Bottom of The 9th is an excellent simulation of the last half inning of a baseball game. The art is tremendous as well. The player cards come in a foil pack with a fake stick of gum, like the old days. There is a board that looks like a baseball diamond and there are meeple runners to put on the bases when the home team gets a hit. The game play is rather simple in concept, but if you know baseball, then it really is genius. The game is tied and it’s the bottom of the ninth. The away team was the clear favorite to win the game, and if gets into extra innings, there is little doubt they will capture the victory. It’s the home team’s last real chance to win the game. All they need isone run.
The home team picks six players for a lineup. The away team has a starting pitcher and a reliever, just in case. Each player gets two tokens. One token has a high and low side. The other has an inside and outside side. Players start with a stare down. Each secretly chooses the orientation of their two tokens. Then they reveal. If the batter guessed wrong, maybe low and inside, while the pitch was high and outside, then the odds are in the pitcher’s favor that there will be no contact, and probably strike one. That’s the basic idea. Once the stare down occurs, each player rolls a dice or two, and sees if the batter took a strike, a ball, or made contact. If a strike or a ball, then the result is recorded and you do the stare down again. If there is contact before the batter is walked or struck out, then the players simultaneously roll their own six sided die repeatedly until someone rolls a 5 or a 6 and yells out “safe” if you’re the batter, or “out” if you’re the pitcher. This continues until either 3 outs – away team wins, or a run is scored – home team wins.
There are a few more mechanics to the game, but that is pretty much it. Bottom of The 9th plays in about 30 minutes, maybe less. But you’d be hard pressed to find a game that can thematically capture the feeling of baseball in so short a time. Pitcher versus Batter. Mind games, dexterity, luck. It’s all there. The best parts of the game without 3 plus hours of spitting, scratching, and commercials. I really love this game and find myself wanting to platy it as often as any other game I own.