Blaseball's second era ended back in July, with teams attacking and defeating another god and Black Hole (Black Hole) expanding to swallow the universe. Since then, the sports betting sim/eldritch horror story has been on hiatus, its website promising its teams will return—even though many were nullified from existence.
Today, The Game Band has announced Blaseball's return, but not the start of its next full era. Instead, November 1 will see the launch of Blaseball: Short Circuits, a "low-stakes mini-series of temporary universes where anything can happen''. Designed for both new and returning fans, each Short Circuits 'universe' will last for two seasons—two weeks in the real world—and is designed to help shape the next era, which is now tentatively due to launch early next year.
Promising "an entirely new simplified betting and election system", each team will get a new roster for each short. "The new rosters are so we don't destroy beloved players every two weeks," write The Game Band on the Blaseball Discord, ominously.
As an experiment, I think it's a good idea. The expansion era was true to its name—constantly growing through new teams, new rules and new systems. Fans broke ground on blaseball parks, and filled them with renovations that changed the rules of play. Teams struggled with eDensity—the combined 'weight' of their success, which as it grew, risked drawing the attention of the Consumers who leeched off the performance of players.
Towards the end of the season, as Blaseball's various gods turned against each other, wins were turned into losses and special items introduced concepts like "what if home runs were bad". There were also a lot of new suns, which for reasons we don't need to go into each changed how games were scored.
"With the Expansion Era," wrote The Game Band on Blaseball's Discord after its credits rolled, "we wanted to tell a story of expansion and excess, the potential harm that comes from slapping new system upon new system onto something built to be unfair—the story of who benefits from that confusion and challenge."
At times, then, the expansion era was unsatisfying to watch—deliberately so. But some of the systems it introduced were genuinely compelling. Untangling that mess is likely made harder when people come to the game with such vastly different expectations. Some want an absurdist soap opera about a horrifying bloodsport. Others want to participate in a massively cooperative strategy game in which they work to improve their team. Others just want to vibe, workshop lore for players or write a song about how badly one of their pitchers sucks.
Certainly my overriding memory of the expansion era was when beloved Philly Pies batter Ruslan Greatness picked up an item that would have caused him to roam to another team just a few games later. After dumping a good portion of the team's economy that week to trade him from ourselves to ourselves—a trade that would have still gone through even if he'd moved to another team—he dropped it just innings before he was set to leave. It was a wild emotional rollercoaster predicated on some of the most interesting systems of the expansion era's bloat.
(My second overriding memory of the expansion era was in its final season, watching the Discord channel react when the Philly Pies became the first team in Blaseball to be swallowed by the black hole and get deleted from the game. My team has been through a lot.)
Blaseball: Short Circuits, then, could be a compelling way to figure out what works and what doesn't. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that, whatever rules end up staying, they'll be the ones that help the underdog Philly Pies finally win their third championship.