Battle of the Bands
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What do you, your mom, a hip-hop hottie, and a drunken gorilla with an accordion have in common? They're in your band! Get groupies, cut hit singles, do drugs, go on tour, and sabotage your competition all the way to the top with this funny and fast paced card game! Choose your band members from a collection of crazy characters! Get an instrument, get a reputation and become a star... or worse!
- 105 cards
Average Rating: 4 in 2 reviews
Anyone who reads my reviews should be able to tell that Im a big fan of fluff and theme. I believe that a light, fluffy game can be a lot of fun, especially when playing with a group of like-minded people. These light games that have themes, especially humorous ones, can really appeal to people who are not huge board game fans. I have found them particularly affective with teenagers, other game genre fans (CCGs, RPGs, miniatures, etc.), and people whove never had much contact with games before. Hardened gamers often sneer at these games and often, the mechanics range from simple to horrible. But if the theme is good enough, it can overshadow game play and make the entire time enjoyable. And sometimes, when the game play is actually fun, and then a good theme is added the game can be a real winner.
Such is the case, in my opinion, of Battle of the Bands (Third World Games, 2001 Dan Smith), and its expansion Backstage Pass (Third World Games, 2002 Dan Smith). Both of them will never make it into the top 200 great games of all times. However, they will probably both make my dime list this year. And the reason for that is that they are small and easily portable, greatly themed, and extremely fun to play. Im reviewing both of them in the same review because the expansion adds no new rules to the game other than some new cards. (still worth getting!)
Battle of the Bands simulates getting a band together, and trying to become the most famous band in history (or that year, or whatever.) Each player playing is given a Me card, and the left over Me cards are discarded out of the game. The remainder of the cards is shuffled into one draw deck. The players place the Me card in front of them (this card represents themselves the main player in their band). Five cards are dealt to each player, and the game is ready to begin! One player goes first, and then play proceeds clockwise around the board.
On a turn, a player first draws up to six cards. They can then take ONE action. These include:
- Playing a band member: Any band member can be played onto the table in front of a player, joining that players band. Each band member has a certain amount of Hip Points (HP) and a few have special abilities. A band can only have four members max (including the Me card which has one HP).
- Playing an instrument: An instrument card can be played on any band member that the player controls. Each band member may only have one instrument. Instruments add HP to the band member who is playing them, and may give other special abilities.
- Playing a Reputation card: A reputation card can be played on any band member in play, even other players members. However, a die must be rolled, and the result compared to that members current total HP. If it is that number or less, the reputation is added, otherwise, the card is discarded. Reputation cards can be flipped to give a positive or negative affect. For example, the reputation Wild! which gives a bonus of +2 HP, can also be played as Confused, which gives a bonus of 2 HP. Only one reputation card can be played on a member at one time.
- Playing a Contract: A player can play a contract on their band. Only one contract can be played on a band at one time.
- Playing a Gig: A player can play a Gig card, but all players can participate. Only one player can win the card (worth points). Starting with the player that played the gig, each player plays as many cards as they want/can. They can play band members and instruments that can temporarily exceed the limits, but must be discarded after the gig. They can also play Monkey Wrenches, cards that help their band and hinder others. After all cards have been played, each player totals their bands combined HP and adds the results of one six-sided die. The player with the highest total wins the gig and keeps the gig card. In case of a tie, the player who played the Gig card is the winner.
- Playing a Hit Single: A player can play a hit single on their band, as long as they have either a contract or a Signed gig in play.
- Play a Music Biz card: A player can play one of these cards, which have a one-time use (usually negative for another player), which is then discarded.
- Discard three cards.
Some cards mostly Contracts, Gigs, and Hit Singles, give Superstar Points. The first player to accumulate a certain amount of Superstar points (determined by the amount of players) is the winner!
Some comments on the game
1.) Components: The cards in the game are a bit thinner than I would like, but other than that, they were fairly functional. I was extremely happy with their design, however, as they are VERY uncluttered, and keep the game on a nice, simple level. The artwork is very, very good and really adds to the theme. The expansions cards are of better quality, and there is a SLIGHT difference in card size, although this didnt affect the game at all, and I think Im the only one who noticed it. Each type of card is a different color and this helps out a lot for ease of game play. The cards are pretty clear as to what they can and cannot do, with the exception of the Hit Single cards, which need the Contract or Signed Gig to be played, and do not say so. I dont think its a big deal, but some in the group werent too happy with it. The box for the original game is okay, but the box for the expansion is superior. It has the bottom of the box glued shut, so that cards cant slip out. When are other companies going to do this simple, yet ever-so-nice task? A die is need, but not provided. I doubt it would be hard for most people to find one, however.
2.) Rules: The rules in the original game were functional, but a little unclear. We missed two major rules in our first playing because of this. When I added the expansion, I found that the rules were entirely rewritten, and were much easier to understand. The rules are pretty basic, anyway and people can understand and play the game in a few minutes. The only time any questions might arise is when certain card combinations are played (typical of any CCG-like game). A small FAQ is included in the expansion rules that answered all questions we had, though.
3.) Expansion: The expansion, because of the revised rules, is pretty nice to have, but most folk dont like a game that needs the expansion. Fortunately, the revised rules are up on the website, at www.thirdworldgames.com, as well as a faq, and a promise of a revised game that includes the original and the expansion. I found the cards in the expansion a welcome addition to the game, as they added a lot to the humor.
4.) Humor and Theme: The game is funny, as long as nobody at the table is taking it seriously. Yes, if your mom has joined your rock band, and then runs off with another band and becomes an alcoholic in real life thats not funny. However, for some reason in a game a lot of guffaws are heard when it happens. And then, having a crazy ape playing the bongo, Johnny T with his guitar, and Santa Claus with the air guitar and a dictator mentality all in the same band is even funnier. Of course, with some people, this humor would drop dead on the floor. However, my recommendation is just to not play with those folk. I dont like rock music much, and think a rock band is very close to the last thing I would ever want my kids involved with. For this reason, I doubt Ill play this game with my teens much. However, for a group of adults with a funny sense of humor, this game can really take off!
5.) Fun Factor: This game is a lot of fun. I know Ill be criticized for liking a game with poor mechanics. Yet the mechanics are very similar to Family Business, another classic game whose theme is so fun it overshadows the mechanics. And I really did enjoy playing the game it was that much fun. People watching the game at the convention I played it at were clamoring to play in the next game and thats ALWAYS a good thing.
So, if you like humor, theme, and fun then this game is for you. If you think having the words Rock Band in your house is mortal sin, then you might want to pass. Also, the stodgy folk who think that theme and humor means nothing, they may wish to take a different route. However, if playing a short, fun, fun, fun game is your idea of an excellent time, then this game especially for the price and portability, is probably one of your best bets! Now youll have to excuse me while I go mourn the sad demise of Pezz, as he played the Boom box at a Childrens Party. We were glad that he produced a Crossover hit, but his foolish personality was just ruining our reputation!
Battle of the Bands is a fun, light card game appropriate for anyone who has ever dreamed of being a rock n' roll star. And who hasn't?
The game is simple enough for non-gamers, but contains enough interesting mechanics to please those of us who can't get enough games.
The object of the game is simple -- collect enough superstar points to win. Along the way, you'll build your band with interesting personalities including Mr. Death, Santa, and The King?, and give them instruments and reputations.
The true fun of the game comes when someone plays a 'gig' card and everyone has to compete for it and the superstar points that accompany it. The hippest band wins, though there are plenty of 'monkey wrench' cards to harass your opponents. The gigs are especially nice because they break up the ordinary turn sequence and let everyone get in on the fun. Weaker bands will screw hipper bands, band members disappear for weird reasons, and a lucky die roll can even let a mediocre band score.
If you're lucky enough, you'll get your band signed and then you can start playing the hit singles and soar to stardom. Although there are enough Contract and Signed Gig cards to theoretically let everyone get one (there are 8, total), occasionally one player will get a bad draw and be at a disadvantage during the game. It's not common enough to be a serious flaw, though.
My biggest gripe with the game is that it could have used a few more cards, since seeing the same 20 or so band members gets old after a few plays. Plus, in a typical game you'll go through the deck and have to reshuffle, giving rise to some odd situations. ('What? I thought Santa died in a plane crash! How did he get back in your band?')
Other than that, the game is a blast. The cards are sturdy, and the cartoony artwork by Dan Smith adds to the tongue-in-cheek humor. Plus, unlike some other humorous card games which overstay their welcome, Battle of the Bands is easily finished in 45 minutes.
4 out of 5 stars.