
After you quickly outgrow Basic mode, you'll spend a bit of time staring at the Advanced rules.   Nice model of shooting tendency, range and court positioning.   Gets a bit fiddly as you try to take advantage of some of the strategic options, but still playable.    Usually can order any of the last 10-15 seasons from the publisher.   Earlier seasons can be found for resale.   All results from "fast-action cards" with some dice rolls -- no charts required.    Playable as solitaire or two player, though my co-workers will only play Strat Football.

SI/StatisPro Pro Basketball also has been around since the 1970's, originally from Avalon Hill (which was mostly a war game publisher).   The player models are simple though reasonably accurate for shooting.   The instructions come with a guide to create your own teams, which is handy as the game has been out-of-print for years.   Relies solely on Action Cards.   Plays quickly.

Basketball Strategy also appeared in the mid 1970's, again from Avalon Hill, as a companion to their Baseball and Football Strategy Games.   It is an extremely abstract game -- think of it as basketball from the perspective of a brigadier general, which is not surprising as the designer was renowned for his war games.  It consists of two teams with exactly the same generic players with a handful of attributes that range from 1-3, and a 24-page manual on how to decisively conquer the opposing team.   With all that said, it still has some intriguing concepts regarding matchups and positioning.  Interestingly, in the "designer's notes" there is commentary on the weaknesses of computer basketball simulations of that era (40 years ago) which still pretty much holds true today.

APBA Pro Basketball
arrived in the 1960's.  My edition is from the mid-90's.   How it lasted that long I will never know.  The first big hint arrives when you open the box and you find a single one-sided "rules" sheet that says "DON'T READ THE MANUAL - READ THIS".  I guess people were confused by the additional 9-page and 8-page instruction manuals, and the "other" rules found on many of the game action charts.    Of course, step #6 in the "DON'T READ THE MANUAL" manual, tells you to see page 1 of the manual (hmmm was that the 9-page or 8-page version?).   But wait, upon opening up the dusty game box tonight I see a note at the end of the 8-page manual suggesting that there is another "Partial Game Instruction Manual"  that must be lurking somewhere in the box or was mercifully not included.    

11/21/2013 2:24 AM
I loved StatisPro Basketball.  It was a great game.

APBA basketball was as horrible as you described.  I bought it in the mid-80s and it still had the one shot free throw in the rules.

JumpShot Basketball is a decent PC simulation, but it has virtually no coaching options other than substitutions.

11/26/2013 1:27 AM
Gee -- I never actually got to the point where I had to figure out if I had a free throw coming...   Ironically, APBA's original PC DOS basketball sim was pretty decent.
11/26/2013 2:15 AM
I like the site that came on line back in Jan.2013 called  - "dream team". It's different but I get to do the things that WFT sports has been asked to provide for years and obviously will never provide. This site is circa 1990's crap. I play out of the dallas server, you know the name..
12/20/2013 4:28 AM (edited)
On gamegamma I get to run my player substitutions, change offense & defense during the game and the fatigue sub routine is quite good. You do need to be there RT during the sim. A game is about 15 min's long, you need to be hardwired to play, wifi doesn't cut it at this baud rate. Serious Cyber Crack.
12/20/2013 4:46 AM
I still have my 76-77 Strat-O-Matic Basketball.  I absolutely loved it, but always had to play solitaire since I didn't have any friends or relatives who had sufficient amounts of time, patience and basketball geekiness.
12/20/2013 11:08 AM
Got started with several kids in my neighborhood playing various strat-o games.   Two of us would still get together for the football version when we were home from college some ten years later.
12/20/2013 10:32 PM
Does any of the tabletop games include the ABA
12/29/2013 10:27 PM
Replay Basketball has the 73-74 as well as 74-75 seasons.   I own the former, which has ten teams.

12/30/2013 12:46 AM
Another neat thing about Replay is that it has the notion of "rare plays" to add a little flavor to course of the game.   For the ABA season, an additional "pre-game" check was added, generally based on life and times in the red, white and blue ball league, affecting the entire game.  Here's a sampling ... 
  • poor arena lighting -- and subsequent shooting accuracy penalty
  • travel problems -- randomly players are not available for the game
  • circus comes to town -- and remaining guano causes visiting team to protest their way to several technical fouls
  • 10 cent beer night brawl -- random players spend night on very cold bench
  • missed paychecks -- entire team performance is reduced for at least two periods
12/31/2013 8:56 PM

Search Criteria

Terms of Use Customer Support Privacy Statement

© 1999-2018, Inc. All rights reserved. WhatIfSports is a trademark of, Inc. SimLeague, SimMatchup and iSimNow are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts, Inc. Used under license. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.