Blaseball is a game about tracking stats, betting on games, and watching play by play live “games” as they unfold. These are not usually things I like to do. Blaseball is also, however, a procedural horror game about changing the rules, incinerating players, and even fighting gods.

Many of the games on my list don’t need a ton of explanation. You don’t need me to explain to you what Hades is, because I can tell you the genre and you could watch a trailer. Blaseball needs a bit more explanation. On the surface, it’s a fictional simulated sport (baseball, but with eldritch horror twists and changing rules). But it’s a bit more than that.

Blaseball “players” (not to be confused with the fictional players) make an account on the website, then spend coins placing bets. The more coins you accumulate, the more you can spend on “vote tickets”, which can be spent on “decrees” and “blessings”. Decrees will change rules across the whole league; blessings will change individual teams or players, often rearranging stats or trading players around. Each season lasts a week, with games every hour until 99 sets of games have played.

The Saga of Dom Marijuana

So, it’s a simulated sports betting game. What’s the big deal? Well, it’s also a game about the stories that unfold behind the stats and the scores. It’s about fan canon and collaborative storytelling. So let me tell you a bit about the story of Dominic Marijuana, star hitter for the New York Millennials, and his journey from weed joke to godslayer.

After the first season, Blaseball viewers chose to “open the Forbidden Book.” The book, it turned out, was a heavily-redacted Blaseball rulebook. The gods were angered, so in season 2, they retaliated.

An excerpt from the forbidden book

The umpires began occasionally incinerating random Blaseball players. Season 3 brought other strange happenings, including a plague of peanuts, as well as the incineration of Millennials player Chorby Soul. Fans agreed that Chorby must not have been the intended target. Afterall, the incineration had occurred at exactly 4:20 AM. Dom Marijuana, true to his name, loved to smoke on the field. As the Weed Time arrived and Dom went to light up, the umpire took disciplinary action; poor Chorby must have pushed him out of the way, sacrificing himself to save Dom.

Of course, Dom’s luck ran out eventually. In the middle of season 7, he became “unstable” (more susceptible to incineration), and said tentative goodbyes to his friends and loved ones before being incinerated himself. Over the next few seasons, the peanut god known as The Shelled One grew in power. Season 9 ended in a disastrous battle between The Shelled One and the championship-winning team. During a rematch after season 10, a secret weapon was unveiled; a team of resurrected players, among them Dominic Marijuana. After a protracted battle, Dom struck the final blow himself, a solo home run that killed a god.

Filling in the Gaps

The story of Dominic Marijuana is equal parts things that happened in Blaseball (getting incinerated, killing a god) and things that fans filled in based on details they’d invented about the characters (Chorby’s sacrifice, Dom’s bittersweet farewells). Blaseball intertwines reality and mythic embellishments, with fans creating the art and music and stories to cement them into legend.

Blaseball‘s fandom has become a creative space for fans to tell fantastical stories about their favorite players and to indulge in what they love most about the drama and joy of sports. There are Blaseball player RP accounts all over twitter and elaborate relationships between teams and players. Much like Dom Marijuana, some characters begin as memes and evolve into much more based on their plays in games and, sometimes, their untimely demises. Blaseball is full of comedy, but also stories of heartbreaking tragedy, guilt, and redemption. It’s an exaggeration of what fills real sports with so many interesting stories and personalities.

You can’t exactly just go “play” Blaseball, because the things I’ve described (and more) have already happened. But you can read about them on the wiki, see all the wonderful fan creations, listen to the music of the Seattle Garages (I’m a huge fan of the Mike Townsend saga), and engage with other fans on a very welcoming and inclusive Discord server. And though it’s on hiatus right now, Blaseball is coming back next year with a new season. Consider tuning in!