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Button Men is a classic dice game from Cheapass Games, returning in a new starter set!
Button Men is a classic dice game from Cheapass Games, returning in a new starter set!
1,346 backers pledged $69,415 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$69,415

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Welcome to the Button Men campaign! We are in the final hours and hoping to unlock a few more stretch goals before we close! 

So far, we've unlocked a system logo button for the core game at $45k, a "Mutton Ben" button in the funvelope at $55k, a Fight City Mapple map at $60k, and additional cards for the funvelope at $65k.

Next up are Button Murderers from Kill Doctor Lucky at $70k, a Skully patch (the "o" in Button Men) at $75k, and Button Men Pairs at $80k! We'll also unlock a Button Men coin at $85k and bring Fight City back at $95k. You can read more about these in Update #10.

Button Men is a quick, clever dice game designed by James Ernest. It's easy to learn, loaded with strategy, and one of the best games we've ever made.

Each player selects a character card, and uses the dice described on the card. Players start by rolling all of their dice, and then take turns capturing each other's dice.

You score points based on the size of the dice you capture (and keep), and the player with the most points wins.

With endless variations of character recipes, unusual die types, and some simple new 'campaign' rules, Button Men is a game you can enjoy again and again.

Here's a how-to-play video that explains the basics:

We first released Button Men in 1999. It won two Origins Awards, for Best Abstract Board Game, and Best Graphic Presentation of a Board Game. (And it doesn't even have a board!) A few years later, the web version, Button Men Online, also won for Best Play by Mail Game.

Button Men has had dozens of expansions, from Cheapass Games and many other publishers. To date, the game has had more than 300 different official characters.

And now we want to bring it back!

Button Men started on pin-back buttons. The biggest difference with this new edition is that we are printing the characters on trading cards.

We will still make character buttons available, but the trading card format makes the game much less expensive. We can make a starter set with 48 characters and 30 dice for about the same price as a set of 12 buttons (and no dice). If that starter set does well in stores, we can make expansion packs that are just decks of cards.

The new starter set of Button Men is set in Fight City, a 1950's gangster town somewhere on the US Gulf Coast (think New Orleans, but not real). A "Button Man" is a low-level gangster, so the title still fits, even without the buttons. We've stretched the definition a bit, to include a wide range of criminals, male and female, at many levels of the power structure.

The Fight City set is divided into four factions, each with a different style of play. Those from Downtown ("The Core") use normal dice only. Characters from The West Side have Shadow dice, which make attacks upside-down. Those from the Delta region use Poison dice, which are worth negative points. And characters from Uptown have Rush Dice, which can capture two dice in a single attack! 

You can read more about the different factions and their special rules in Updates #2, #4, #6, and #8.

The basic Button Men rules haven't changed at all, so every existing Button Men character is compatible with the new set. The set's new rules include Rush Dice, rules for drafting characters and dice from a limited pool, as well as several  "campaign" variations that let you play multiple characters on each side.

The Button Men starter set will be $35 in retail stores, and you can get it here for the same price, along with our famous "funvelope," which is a bundle of cool stuff that you can only get from us. You can also get your favorite factions on buttons, if you want to pledge a little more. You can even become a Button Man yourself with the Drawn In levels.

Here's the Breakdown:

The Funvelope: In every campaign, we add a few cool freebies as our way of saying thanks. The Button Men funvelope will include the following:

  • Eight additional character cards
  • A souvenir poker chip
  • A "Skully" logo button (the skull inside the "O")
  • More cool stuff  - check out the stretch goals!

We have a $15 pledge level that includes only the funvelope, for backers who are on a budget, and for anyone who would rather wait and buy the core game from their favorite game store.

Button Men: Starter Set. The Button Men core game will include 48 characters on trading cards, 30 polyhedral dice, and the game rules. 

The pool of 30 dice includes 20 light dice and 10 dark dice (most likely ivory and black), in sizes d4, d6, d8, d12, and d20. This is the minimum functional dice set, which allows you to play any combination of two characters against each other, although sometimes you may have limited choices for your Swing Dice. You can always add your own dice for more flexibility, but we chose this assortment to maximize gameplay and minimize cost.

The $35 "Button Men" pledge level includes the core game as well as the funvelope.

The Cards Alone: A few of our backers asked if they could get just the character cards, because they already have enough dice. We have added two inexpensive levels that include just the pack of 48 cards, and not the full starter set. One level is the card pack alone for $15, and the other also includes the funvelope, for $25.

This pack of cards won't have a box. It's just 48 cards in shrink wrap, not packaged for retail. If you would prefer to wait, you'll also be able to get this assortment of cards from our friends at Drive Thru Cards after the campaign has shipped.

A Note on Production: We will print the game components in the USA, and use genuine Koplow dice (which are made in China). This is not the cheapest way to make this game, but the components will be of the highest quality, and we prefer it that way. You can read more about this decision in Update #7.

Adding Factions: Do you love buttons? So do we! We're going to make individual pin-back buttons of the Fight City characters available after the campaign, but if you'd like to add a block of buttons to your pledge, we have four pledge levels that include one or more factions of 12 characters. The factions are:

Custom Artwork: Our talented artists Cheyenne Wright and Nate Taylor have agreed to draw ten backers apiece! Backers at the original "Drawn In" level will receive everything from the "Add Four Factions" level, as well as a character portrait based on themselves (or someone they choose), both as an art print and a digital copy. You will also receive ten pin-back buttons featuring your character and unique Button Men recipe!

Bonus Levels: Two more Button Men artists have signed on to add to the Drawn In levels! Ryan Kinnaird and John Kovalic now each have their own Drawn In level.  You can read more about these artists in Update #5.

Note: The Drawn In characters will not appear in the core set (the timing isn't right), but we just might be able to include them in a future set. Only if we have permission from the individuals, of course!

Also Note: Nate and Cheyenne will each draw ten backers for the original Drawn In level. If you have a preference for one or the other, we can't promise that you will get him, but we will give preference to those with earlier backer numbers.

We've crushed our initial funding goal, and now we want to make the game even better! Here are some stretch goals to help us take Button Men to the next level.

First, an Announcement: After reviewing samples from China, we've decided to print Button Men in the US. This is what we usually do, but with all the dice in this game, we thought we would at least give China a shot. You can read more about what went into this decision in Update #7.

Achieved! System Logo Button. We'll add a button to the core game so that people can show that they play! We talked about making this a simple "Button Men" button but there are some thoughts that this should be a playable character. Either way, it's a pin-back button in the game box, unlocked at $45k.

Achieved! $50k: "Mutton Ben." A few of you had a lively discussion about adding a new character, "Mutton Ben." We'll make him into a trading card for the funvelope, unlocked at $50k.

Achieved! $55k: Better "Mutton Ben." We have Ben, now let's make him into a button for the funvelope. An upgraded Mutton Ben, unlocked at $55k.

Achieved! $60k: Fight City Mapple Board. We have a clever little territory control game called Mapple. We'll make a Fight City board for it, unlocked at $60k.

Achieved! $65k: Four More Cards in the Funvelope: Let's add four more bonus character cards to the funvelope. This stretch goal is more than it seems: at this point we also get to print these cards alongside the core game, so they will match the others in size and paper stock. That's actually a pretty big deal! Unlocked at $65k.

NOT UNLOCKED (YET):

$70k: Button Murderers: We'll release a set of 12 new Button Men on Drive Thru Cards, based on our favorite murderers from Kill Doctor Lucky and Doctor Lucky himself.

$75k: Skully Patch: We'll add a  a 2" embroidered patch of our wee mascot Skully (the "o" in Button Men) to the funvelope.

$80k: Button Men Pairs: We'll create a new Pairs deck at Drive Thru Cards featuring characters from the new edition of Button Men, as well as a new game variant to go with it. This might even turn into multiple decks!

$85k: Button Men Coin: We will add yet another goodie to the Funvelope: a 39mm metal coin. This coin will be similar to the coins we have made for other projects, with a Cheapass Games logo on one side, and a round version of the new Button Men logo on the other.

$95k: Fight City Returns! We'll post the two original Fight City decks (with updated full-color borders) on Drive Thru Cards. And we'll post the rules for free at cheapass.com, of course.

Note that we have expanded our original "Drawn In" levels, and we have also added new ones featuring Ryan Kinnaird and John Kovalic. Send us your photo, and you can become a custom Button Men character, drawn by one of these illustrious illustrators!

Our main goal in this campaign is to get a new Button Men starter set produced for retail stores. If that succeeds, we can start making new sets of characters as 12-card booster packs, for a fraction of the cost of the old pin-back buttons. 

We're already talking with some big-name game publishers, to license their characters and art for some interesting crossover sets. We'd love to do more characters in Fight City as well, perhaps in different time periods. And we have already announced a partnership with Dyskami Publishing to release the Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge this fall!

Button Men has been around for a long time, so there is plenty of material out there. Here are some new and not-so-new resources, if you want to learn more about the game:

How to Play Video: Created for this campaign, this video shows the basics of Button Men using two characters from The Core.

Cheapass Games: See the new trading cards based on the earliest and best Button Men sets, at our own double-secret website.

Button Weavers: The original "Button Men Online" site is alive again at buttonweavers.com. Sign up to play, and help test the open alpha of this new site!

Beat People Up: Our original Button Men information page is still online, with a fresh coat of paint. This is a great resource for more in-depth strategic analysis, and lists of the characters from the early days.

Drive Thru Cards: Our friends at Drive Thru Cards have a unique resource that lets you create custom Button Men. Check them out and print your own playable characters.

Board Game Geek: The Internet's premiere resource for hardcore tabletop gamers actually has a few nice things to say about Button Men, where the game still ranks as #109 on the "customizable" list (and #2772 overall). Let's get some new content up there!

Risks and challenges

This is our tenth Kickstarter project, and we are not too concerned with production issues. We have shipped all of our others on time (or nearly on time).

Our dice will be produced in China by Koplow Games, an industry leader in dice manufacturing. While Chinese production can sometimes lead to unexpected costs and delays, we trust Koplow to know their stuff. The rest of the game will be produced in the USA, by one of our favorite game printers.

Artwork can sometimes be a delaying issue, but the card art for this game is already finished (you can view it in the Updates). And of course we are quite confident in the game mechanic itself, as it hasn't really changed since 1999!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Funvelope Only

    Backers at this level will receive our "funvelope," an assortment of goodies that won't be available in retail stores. The funvelope includes extra character cards, a souvenir poker chip, a Skully logo button, and more. See the campaign page for a complete list.

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    For those who want the bare necessities (and who have their own dice). Backers at this level will receive only the 48 character cards from the starter game. No box, no frills.

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    Backers at this level will receive the full Button Men starter set, which includes 48 character cards and 30 polyhedral dice. This level also includes the funvelope, described above.

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    Add A Faction

    Backers at this level will receive the Button Men starter set and funvelope described above. You will also receive your choice of a single faction of 12 characters from the starter set (The Core, West Side, Delta, or Uptown) as pin-back buttons.

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    Add Three Factions

    Backers at this level will receive the Button Men starter set and funvelope described above. You will also receive your choice of three factions of 12 characters each, as pin-back buttons.

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    Add Four Factions

    Backers at this level will receive the Button Men starter set and funvelope described above. You will also receive every character in the starter set (48 characters total) as pin-back buttons.

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    Drawn In

    Backers at this level will receive everything from the "Add Four Factions" level, including the game, the funvelope, and all 48 characters as pin-back buttons. In addition, one of our artists (Cheyenne Wright or Nate Taylor) will draw your portrait in the style of Button Men. You'll receive the artwork and buttons made from your character art. You also earn our eternal gratitude!

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    Drawn In by Ryan Kinnaird

    Get drawn by Ryan Kinnaird! Backers at this level will receive everything from the "Add Four Factions" level, including the game, the funvelope, and all 48 characters as pin-back buttons. In addition, BRAWL artist Ryan Kinnaird will draw your portrait as a Button Men character. You'll receive the artwork and buttons made from your character art. You also earn our eternal gratitude!

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    Drawn In by John Kovalic

    Get drawn by John Kovalic! Backers at this level will receive everything from the "Add Four Factions" level, including the game, the funvelope, and all 48 characters as pin-back buttons. In addition, Dork Victory artist John Kovalic will draw your portrait as a Button Men character. You'll receive the artwork and buttons made from your character art. You also earn our eternal gratitude!

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Funding period

- (31 days)