Button Men: Diceland: Deep White Sea
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A mean little dice game for two players, you need: one button for each player (included), and several polyhedral dice.
This is an amazingly complex strategy game for such a simple concept. My only disappointment is that is that there havent been any new buttons made in awhile. The game goes very quickly (a best of five takes 5 min) and the art work is good. Different sets introduce dice with special rules, adding to the intrigue. You are just getting a button with some numbers on it, and you have to buy the dice separately, but it is well worth it.
the rules to this game take a little getting used to, but the fact that if you were to run into someone else wearing a button, and you both had a bunch of dice, you could battle each other to the death, is an intriguing concept. the sad thing is, i never run into anyone else wearing a button. *sigh*
Button Men: Winner of the Origins award for best abstract board game. That's all well and good, but as James Ernest himself said when accepting the award, 'Where's the board?'
In all honesty, despite how much I enjoy Button Men, it is one of the few Cheapass products which I don't consider to be worth the money paid. The reasoning is simple: for about $4.00 you're getting 10 numbers and a picture. The buttons are not required to play. In fact, in tournaments, people often use Button Men which they don't actually own. The real appeal is that, when you buy the buttons, you (presumably) wear them, advertising to the world, 'I play Button Men! Challenge me, those who would dare!'
I like the game, though, and it has a subtle but complex system of probability which makes it both strategic and random. The rules and statistics for each button are available freely on the net over at the official 'Beat People Up' site (URL: http://www.cheapass.com/bpu ), so the only real reasons to actually buy the buttons are 1) To support James Ernest, and 2) To get and wear the beautiful artwork. And it is incredible artwork.
Quite a lot, actually! 'Button Men' is a collectible game which has very little to do with buttons. Each package contains a pair of buttons, or badges, showing a character and symbols for the five dice that represent that character in battle. These are standard polyhedral dice that you must provide yourself. Each character is slightly different from the others, perhaps specializing in speed rather than strength, or perhaps a big beefy fighter who has more die sides but tends to be slower in battle.
Without going into excruciating detail, the two fighters roll their respective dice and take turns attempting to capture opposing dice. Lower numbers allow a player to go first but make it somewhat harder to capture. Larger numbers rolled are usually great for capturing other dice, but provide more points for the opponent if captured.
Each Button Men series provides its own unique spin on the basic game. Vampires, for example, provides 'shadow' dice that can capture higher die rolls, with some limitations.
Amazing for a game with so few components and only two tiny pages of rules, there is an amazing amount of strategy involved. Do you knock off a high roll by the opponent at the risk of rolling lower numbers on your own capturing dice? Capture a low number, knowing that your opponent will knock off one of your own with his big bruiser 20 sider? An entire game can be played out in under ten minutes, and will probably leave you wanting to play again. Recommended.