[Content perpetually undergoing review by Bureau Of Answering Terribly (BOAT)]
This is not a question that a simple FAQ can answer. This is not a question that even an entire essay can answer. But here’s a few things: it is a largely text-based browser game, where in-universe games of “Blaseball” are procedurally generated by a server. Players can have their stats/performance changed dramatically by random events – and can even be incinerated directly on the field. Fans can vote to change the rules of the game in ways both subtle and dramatic, and have organized large-scale campaigns around these votes. There are a lot of LGBTQ+ fans. Fanwork is heartfelt and plentiful. The site ticker calls Blaseball a “cultural event”. The community and developers are in a close dialogue with each other, in a way that almost no other media has ever accomplished.
Good question! There’s a lot of information out there, but some places you can start are:
- The Blaseball Wiki’s timeline
- Blaseball’s official recaps on Youtube
- and this massive list of other Blaseball recaps and news sources
This is really only the introduction—there are lots of smaller stories within Blaseball, and many, many characters. Don’t worry about trying to get it all at once! You can have a good time while only knowing a handful of characters, or not knowing any characters at all.
Well, it’ll help. Here’s what you need to know:
Baseball is a sport in which two teams play against one another. One team attempts to hit the ball and the other attempts to catch it. Which team is hitting is changed The team with the most runs—that is, the most successful trips around all four (or five, things get weird in Blaseball) bases—is the winner.
If you prefer to learn through videos, “Baseball Rules for Beginners” by The School of Sports can get you pretty close pretty quickly, and Learn Baseball by TheOnDeckCircle starts from zero assumed knowledge and explains everything. Or, if you like wiki rabbit holes, start from this page of the IRL baseball wiki.
If you recognize some of this from cultural osmosis but aren’t clear on the specifics, a place a lot of us started from, there are some terms that’ll be useful to know. These include:
- Run: A baseball point. The team at bat scores one when a player successfully makes it around the entire baseball diamond without getting out.
- Out: An event that removes a player from play. Three outs signal the end of an inning. This includes a hitter getting three strikes, getting tagged with a baseball, or a fielder tagging the base the hitter is currently en route to.
- Inning: Baseball is divided into nine innings, further divided into a “top” and “bottom.” After nine innings, the game is over—unless teams are tied, in which case the game goes into overtime.
- Strike: A strike occurs when a hitter does not hit a good ball. A “strike, swinging,” means the player swung but did not hit. A “strike, looking,” means the player did not swing at a legitimate pitch. Three strikes and the player is out.
- Ball: Confusingly, a “ball” is not just the thing you hit. A “ball” is also an improperly thrown pitch. If the hitter swings at a ball, that counts as a strike. If they do not swing, it counts as a ball. After the pitcher throws four “balls,” the player draws a walk, meaning they can go to first base with no risk of being tagged out.
- Foul ball: When a player hits the ball but it goes in the wrong direction. This counts as a strike, but can never count as a strikeout (thus, if so, the record will continue to show them having two strikes).
- Sacrifice: A player hits the ball in such a way that they know they’ll get out, but their teammate may have a chance to advance or score.
- Flyout: If a ball is caught in midair the batter is out immediately.
- Groundout: If the ball touches the ground at least once, the fielders need to take the ball and touch either a base or the batter themselves to put the batter out.
- Double play: A double play involves two players getting out in a single play—for example, the hitter hits the ball to the outfield, where it is tossed to first base, getting the hitter out, then to second base, where the previous first base holder is attempting to run. Both players are out on just one hit.
Once a team is mathematically eliminated from the possibility of playoffs, they enter party time. This used to just be a special Discord channel, but as of season 6, there is also a chance for players to gain random stat boosts while in party time.
In baseball, if the home team gains the lead in the bottom of the ninth, they win — the rest of the inning is not played (this is called a walkoff). In Blaseball, the rest of the inning is always played, and if the home team scores in that inning, the away team is “shamed.” This often has no consequences, but some seasons have included mechanics where shame does have an effect, such as setting a negative score on the shamed team in their next game equal to the number of runs they were shamed.
There are two ways to make the championships: the usual way and the wildcard way. The usual way means racking up enough wins to be in one of the top two places in the sub-league of each division—that is, Wild or Mild High or Low—making for eight total teams. The wildcard way, introduced in Season 9, means that one wildcard team will be drawn at random from the remaining teams in each sub-league. Those wildcards are seeded, and the 4 and 5 seeds play in the wild card round, a two-win series.
Blaseball games run automatically on a server that uses procedural generation to simulate in-universe Blaseball matches. A line of text about what’s happening in the game will be sent to your browser every few seconds: that’s how you watch Blaseball. The gameplay of the browser game goes like this: bet on games, make money, use that money to buy votes, and invest the votes into “Decrees” that change the rules of the league, and “Blessings” and “Wills” that have a chance to improve your team.
A large part of the experience of Blaseball, though, exists in the interactions between fans: voting campaigns, lore jams, watch parties. Some people have argued that this, too, is part of how you “play” Blaseball.
Click the button on the website.
Okay, that’s probably not detailed enough. Your question might be something closer to “Why do I need to choose a team immediately?” Just click something and figure it out later. You can’t pick wrong. Promise. It’s pretty easy to change ingame teams once you’re in the site – it doesn’t even take the day(ish) of grinding for ingame currency that it used to! The game-design reason is because it is more interesting to watch games when you have someone to root for, even if you pick entirely by random.
If your question is, instead, “How are the teams different?” – each team’s fans are sort of like their own mini-fandom, with distinct internal cultures and various levels of emphasis on lore, stats, and interteam relations. If you want a structured look into team culture, Canti from the Atlantis Georgias made this nice slideshow a while ago. (It might not be totally up to date, but the general vibes should still be about right.)
Then again, you’re already on the Spies website…
As of Season 24, a lot of the rules got swallowed by a black hole (long story) and money currently doesn’t exist. So a lot of this will probably change in the future, but it’s being left here for now in case it comes back.
Go to the Shop (you can get there by pressing the vote ticket button) and buy yourself snacks.
If you’re just starting out, buy some Popcorn and Stale Popcorn (gaining money from when your team wins or loses, respectively). If Blaseball is on off-season or siesta, buy a Breakfast (just one; more doesn’t help) and close all your Blaseball tabs. Then check the website daily to collect the money.
A more old-fashioned strategy to make early-game money is called “beg betting”. Acquire snake oil and breadcrumbs, then bet as much as you can on every game. When you run out of money, go to the shop and beg for more. Continue until you’ve bet on every game.
If you run out of money entirely, you can still do beg betting; the first vial of snake oil is free. Even if you have somehow managed to sell yourself down to one empty slot and zero money, don’t worry, you are not entirely softlocked: with a single slot you can acquire breadcrumbs, beg, discard breadcrumbs, acquire snake oil, bet, discard snake oil, and then repeat. Once two or three of these bets pay out, you can buy yourself a bit of popcorn, and from there you should be fine.
It’s not even clear if there is going to be an idol system in the next era. But if it exists, for now idol whoever you want. Strategies for who to idol might show up later. The Debriefings will cover that if/when it happens.
Don’t worry too much about voting when you first start. People have been at this game long enough that it’s standard to purchase thousands of votes per season. The few that you can get in the beginning are drops in the bucket—you can purchase some if you want to, but don’t feel obligated, as your early-game money is best spent making more money. Ain’t that just the way.
If you need some guidance, the Debriefings typically have voting advice attached to Friday and/or Saturday posts. This advice is directly gathered from the results of a poll that we hold every week – which is to say that the top results of the poll are our voting advice. Some Spies post shortform image versions of this guide to Reddit and Twitter. There’s also a full length voting guide, a Google Document where anyone can enter their own reasoning for why you should vote for something or other.
Now, if you don’t want to vote for what’s in the guide, that’s completely fine. It is physically impossible for us to stop you from voting for whatever you damn well please anyway. Just stay aware that other people are playing this game too, and they will have different priorities from yours, and please don’t hate them for it. We’re trying to be better than your average MMO chatroom.
The Houston Spies are a reference to the Houston Astros, a baseball team based in—you guessed it—Houston. During the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the Astros used a number of technological methods to steal signs from other teams. “Stealing signs,” refers to watching the signals given by a team’s catcher that team’s pitcher, which tells them what kind of pitch to throw. If a team is spying on the pitching team, they may be able to signal to their batter how best to respond.
Stealing signs is not against the rules of the MLB, but using technology to do so—the Astros used cameras to watch the catcher’s signals—is. The Astros used the camera footage to figure out what kinds of pitches would be thrown, then banged on trash can lids to signal to the batter what to expect, hence “bang BANG.”
The Astros won the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 using this technique. Because The Game Band includes some Dodgers fans, they immortalized the cheating scandal by naming the Houston team the “Spies.”
We have a very high-level intro in our introductory slideshow, but your best bet is probably the Blaseball Wiki! You can also ask questions any time; despite our natural desire for secrecy (being Spies), we also really love for folks to learn more about our precious players.
The only thing that can truly said to be canon is what happens on the Blaseball website, Blaseball.com. There are other elements to canon—The Game Band emails, the @blaseball and @blaseballmic Twitter accounts—but, generally speaking, “canon” is the events on the website.
However, there is a sort of consensus-based “fanon” developed throughout Blaseball fandom. Some of these elements bleed into canon, as well, such as Tillman Henderson being the worst. But for the most part, the fan-developed lore you’ll come upon is not “canon”—as in, it is not developed by The Game Band—but there may still be an internal sense of consistency about it. For example, a player’s appearance, pronouns, or other features may be almost universally portrayed a certain way. This doesn’t mean that you cannot imagine them differently (in fact, the Wiki has a great feature called the Interdimensional Rumor Mill that allows for multiple interpretations).
An example of this within the Spies is that all of our original players default to they/them pronouns, both because it’s great to have a bunch of potentially nonbinary players and also because their genders are redacted. If someone chose to interpret one of the Spies differently, that would be okay—nobody has singular control over any of these players. However, because we’ve largely agreed as a team that the original Spies roster uses they/them pronouns, that is how we refer to them. Provided other interpretations are not malicious (as in, if our general consensus is that Alexandria Rosales uses they/them pronouns and someone refuses to refer to them by anything but she/her solely because they know it irritates others), there is plenty of room for people to play with different concepts.
Nope! The beauty of all this being fan-generated is that you, a fan, can generate whatever you like. If you decide that Reese Clark is actually a bunch of pigeons that scrawl runes in the dirt with their beaks, so much the better.
However you want! Seriously—if you want to contribute something, propose it. This is a very collaborative, community-driven creative environment, and we (the Spies, but also Blaseball fans more generally) love to see new, fresh takes on the whole thing.
The biggest thing to note is that we do work collaboratively, so if you want to, say, dramatically change something about a character or work on a big project or something like that, it’s a great idea to run it by others. That said, there is no “canon,” as covered above—you don’t need approval to do anything.
But participating as a fan doesn’t mean that you have to be generating lore or art or even being in the Discord at all. It’s perfectly fine to just watch the games and enjoy them that way. There is no wrong way to enjoy Blaseball.
Short answer: yes! Long answer: absolutely!
There are lots of ways to create lore for Blaseball, depending on how you like to do it. “Lore” includes everything from headcanons to what’s on the Wiki to fanfiction to Twitter roleplaying, so it really depends on what you want to do.
I want to share my headcanons. Great! You can do that anywhere you like. In the Spies, our Wiki lore development process is pretty much just compiling a bunch of headcanons, building them out around the existing canon events, and coming up with something we like as a group. You can write them out or just share them. If your headcanons don’t agree, that’s okay, that’s what the IRM is for!
I want to write for the Wiki. Wonderful! Just make sure to follow their Contribution Policies. If you need more guidance, our wiki liaisons can help walk you through the process on the Discord server.
I want to write fanfiction. Awesome! You can write and share fanfiction however you like. A lot of people use the Houston Spies tag on Archive of our Own. (We also host fanfiction on this very website, especially if you’re using custom HTML of your own that AO3 can’t support. However, please keep in mind that we only host fanfiction adhering to the same PG-13ish rules as the main Blaseball Discord server.)
I want to start a Twitter RP account. Cool! Many people like to take on the roles of Blaseball players, but there are also lots of other ways to go about it, too. If a player you’d like to RP is already taken, that’s okay! It’s fine to have multiple interpretations – for example, there’s two different Math Velazquez Twitter accounts who have interacted extensively. And you can always connect with others on the Twitter RP Discord server (ask for a link) to help solidify what you’d like to do.
I want other people to also like my lore. Talk about them! Do something with them! Alternate takes on several characters have taken root because of drawings, fanfiction, or even monologues in our lore channel at 2AM.