Bottom of the 9th - First Impressions
Alternate title: Why Not to Play a Simultaneous Action Selection Game With Your Wife
People who hang around here often may remember that I am a huge baseball fan. There aren't a ton of baseball board games, or at least not a lot of good ones (that I've found, anyway). The best is apparently #Baseball Highlights: 2045, which, depending on the day, is either #1 or #2 on my wishlist. The next best that I've found is this one: #Bottom of the 9th. These games share a goal, but execute it differently: distill the grand game of baseball down to its best bits for a quick and engaging board game. Baseball Highlights makes you feel like you're watching a highlight reel of a baseball game, and trying to score the most runs possible over the course of a game. Bottom of the 9th has you playing a single half-inning - the titular bottom of the 9th - where the game is on the line, and all the batting team has to do is score a single run, otherwise they will surely lose in extra innings.
The basic structure of Bot9 (as I'll call it from here on out) is, in my opinion, simultaneously simple and complex. Each round starts with pitch selection and guessing, and depending on the results, may result in a hit, strike, or ball. Each round has the pitcher secretly selecting a pitch location, and the batter secretly guessing what the pitcher will select. These selections are made using two double-sided tokens each. One has High/Low, and the other has Inside/Away.
Depending on how many of the hitter's guesses were correct, and the pitch the pitcher selected, different things can happen, as mentioned above. Different dice are rolled to determine the pitcher's control and how good of contact the hitter makes. Before the game, the pitching player will select two pitchers to use, and the hitting team will select a lineup of hitters, each of which have special abilities.
All of this is why I say the game is simple but complex. The basic structure of the turn is simple - make pitch selections, resolve the effects (accounting for abilities on the player cards), and possibly roll some dice to see if the batter will be thrown out or safe. But resolving all of these effects requires parsing several different variables and identifying the correct effects, and is just not quite as simple as I would prefer. It's still quite fun, but it took a few minutes to get the hang of it, and a few more to help my wife get the hang of it as well.
Anyway, to explain the alternate title (Why Not to Play a Simultaneous Action Selection Game With Your Wife) - I played as the pitching team, and she played as the hitting team. She guessed my pitch perfectly almost EVERY SINGLE TIME. At a certain point we just started laughing hysterically because it was just uncanny. Lots of fun, but I had no chance. For this reason, I'm looking forward to playing this game again - it's silly and fun, and as a bonus, it actually does feel a bit like baseball. I bought Bot9 secondhand from someone selling it locally for $5. Heck of a deal.