EXCERPTS FROM THE FALL 1999 GA REPORT
FROM “NIX PIX”:
BUTTON MEN (Cheapass Games; $4.50)
Every so often, a game comes along that is both so simple and so elegant that I find myself asking why no one had thought of it earlier. Button Men by James Earnest and published by Cheapass Games is just such a design.
The game is sold in little ziplock bags that include one pair of buttons. Button Men is a two player game so this is enough to get you started. The buttons are large (2 1/4″ diameter) and feature full color pictures of the character the button represents. Also shown on the button are five numbered circles (one character has only four) that are the dice the character uses to play the game. Of the five numbers, each character has one labelled with an X (except for one character who has two). This is called a “swing” die and can be any type of die from 4 to 20-sided. The exact value is chosen by the button’s player at the start of a round of combat. You have to provide your own dice.
Each game starts with the players choosing their swing die (or dice) in secret, adding this to their other dice, and rolling all of them. Both players roll simultaneously and compare results. The player who rolled the lowest number on one of their dice…makes the first attack.
By attacking, a player takes one of their opponent’s dice. There are only two types of attacks. A power attack can be made with only one die and the value showing on the attacking die must be greater than or equal to the value of the die being taken. A skill attack can be made with any number of the attacker’s dice but the total on the attacking dice must exactly equal the value shown on the die being taken. Once a die is captured, the attacker rolls the die (or dice) used to make the attack. The die that the attack takes will be worth its maximum value in points at the end of the combat so that there is a strong incentive to take the higher valued dice.
After the first player makes his attack, the defender gets to make his attack. Turns alternate…After both players pass (usually when one player has no dice left in front of him), the round is scored. Each player gets the full face value of dice captured plus one half the full face value of any of their own dice that they managed to keep that round. The player with the higher total wins and the next round begins…The winner is the first player to win two, or in tournament play, three rounds of combat.
It is very easy to dismiss Button Men as merely a dice game. There is, in fact, considerably more to the game than first meets the eye….Knowing what swing die to use against a specific enemy button is one of the keys to mastering the game. One of the essential survival skills…is always paying attention to what your opponent’s dice can sum to…On top of all this, you have to know how to play your button. Trying to play a specific strategy with the wrong type of button can get you three losses very quickly.
Button Men has a number of points in its favor. The rules are deceptively simple but the play is actually surprisingly deep with a great deal of decision-making to be made…The price of a pair of buttons is inexpensive…The game is portable and matches play extremely quickly… What more could you want in a game? Recommended. – – – – – – – – – – – – Nick Sauer
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Fall 1999 GA Report Articles