Batters up! Because we’re here to talk about a game of baseball!
…wait, where are you going?
Before you go running for the door, we should mention that it’s baseball of the future! With robots. And cyborgs! (Although not the steroid-powered ones we saw about a decade ago.) It’s a time when the stakes are higher, the pace is faster, and the game of baseball is once again the America’s sport of choice, revered and cherished by a whole new generation of fans.
Even still, you say, you’re too busy for a three-hour engagement. You have that meeting, the dog ran over your grandmother, that sort of thing. We get it. But what if we just look over the featured moments of a few games instead? The scores, the big plays. It’ll be quick; we promise. Would that work to keep you here?
Great! Then welcome to Baseball Highlights 2045.
Baseball Highlights is a fairly quick hand optimization game for two players that simulates the feeling of sports recap shows. It possess the flavor of the game of baseball without having to be well versed in it. Or versed at all, really.
In Highlights 2045, each player is put in charge of a baseball team roster, represented by a deck of 15 cards of starting players. Baseball players come in one of three different types, being the 100% flesh and blood human players (called Naturals), technologically-enhanced humans (Cyborgs), and Robots. Naturals still have a place as the best fielders around, while Cyborgs shine as pitchers, Robots are the most dangerous hitters going, and their interactions with one another behave in some ways to a Rock-Paper-Scissors dynamic. Only, you know, more interesting. Your starting crew isn’t going to be the most powerful, but that changes as the game progresses.
Baseball Highlights takes place over 6-10 rounds, where players initially do a best of three series to determine home field advantage (a.k.a. going first more often), followed by a best of seven series to determine the winner of the game. Each player beings with a hand of six cards, and players take turns trying to score the most using those six cards.
Scoring runs is at the heart of this game of course, as it is in actual baseball. In baseball this is done by having batters getting Hits and traversing all four bases in order to score. In Baseball Highlights 2045…well, that’s actually unchanged in the future. Most cards – though not all – will generate Hits for your team. That is, unless an opponent stops them. Say, for example, Player One drops out this guy:
First, resolve any effect in the text box, if applicable. (In this Veteran’s case there is no Hit to stop since they are starting.) Then, the player places a Runner on home base for each Single, Double, Triple, or Homerun box listed. This symbolizes what they’re threatening to accomplish if successful. Player Two responds by playing this guy:
Satchel Seaver’s effect eliminates any threats of a Natural player, which removes Player One’s Runner. Then, Player Two threatens a Runner of their own. Player One now responds by playing this:
The Robot’s effect doesn’t apply, as Player One has no Runner on the 2nd or 3rd base. Next, because nothing was done to stop them, Player Two’s Runner resolves his Single and moves to first base. Player One then places three Runners on home, which if unchecked would load the bases for their following turn.
And so on.
Once both players use their six cards, the round ends. The player with the higher score wins that round. Players now have the opportunity to upgrade their rosters. This is done by counting up the green numbers on the cards they played that round and using them to purchase Free Agents – a row of available players. Their use is immediate; you’ll be keeping those new Free Agents for the following round. Once all purchases are made, both players draw back up to six cards and a new round begins in earnest.
A unique feature of the game, though, is that your deck is always exactly 15 cards. For each Free Agent purchased, the player must trash one of the cards from their existing six cards, which is also known as “sending them to the Minor Leagues”. (It’s sort of like the tale of Old Yeller, but for baseball players.) This keeps the game quick and streamlined while still giving you options to tailor your deck. Would you prefer to focus on outscoring your opponent, for example, or prevent them from scoring at all?
Baseball Highlights 2045 is an entertaining game with a distinct retro-future vibe. It’s one part strategy, one part tactics, and it’s all happening at a fairly quick pace. On the one hand, it takes planning to figure out which new Agents to draft each round. On the other hand, knowing when to play cards during a round can almost feel like a miniature game of Chess. And it does this all in about a half hour.
What the game doesn’t do is bog a player down with requirements of knowing anything about baseball. Fans of the sport will certainly appreciate the overall theme and flavor here (such as the player names being amalgamations of actual baseball legends), and they’ll enjoy this game’s up-tempo representation of a highlights reel.
However, Baseball Highlights 2045 isn’t beholden to the actual sport in any facet that could scare away those who aren’t baseball people. The game doesn’t bother with pitch counts, scoring outs, or tracking player stats, and the things it does include are distilled down into simple card effects.
If you’re interested in learning more about an interesting thematic game of robots, baseball, and everything in between, then step on up to the batters box and aim for their Kickstarter. We just hope you can hit a 200mph fastball.