The Lords of Rock Review
Games about mythological gods battling it out for control of the universe are nothing new, however, gods settling the score through a battle of the bands is very unique. This is exactly how The Lords of Rock by SolarFlare Games spins the classic quest for supreme power. Players create bands based on gods of a certain pantheon (the religion of a specific culture such as the Greeks or Norse) and then battle it out over two rounds. Players select face melting rock and roll songs in the form of set lists to boost their standings or sabotage the other bands by playing cards with negative effects. The band with the most fans’ souls at the end of the game is crowned ruler of the universe. Easy enough right? Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to win an epic universal battle of the bands.
Every god has a primary and secondary skill. A complete band must be made using four gods with a primary skill of singer, guitarist, bassist, and drummer. The secondary skill comes into play in smaller venues where a primary skill may not be active but the secondary skill is, so the god can still contribute to the band’s score. Once everyone has their bands in order, venue and set list cards are dealt out and play begins. It is easy to get a game going and the quick setup is a major plus for The Lords of Rock. From opening the box to rocking out at the first venue can literally take five minutes!
Venues come in four sizes; small, medium, large, and extra large. Each venue has highlighted skills, one for small and up to four for the extra-large. Only gods with the highlighted skill can contribute points, so picking a venue that benefits your god’s skills while limiting others is very important. Once your base score is tallied up it is time to start rocking your band’s set list. Players take turns playing set list cards that either give your band a bonus or sabotage another bands performance. This is the heart of the game as players try and outwit each other with their set list cards. There is a decent amount of decision making here as you choose how many and which set list cards you want to play. Do you give your singer a +1 bonus this round or wait and hope you can use its +2 bonus at a different venue. Oh, and there are roadies you can pick up along the way to negate those negative effects! I love the fact that SolarFlare Games included roadies. After all, what is a rock and roll show without roadies?
Once everyone has played, the scores are added up and each band is awarded fans’ souls based on their standing at the venue. That’s it! The game ends when every player has selected two venues. The bands total up all the souls they have collected with the title of rulers of the universe going to the band with the most souls.
I love that The Lords of Rock is quick to setup, easy to learn, and fast to play, yet still gives you the feeling that each card played is meaningful. Add in a little bit of back stabbing as you sabotage other bands and it really starts to feel like a true battle. There isn’t much depth to the game but that is part of the appeal; it’s a light game that plays quick. It can be played by gamers of all ages and the strategy behind the play will be enjoyable to more than just mythological or rock and roll buffs. The art is fantastic and it really fits with the theme of the game… gods, power, and rock and roll. The art really nails it, and brings the whole thing together. I had flash backs to 80’s cartoons such as He-Man, which is totally awesome! The mythological spin on classic rock songs adds humor to the game, be sure to have Google at the ready to look up some crazy mythological names and places. I found out I was a little lost with Norse and Aztec mythology. My favorite venues to play were the small and medium sizes as it seemed there was a little more strategy involved in choosing the venue. Using a small venue where say only guitarists are scored is a great way to limit other players who went light on guitarist as their secondary skills. In contrast, in extra-large venues everybody’s main skill is used so secondary skills do not come into play, and the set list cards seem to have more of an impact. The strategy when picking the venue was fun because you can put some bands in a hole at the start of the round by using the gods they choose against them. Of course, it was also fun to see all the cards played at an extra-large venue. Prepare yourself for the massive set lists that come out in the final round!
The Lords of Rock hits Kickstarter August 1st and at a base pledge of $20 this game should be must on your lists of games to back. Stretch goals for the campaign include adding more gods and other content to ensure The Lords of Rock will be forever battling on your table top.
Follow these links for more information about The Lords of Rock and SolarFlare Games:
Tony’s Pros and Cons
PROs: Quick setup, fast game play, price
CONs: lack of depth
Tony’s Epic Scale: 1 (smaller numbers are games that play faster with fewer pieces: 1-5)
Value: 8 (Bang for your buck: 1-10)
Art: 7 (looks, consistency, theme: 1-10)
Setup/Teardown: 10 (1 - More setup time than play time. 10 – fastest setup/teardown ever)
Re-playability: 7 (1- never hitting the table again. 10 – never leaving the table again)
Fun Factor: 7 (How much fun I personally had playing the game: 1-10)
A software developer by day and avid game player by night.KickStarter has recently rekindled my love of board games. Now I am looking to help the little guys of KS get their games noticed and funded as well as demonstrate how easy or difficult a game is played its first time through.