The Latest From Cheapass
All Games Published by Cheapass Games
All Games Designed by James ErnestCheapass Games is a company really hitting its stride. They're putting out more product than ever before, with no discernible drop in quality. And they're experimenting with some new gaming styles, proof that James Ernest and friends are still hitting on all creative cylinders.
Devil Bunny Needs a Ham!
$2.00$2.00? $2.00?!? OK, so all you get is three one-color, one-sided pieces of cardstock in an envelope. But it's still a bargain. Devil Bunny is an old character from the strange imagination of James Ernest (there are even Devil Bunny Comics, done by Ernest back before he started a game company). Why does he need a ham? Who knows? Who cares? Devil Bunny Needs a Ham! is an abstract strategy game. Each player moves two or three counters up a grid (player's choice -- two for a quicker game, three for a longer one), rolling two or three dice to determine movement. When a 6 is rolled, Devil Bunny automatically knocks off whoever is closest to the top. If you're only a little ways up the building, you start over. If you're over the Line of Death, you're street pizza.
Unless you're directly above another counter, in which case they catch you and save your miserable life. And there's where the strategy comes in. Being first up the building makes you the Devil Bunny's target, but if you position yourself so that someone is always there to catch you, you can make it pay off. (First up the building earns the most points, with fewer and fewer points for subsequent scalings.)
There's strategy and luck and people falling off of tall buildings and a character named Devil Bunny. What more do you want for $2.00?
$3.00There's really not a whole lot to say about Craigdarroch. It's an alternate map for Kill Dr. Lucky, the Origins Award winner for Best Abstract Board Game of 1997. Craigdarroch is a famous Victorian castle in Victoria, British Columbia. The game map is the first two floors of the four-story mansion, with a few changes for the sake of game play. If you play and enjoy Kill Dr. Lucky, then you'll want Craigdarroch for your collection.
$4.50Button Men gets its name from the two main playing pieces -- buttons. The kind you wear. Each one has the name and picture of a fighter, along with a series of numbers. Each number represents a type of die -- 4 for a d4, 12 for a d12, and so on. Different fighters have different combinations, and each fighter has at least one "X" for a swing die -- whatever size die you want (no percentiles! The game uses the "standard" fantasy dice set -- d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20). Dice are not provided, but everybody's got them funny-shaped dice, right? Right.
Anyway, both players roll all their dice, and the person with the lowest single die goes first. The two players alternate taking dice from their opponent until somebody is out of dice. There are two ways to take away an opponent's die: The Power Attack is when a single die of yours has a larger number showing than his. The Speed Attack is when any combination of your dice (including just one) have values that add up to the exact value of your opponent's. In each case, you remove the captured die, then reroll only the dice used in the attack -- then your opponent does the same thing.
Obviously, big dice are good for Power Attacks and little dice give you lots of flexibility for Speed Attacks. But it's more complicated than that. A captured die is worth as many points as it has sides -- so a d20, while tough in combat, is a worthy prize when captured. And you can only capture one die a turn, so if your opponent has a swarm of d4s and d6s arrayed against you, pickings are slim.
I've already discovered a number of subtleties to this game that give it a lot of depth. For example, if you have a d20 with a low value showing (like a 4 or 5, say), it's good strategy to use it in an attack as quickly as you can -- because then you get to reroll it, and you're likely to get a higher number that will make it harder to capture. Similarly, a big die with a large value is in a great defensive position; if you use it to attack, you could reroll something low (and vulnerable), so think twice.
There are five different Button Men sets, each containing two different buttons. This would be a great convention game, or a one-day game store event, or . . . just about anything. It's quick and fun, but requires some thinking. And some luck. A great game.
Seems I say that a lot about Cheapass products . . .
-- Scott D. Haring
Article publication date: February 26, 1999
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