Designed by Scott Courlander | Art by Weirdsgn
Published by Scorelander Games
2 Players | 30-40 Minutes
Peering out from the dugout, you take a long look at your opponent, carefully analyzing their strengths and strategizing your next move. Life isn’t easy for a baseball manager… always on the hot seat… working to get the most from your team. It’s crunch time and you’ve made your decision. Flashing a few quick signs to the player on third, you finally reach into your deck and play the best hitter available for the situation. It’s an uncharacteristic move at this point in the later innings and it may backfire, but Bat Flip isn’t your typical baseball game.
In this 2-player, card-driven, baseball-themed, strategy game, you take on the role of a manager with a unique team make-up. In Bat Flip one team just isn’t enough! You’ll choose 2 teams, combining their different strengths to build your winning deck. Each team features their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s up to you to build the perfect combo to defeat your opponent. Bat Flip combines the thrill of the ball diamond in a compact 3-inning game. Swing for the fences, swipe a bag or two and play defense as you carefully seek to out-maneuver and outscore your opponent to victory.
HOW IT PLAYS
Bat Flip comes with 7 team decks, each with their own personality and strategy. Through a snake draft, each manager drafts their 2 teams and they shuffle their decks together.
Setup is simple: Along with their team decks, each manager receives a scorecard to tally their runs and a bat-flip card. The field card is placed in the middle of the table and each player draws a hand of 5 cards.
Like any typical baseball game, the home team takes the field first while the visiting team steps up to the plate. If the home team has a pitcher in their hand they can send them to the mound at this time. Bat Flip takes place over 3-innings, with each team receiving 3 outs per inning.
Each player card features their own distinct stats. Hitters have a hit stat, speed stat, eye stat and defensive stat. Pitchers, on the other hand, have a control and defensive stat. In addition to their stats, each player has their own special rules and humorous flavor text to give them personality. The player’s special rules can and will affect when and how you use them, such as earning the next player additional hit stats or discarding them to draw additional cards.
During an inning the team at bat will play a card representing sending a batter to the plate. The defensive team will then have the opportunity to play one of their cards in response. Batter’s hit stat is compared to the defender’s defensive stat to determine the hitter’s success. For example: A hitter with a 2 hit stat would be out if they met a defender with a 2 defense stat. A hitter with a 3 hit stat met with only a 1 defense would earn a 2-base double (hit stat minus defensive stat). Each team draws an additional card for each out or run recorded.
While the hitter/defensive mechanic is the core of the game, Bat Flip provides plenty of additional elements to flesh out the baseball experience. Certain players might be fly ball or ground ball prone hitters. Those players will require a defender skilled in that particular defense. Once on base, a player can attempt to steal and double plays can be made by playing 2 defensive players with the right stats. Paired against the right pitcher, hitters can take a walk putting pressure on the defense to keep a pitcher with good control on the mound.
The bat-flip card is your secret weapon… your chance to drop the bomb on your opponent at the perfect time. Once per inning, the hitting team can play their bat-flip card. Once played, the hitting team blindly draws a card from the top of their deck and that player’s hit stat can’t be defended. If a pitcher is drawn an out is recorded. There is a bit of a risk, but this is the tool you use at the most opportune time to cause the most offensive damage.
While this is primarily a 2-player game, there is a 4-player variant, but it plays similarly, having teams compete in a tournament-like game.
Managers take turns, alternating each inning after 3 outs. The manager with the most runs scored after 3 innings is the winner.
COMPONENTS & ARTWORK
I received an advanced copy of Bat Flip so the components haven’t been completely finalized. It is a card game so the game will primarily consist of standard deck-size cards. The game does come with a few tokens to keep track of runs and outs.
The artwork in Bat Flip features cartoon, caricature-style players, each unique to their own card. Typically when I hear of caricature art I fear the worst, but it’s really well done here. The art never feels cheap and each player is given plenty of personality. The player artwork really works for me.
While I’m not as in love with the graphic design, each card does a fine job of presenting the necessary information in a clean and clear way to play the game. Along with the player image and stats, each player has a name, position, bonus ability and flavor text.
I think it’s only fair to mention my self-professed love for the sport of baseball. I’ve been a baseball fan since I was able to walk, played ball through my youth and currently work in the sports industry (when I’m not punching out reviews on my keyboard). I also think it is fair to say that I’m starved for solid, sports-themed board games. I’m not talking about the archaic, comprehensive types that feature books of spreadsheets and an infinite number of rules to “effectively deliver a real game experience” that ends up taking not just hours but months to play. No, what I’m looking for are sports games with modern game mechanics that immerse me in the theme and engage with me the gameplay… all in a reasonable amount of time. So… even prior to playing Bat Flip I was quick to welcome it with open arms. The real question is: Does it actually deliver?
The short answer to that question is mostly.
While it’s not the ultimate baseball game I’ve been dreaming of, Bat Flip has a lot going for it. It all starts with its accessibility. It literally takes less than 5 minute to set up the game and get into it. The mechanics are super-straightforward and while there is a bit of a learning curve with the player abilities, the game can be set up and played in 30-45 minutes.
Additionally, I really appreciate how deceptively think-y the game is. Playing the right cards at the right time isn’t always cut and dry. While it seems to make sense to always march your best hitters to the plate, sometimes you need to finesse your approach to weed out your opponents better defensive cards, set the table, and still have enough punch to deliver 2 or 3 runs. This is the kind of game, similar to other CCG’s, where your investment will only sweeten the experience.
I imagine becoming more familiar with the individual teams prepares you for a stronger approach, but my first half-dozen games proved runs were a premium. This really put the pressure on both managers late in the game since every single run made a difference in the outcome.
I do love the look and personality put into each team of players. There is a lot of detail and effort put in here to create an attractive game. Along with their own personality, each team has their own logo and uniforms. Again, the artwork is really fun and engaging and that goes a long way.
Some of the teams and combinations in the prototype felt a little more challenging and will definitely require a more refined strategy to take advantage of their abilities. With 7 teams in the base game and 4 additional in the expansion, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to mix and match finding the combination that best suits your approach.
I think the biggest hurdle for a game like Bat Flip is going to be it’s theme. While I think this is something any CCGer can dive into and have fun, the baseball theme is going to have its limitations. For me, it’s the theme that makes the game, but I readily admit this isn’t going to fly with many board gamers. I do think there is a lot to like for a fan of baseball and I certainly hope it finds its audience.
I had a really good time with Bat Flip. Everything from the theme, the artwork and the strategy was engaging. It’s not overly complicated and it’s easy to pick up and play in a short amount of time. I think there is plenty of fun factor… especially for a baseball fan. I’m not sure the love is going to be there if you’re not a sports fan or just “can’t get into baseball.” On the plus side, Bat Flip has plenty of legs with the 7+ teams providing a number of new ways to play the game. I’m still waiting for the perfect baseball board game, but in the meantime, I would definitely recommend Bat Flip to the sports fan in your family.