Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Sunday 8 July 2018

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Baseball Highlights 2045

Game: Baseball Highlights 2045

Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games

Designer: Mike Fitzgerald

Year: 2015

Baseball Highlights 2045 originally caught my eye was a two-player deck-building game. The designer, Mike Fitzgerald has a great history in game design, with involvement in many early trading card games, as well as board games such as the Mystery Rummy series and Diamonds. I got my first chance to try Baseball Highlights at a local meet-up and unfortunately felt like I was playing with the slowest guy in the world, trying to optimise every turn and really sucking all the fun out of it. However, I was interested enough in the game underneath the bad experience to want to give it another chance, so let's take a closer look at Baseball Highlights 2045 now that we've been playing it together as a couple.


Baseball Highlights 2045 take place over 2 main rounds, first there is a mini tournament where you will play several mini games, each representing 1 game of baseball. At the end of each baseball game players will earn currency based on the popularity of the players they used which can be spent to recruit new members to their team from a common market. Each player bought replaces an existing player meaning you  always stay at the same deck size. The first mini tournament is used to customise your decks before the main tournament begins, this is a series of 7 games won by the first player to win 4 games.

In each mini games players will draw 6 player cards from their deck. Players will then take turns playing cards, with most cards placing hits on their baseball field, which will then run around the bases as more hits are made and will score if not prevented. Your opponent will then have a chance to play a card, if their card has any fielding abilities it may prevent some of your hits. Any unblocked hits will then run the bases before the active player places their hits down. Play will repeat until both players have played 6 cards, at which point the player with the most runs scored will win the mini game.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

The concept of Baseball Highlights 2045 is one I can respect, a deckbuilding sports game where your team of players are represented by the deck? that's a cool idea! Perhaps the first difficulty that we had with the game is the cultural disconnect, baseball isn't a game of any renown in the UK, the rules were foreign to me. This problem is exaggerated by the rule book which seamed to assume a level of sports knowledge. Some of the rules I couldn't even find in the manual and had to google to find out what to do. Hardly a good start.

Compared to other deckbuilders you have similar things going on, some players are good at earning your currency to buy new players, others are less good for recruiting, but better at hitting runs or preventing your opponent's hits. ie you have currency, offence and defence. However the major difference is that each mini game of baseball you play is essentially 1 hand from any other deckbuilder. Unfortunately this slows the game down massively and while play order can be important more often than not the winner of each game is the player who drew the better hand. This feels terrible when you are obviously going to lose, but you still have 5 minutes before you finish this mini game and move on to the next.

This unique gameplay may well be the draw for many people, as it opens up a great chance for counterplay and building your deck to take on your opponents. Particularly when you get some of the better players who are especially good against cyborgs/robots/naturals. Unfortunately for me it left the game feeling slow and stilted, making the game drag on far longer than my attention was willing to grant it.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

As I wrote at the start, I had a bad first game of Baseball Highlights, but I thought some of the tedious feeling was down to the other player and not necessarily the game. Unfortunately, after a few games with Amy, I now feel like the game is tedious too. I'm just going through the motions and I can't get too invested or try to plan moves ahead because 50% of time, Amy will essentially play a 'nope' card on me.

At the same time as feeling trapped by the mechanics I'm playing a game with a theme that means nothing to me. It's not even that I don't like the theme, it's like the game is designed to alienate people who are not in the 'in-crowd' and understand all of the specialist terms on the cards. I'm sure the game is very thematic, something that deck-builders or card games in general sometimes find it hard to accomplish, but it doesn't do anything to bring me into that theme as an outsider.

I went into Baseball Highlights 2045 expecting a deck-building game and came away with more of the feel of a hand management game with a campaign aspect, which unfortunately is a big disappointment when you're expecting one of your favourite game mechanisms. I appreciate that there are certainly some strategies to the game in the way you build your deck to combat your opponent's strategy, and the timing of your big counter-attack for the right moment when it will cause your opponent's chain of events to fall apart, but I am more often playing through the motions rather than engaging with it.

I'd really only recommend Baseball Highlights 2045 to players who like the theme and who enjoy the back and forth of countering each others moves and trying to struggle for the upper hand, and unfortunately neither of those things are me.

You Might Like...
  • The baseball theme seems to come through really well in the mechanics of the game.
  • The game is not your classic deck-building game, so it may be worth trying even if games like Dominion are not your thing. There is a lot more hand management and reading your opponent to figure out the order to play your hand.
You Might Not Like...
  • If you don't know baseball, then there are terms on the cards that are just complete jargon.
  • There is not a huge amount of deck-building and the game is missing some of the classic deck-building elements of creating combos and improving your turns with card draws and deck-thinning.
  • It can feel like your hand is just unlucky at times and there's nothing you can do to win a game and with the heavy take-that element it can just be demoralising.

The Verdict
5/10 Baseball Highlights 2045 felt like a game for baseball fans and it does a great job of creating an interesting tabletop game out of that theme. It brings some interesting new aspects to deck-building, but for us it adds new elements we don't enjoy and sacrifices some of the most satisfying parts of deck-building games.

Baseball Highlights 2045 was a prototype review copy kindly provided to the Board Game Exposure Reviewer Collective.

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