Hey board gamers, BJ from Board Game Gumbo here back with more tales of gaming down on the bayou. This has been a tough time for playing multiplayer games, but luckily, I have a few gamers at home who are usually willing to help. Hit us up on Twitter or on Facebook and let us know what games you’ve been playing during this crisis.
But that’s enough blather, let’s get to the games!
Prop Me Up Besides The Jukebox, Where’s The Die?
During my first GenCon back in 2016, I was fortunate enough to play a game in development by designer, Eric Alvarado called Vinyl. The teach and demo came straight from the designer, to boot! Vinyl went on to Kickstarter success with Talon Strikes Studios, and has been popular enough that the team at Talon Strikes is back with an updated edition. Vinyl will be back on Kickstarter this week with a beautiful new edition and some expansion content.
I also found out about a two player version of Vinyl called Jukebox, and Talon Strikes was kind enough to send us an advanced prototype. (The artwork and components are not final, of course, so stay tuned during the Kickstarter for more information about the final production.)
Music lovers who like hobby board gamers will do a double take when they see this theme. The gameplay of Jukebox is a bit different than the original multiplayer version, but retains the same feel. This time, the two players compete to get vinyl 45s into their favorite juke joint’s music player and score the most points by bag building, set collecting, and paying attention to some pretty nifty public and hidden scoring goals.
Each turn, players will draw “coins” from their player bag, each coin having the familiar icons from Vinyl that will match the multi-icons found on the vinyl records in the public market. Match the symbols on one of the records, and you can add that ’45 record to your jukebox. But be careful: the more coins you pull, the more chances your opponents will get to pull coins for free out of their own bag. If your coin purse is feeling a little light this turn, as an alternative, you can wipe the coin slots on your board and add some special bonus one-use-only coins to your bag.
Game play is pretty intuitive, as the mechanics all seem to fit the theme of the game. And as a bonus, there’s a little bit of player interactivity to distinguish it from most abstract scoring games. Some of the actions you take will add coins to the other player’s bag (clogging up their own pulls), let them add coins of their choice to their bags, or even help you cull your own trash coins. You have to keep an eye on what your opponent is doing while still maintaining focus on your private objectives!
Vinyl: Jukebox is a satisfying little two player experience that I expect will get a real belt buckle shine up during the crowdfunding project. I love the idea of sliding coins in a jukebox so I can hear my favorite tunes, and that’s definitely not a theme you see everyday. We enjoyed our plays, especially since the game time is relatively short, and it only takes a few turns to get into the flow of picking out the three icons on each vinyl record that you need for your scoring objectives. I’m looking forward to seeing what Talon Strikes has in store for Vinyl, but for anyone who likes two player abstract games that have a fun theme, you should check out Vinyl: Jukebox on Kickstarter this week.
Vi’Kings’ of Rock
Continuing with the music theme, Perte & Fracas in France sent me a review prototype copy (again not final components) of RagnaRok Star, out on Kickstarter right now. Sure, we have seen a lot of Vikings themed games over the years, but never have I ever seen one about Viking rock bands putting on the biggest concert Valhalla has ever seen.
The two designers promised me a game that is family friendly, yet has a programming mechanic that would satisfy the older or more experienced gamers in the group — and surprise, they delivered.
In RagnaRok Star, up to four players will compete across a Viking landscape. They will sail their boats across the board trying to collect rowdy crowd members for their “rock concert hall.” The thought of playing the first game took me way back to 1985 at the Assembly Center in Baton Rouge where I saw Foreigner live in concert during the Agent Provocateur tour. Watching Mick Jones and Lou Gramm tear up the stage was a memory I will never forget!
RagnaRok Star did not quite deliver that much excitement — this was the era of Juke Box Hero, I Wanna Know What Love Is, and Hot Blooded, after all — but the artwork and the Viking music puns did put some smiles on our faces.
The programming part is pretty simple and intuitive. Each player will get a dry erase marker and a wipeable player board, and attempt to program their turn by choosing five actions. Each action has three choices, and players will secretly choose the order of their turn. Some of the best actions are next to each other, so prioritizing what you really want to do each turn can make for some juicily delicious decisions.
Once that is done, the players will in turn order execute the commands. Most of the time, everything will geaux smoothly — your boat will pick up the right crowd members, you will get a chance to draft some hidden goal cards or take a peek at what crowd members will be wandering onto the board during the next turn, etc.
But sometimes, maybe more often if the other players are especially astute at figuring out what you are planning to do, things will not run so well. Other players will “fly” their ship to the part of the board that you wanted, and entice all of the right fans onto their board instead, just when you needed one more to complete a goal. You struck a bad chord, dude!
BJ SAYS: RagnaRok Star is the right complexity level for any family game night, and the game serves as a great intro to anyone wanting to add a programming game to the collection. The theme of Viking Music Lords might not be the most exciting theme for every game group, but in this case, it is well done. I really enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek references and music puns scattered throughout the game. Check out the Kickstarter page this week for more details before the concert ends and the fans have to geaux back home to listen to Asia on their home stereo instead.
THE WRAP UP:
So that’s it for our recent plays. Roux Dat will be back for more early looks at recent plays, especially in this uncertain time when it is tough to get a group of gamers together for a more proper review. Is there a game out there that you or your friends are curious about? Hit us up with a tweet @boardgamegumbo and we will see if we can get our hands on the game!
Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!
— BJ @boardgamegumbo
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