Misc. Rares & Promos, 1999

Bunnies & Lab Rat

Recipes:
Bunnies: 1 1 1 1 X
Lab Rat: 2 2 2 2 X
Release Date: Spring 1999
Publisher: Cheapass Games
Designer: James Ernest
Artist: Carol Monahan
New Rules: None
Tournament Legal? No

Bunnies and Lab Rats were originally intended as a puny pair of buttons, a joke based on the rats in the Cheapass Game “The Big Cheese.” They were quickly proven to be pretty powerful, strong enough to get them banned from most Button Men tournaments.

XXXenophile Promos

Buttons: Brigid and O-Lass
Recipes:
Brigid: 8 8 X X X
O-Lass: 6 12 X X X
Release Date: Summer 1999
Publisher: Cheapass Games / Studio Foglio
Designer: James Ernest
Artists: Phil Foglio, Terese Neilsen and Adam Hughes
Tournament Legal? Yes

The Brigid and O-Lass Buttons were originally printed at the same time as the second edition of Soldiers, and were sold as novelties by Cheapass Games and Studio Foglio. They later became part of the full set of characters released by Studio Foglio in early 2000. When they were released for general purchase by Studio Foglio, they became tournament legal.

Zeppo the Clown

Recipe: 4 12 20 X!
Release Date: July 1999
Publisher: Cheapass Games
Designer: James Ernest
Artist: Brian Snoddy
New Rules: Turbo Swing
Tournament Legal? Yes

The original Zeppo the Clown button blank was printed as part of an ad in the Origins 99 on-site program book, promoting the Cheapass Game Fight City. About 300 buttons were made on site at Origins, and hundreds more program books probably went home with attendees. Zeppo was later re-printed as a rare button on the BROM press sheet, but this unlimited version is distinguishable from the original by red diamonds in the background, rather than the purple diamonds of the original. In terms of playability, Zeppo’s Turbo Swing requires significant mental gymnastics to use at full strength, and ultimately doesn’t make up for his lack of a fifth die.

Eiko and Wu Lan

Recipes:
Eiko: 4 6 6 12 X
Wu Lan: 4 10 20 20 X
Release Date: Summer 1999
Publisher: Cheapass Games
Designer: James Ernest
Artist: Toivo Rovainen
New Rules: None
Tournament Legal? Yes

Toivo Rovainen (the famous and unstoppable Cheapass Games collater back in the day) drew these two animals for a small fanzine. Later, Cheapass Games made them available for sale. Mechanically they are essentially an extension of the Soldiers set.

Buzzing Weasel

Recipe: F R P G S
Created: Summer 1999
Source: Undisclosed
Designer: James Ernest
Artist: John Kovalic
New Rules: Five Unique Dice
Tournament Legal? Yes

The Buzzing Weasel is one of those infamous Button Men created on a whim and available to a select few. A game industry internet club created a limited number of Buzzing Weasels and distributed these buttons to its membership in the summer of 1999. The five letter symbols have no meaning outside the context of this button (many of them are now defined as Swing Dice), but they are defined on the Buzzing Weasel as:

F: “Fudge” die. Rolls -1, 0, and 1 in a linear distribution. Is worth either 0, 1, or 3 points depending on who you talk to. Zero, because that’s twice its average roll; One, because that’s it’s highest value; Three because it can vary between 3 different values. It’s a fruitless debate, really.

R: “Regular” die. Equivalent to an “X” Swing Die.

P: “Prestige” die. A variable die which can be any size between 30 and 100 sides, the Prestige Die cannot make any Attacks and is not worth any points.

G: “Gamer” die. A variable die which can be any size between 3 and 21, except for the common die sizes of 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 20.

S: “Screw” or “Suck” die. A 7-sided die. If the S die makes an attack and rolls odd, its owner gets another turn. If it rolls even, its owner loses.

Despite its multivariability, the Buzzing Weasel is probably the least effective Button Man ever devised. Its weakness stems from a conspiracy of the Fudge, Prestige, and Screw dice: The last thing a player with the Weasel wants to do is make attacks, specifically with the Screw Die. Unfortunately, the Fudge nearly guarantees that he will go first, the Prestige die is powerless to attack, and the other two normal dice are soon captured or locked out. The result is that the Buzzing Weasel is almost always forced to make multiple attacks with its Screw Die, and nearly always loses the game by killing itself.

James Ernest

Recipe: Pi, Infinity, The Square Root of Negative Two, and X
Created: August 1999
Source: John Kovalic
Designer: John Kovalic and Joshua Howard
Artist: John Kovalic
New Rules: Nothing important
Tournament Legal? No

Probably the most hard-to-find Button Man that’s not unique, the James Ernest button has become infamous enough to make this list. John Kovalic created a small number of these to hand out to friends at Gen Con 1999, and probably no more than 20 copies exist.

The Button is potentially the most powerful Button Man in existence, although it’s debatable whether it could ever make a starting roll. Richard Garfield, PHD and creator of the Magic: the Gathering card game, has argued that it is impossible to randomly generate a number between one and infinity in a linear distribution, and that this is the essential flaw in the famous “two envelopes” paradox. Combine this with the impossibility of even describing “i” in real terms, and the pi-sided die seems like a walk in the park.

Majesty

Buttons: Dirgo and Flaire
Recipes:
Dirgo: 20 20 20 X
Flaire: 6 10 10 12 X
Release Date: August 1999
Publisher: Cyberlore Studios
Designer: James Ernest
Artist: David White
New Rules: None
Tournament Legal? Yes

Cyberlore Studios produced this pair of Button Men as a freebie to promote its new computer game, Majesty, at Gen Con 1999. The recipes match two characters from the Soldiers set, Iago and Niles.

Polycon

Buttons: Poly and Adam Spam
Recipes:
Poly: 4 6 f8 20 X
Adam Spam Release Date: Fall 1999
Publisher: Polycon
Designer: James Ernest and Jeffrey Watts
Artist: Rachael Lynn Wood
New Rules: Fire Dice
Tournament Legal? Yes

Jeffrey Watts proposed several variations of the Fire Die before he and James settled on the current rules. One of the restrictions that was proposed but was later determined to be moot was that the Fire Die was disallowed from participating in the attack it helped to enable. The two designers figured out that it was already impossible for the die to participate in a Power Attack being undertaken by another die, even ignoring the fact that Fire Dice are specifically prohibited from making Power Attacks. And, should the user wish to involve the Fire Die in a Skill Attack it had assisted, he could get the same result by simply including the die in the attack without using its special power!

Fuzzface

Recipe: 4 8 10 10c 12c
Release Date: Fall 1999
Publisher: John “Fuzzface” McMahon
Designer: James Ernest
Artist: John McMahon
New Rules: Chance Dice
Tournament Legal? Yes

Fuzzface is the first of two characters from the “Yoyodyne” expansion published by John”‘Fuzzface” McMahon. Character two was released in late 2000. Fuzzface introduced “Chance” dice, which work a little like random Focus dice.