Thursday, October 19, 2017

Why playing Button Men online was important to me

Gaming online was a big part of how I started playing board games, something that I kind of find more than a little ironic. And BSW was a huge part of that, both exposing me to a lot of different games and a broader community of players. It was also a way for me to play games from home and without worrying about the particular hour.

However, another site that was a big part of my early gaming life was the original Button Men site, which was a very simple way to play just one particular game, Cheapass’s Button Men. And, looking back at those experiences, I think it was a bigger influence on my playing than I thought at the time.

Button Men is a simple two-player game where players are trying to capture each other’s dice. Each ‘character’ is just a collection of different types of dice. The basic ways of capturing are either power attack (using a die with a larger pip) or skill (using one or more dice to exactly equal the captured die’s value)

Part of what makes the game so brilliant is that there are different types of dice. X Dice that you assign a size to at the start of a round, poison dice that are worth negative points, shadow dice that do reverse attacks and the list just goes on and on.

Really, about half the interesting part of the game is in the set up but each round would still have interesting decisions within it. And, in person, the game plays out very fast. It has a great depth of play for time spend playing return rate.

But the site was one of the first places that I regularly went that was turn-based. BSW is real time, which was great for my back when I was a bachelor. It was almost like playing face-to-face. But though it was more flexible than actually going somewhere to game, I still had to schedule a block of time to to play.

During peak seasons at the job I had at the time, almost all my gaming went in hiatus. They had to play without me at game night (I loaned the group a chunk of my library so they didn’t miss me as much :P) and I even stopped playing on BSW since sleep was more important.

I wasn’t the only one who did this, by the way. I used to game with an accountant who would disappear during tax season.

During these times, though, I still played Button Men online. Being both turn-based and having simple turns, I could still work it into my schedule. It became my gaming outlet when things were really crazy.

These days, Yucata, also being turn-based, has taken its place. When my schedule gets crazy, I just switch to lighter games like Just 4 Fun and Roll Through the Ages.

I recently learned that the powers-that-be are working on a new version of that old Button Men site. Apparently it’s in perpetual alpha. While it wouldn’t fill the same role it has for me in the last, I’ll still have to check it out.

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