Button Men is a dice game for two players, invented by James Ernest of Cheapass Games and first released in 1999.Games are short, typically taking less than ten minutes to play. Each player is represented by a button of their choice. Buttons are metal or plastic discs, about 2–2.5 inches (about 5–6.5 centimeters) in diameter, with a pin on the back that can be used to fasten them to clothing. They bear the name and illustration of the combatant (the “Button Man”) whose role the player is assuming. They also indicate the number, size, and skills (if any) of polyhedral dice to be used by the player.
Button Men is a game designed for fan conventions and other public venues. It can be played almost anywhere on short notice (provided the dice are at hand), and games are quick to complete. Buttons are meant to be worn on clothing, bags, or other accessories, advertising that the wearer has a button to play with and is open to challenges. Buttons also frequently advertise something else, such as a company, a webcomic, or another game. The Sluggy Freelance set of buttons, for example, features characters from that comic, and the BRAWL set features characters from another Cheapass game. In 2000, Button Men Online won the Origins Awards for Best Abstract Board Game of 2000 and Best Graphic Presentation of a Board Game 1999 .
Button Men can easily be extended simply by creating more buttons. It has continued to be so extended since its inception; as of 2004, over 200 buttons have been printed. Many are by now out of print, though many others are still available, primarily via purchase from the Cheapass Games web site. Companies other than Cheapass must pay a licensing fee to use the Button Men artwork in distributing their own buttons.
Button Men Online, a website developed by Dana Huyler and officially endorsed by Cheapass Games, allows users to play games over the internet via a web-based interface with e-mailed notifications. Button Men Online features most of the printed buttons, an additional 250+ “buttons” that exist only on the site, and a random button generator. In 2003, Button Men Online won the Origins Award for Best Play-by-mail game of 2002.
- Button Men Online (free login required)
- Cheapass Games “double-secret website”