Game Review: Band Battle Royale

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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The People Who Make the Music

# of Players: 2-5
Time: 30-60 Minutes
Age: 12+
Game Type: Resource Management/Battle
Gamer Type: Advanced to Hardcore
Complexity: 7.5 (Upper Level)

Band Battle Royale places you in the shoes of an up and coming band leader who is working to make it big. It is the story of a person or group of people who struggled through thick and thin to make it to the top. These are the people who make the music, these are the bands in the Band Battle Royale from Skauld Studios.

The thrill of the stage is alluring to many people. The sounds emanating from mic check, lights panning over the empty stage, waiting for the band to step foot into the arena; this all builds toward the epic experience of being in this forum. But behind each one of these exciting events lies a story. In this game, you are the story.

Band Battle Royale: You Are the Story

The band leader card you choose at the beginning of the game is your character whom you lead through the steps of growing their career. Will you be brazen enough to put all your fans on the line or will you play it through smooth? These are the choices that will dictate your career and your music empire.

The story is enhanced by the game elements. Happenstance and randomizers can throw you a curve ball, but determination can keep your band on the right track. Band Battle Royale scores a 7 out of 10 for the rock’n story it brings to the table.

Rockin’ Artwork

The artwork for the game is very solid. From the moment you open the bus (yes the game is in a box shaped like a tour bus) you are immersed in rock and roll style artwork. It really takes you back to pulling the plastic wrap off of records and looking at the posters inside.

The cards have the over the top rock legend type drawing, with the understated colors that really made the golden age of music golden. The graphics add to the game as you can see the amps, the band members (who are parodied) and the band leaders through the game play. This earns Skauld Studios a score of 7.5 out of 10 for some heavy metal graphics.

Massive Stage Show

The mechanics of the game are a little more complex that you see in most card games. There are four decks, plus a player deck- which gives a lot of cards for you to have around as you play. While this seems like it is over complicated, it is an interesting homage to the complexity of putting on a massive stage show, let alone a rock battle.

You have your fans, your band, your equipment and the forum for your event. The interactions between these cards is largely explained by the information card that each player gets. Overall, the battles run well if people draw the same level of cards. Sometimes good cards (such as the Kickstarter cards) give players a strong advantage; but hey, those that have their time in within the business get the advantages. This earns a solid score of 6 out of 10 for mechanics.

Yours to Choose

The strategy for this game is interesting. You can either throw down in a band battle or sit out a battle. The order you play your cards, what you do with your cards and when you choose to be involved dictates how you do in each battle (and thus loosing or earning fans). This provides several different routes to getting the fans that you need to have to win the game.

If you sit on the sidelines for too long, you may find that your career has passed you by; however, if you battle too much, then all of your hard work could go down the drain in a closely contested loss. The path you take is yours to choose, just remember- someone has to pay the piper at the end of each battle, don’t let it be you. This earns a strategy score of 6 of 10.

A Game Worth Having

Now let’s take a look at novelty. Novelty is one of those things that can make a game worth having regardless of how the game is played. Band Battle Royale is a cool game to play, so please do not take anything away from me saying this: The game starts with its coolness just having the box to set on the shelf. The “tour bus” feel of the box really looks awesome in any music fan’s library.

Add to this the element of playing as an aspiring rocker, pop star, metal head or jazz fiend working their way up through the ranks, and you have a very cool game. The mechanics, though complex, have a novelty to them that is worthy of any game in the card genre, but are original enough in their integration that you have not seen anything quite like it. For this, Band Battle Royale tops its charts with an 8 out of 10 for novelty.

Band Battle Royale: Final Score

With a total score of 34.5 out of 50, Band Battle Royale has the potential to be a leader in this new genre of rockin’ card games. Some hints in the packaging that we may see some expansions to the game are the extra space in the box and the license plate on the bus: “BBR Core.”

The kick starter cards for this game are fun. They are powerful enough that they change up the game, but not so overpowering that if you get one you win the game too soon. This is good balance that we like to see in a game like this. If you are into music, or just into good games, Band Battle Royale is a great game that I hope you take the time to add to your collection.

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer is a writer for NRN and an adjunct professor at both Penn State University and the University of South Florida. He is the author of several books, most recently “A Criminal History of the Democrat Party” which is available on Amazon and via the publisher, Elite Exclusivity. Follow on Twitter at @Acriminalhisto1

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