The various how to play stuff is in the original Button Men review, but to summarize the history lesson potion: It was first released in 1999, as a collection of pin-backed buttons that players could easily wear around a convention or other gathering. Within only a few years, hundreds of character pins were released for the game, both original and licensed by other companies. In early 2018 Cheapass Games relaunched the game in card form, with 48 all new characters.
The new characters made for a great introduction to the game. They were split into four factions, each with a single specialty dice type (Poison, Rush, or Shadow). The Originals set does actually include four new characters designed for the new game, and built around that single specialty type. It also includes a Doctor Lucky card, that is part of the DriveThruCards exclusive “Button Murderers” set. However, beyond those five cards, the rest of the contents are updated versions of older sets.
Soldiers was the first set of Button Men, illustrated by Brian Snõddy, it was comparatively simple and only used standard dice (just like The Core faction of the current game). The most unique of the characters is probably the Changeling, who has five X-Swing dice that can be any die between 4 and 20 sides, even non-standard sizes like 16 sides.
Vampyres, also illustrated by Brain Snõddy, was the six character set that first introduced Shadow dice. Shadow Dice cannot make power attacks, and instead make Shadow Attacks. The Delta Faction on the current game uses Shadow Dice.
BROM was designed to be a more advanced set. The twelve characters use a mix of Shadow Dice and Poison Dice. Poison Dice are worth negative points for whichever player has them at scoring (The West Side faction uses Poison Dice). One of the characters, Bluff, uses unique Shadow-Poison Dice, that has the properties of both types. This set also introduced V-Swing Dice, which work the same as X-Swing Dice but can only be between 6 and 12 sides. Illustrated by the world-renowned fantasy artist BROM, it is one of the most unusual sets in the game’s history.
Samurai, illustrated by Ric Frane, use Focus Dice which can be lowered at the start of the game to ensure that character goes first.
Fantasy was a twelve character set, illustrated by the legendary Larry Elmore, was designed to be a new starter set of characters. The don’t have any unusual dice, but they do have Option Dice. Option dice are fairly intuitive, in that there are two values listed for that die and the player may choose between them. Some options include the choice of a d2, which can be dealt with in whatever way players agree to.
If you enjoy Button Men this is a great way to expand the characters and your game. This expansion is only about sixth of the original pin-backed characters, and I’m hoping to see more of them being re-released in the future.
There is also an entire website dedicated to Button Men at buttonmen.com that Cheapass Games is in the process of updating with all the current game’s information.