Click here to see a "How to Solo" video for this game!
What is this game about?
Baseball Highlights: 2045 is set in a futuristic world in which baseball was on the verge of extinction... until the sport changed. Now, natural human baseball players compete alongside cyborgs—humans with modified arms for enhanced skill—and even against full-on robots. It is both a deck building game and a series of baseball-themed minigames. Just like in the World Series, the player who wins the most out of seven games is the ultimate victor.
Each player begins with a starting deck of relatively unexciting cards, but they do their job early in the game. Cards can be used to threaten singles, doubles, triples, or even home runs at various speeds. They can also be used to cancel or reduce the damage from runs threatened by the opposing team. Each "baseball" game turns into an intense card duel that is engrossing whether you like baseball or not.
Between each mini baseball game, players have a change to upgrade their decks by purchasing "free agents," who are better players with fancier abilities. Because your team can't contain more than 15 players, you retire one card every time you make a new purchase—effectively burning the less effective cards in your deck.
How does it play solo?
Baseball Highlights: 2045 plays remarkably well as a solo game. To play against an AI player, you create an enemy team made up of 15 free agent cards. You take a regular starter deck for yourself and participate in one to three buy rounds so that you can upgrade it before you start series play. (Otherwise, you are going to get creamed.) The game is more or less difficult to win depending on how many free agents you bring on board before you begin play. Just go ahead and go easy on yourself—this solo mode is no cake walk! Every time I play Baseball Highlights, I am surprised by how often the randomly drawn AI deck seems to stymie me.
Also, there is an awesome fan-made solo season campaign on BGG here. It's definitely worth checking out.
I like deck building games in general, and I particularly like Baseball Highlights: 2045. I wrote about it a couple of years ago, and my positive feelings about the game haven't changed.
Baseball Highlights offers quick, intense gameplay during the baseball minigames, and I really enjoy trying to maximize the actions on my cards in an attempt to outsmart my opponent. During the deck building phase, I find myself working with real purpose so that the next minigame is more successful than the last. In most deck building games, I end up buying whatever card works best just to buy another card. But my purchases in Baseball Highlights: 2045, while fewer—you will only be able to afford one or two new players per buy round—are much better thought out. This game is direct and efficient, without any bloat, and I love that I get to both deck build and directly see the results of my strategy in the next baseball game.
I am also constantly surprised by just how good the AI player usually is. For a bunch of cards put together without any particular strategy or intent, the AI deck sure kicks my butt sometimes—especially while I am still improving my team. I also sometimes construct decks of free agents whose particular skills meld nicely together, just to give myself an extra challenge. It's not like actual baseball teams don't study each other's players and strategies!
Do I recommend it?
Yes. Baseball Highlights: 2045 is one of the coolest deck builders out there, and it's great whether or not you enjoy watching baseball. I think every solo gamer should try it at least once.
Overall Rating: 5 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.