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Time Considerations

What kind of time do I need to play this game?


Enough people have been surprised by the time required up front to set up a team that it's worth a rundown of what it takes to play BWB.  Benchwarmer is definitely a game for fanatics, but the casual player can take part too.  Before you sign up to play, be aware that there is more time needed than just showing up for a 2-hour draft.  Here's a recap of what to expect if you sign up to play.  We're not trying to scare anyone away, but to be fair to the other 15 owners who will be in your league, we want you to know what to expect.


The details follow, but here's a quick rundown if you don't want to read the rest of the page:

  • Submit a Phase One draft list of 26-40 players, staying under the salary cap.
  • You obviously won't get everyone you wanted (there are 16 teams in each league).  After the results are posted, submit 3 separate lists of Phase Two draft picks in order to complete your roster - 8 players at a time - about every 7 days.
  • Once the Phase One and Phase Two draft is done - and throughout the Regular Season - there are once-a-week submissions for transactions and lineups.
  • If you're keeping your team for the next season, there are two post-season trade periods in which you can choose to participate after the playoffs are done.  After that - some time in December - you must pick the 28 players you want to keep on your roster.
  • In late December, you'll submit a list of players in our annual Redistribution Draft.
  • Starting in January, BWB goes back into the weekly transaction cycle.  Since there's no startup draft again, you're just filling holes and maintaining.

Full details below....(emphasis on "full" - I tend to supply too much information).

The Draft

Warning: Benchwarmer is not a game that you join in late March or early April, spend two or three hours in a live online draft, and then check back from time to time throughout the season.  The drafting process is more involved.  We hope that the total time you spend is going to be roughly equivalent to the actual drafting time for a 1-shot live draft, but it's going to be spread out more on the calendar.


Our estimates of time spent preparing do not include player research or learning about the game.  We expect that you're going to be doing that with any fantasy game you're about to sign up for and play.  You do probably need a bit more time with the rules for BWB than you do for your standard Roto or H2H league.  The other point of complication with Benchwarmer is the salary cap, so you do need a bit of extra planning time in all your draft phases to find the right mix of expensive and value-priced players.  The estimates are also made for new players to Benchwarmer.  Veteran players start with the advantages of knowing their way around the players, the salary cap, and the web interface.


Time estimates are minimum estimates - owners who are more involved (dare we say "obsessive"?) can spend much more time on this.

Phase One Draft

The time you need for a Phase One Draft is going to depend upon the type of draft you choose.  The vast majority of our leagues are set up to use the standard BWB list format.  On request from established owners, we've set up a live draft process that we'll use in a limited number of leagues (out of the 17 existing leagues, only one so far has used the live format).




  • The basic concept of the list draft is that you assemble a list of your ideal team.  There are 26 mandatory roster slots that you'll need to fill and you must do so while keeping under a defined salary cap.  Each player has a salary based on past performance.
  • BWB includes extra slots - a "taxi squad" and a "minor league" roster.  It's optional to use these - so your list will have 26-40 players.  (BWB is a keeper league, so this is a chance to grab future prospects).
  • You have the option of ranking your players in desired order of importance - this may play a role in determining who gets some players.  You can rank all 40 - or your top 10 - or none - it's up to you.
  • You put together your list using our web interface.  Onscreen error messages will guide you toward putting together a final list - letting you know if you're over the salary cap, or missing a position, or have made a ranking mistake, etc.  We'll also send out automated email messages close to the draft deadline to let you know if something's out of whack.
  • Again, not counting player research time, expect maybe 30-90 minutes to make your list.  It's always possible to come back and make changes before the deadline, so you may find you spend more time than that.  It's also possible to put a lot more time and effort into the whole process - this time estimate is more of a minimal effort for a casual player.
  • You can begin to create your list the moment you join BWB - and even before you join a league.  The last person(s) to join the league will be the one with the tightest time crunch.  That last team will have 2-7 days to finish the list (the deadlines are more tight later in March...typical winter drafts will allow you a full week).
  • This draft works at the outset like your more typical online or live draft.  Each team will pick in turn - in a randomly generated order - and the order will be reversed in odd and even rounds.
  • Since this is such a small part of our drafting process, the interface for this is still crude and there aren't current plans in upgrading this.  We use a chat room to communicate and pick players and you must be able to view multiple browser tabs/windows to effectively draft.  Our focus is more on picking the players in a real-time manner, rather than the technical interface we use to do it.
  • There are 16 teams in a league.  Roster sizes are a minimum of 26 players.  To draft a full roster would take a whole day - so we only pick the first 10 players in a live draft.
  • Expect a live draft to take about 3 hours - this is an option that WILL require a lot more time than you normally spend in putting together a team for an online fantasy baseball game.
  • It's strongly recommended that you put together a basic draft list ahead of time - not to fill your entire roster under the salary cap, but more your typical draft priority list.  This would be used in case you are unable to make the live draft for any reason.  But it's optional.  It's the same recommendation you'll find for any online live draft.

Phase Two Draft

Look at the rules and take a look at examples of previous league drafts, and you'll see that after Phase One is done you won't have all the players you wanted.  In fact, you'll probably have somewhere between 6-20 players.  The total number will depend on how many players you picked uniquely to your league (no other team picked them) and how the resolution of any contested players worked out.  A legal roster in BWB is a minimum of 26 players and you need to be able to fill all the mandatory roster slots.  So, we enter a section of the draft called Phase Two.


Some quick history - A lot of the rules for Benchwarmer Baseball were derived from a game in the 80s and 90s called Robot Baseball.  The draft process is similar to what they did.  When their Phase One was finished, you submitted a huge list of players that you wanted to pick up to fill out your roster.  It was all play-by-mail in those days, so you mailed off your list and waited for the results.  We've taken advantage of the internet and split up the process.  One of the problems with submitting a list of 15-20 players is that often what you get in Round One or Two may drastically affect how you'd draft the rest of the list.  Plus, as you get further down the list, it becomes much more likely that other teams have selected the same players you wanted.  So, ideally, we split up our submissions to 8 players at a time.  This lets you target certain positions - then see the results - see how much cash you have left - see the newly-updated list of free agents - and pick again.


Without going into great depth here on the complete process, you're actually submitting 8 rounds of picks, not 8 players.  Each round allows you to list a single player and an optional alternate selection in case your first choice in that round is gone (it allows the process to complete more quickly).


So how long will this take?  Again, not counting player research time, we estimate that you'll spend 15-45 minutes filling out the form.  Just like with the startup draft, there will be onscreen error messages if there's anything incomplete or incorrect with your list.  Because you're trying to fill out specific positions here, your drafting is likely to be more targeted.  The first one you do may take you longer since you have more open positions and you're also filling in backup roles.  The other complicating factor is still the salary cap...since you're not just picking the best players left on the board, but also making sure you have the cash to spend.


But - and here's a major difference between us and the draft-and-wait-until-April type of fantasy game - this does require that you pay attention and continue to build your team through the rest of the spring.  How long you have between submissions will depend on how late your league started to draft.  If your draft began in late March, we obviously need to accelerate the process.  In some cases in late March, we may have you pick 12 or more players each time and try to be done more quickly.


If your league had a Phase One Deadline of... Expect Phase Two submissions about every...
December-January 1-2 weeks
February to early March 1 week
Early to mid March 4-5 days
Late March 2-3 days


After The Draft and Regular Season

When the draft is complete, your time considerations decrease down to about once a week.  You can get much more involved than that - some people log on several times a day - but essentially, the league moves into a once-per-week submission of transactions.  The results of the transactions are posted within a day or two, so you'll have 5 days to see the results and submit a new request.  You may get trade requests throughout the week that you'll need to reply to (or ignore).


By early April, you'll need to set your lineups for the first week of regular season play.  You can be working on your lineup throughout the spring, but it doesn't need to be finalized until Week One of the season.


After the season starts, the same schedule of once-per-week transaction/lineup deadlines will continue.  Unlike many online games that allow daily lineup changes, you won't need to change your lineups that often to stay competitive.  You can certainly choose to set your lineup for the first week and then just coast the rest of the season.  But in most cases you'll have injuries or maybe want to try to grab players added to the game (guys coming up from the minors).


We post game results 2 or 3 times a week - typically in 2-game or 3-game blocks.  You can examine the results and the box scores as closely as you want.

After the Season

You can keep your same lineup for the playoffs - no need to change it.  Every team makes some sort of post-season tournament (playing for a little extra fake cash).


And Benchwarmer is a year-round game.  By late fall or early winter your fantasy football team is probably out of contention anyway, right?  The salaries for the next baseball season are finalized in November.  After that, teams have two periods to trade with other teams in the league.  Then, they must submit a list of up to 28 players to keep by mid-December.  Finally, by the end of December or early January, teams submit a list of players in a Redistribution Draft to restock their rosters.  There is no other draft in the spring - teams go back to the weekly transaction process until the season begins.


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