That Old Time Rock and Roll: A Preview of The Lords of Rock

Lords of Rock

Win fans and power as you compete for the right to rule the universe in the battle of the bands as a pantheon of gods. Now on Kickstarter.

Gameplay

At the start of the game each player selects one of the pantheon of gods, and from their pantheon selects one of two band leaders and three other supporting gods to complete their band. There are four skills (guitar, bass, drum, and vocals) and each god has a primary skill in one of these and a secondary skill in another.

Every player is given four venue cards. On your turn you select one of these venues for all the bands to compete in. Venues can be various sizes, and some give bonuses to the player who wins them. Each venue also needs a different combination of the four skills. Each player sends their gods which have skills that fit the current venue, then takes a turn playing set list cards either face down on himself (which earns a bonus) or face up on other players (typically negative effects). Players play set list cards one at a time — once you decide to pass, you cannot play any more cards for that venue.

After every player has finished playing set list cards, all face down ones are flipped over, and your performing gods’ skills are added with the bonuses from your set list cards. The winner earns the most fans but every player earns a certain number depending on how well they did. After each player has selected one venue, four new venues are drawn and play continues. Once everyone has selected two venues, the player whose gods have earned the most fans wins.

Lords of Rock cards

Review

The theme alone sets the bar high for The Lords of Rock, and the artwork more than lives up to it. Everything about the components of the game in fact is as epic as the idea of gods forming rock bands. The artwork for all the gods is fantastic, the locations for the venues are big and famous, and the set lists (with cards bearing such titles as ‘You Give Aphrodite A Bad Name’) are fun and amusing.

When it comes to the gameplay The Lords of Rock also doesn’t disappoint. It’s fun to pick out your four band members at the start of the game — once you’ve played the game a couple of times you really realize the amount of strategy that goes into building your band and matching them up with the venues you choose to play in. It’s also interesting that you can see your opponents’ bands, and some of the hardest choices of the game are choosing your venues.

Lords of Rock venues

There is a certain push-your-luck element to the game as you’re never going to quite know which set cards other players have face down in front of them. You also always have to be hesitant about being the first player to pass during the set list card phase, as you never know what cards the other players might play on you once you’ve passed and can no longer use set lists to help out your band. This, combined with trying to keep some cards on hand to help out at the next venue, adds a lot of depth to the set list playing phrase. Sometimes adding up all the set lists cards along with your band members and subtracting any negative cards played against you can get a bit complicated — but this is largely unavoidable and the only drawback in an otherwise phenomenally enjoyable game.

Hopefully stretch goals will be unlocked during the campaign so that the game can be played for five players and the awesome Cthulhu Pantheon will be unlocked, but even if it doesn’t, The Lords of Rock is everything you hope it will be when you hear ‘gods taking part in a battle of the bands.’

Pros: Beautiful artwork, fantastic theme, engaging gameplay

Cons: Sometimes the math gets a bit complicated

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.