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Griddly Headz Baseball Game (Griddley Games, Inc., 2006 - No designer credited) is a game about baseball - I think. Actually, I think that someone molded the pieces, and then tried their hardest to get a game out of it. I think the best comparison is to that of a silly "B" movie that I might watch just to laugh. Griddley Headz is a rather bad game, but it's so bad that it's funny; and while humor may not be exactly what the designers intended, it is what it is.
The game doesn't really simulate baseball, as I doubt players are running around the field whacking each other or declaring duels; and I think that the actual physical part of the game, while fun, is more like golf than baseball. It's a silly game, and I had fun while playing it, but doubt that I could be tempted to pick it up again. Kids who enjoy Parcheesi may find it funny, and the pieces are rather good; but it just is too lucky and wild to have any real value.
Each player takes four regular players (known as "Scrappy"), one pitcher ("Studdly Mann"), one catcher ("Mae") and two six-sided dice of their color. All the figures are placed in the "Dugout" of that player's color on the board. The board has a circular roll-and-move track around it, and players place one Scrappy on the corner that contains their color. Three decks of cards (Home Run, Foul Ball, and Umpire) are shuffled and placed on the board, as well as some plastic bats and plastic half-baseballs. Players are given a cardboard puzzle of a baseball player - the Locker Room. One player is chosen to go first, and then play begins.
On a player's turn, they roll both of their dice then consult the board. If one or both dice total six, the player has the option of moving another player from the dugout onto the track. However, a player may only have three players moving on the track at any one point. Otherwise, the player moves their players clockwise according to the dice roll. They may use both dice for one figure or assign a die to two different figures. A couple exceptions:
- Mae can move clockwise or counter-clockwise.
- Figures must follow the instructions on the square, except for Mae.
What happens then depends on what space the figures land.
- On a Foul Ball, Home Run, or Umpire card space, the player draws the top card and follows the instructions; unless the card has the picture of a baseball, in which case they may keep the card, using it when needed. Cards cause a variety of effects, such as making a player lose one of their uniform puzzle pieces, giving the player a "run", or causing a figure to be ejected from the game. Cards can be good or bad for the player.
- On a "Grand Slam" space, the player chooses an opponent. Both players roll a die as fast as they can. The first player to get a "1" receives one run.
- On a corner space of an opponent, the figure is sent back to their own dugout.
- On a "Spring Training" space, the figure is trapped in Spring Training camp until another figure is sent there, or until the space is passed by another figure of that player's team.
- Some spaces move the player forward or back a number of spaces.
- On a "Bunt" space, the player challenges another in the game. Each takes a bat and half-ball. Placing the balls on designated spots on the board, each player attempts to hit their "ball" as close to the pitcher's mound as possible, with the player who gets closer receiving a run.
- Several spaces have "challenges"; on these spaces players challenge another player, each rolling a single die. The object is to win the best of 3 out of 5, or 4 out of 7, depending on the space. The loser removes a piece of their uniform, has a figure sent back to the dugout or is ejected from the game.
- If the figure lands on a space containing a figure from an opposing team, the two players conduct a challenge. This occurs just like above, although Studdly starts out with a one die advantage in these rolls. Again, the losing player may lose uniform pieces or their figure.
- It should be noted that Studdly will gain two runs in a challenge, rather than one.
- Mae causes folks to lose two pieces of a uniform, rather than one in challenges.
- Neither Studdly nor Mae can be ejected from the game if another figure of that color is on the track.
The game continues until one player gets ten runs, at which point they are the winner. However, if a player loses all twelve pieces of their uniform, or if four of their figures have been eliminated from the game, then they automatically lose.
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: The whole line of games (there is football, hockey, and racing, as well) seems to be based on the little Griddley Headz figures. They are very funny looking and are made of good quality plastic, as is the ball and bat. The dice are okay, if a little large and bouncy; but at least they match the players' colors perfectly. The board is an array of dazzling gaudiness, including a list of trash talking terms that you can use (although they are distinctly Canadian). The puzzle piece uniforms are neat looking, and the idea is cool - until you use them. The first time you really have to press to get the pieces out, after that the whole puzzle collapses every time you pull a piece out. The cards are low quality with sharp corners; but they don't see much use, so it doesn't matter too much. There are two editions of the game, with the "special edition" coming in a giant box. The family edition, however, is already a fairly large, flat box; so I don't see the need to upgrade simply to have an upraised board.
2.) Rules: The rulebook is composed of twelve pages of rules made up of lists. The problem is that you will dance all over these twelve pages, attempting to find the rules; the game seems to have lists of how everything works in different locations - the flow is very off. Other than that, the game play is simple - just roll the dice, and then do the action on the square - teaching folks as you go.
3.) Dice: I can live with the "Sorry" aspect of the game, as players attempt to roll a six to get a new figure on the board. And the game fortunately has a mercy rule which basically allows a player to bring someone out if they have no one else on the track. But really, the dice rolling for the challenges is such a toss up that it can be greatly annoying. Losing two players in a row from the game because the other player happened to roll better than you is no result of strategy - simply blind luck. Some folks might enjoy this - but know what you are getting into here!
4.) Cards: The cards are even more luck-driven than the dice! Take the Umpire cards, for instance. Forty percent of them are bad, forty percent are good, and the other twenty percent affect a random player. And since the card results give players runs, or eject their people from the game, they are really like playing the lottery. It can be very annoying and frustrating to lose/win because of a card draw, and it's likely to happen.
5.) Bunting: By far, this is the best, most enjoyable part of the game. Even though it's more similar to golfing than batting - it doesn't make sense thematically at all - it's still fun to try to slide the half-balls as close to the mound as possible. When I play the game, I attempt to land my figures on this space as much as possible, just because it's the most fun aspect included.
6.) Baseball: If you think baseball consists of: a bunch of ornery people led by a "Ma Barker" type character running in circles and beating the snot out of each other, trying to hit balls as close to the mound as possible, and causing other players to lose pieces of their uniform (oh, the jokes fly when this happens!), then the theme fits right in. But pardon me while I shrug my shoulders and say, "Huh?" I love baseball, but this game is NOT baseball.
7.) Fun Factor: The game is downright ridiculous; and when taken in that manner - sort of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 manner, you can have fun. We laugh at the bad rolls of players, the gradual disappearance of uniforms, the negative aspect of Spring Training, and the goofiness of the game in general. In short, the game is so bad that you can't help but point and laugh.
Unfortunately, that means that I can't recommend this game to anyone, really. Baseball fans need to run screaming; kids can find something that has a little more substance, and anyone just looking for a laugh may find it here; but there are better jokes elsewhere. The pieces are for the most part fun-looking, and I plan on using them for something else. Unless utter boredom strikes me, I won't play this game again.
"Real men play board games"
6.) Baseball: If you think baseball consists of: a bunch of ornery people led by a "Ma Barker" type character running in circles and beating the snot out of each other, trying to hit balls as close to the mound as possible, and causing other players to lose pieces of their uniform (oh, the jokes fly when this happens!), then the theme fits right in.
I SO wish baseball was played like this!
Did you notice that the same game is rethemed as several other sports with near-identical mechanics.