Bottom of the 9th makes it into the Digital League. Will this baseball themed board game app become an All-Star?
Android, iOS Phones
# of Players
1 - 2
Greater Than Games
Dice Hate Me Games
- Synchronous Multiplayer
- Cross-Platform Multiplayer
- Random Matchmaking
- Local pass-and-play
Bottom of the 9th is a baseball themed game incorporating dice rolling and variable player attributes. The goal is to either send the game to extra innings in the role of the pitching team or win the game as the batting team. Both roles have elements of bluffing and deduction as you try to outsmart your opponent. The game is won when the batting team scores a run or the pitching team gets three outs. - whichever comes first. I've lost a game after just three pitches before. Handelabra has already given us Sentinels of the Multiverse which made both our Top Ten Android Games and Top Ten iOS Games lists. So, our hopes were very high coming into this Bottom of the 9th review.
The game plays out just as a bottom of the 9th inning would in any baseball game. The pitcher and batter are trying to read each other, the crowd is going wild, and everything is on the line. We begin by choosing to play the pitching or the batting team. I choose the pitching team for this example. You'll be prompted to select two players; a starter and a reliever, and the game begins. The game board is a beautifully mowed baseball diamond complete with a custom Bottom of the 9th logo in the outfield; from there we move to the mound and our meeple has the ball ready to pitch. Start by tapping the Stare Down choices to place the pitch - the highlighted zone is your pitcher's Ace Pitch potential and offers special powers, but also causes the most fatigue. Then the batter tries to guess where the pitch is going to be using the same Stare Down choices. The batters guess is compared to the pitchers placement, and the outcome determines who receives the tokens. Two tokens are up for grabs each pitch. The more tokens you earn each pitch, the more player powers are available to you.
When the dice come to a stop, the on screen guide helps you modify the dice roll using your players' powers. There are way too many player powers and dice combinations to speak of in this review, but the app does help a lot with explaining the possible actions available to you. The outcomes include a strike, a ball, a foul ball (strike,) or contact made. When contact is made, depending on whether or not the ball was "Crushed," a race around the bases begins. Should the ball be "Crushed," and the batter then roll a 6, it's a Home Run and the batting team wins the game! When a batter reaches base safely, the next batter on the roster is up, the pitcher gains some relief from fatigue based on the number of empty bases, and the Stare down begins again.
Barrier to Entry
There's a well made, easy to follow "Spring Training" tutorial for both batting and pitching. The most significant barrier to entry for me is selecting the best lineup or pitching staff before the game begins. There are many batters and pitchers to choose from, each with his/her own player powers that will sway the dice in your favor. Only with several games played and different player selections, will you roster the right squad and start winning the inning.
The Official Rulebook is available within the app(no pdf download necessary.) This is an extremely detailed breakdown of every aspect of the game. Honestly, it is a lot to take it at once. The rule book is easy to navigate and you can easily jump to sections and find what you are looking for.
During the game on most dice rolls, there are on screen notes explaining what die numbers are needed to best your opponent. This is extremely helpful, and without it, we would be completely lost. All in all, Bottom of the 9th takes a moderate amount of games before feeling comfortable with the mechanics and strategy of America's digital pastime.
Look and Feel
The great golden age of baseball theme permeates the game. The names of the players, uniforms and music are a throwback to the 40's and 50's era of baseball. The theme song is an amazing homage to "Take me Out to the Ball Game," and tells a tale of the Bottom of the 9th inning in Rag Time fashion. You'll hear the crowd ooh and aah and cheer throughout the game, much like being at a game. This, along with the traditional baseball sounds of a catcher's mitt, wooden bats and classic baseball jingles make Bot9 a truly enjoyable experience.
Bottom of the 9th offers several options in the "Manager's Office" settings screen. One of which is the ability to switch up the graphics level, thus increasing/decreasing battery use. Another option is too speed up or slow down the dice animations. I recommend a setting just above halfway on the speed slider.
Nobody loves meeples more than Pixelated Cardboard. Nobody. However, these baseball player meeples are trying to do too much in this game. They come off a bit clunky and over-sized in my opinion. And the hats just don't work for me.
I've been able to play in one Exhibition Game/Casual game against a randomly selected opponent. The game moved along quickly and there were no snags, lags, nor glitches. However, I can't connect to an "Away Game," Ranked Match at all. You can certainly pass and play on your device with a friend just by choosing a "Home Game" and setting each side to Local Player. In addition, you may send your friends invites to play a game online.
So at this point, there is not much else to report on the online multiplayer part of the game. Should I find some Ranked Games, I'll quickly update the review.
Bottom of the 9th has single player options found in the "Home Game" button box on the home screen. There are three AI difficulty levels, easy, medium and hard. The difference in AI levels comes down to the accuracy of the Stare Down selections. Playing against the easy AI you may win more tokens each pitch or at bat than versus the difficult AI setting.
Make sure you select "Real Time Contact" when you are given the option before the game. This allows for a simultaneous dice roll-off if contact is made by the batter. The first person to roll a 5 or 6 then tap safe or out is rewarded with the outcome. Both dice are rolling around the screen, the runner is advancing towards the base trying to beat the baseball there. It's really a lot of fun to try and roll that 5/6 first and tap safe or out. If you deselect Real Time Contact, one player roles, then the other until one gets a 5 or a 6 (not nearly as exciting.)
Both teams can choose to add a support character when choosing their rosters. Dice Dixon, the hard nosed manager can argue with the umpires about calls. Doc Mullins, the team doctor helps your side with fatigue and/or aiding batters with hitting.
Bottom of the 9th has a few extras in the app such as multiple leader boards, a personal trophy case, and the staff credits. For Google Play Store users, the Trophy Case tracks your achievements within the game. There are seven different leader boards to climb for different levels of difficulty as well as for ranked Multiplayer Wins. Few people are populating these boards now, so if you want to see your name up there, now's the best chance.
The Wrap Up
Bottom of the 9th by Handelabra Games truly captures one of the most thrilling times in sports. Whether pitching to close out the game or batting to score just one run, Bot9 hits a home run for excitement and replayability.