Brew Dice and Sports Dice – Baseball:
Everyone is a fan of filler games. Even alpha gamers will play filler games between turns of their more intense gaming sessions. They are typically easy to learn, appeal to a wide audience, and usually feature resounding themes. Add in some dice to your typical filler game and it is almost guaranteed to be successful. However, not all filler games are created equal. That’s where Brew Dice and Sports Dice – Baseball come in to the picture.
I was fortunate enough to talk Andy Geremia of FoxMind Games at PAX Unplugged last weekend. Part of our discussion was related to him raving about these two new games from FoxMind Games. Of our entire interview, about 1 minute (literally) of it was him explaining to me the rules of both games. Now don’t get me wrong, filler games do not usually take a long time to explain or understand, but one minute for two games is almost unbelievable. While the two games vary in theme and overall experience, the dice rolling mechanic is a strong driver of both games. I’m a huge advocate for “beer and pretzel” games, and both of these fillers are able to bring new and exciting takes on whatever you’re currently using to fill your down time.
As stated earlier, both games use dice as the main mechanic. However, they vary greatly in theme and player experience.
Brew Dice is the simpler of the two games and is based on, you guessed it, beer! Two to four players, ages 21 and up (obviously) are pitted against each other in this dice wielding pub game. Each player is given three dice that represent three different categories (beer containers, beer snacks, and coaster shapes).
A card is flipped to begin the round which reveals different aspects of the three categories. There are three different beer containers (can, bottle, and glass), snacks (popcorn, peanuts, and pretzels), and coaster shapes (square, round, and star). After the card has been flipped, it’s up to each player to role his or her set of dice continually until their dice match that of the card for that round. Once your dice match the card for that round, you can then pick up the card itself. That’s it! The first player to get five cards wins the game. If one rolls all three categories on the first roll, not only do they get the card for that round, but they also get the opportunity to steal a card from another player!
Now on to Sports Dice – Baseball. This two player filler game for ages 7+ does a great job in matching with its theme. Each player is given six dice each to roll at the same time (each roll represents a pitch). The dice vary depending on whether you’re pitching or if you’re up to bat. For example, one side of the batter’s dice has a “B” listed for Ball while the pitching dice have one side with “K” representing a Strike. Players count their dice with the most rolled outcomes and then compare it with the other player. Whoever has the most dice with a same roll outcome wins and does whatever that outcome says.
For instance, should the pitcher roll their dice and get four TP (triple play) and two K (strikes), this player would use the four TP and compare them to whatever the batter rolled. Let’s say the batter rolled one B (Ball) die and 5 HR (home run) dice, the batter would compare their 5 HR dice to the 4 TP dice of the pitcher. In this case, the 5 HR dice beat the 4 TP dice; thus, that round’s roll (or pitch) resulted in a home run. The game comes with a tiny board, score paper, markers, and meeples to keep track of gameplay. Players also take optional turns whenever there is a tie in rolling. Though the score cards have space for a 9 inning game, it plays better when only playing three innings.
Brew Dice is an amazing game to bring with you to the pub. It’s small enough to carry in a pocket (just a handful of cards and 12 dice), light enough to play/talk/drink in a crowded area, and simple enough to explain to any strangers who want to have a go at it. Another cool feature is that the beers listed on the cards are actual brews from around the country! How cool is that!?
It is also a great icebreaker for a variety of people – whether they are new to gaming, casual gamers, or seasoned veterans. Bringing games to pubs isn’t for everybody, but this game also plays very well essentially wherever you’re able to find a hard surface to roll dice and a place cards.
Sports Dice – Baseball, while being a tad more complex, also capitalizes on the “less is more” concept. This game does a particularly good job in tying the mechanics to the theme. Each roll being one pitch in a game brings with it the same feeling you get when you’re at the ballpark. I’d say I prefer this game to Brew Dice if you’re looking for a casual game where you don’t have to pay too much attention. Like baseball, there’s no time clock, only innings and outs. While Brew Dice is contingent on rolling quickly and focusing on grabbing the cards, that same intensity isn’t required for Sports Dice – Baseball. Although the World Series just recently finished (shout out to my Astros!) I fully intend on playing this game next baseball season, following along pitch for pitch to see how I do compared to my home team.
I’ve found that most successful filler games seem to have common characteristics that make them re-playable – utilizing chance, quick play time, quick learn/teaching time. Both of these games are drenched in these principles. While they both come with instructions, they could have easily been posted on the game box (though I’m glad they didn’t). Learning each game takes less than a minute, and both games can be modified to fit any of your playing time needs. They both carry a strong theme, and yet you don’t have to be a fan (of either beer or baseball) in order to enjoy playing.
A common question to this post would be which of the two games should I buy. While I certainly can’t tell you the right answer to that question (since, you know, we all have varying opinions), I can certainly tell you that the best answer; and that is to get both games. While both games are in the same category (filler games), they each bring their own style and feel to the gaming table. Brew Dice is obviously geared more towards the drinking crown, while Sports Dice – Baseball is an intergenerational game. Whichever game you end up choosing (if not both), you can’t go wrong with either. It’s a win/win!