OBJECTIVE: As the home team, win the game in the bottom of the 9th inning, as the visiting team, keep the home team from winning
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 1 or 2 players
MATERIALS: field board, instruction manual, 20 player cards, 15 manager challenge cards, 2 white pitching dice, 1 red batting die, 4 runner meeples, 4 pitching/batting tokens, 2 fatigue tokens, 5 pitch count tokens, 3 out tokens, and a stick of gun at-bat tracker
TYPE OF GAME: card game
AUDIENCE: Ages 13+
OVERVIEW OF BOTTOM OF THE 9TH
Rather than playing an entire game of baseball, Bottom of the 9th ramps up the tension by narrowing the game down to the final three outs. As the home team, your goal is to score a run and win the game. As the visiting team, your win condition is to keep the home team from scoring.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
Out of the box, you get a field board, twenty player cards, one hitter’s reference card, and fifteen manager’s challenge cards which are used for the solo variation. Batter components include two pitch tokens, an at-bat tracker, four base runners, five pitch count tokens, and one red swing die. Pitcher components include two pitch tokens, three out tokens, two fatigue tokens, and two white pitcher’s dice.
Determine which player is the home team (who bats) and the visiting team (who pitches). Position the Bottom of the 9th game board so that home plate faces the batter.
The batter chooses six batters from the player card deck. Batter cards have a batter icon in the corner of the card. You must choose batters from six different positions. Some batters are more versatile than others. If a batter’s position is simply infield, they can count as any infield position. The same goes for any player with outfield position. If a batter plays utility, they can be used as any one infield OR outfield position.
Arrange the batters from left to right in the order you want them to hit. Place the at-bat tracker below the first batter in the lineup along with the five pitch count tokens.
Put one base runner on home play, and put the other three off to the side. The batter should have one red and one white pitch token as well as the red swing die in their possession.
The pitching player goes through the player cards and chooses one starting pitcher and one relief pitcher. Some pitchers are not marked as starting or relief. These players can be used as either.
Place the starting pitcher with the information side of the card face up. The relief pitcher is placed off to the side. The relief pitcher might come into play later.
There is a fatigue track on the board. Place the two small fatigue tokens on the top row of the fatigue track. The face up sides must match the ace pitch of the starting pitcher which is described in the red box. Place three out tokens near the outs track. Have the two pitch tokens and the pitching dice ready.
Each round of the Bottom of the 9th game is made up of one pitch. The pitcher chooses a pitch to throw, and the batter tries to correctly guess the pitch. Guessing correctly gives the batter an advantage. After pitching and guessing, both players roll their dice to determine the outcome of the pitch and the swing. Each round has five phases: the state-down, the pitch, the swing, run, and cleanup.
The batter and the pitcher both use their pitch tokens to choose a pitch direction and location. The direction could be inside or away, and the location could be high or low. After both players have made their decision, they simultaneously reveal their tokens.
The batter places any pitch tokens guessed correctly on their player card. The pitcher places any tokens guessed incorrectly on their player card. Correct guesses activate stare-down abilities for each player.
Each pitcher has an ace pitch, and its abilities are automatically activated once the chips are revealed. If the batting player guesses both pitch tokens, the ace pitch ability is canceled. The batter’s MVP ability is activated if they correctly guess both tokens.
When either part of the ace pitch is thrown, the pitcher moves that fatigue token down the fatigue track. Fatigue occurs whether or not the token was correctly guessed. Once a token reaches the bottom of the fatigue track, that player can no longer use that direction or location. It is possible to move tokens back up the fatigue track during the cleanup phase.
Some abilities allow the player to modify the die roll during the pitch and swing phases. Players MAY NOT modify dice in order to activate an ability. Dice cannot be modified to be greater than 6 or less than 1.
After the stare-down, the pitcher rolls both of their dice. The traditional d6 is called the control die. Apply any active abilities or traits from the stare-down. There are three pitch types possible with the pitching die: a pitch outside the strike zone denoted with a B, a pitch within the strike zone denoted with an S, and a pitch that paints the corner of the plate denoted with a C.
The Bottom of the 9th batting player responds to the pitch by rolling their swing die. They apply any abilities and traits from the stare-down results. The result of the roll after any modifiers is then compared to the pitch.
If a B is thrown, a swing that is less than or equal to the control die is a ball. A swing that is greater than the control die is a strike.
If S is thrown, a swing that is less than the control die is a strike, equal to the control die is a foul ball, and greater than the control die is contact (move to run phase).
When C is thrown, a swing that is less than the control die is a strike, equal to the control die is contact, and greater than the control die is a strike.
If a ball occurs, place a white token on the appropriate position of the at-bat tracker. If a fourth ball occurs, the batting player moves to first. Any other base runners move as needed. If a strike occurs, place a red token on the at-bat tracker. Three strikes means the batter is out, and the pitcher places an out token on the field board.
Foul balls are treated like strikes, but a player cannot strike out on a foul ball.
If contact is made, move on to the run phase.
If a player rolls a natural 6, they crush the pitch. They immediately roll their swing die again for a possible contact bonus. Rolling a 1 or a 2 results in normal contact and no bonus is applied. When rolling a 3 or 4 is an automatic single. Rolling a 5 is an automatic double. Rolling a 6 is an automatic home run. If a 3 – 6 is rolled, there is no run phase.
Once contact is made, both players immediately begin rolling (and rerolling) their d6 die. The first player to roll a 5 or a 6 wins the run phase. As soon as the batter rolls a 5 or a 6, they must say safe out loud. As soon as the pitcher rolls a 5 or a 6, they must say out. The first person to do so wins the run phase. If there is a tie because both players said it at the same time, the batter wins.
Some player cards have an unopposed roll ability. If they have this ability the player gets to roll their d6 one time without opposition. When they do not roll a 5 or a 6, the race begins immediately. If both the pitcher and the batter have the unopposed roll ability, the batter rolls unopposed first.
Some players have special speed or fielding traits. If a player has +1 speed, they can roll a 4, 5, or 6 to reach first base safely. If a player has +1 fielding, they can roll a 4, 5, or 6 to get the runner out.
After the run phase is complete, it is time for the Bottom of the 9th cleanup phase.
Check to see if either player has won the game. If the pitching player has recorded their third out, they win. If the battling player scored a run, they win.
Continue the game if no one wins. If an out occurs or a batter successfully gets a run, the at-bat ends. Ending the at-bat causes two things to happen: the pitcher either gets relief or is benched, and the next batter steps up to the plate.
To determine relief for the pitcher, count the number of empty bases (not counting home plate). The pitcher earns relief for each empty base. The pitcher may move their fatigue tokens back up the track that many spaces. They may split the relief between their two tokens if they wish.
The pitching player may instead choose to bench their pitcher. Remove that pitcher from the game and replace it with the relief pitcher card. Reset the fatigue tokens to ROW 1 with the matching ace pitch. From this point on, the fatigue tokens can never go above row 1.
The batting player removes the current batter card from the game, and they place the at-bat tracker beneath the next batter. All pitch count tokens are removed from the tracker.
Continue playing rounds until the home or visiting player’s win condition is met.
If the home team successfully scores a run, they win the Bottom of the 9th game immediately. If the visiting team keeps the home team from scoring and records three outs, they win the game immediately.