FANTASY FANTASY BASEBALL (CSE Games)
Board games and sports don’t have to be hobbies that are enjoyed exclusively. True, many of us gamers are cut from a geeky cloth and want nothing to do with things that might take us outdoors (that’s where the sun is, after all), but there are also plenty of us who can appreciate a rousing bit of sportsball every once in a while. I’ve often found joy in the intersection of board games and sports, so, while I’m not exactly a baseball fan, and I don’t really know what fantasy sports are, I was still excited to check out Fantasy Fantasy Baseball.
Fantasy Fantasy Baseball has a lot of things that are hot in tabletop right now. The game is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign and you wouldn’t have had to view the backer page to tell. The production value screams “unlocked stretch goal” loader than an ump yells “you’re out!” (It’s the ump who says that, right?) The cards are a fine linen finish. Each player gets a plastic miniature of a wizard in their color, their teams “coach.” There’s a Stat Track board designed to lay flat or stand on feet, and players tally their stats with plastic pegs just like in real baseball. There’s a charming “No Crying” chip token included instead of a cardboard one. And finally, the winner gets a cardboard Champion Trophy token!
Players also recruit their team of baseball characters through a draft mechanism. Everyone likes to draft their hand, after all. And it works perfectly with the fantasy baseball theme. Each Character Card has stats of various types, and because this it fantasy Fantasy Baseball, a magic ability.
Gameplay is simple, but fun. Each round, or “month,” players will compete for 3 wins. They do this by selecting Character Cards from their hands with stats matching those displayed on the Win Card. If a player’s character stats, plus any bonus stats they have, is higher than their opponents, they get that Win Card. In any given month, any characters players don’t use to compete for a Win Card is “benched.” Only benched characters may use their magic ability, which allows them to buff stats or otherwise affect a game or player.
If you wish, you may also add a deck of Event Cards to play an “advanced” variant. Event Cards provide additional considerations for each month, which is an interesting twist. As I generally prefer games that have a lot going on, I appreciated this added layer. However, I have heard others complain that it only incorporates more randomness into the game.
Fantasy Fantasy Baseball is good, simple, and quick fun. Fans of fantasy sports and baseball will have a special affinity for it, obviously, but a person doesn’t have to fit into one of those categories to enjoy the game. The art is cool and the components are high quality.
I have to say, though, all the stretch goal bells and whistles seemed pretty unnecessary. Most of these added components (the wizard coach mini, the “No Crying” token, and most of all, the Champion Trophy token) add nothing to the gameplay. The mini just sits there—looking cool, no doubt—but you don’t do anything with it. Also, with the exception of the different color for each player, they were all the exact same. I think it would be more fun if one team had a wizard mini, another had, say, an elf, while yet another had an orc, etc, etc. That said, if the only complaint I can come up with is “too many goodies,” that’s saying something.
This game would be great to play with the non-gamer fantasy baseball fans in your life. It is super easy to learn (made even simpler by the omission of Event Cards) and doesn’t take very long to play. I look forward to checking out future installments to the Fantasy Fantasy series, including the upcoming Fantasy Fantasy Football, which looks like it adds quite a bit.