(BGG image by user Sentieiro)
BasketBoss was first published in 2009 by Dutch company Cwali. It was designed by Corné van Moorsel with art by Christof Tisch. It's a game that's playable by 2-5 players. Rather than being a basketball simulation, it's a game that's more about the business of putting a team together. You bid on players, then add them to your team in an effort to win trophies. At the end of six seasons, whoever ran the best organization wins the game.
(BGG image by user cwali)
BasketBoss comes with everything you see above: one game board, five player boards, 35 free agent tiles, 2 injured player tiles, 24 trophies, 36 coins (called Basko coins), 5 medals, 4 specialist figures, 5 season bars, 5 discs, and a sticker sheet that has 5 team logos and 10 season bar stickers. The team logos go on the discs, while the season bar stickers go around the ends of the season bars (helping them remain elevated).
(BGG image by user cwali)
At the start of the game, each player chooses a team (the Moscow Mammoths, the Lima Llamas, the Ghana Giraffes, the Kakadu Kangaroos, or the Texas Snakes). There are slight differences between the teams at the start, but they're fairly close. You'll get a season bar which begins just above the top row. Everyone gets 11 million Basko (coins in different denominations). Each player places their tokens on the strength track at 10 (the big ball). The 35 free agent tiles are shuffled together with the injury tiles and placed in a face down pile on the board. The four specialists are placed on their images, as are the medals. Leftover coins are placed on their pictures on the boards. This is your money stock, and money is unlimited. You'll lay out trophies based on the number of players - with two, you'll only use the gold trophies; with three, you'll add silver; with four, you'll add bronze; and with five, you'll use all trophies.
(BGG images by users cwali and tasajara)
At the start of each round, you'll draw free agent tiles and place them on the auction track in order of drawing. If you look at the faces on each tile, you'll see 0-2 coins in the upper left corner. You'll keep drawing tiles until there are more coins on the board than there are players in the game. Well, maybe. There is a minimum and a maximum number of tiles there can be on the board - with five players, there's a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 7; with four, there's a range of 3-6; with three, there's a range of 2-5; and with two, there's a range of 2-4.
Each player shows different information. There's the coin, which tells you how much money they're going to bring in. There's the height in the upper right corner of the picture. If you're wondering why the numbers are so lo, it's because it's in meters. So, 2.09 meters is actually 6 feet 10 inches. You'll also find out which position they play, which is also associated with a color. Each tile also shows six rows of basketballs, showing the player's value over the next six seasons. The more basketballs, the better. As you can see, John Magicson (the Center on the left) gets better every season, beginning with a strength of two and ending with a strength of four. Martyn Wallace (the Power Forward in the center) is really good for a couple of seasons, but then tapers off and is worthless for the last two. Sho Wy (the Point Guard on the right) is steady for all six seasons.
On your board, there are five preprinted players, one per position. Everyone starts with the same team strength, which is calculated by adding the number of basketballs to the number of different colors. So, with five basketballs and five different colors, your starting strength is 10. As the game goes on, you'll be trying to acquire players that will increase your strength. So, with all that out of the way, how does the game work?
There are seven phases in a round. First is the draft. You'll be bidding on each player in a standard auction - keep the bidding going until only one player has not passed. That player wins the bid and takes the player, adding him to your player board (covering up one of the preprinted players). The top row will be right under the season bar, no matter what season it is. This means that, in the later rounds, the last several rows of players you acquire won't help you because they're the player's value after the game is over. This means that you might want to get John Magicson in the first or second round, while Martyn Wallace (love the name) would be a big help in the fifth or sixth round. Once you've taken and placed a player, adjust your position on the strength track. If no one bids on a player, he is removed from the game. Bidding continues until all players are off the board.
(BGG image by user cwali)
If the bid is for an injured player, the bidding works differently. All players will secretly choose a bid, then reveal simultaneously. The lowest bid does not have to pay, but must place the injured player over their tallest player. Everyone else must pay their bid because they pay their health bills. If there's a tie, the injured player goes to the team with the tallest player. If there's still a tie, no one takes the injured player and everyone pays their bid.
(BGG image by user Sentieiro)
Next, it's trophy time. Whoever is in the lead on the strength track wins the gold trophy. Ties are broken by whoever has the tallest player. Second gets a silver trophy, third gets bronze, fourth gets the consolation prize (this, of course, if all of these are in the game). Trophies are worth points at the end of the game, and get stored in your trophy case.
After trophies, it's time to earn income. Take money based on the number of coins on your players. It's nice to have the showy players for this phase. Once this phase is complete, you can discard any injured players you may have.
Now it's time to get ready for the next season. First, move the season bar down so it is just above the next season. You'll then adjust your team's strength and refill the market as you did at the start of the game.
(BGG image by user tasajara)
In the final phase of the round, you'll have the opportunity to hire a specialist. Beginning with the last place player on the track, each player can choose a specialist, or a medal. In the first round, you'll simply take these from the board. In later rounds, you can keep your own or take a specialist from another player by paying them 1 Basko. Your current specialist goes back on the board, available to be taken by someone else. Medals can't be taken. Your options are:
- The referee - Increases your strength by one point. In addition, he is the tiebreaker when deciding trophies. If it involves other players (not the referee owner), those players bid for a broken tie with half of the cash going to the referee owner and half to the bank. I don't know what this is saying about the integrity of referees, but there you go.
- The player agent - Allows you to have the highest bid simply by matching the current highest bid. Also, you can pay 1 less if you win the auction.
- The trainer - Allows you to get your players to the next level quickly by sliding their tile to the next season row.
- The banker - Gives you interest on the amount of money you have left after winning trophies: 1 if you have 2-3 saved; 2 if you have 4-5 saved; 3 if you have 6-7 saved; and 4 if you have 8 or more.
- The medal - Gives you a bonus point at the end of the game.
(BGG image by user Ceryon)
After the sixth season income phase, count up your points. There's a chart for the points you get per trophy:
|2 players||3 pts||-||-||-|
|3 players||5 pts||2 pts||-||-|
|4 players||7 pts||4 pts||2 pts||-|
|5 players||9 pts||6 pts||4 pts||2 pts|
You add that to your current team strength, your medal points, and add one point per 5 Basko you have left. The player with the highest score wins. Read more at BGG, and expect to pay around $40 if you can find the game. I know a couple of online retailers still have copies, but I'm not sure if you'll be able to find it in an FLGS. Next time, we'll look into the future to a game about a sport I really don't like. Happy gaming!