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Fantasy Fantasy Baseball Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Daryl Andrews, JR Honeycutt
Artist: Rob Lundy
Publisher: CSE Games 
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 1-5
Playing Time: 20-50 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com


Before we start:

After receiving this game and giving it a few play-throughs, I wrote the review, and then played a few more times and re-wrote the review, and then played some more and here I am now with a completely different third draft of this review.

I blame Catan. (Stick with me here - it may be a labored metaphor, but it is a labor of love.)

My first experience with the modern age of board games was with, you guessed it, Catan.

And I hated it.

Sure, I was much younger and there were so many things vying for my extra time back then, but the truth of the matter is that it just didn't appeal to me. I had no frame of reference for any other board game outside of the Milton Bradley titles I played as a young child, and in all honesty, the theme didn't interest me at all. The sheep and wood and trading things - it just didn't resonate. I couldn't relate. I was an athlete and liked athletic things, so for my gaming fix, it was back to the PlayStation and video games for several more years.

Flash forward to present day, and here I am. The PlayStation is collecting dust, and the hall cabinets are bursting with board game titles. Catan and I have made-up, but I still kind of blame it for delaying my immersion into the world of board gaming and the board game community. And now, I am reviewing Fantasy Fantasy Baseball, and I can't help but think what might have been if this game would have been available when I was first trying to play Catan.  

This game would have been my gateway game. And I bet that there is someone out there, possibly someone you know, that could be introduced to the hobby if you had a game that appealed to a sports fan. This could be their gateway game.

As a reviewer, I often think of how I would like my reviews to be received. It is nice to hear that a review influenced a person's decision to purchase (or in some cases, avoid) a game, but ultimately, I feel that the best feedback to receive would be to hear that a review, directly or indirectly, led to someone new joining the board game community and falling in love with the hobby. Fantasy Fantasy Baseball wasn't around to introduce me to the hobby, but it is here now, and I bet there are others that could be introduced to the hobby through this game.

This game spoke to me as a baseball fan first and a board gamer second. Fantasy Fantasy Baseball is a love letter to the National Pastime masked as a card game about fantasy characters, and this, dear readers, is what is necessary to see continued growth in the hobby. Not games about baseball, per se, but games that speak to different fandoms, different genders, different ethnicities. Games for jocks, for video gamers, for book lovers. For fans of movies, music, or the underrated NBC-turned-Yahoo series Community. The young and old, male and female, Yankees or Red Sox. I believe that everyone is a fan of something, so everyone is a potential fan of board games, given they are introduced to the right game.

I have nothing against any specific title, but it seems to me that there are many games about farming, or trains, or vikings/ninjas/pirates. Those games are great; some of my favorite games are wrapped around the same, or even more ridiculous, themes. But the board game community is not going to see continued growth by adding another game that mainly appeals to one gender/race/fandom. We need more games that genuinely meet players where they are - i.e. a game by fans of _____ for fans of _____ - and Fantasy Fantasy Baseball seems to be one of those games for baseball fans.

My final appeal to you before we head back to the regularly scheduled review is this: you may love the latest game about wheat farming ninjas that travel across the land via train, and you may not understand why your child, neighbor, co-worker, parent, etc. doesn't love it too. For the non-board gaming baseball fan in your life, this could be the shared-interest gateway game that may lead to them sitting at your table and eventually wanting to play the newest game about wheat farming ninjas that travel across the land via train - and that is why I think Fantasy Fantasy Baseball is so important.

General Rules Overview and Setup:

In Fantasy Fantasy Baseball, players take control of a baseball team and act as the Wizard Manager, attempting to collect the most wins and moving on to the Championship Series.

Setup begins with the infield board and stat tracker (aka The Monster) being placed at the center of the table, followed by each player choosing the color of their wizard figure and waiver tokens. The win cards are shuffled and placed in the middle of infield board.

The character cards are divided into five piles based on their character class - rookie, pro, specialist, all-star, or Hall of Fame. Each player is dealt three rookies, and then one of each from the pro, specialist, all-star, and Hall of Fame stacks, for a total of seven cards in hand.

Examples of character cards that were based on actual MLB players. L:R Mariano Rivera, Craig Biggio, and David Ortiz.

After each player has seven cards, the live draft begins. Of the seven cards, the player chooses one and passes the rest to the left. This drafting mechanic continues until each player again has drafted seven cards. Players then discard one of the cards so that they only have six cards - four that will go into play as starters, and two bench players that won't be used directly for the head-to-head match-ups, but whose magical power is still usable.

Once players have drafted and discarded down to six cards, four win cards on placed around the infield board (one by each base on the field), and the free agents are revealed. Free agents can be added to a player's hand after the first month of play in exchange for another card from that player's hand. That card becomes part of the free agent pool and can be claimed by another player.

Four win cards positioned around the infield board.

Using the win conditions outlined on the win cards, players then select the four cards that will serve as their starting line-up. The four cards are placed around the players' team cards in the same way the win cards outline the infield board.

The starting line-up placed face-down around the team's card and Wizard Manager.

Once the starting line-ups are set, players simultaneously reveal their cards, starting with first base and working around the infield board. Players compare the win card conditions with the stats on their corresponding player card. The character with the highest stat total wins the win card.

Players that did not win the win card may advance their stats on the Monster stat tracking board. Stat track position is important, as it can equate to wins at the end of the regular season.

The stat track, AKA The Monster.

After all of the cards are revealed and win cards collected/stats added, players take their cards back into their hands and do it again - three times total. Upon completion of the third round of play, win cards and wins earned via the stat tracker are added, and the two teams with the highest win total move on to the championship series. The championship series plays similar to the regular season, but it is a best of seven series that could potentially be completed by only one trip around the infield board.

The game also includes event cards that can be included in game play. These cards add an additional element for players to consider when selecting their starting line-ups.

Event cards can increase the complexity of choosing your starting line-up.

Theme and Mechanics:

Fantasy Fantasy Baseball is a card drafting, hand-management card game. There is an added element of memorization that comes into play during the waiver wire period. Since all players are privy to the players available via waiver, and can see which player drafts which card, players can have a good idea of what card their opponents may play in an effort to win a specific round. While it does have some different mechanics at work throughout the game, none of them are very complex and wouldn't be difficult for a new gamer to pick up.

As for theme, did I mention this game is about baseball? The players are all fantasy based characters, but there are so many that are based on real players, past and present. More on that to come.

Artwork and Components:

As I flipped through the cards, I instantly appreciated the art. I usually don't get to excited by the fantasy genre, but I wasn't seeing fantasy characters - I was seeing players, and some of my baseball cards. There was the Griffey Upper Deck #1, the infamous Billy Ripken '88 Fleer card (Google it), Jeter with his signature jump throw, Batista with the bat flip, and I even recognized the inclusion of Team USA softball star Jennie Finch. There's Mays, Bonds, Ruth, Sandberg, Ortiz, Biggio, Rivera, and the real player list list goes on and on. Being able to quickly and easily identify the cards and players that were represented led me, as a baseball fan, to liking the game before even reading the rules.

L:R My Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck #1 Rookie Card and Grifseidon from FFB. Note: the Ken Griffey Jr 1989 Upper Deck #1 Rookie Card is NOT included with the game.

The other components are high quality and easy to distinguish during play. The wizards/manager pieces are detailed, and the cardboard components add to the baseball theme. Even the pegs used on the stat board are shaped like little baseball bats.

The Wizard Managers.

The Good:

Baseball. If you skipped down to this part of the review, please go back and read the intro.

There's no crying in baseball. This token can be played in front of a player that is whining. It doesn't actually do anything, but its another example of the baseball theme that permeates the game.

The cards. As a baseball fan and baseball card collector, I got a similar thrill opening the player cards and shuffling through as a I would opening a pack of baseball cards. See the "Artwork and Components" section above.

Most baseball fans will recognize the real-life counterparts that inspired the art on the cards. 

The fantasy baseball. Fantasy baseball fans that are familiar with the scoring should have no problem picking up the game play. Many of the scoring stats in fantasy baseball are the same in Fantasy Fantasy Baseball. The designers didn't shy away from using baseball jargon, so there isn't a need to try to re-learn common stats with a fantasy-themed name. They should also be familiar with the waiver wire and picking up free agents. It is a good transition from one fantasy game to another.

The Bad:

The (green) Monster. I wasn't a huge fan of the monster stat tracker. It seemed to add more time to the overall game play, while not adding much more than another clever callback to a modern baseball shrine. I feel that there may have been easier ways to track the stats rather than trying to stick a tiny baseball bat into an even tinier hole on a baseball score board.

One and two-player modes. The game is marketed as 1-5 players, and I played the solo variant, as well as two-player and four-player games. The four-player game was the best experience, as it offered a true elimination-style system. With two players, the championship match-up was already decided before the first card was played, so the first three rounds seemed like an unnecessary warm-up to the best of seven series. The solo variant was okay and would work in a fix, but the game seems better suited for social interaction rather than solo play.

The Other:

Bo knows board games. I may have missed it, but I didn't see a recreation of Bo Jackson on any of the character cards. Hopefully he's included in Fantasy Fantasy Football.

Final Thoughts:

Again, if you are reading this and skipped the "initial thoughts" section, give it a read. I may have went full baseball fanboy at the beginning, but in my opinion, this game is the best at merging baseball and board games, and these type of genre mergers are necessary for continued growth in the hobby. I believe there is real potential for this game to be a gateway game for baseball fans. 

Players Who Like: Bottom of the 9th, sports-themed games.

I am recommending this as a potential Game Changer.

Check out Fantasy Fantasy Baseball on:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/179600/fantasy-fantasy-baseball   https://www.facebook.com/csegames/   https://twitter.com/csegames?lang=en   https://www.instagram.com/csegames/   https://www.amazon.com/Fantasy-Baseball-Roster-Building-Card-Game/dp/B01KGXRUTY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518580798&sr=8-1&keywords=fantasy+fantasy+baseball+game   

Nick Shipley - Reviewer

Nick is a compliance consultant by day, a board gamer at night, and a husband and father always. When he is not bringing a game to the table, he is running (most often to or from his kids) or watching the New York Yankees. Nick lives in Oklahoma.

See all of Nick's reviews HERE.

Fantasy Fantasy Baseball Review Fantasy Fantasy Baseball Review Reviewed by Nicholas Shipley on March 12, 2018 Rating: 5


  1. So, with the championship, are the other players left watching? If so, how much time is spent after the "player elimination"? The components look really nice... even if the stat board does seem a bit fiddly.

  2. The championship series is the top two teams, but instead of “months” of play like the regular season, the championship is a best of 7 series with the firs player to four wins winning the championship. That goes by very quickly compared to the regular season and we didn’t experience a lot of down time waiting for the final two teams to determine the champ.

    The components are nice. The monster stat tracker is cool, but you may want someone with smaller hands handling the placement. I knocked the bats over each time I tried to move my tracker. Not a big enough issue to turn me off of the game though.



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