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Binding Of Isaac League Racing

The Binding Of Isaac meets the NFL with its very own racing-league broadcasts

By Matt Gerardi • June 7, 2013

Many of us here at The Gameological Society like Edmund McMillen’s demented dungeon-crawling game, The Binding Of Isaac. Many of us also like sports. Finally, a group of players on the game-video streaming website TwitchTV have found a way to combine those two passions.

They call it Binding Of Isaac League Racing (or BOILeR for short). The association just entered its second season of competition last week. This time around, it’s being modeled after your typical NFL season. There are 32 competitors, each representing an NFL team, divided up into regional divisions in either the Amniotic Fetal Conference or the Neonatal Fetal Conference. After 17 weeks of one-on-one matches, the playoffs begin. While I’m not entirely sure how those will work, if they’re borrowing from the NFL, six players from each conference will be put into a tournament of single-game elimination matches until only one player is left and crowned champion.

Every match is a best-two-out-of-three set of races between two players. Both start in the center of the game’s first room, and the first to defeat the boss “Mom’s Heart,” a fight that is eight grueling levels away, wins the round. The league has a number of additional rules, including a list of banned items that would otherwise ruin the competition.

Each match is commentated by the league’s commissioner, streamer Crumps2. He’s probably my favorite thing about the few matches that I’ve watched so far. While I’ve played my fair share of Isaac, I stink at it and only know what a couple of the randomly generated items actually do. Crumps does a wonderful job of breaking down the benefits (or lack thereof) of each item as it appears in a player’s game. He also explains how it might affect the player’s overall game strategy, whether it be trying to amass lots of extra health or turn their little naked baby into a demonic killing machine. And it’s all done using language a layperson can understand.

The second week BOILeR matches will be broadcast live throughout this weekend starting tonight at 7 p.m. EST on Crumps2’s Twitch channel. You can also watch recorded versions of prior matches in his video archive. You can find a full schedule of this weekend’s matches and check out the league rankings and rules at the official BOILeR website.

And in case you’re curious, here’s a video of the season one finals. The league rules have changed a bit since then, but it’s worth a look for a taste of how the whole thing works. It’s a long video, but the last 10 minutes or so are dramatic.

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15 Responses to “The Binding Of Isaac meets the NFL with its very own racing-league broadcasts”

  1. duwease says:

    Wow, with such a huge random factor to the game, it’s amazing that they could get such a photo finish.

  2. WarrenPeace says:

    I might try to watch some of these to pick up some tips on the game, since I’m not very good at it. I think I’ve only ever made it to the third “level”. It’s still fun, but it’s damn hard, and I don’t even know what the various items do half the time. I guess that’s kind of the point of the game though…

    • The_Misanthrope says:

      This should help:

      Are you playing plain BoI or the expanded version with Wrath of the Lamb?  If at all possible, I’d recommend starting with regular BoI, at least until you get used to the craziness.

    • zebbart says:

      The vast number of unexplained items are what have kept me from being able to get into it. That burst of confidence or sinking feeling I’d get if I knew what the items did when I randomly encounter them would be a powerful hook for me. That’s why I love Spelunky to much.

  3. CrabNaga says:

    I was going to make a comment about the winner being the first person to get Dr. Fetus or Epic Fetus, but I guess they thought about that. I’m surprised that the Candle isn’t banned, either, since it’s pretty broken as well.

    • Matt Gerardi says:

      The Candle is definitely a hell of a weapon. In the first league match that I watched, a player who had lots of damage-buffing pick-ups managed to grab the candle two rounds in a row. He was a monster.

      • The candle solves your damage problem but doesn’t do much for helping you survive (other than the kill things faster connection). 
        Also it sort of invalidates any of the tear upgrades you have til then since you’ll primarily by positioning for the next space bar press. 
        That said yeah its probably the best item in the game. Many a run has been salvaged by finding that bad boy in the depths. Its even easier to use than the knife.

  4. aklab says:

    I love Binding of Isaac — I think it’s actually my most-played game on Steam — but am also really terrible at it. I have beaten mom’s heart a few times but only on absurd strokes of luck, and only after 20-30 hours of play. Can’t get enough! 

    • The_Misanthrope says:

       687 hours for me, according to Steam.  It’s my go-to unwind-from-a-day-at-work game. 

      • aklab says:

        Okay, I don’t have that many hours yet, but it’s still my go-to unwind-during-a-day-at-work game.  :P

        • Yeah aklab this was my problem for awhile too haha. You start playing it thinking you can do a little 30 minute one but once you get good its a 2 hour sprawl and the windows open on work comp all day. 

  5. The_Misanthrope says:

    Yeah, I could never run the game this fast.  I am far too cautious and completionist.  Unless I get Dr. Fetus or Epic Fetus, it usually takes me 2-4 hours to get to the end.

    • Mom’s Heart you could speed too without too much caution once you’re pretty good. It’s making it past there at all that forces careful deliberation