…Play Ball!

With the start of a new baseball season looming on the horizon, I thought that I would talk about a baseball game.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a really big baseball fan.  Lifelong, true blue, New York Yankees fan.  I hope this information does not sour our relationship.  🙂  I’ve kind of stayed away from sports related games, but decided to dive into this one.  Honestly, I was torn between Bottom of the 9th by Greater Than Games, designed by Mike Mullins and Darrell Louder, and Baseball Highlights 2045 designed by Mike Fitzgerald and published by Eagle-Gryphon Games .  I watched a bunch of solo playthrough videos (thanks Colin!  He has an awesome channel, check it out sometime,  One Stop Co-op Shop) and still could not make up my mind.  (I have to admit I was leaning a bit towards Bottom of the 9th sheerly based on the Sentinels of the Multiverse expansion, I mean, come on!!)  But, I decided to leave it to a higher power.  The tie breaker came in the form of my Reddit Secret Santa, who sent me…  Baseball Highlights 2045.  Sorry Bottom of the 9th, one day you will be added to my collection, but in the meantime, I am going to PLAY BALL, with Baseball Highlights.

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Baseball Highlights 2045 is a futuristic game that takes place in, well, 2045.  Robots and cyborgs have joined the “natural” players on the field in a contest that has been shortened to just 6 innings.  The game plays through a series of mini games that includes deck building strategies, as each player has an opportunity to buy new players, or free agents, after each game.  Just like the real baseball game, the winner is the player who scores the most points in a single game, or the most games in a predetermined number of games.

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The comes with four teams right out of the box, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  Don’t see your favorite team listed here?  No worries, there are plenty of expansion packs to make sure that everyone can play as their favorite team.  There are even expansions to play as other countries, as well as adding ballparks, coaches, and other items to increase the replayability.  Each round you draw six cards that will be your team for that game.  The players can be played only once, simulating the highlights of the passing innings.  The players are used as base runners, and they can either be slow, average, or fast.  You use a corresponding pawn of white, blue, or red, to denote this on your player mat.  You also use the card for it’s text box, which can be used to thwart your opponent.  In a solo game your opponent is an AI deck made up of only free agent cards, making this game a bit more challenging, right off the BAT!  (Sorry, I had to)

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The components are well made, the cards have a nice linen finish and have, so far, stood up to the shuffling that a deck builder requires.  It has a nice sense of humor that comes across in the artwork, and the names of the free agents that you can buy in between games.  A fun side of the game is also trying to match up some of the free agents names with their respective real-life counterparts.  The pawns are wood, and do their job well, although I do like the idea of baseball meeples in their place.  The mats are a thin cardboard, a bit flimsy, in my opinion, but again, they do their job.  The game is quick, and the rules can be a bit fiddly at first, but once you get them down, they become much more NATURAL (sorry).  The game comes with four reference cards, and they help sooth out the gameplay greatly.  I have not yet played with any of the expansions, but I have heard they add a lot to the enjoyment of the base game.

How does it solo?  I have only played this game as a two player and solo.  I found the 2 player version a bit more exciting and balanced.  There was the war to get the best free agents before your competitor, much like in real baseball, and allowed for some level of trash talking too, much like in real baseball.  The instructions recommend having a certain number of “buy rounds” prior to the start of a solo game to help mitigate the AI having a deck of all free agents, as opposed to your deck of rookies and common veterans.  This sometimes helps, but a lot of time does not.  Be prepared to lose.

If you are a baseball fan, and need a quick gaming fix in between games, this will definitely satisfy that need.  The amount of cards included in the base game are more than enough to ensure you don’t play the same game twice.  The restriction of using six cards per game really makes you think about how you use each of those precious cards.  Play it too soon and you may regret it!  Hold on to it too long and you may miss your chance to best use it!  The decision are fun and can really make you strategize.  Overall this game is a nice filler, and can help scratch that baseball itch, especially during the off season!

Thanks for joining me this week as I singlehandedly played ball!  Join me next time, follow me on Twitter, and please, feel free to leave a comment below!

 

…Escaping the Brig.

Sometimes I get stuck in the world of big name games, and the hotness.  After all, I watch YouTube videos and read BGG, just like some of you might do.  There’s nothing wrong with these games, as a mater of fact, some of them are my favorite games to play.  However, from time to time, I come upon a smaller game company.  One who is not able to advertise all over, and these people are making great games as well!

One of these companies is Button Shy Games.  Button Shy is a small game publisher based out of New Jersey, run by a really nice guy named Jason Tagmire (Twitter @jtagmire), and a few others.  Button Shy does things a little different and I have been really impressed.  They make wallet games, games that come in an old school plastic bifold wallet, usually containing 18 cards or so.  They also have a Board Game of the Month Club available to their Patreon, where they actually send you a new microgame every month!  The games are priced wallet friendly too, around $12.00 each.

Recently I had the pleasure, thanks to Santa, of playing one of their games, Twin Stars: Adventure Series I.  Twin Stars was designed by Jason Tagmire and Mike Mullins.  Twin Stars is a solo game where you play as two cosmic adventurers who have gotten themselves into a bit of a pickle.  The game comes with 12 characters, and 6 different scenarios to play through. The game plays through the rolling a set of dice.  Each die must then be placed on one of the two characters selected for the scenario.  Each scenario lists recommended characters, or you may choose your own.  When the die are placed certain effects may trigger based on combos that are made.  If a combo is made then you fulfill the action as indicated on the scenario card.  If a combo is not trigger you may reroll one of the die, while reducing the number on the other die.  Each scenario has different win conditions, and additional rules to make the game more fun, and increase replayability.

The games are challenging as well.  My win/loss ratio is about even overall, but decreases as I play through the scenarios.  The challenges can be frustrating at times, but as this is a dice based game, it is to be expected.  We are at the mercy of a dice roll, and sometimes that is the difference between escaping the brig, or getting caught by the guards.

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The game is quick, compact, and a lot of fun.  It certainly lives up to its billing as a wallet game.  I got the deluxe version, because, to be honest, if there’s a deluxe version, I’m going for it every time.  The deluxe version comes with dice, tokens, and a little pouch to keep it all in, and still can fit into a pocket, or a backpack with ease.  The little pouch is well made and fits all the components with room to spare.  The token were really well made, nice and thick, not at all what I was expecting.  The cards are also good quality.  All in all a well made product.  Definitely worth the $20 they are charging for it, don’t tell them this, but maybe worth even more than $20!  The game play remains fresh through the different scenarios and the mixture of characters.  Button Shy has already announced there will be more scenarios added to the Twin Stars universe, and I personally cannot wait to see more.

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This is the only game that I currently own from Button Shy, but they offer a slew of games on their website.  Some games that I have been following (and coveting) include Circle the Wagons, Ahead in the Clouds, Pentaquark, and Avignon: A Clash of Popes.  Circle the Wagons recently got a bit of a rebrand as IDW Games released The X-Files: Circle of Truth, using the same mechanics as Circle the Wagons, but adding an X-Files twist.  Button Shy has also recently stated they will have a Kickstarter in February 2018, offering two new games for under $20.

If you have a few bucks in your wallet and would like to replace it with a quick, fun, challenging game, the I highly recommend Twin Stars: Adventure Series I.