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Button Men

31 May 2009

Like many good games, Button Men by Cheapass Games is deceptively simple. You pick a character to represent, which dictates a set of polyhedral dice. In the Fightball set, characters yield six or seven dice but you can only play with five dice at a time, so the first part of the strategy is picking which dice to use.

Polyhedral dice come in a variety of sizes, from pyramid-shaped 4-sized dice, garden variety 6-sized dice, up to the 20-sized dice D&D fans know and love.

Once you have your five dice, you roll them. Counting each die individually, lowest roll goes first. Players then take turns capturing each other’s dice, either by having a die roll greater than or equal to the die to be captured (a power move), or by having one or more dice that add up exactly to the number showing on the die to be captured (a skill move). The captured die is removed from play, and the capturing player re-rolls any dice she used to capture.

Small dice increase the odds you go first. Small dice also help in the early game with skill moves. But as dice become fewer in number, small dice become less helpful.

Large dice are great for power moves, and can capture nearly anything. But because you have to re-roll when you capture, they can easily become vulnerable to capture should you roll poorly. So it’s advantageous to use smaller dice to capture when possible.

Thus, Button Men is a good compromise between skill and luck. I recommend it! It’s an especially good game for kids, as there’s lots of two-digit addition to be done.

Tonight, I ran a short Swiss tournament with the kids. The four of us played for the right to choose which flavor of ice cream I would make with dinner. I lost to my youngest son, so we had maple instead of cinnamon. I’m hear to tell you: maple ice cream is darn tasty!

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