Designer: Scott Courlander
Publisher: Scorelander Games
Year Published: 2022
No. of Players: 2
Bat Flip is a gamer’s love-letter to baseball. The game features eight original teams, each built around its own distinct baseball strategy or theme. Flex your financial muscles as the New York Moneybags. Bunt and steal your way to victory as the Sioux City Small Ballers. Deliver take-out slides and headhunting pitches as the Detroit Dirt Bags.
Bat Flip is a fast-paced card game of action and reaction. Step into the role of manager, decide how to deploy your players to hit, pitch and field over the course of an action-packed 3-inning game. Respond instantly to your opponent’s moves. Utilize your best players and abilities in the most pivotal moments of the game. When the time is just right, swing for the fences and flip that bat.
Similar to the popular game Smash Up, you will draft two team-decks and shuffle them together to form a 24-card deck that combines both team’s players and special abilities.
The game alternates between the At-Bat Step and the Steal Step. During the At-Bat Step, managers will play player cards out of their hand in an attempt to hit safely or draw a walk. In response, the defending manager may play a defender out of their hand in an attempt to mitigate the damage or record an out. When players hit or walk, their cards move around the bases. During the Steal Step, the batting team may attempt to use their Runners’ speed to take extra bases and the defense may, again, respond with a defender in attempt to throw the runner out.
Whichever team has the most runs after 3 innings, is the winner!
Disclaimer: The publisher provided the print & play prototype copy of Bat Flip. The opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.
Bat Flip is currently on Kickstarter as of the writing of this review. I watched its video, read about the game, then decided, it looked like it would be worth my time. I love a good two-player game that takes 30 minutes or so to play. The look of the cards intrigued me. I decided that with all of this going for it, why not give it a try? What is it going to be a Pitcher, Pitcher, belly itcher? Let’s play ball and find out!
Rules & Setup:
The rules are well written and easy to understand. I do wish that there were a few more examples throughout. Not that the game is complicated, but there seem to be a few fringe situations. To set up, each player selects two teams of 12 players to shuffle together to create one team of 24. The baseball field card is set in the middle with the away team side up. Set a marker on the 0 Outs in the Away Team of Inning 1. Each player then draws 5 cards. If either player wants to play a Pitcher, they can. I advise the Home Team to play one, they are auto defense and steal protection. Set the bat flip card to its active side (the one with a colored banner on top), and you are ready to play.
Theme and Mechanics:
At first, I was worried that the theme would not come through, that it wouldn’t feel like a baseball game. Thankfully and wonderfully, I was wrong. The theme comes through fantastically. Mechanically, it reminds me of playing with my baseball cards many moons ago. You have your teams, then you shuffle and draw them up. You play as the manager of the team. You must make the best choice you can, given the information and cards that you have. This reflects more on the theme.
As I said, the rules are simple. If you are batting, you select a player from your hand to play. Then the fielding team has a chance to defend. If you chose to hit, the defender must play a card of equal or higher fielding value. If they do, then you have a chance to modify it based on the special abilities of your cards. Then, the defender has a chance to modify their play. This goes back and forth until someone has the advantage, gives up, or runs out of cards. If a hit is then successful, the player advances the number of bases equal to the distance. For instance, 5-4 would be a single, 5-3 would be a double. Every runner already in play also advances the same number of bases. And of course, each runner to pass Home Plate scores a run. On the flip side (get it? “Flip” side), if the defender ties or exceeds your number, the hitter is out, and each player draws a card.
If you chose to play the player for a walk, you compare the hitter’s Eye stat to the pitcher’s Control stat. If you are higher than the Control stat, you walk. You cannot walk back-to-back. If you are unsuccessful, the batter is out. Each player draws a card.
You can also elect to take a strikeout. Why would you voluntarily do this? Well, you discard a player card, then draw two. Your opponent draws one. It is a way to refill you hand. Watch out for the 7-card hand limit.
Lastly, there is the eponymous Bat Flip option. This action can only be taken once per team per inning. After declaring a Bat Flip, you flip your top card from the draw pile. If it is a hitter, then advance the hitter and all runners the number equal to flipped card’s hit value. This cannot be defended by fielding team. If the card flipped is a pitcher, he is out. Pitchers do not bat in this game.
After every hit attempt (successful or not), the hitting team can elect to steal. The base in front of the runner must be open, and only one steal can occur after each hit. The runner’s steal stat can be defended by a player’s Defense stat. If it is higher, the steal is successful. If not, the runner is out, both players draw a card. You can attempt to steal home, but the hit attempt must have been a success.
Three innings are played. The team with the most runs wins!
Artwork and Components:
I worked off a print and play copy. So, I will not judge the components. Artwork, however, I will. The artwork is great! Each player looks different. Each team has a distinct logo. Each character has a unique name, many of which have a play on their team’s name. For instance, Caden Buff plays for the Juicers. He also has a bit of flavor text which I loved: “Caden is always trying to find someone who will play Settler of Catan with him.” Me too, Caden. Me too.
At first, I was thinking that Bat Flip needed a way to get more cards in your hand easier. But, after a few games, I realized that by NOT having that mechanic made you really think about each decision. Do you let the steal happen to conserve a pitcher? Do you take a strikeout to try and get better cards into your hand? Do you spend a good player for his special ability to get more cards, or do you attempt to hit for many bases? Each of these decisions affects the number of cards and what is available to you next. This is what really makes Bat Flip stand out. Well, that, and the Bat Flip itself. On my first Bat Flip, I flipped over a character with a 4 hitting power. HOME RUN! And to top if off, I had a runner on, so it was a 2-run homer! Which edged out my son for the 2-1 victory. To show the opposite, his first attempt at the Bat Flip saw a pitcher come up, and nothing happened.
The Bat Flip card also works very well as a reference card. It sums up all the rules and iconography very well.
The iconography needs to be larger. I am not old, but I am getting older. The players take centerstage on the cards, as they should. But putting the icons completely down the left edge would make them easier to see.
Bat Flip is listed as having a 30–45-minute playing time, but I truly believe it is 30 minutes. It plays fast. It has a lot of meaning decision making in it, and it has just the right amount of luck, too. The feel made me think of playing a game with my baseball cards from my childhood. It was a very nostalgic feeling game. I enjoyed it, my son enjoyed it, and I am excited to see more teams and abilities. Butter up!
Players Who Like:
Baseball, collected baseball cards, quick play, meaningful decisions, and just a bit of luck