Most of us love card games and Trump cards games. Those of us fortunate enough will have happy memories or stories from old relatives reminiscing over the halcyon days playing Happy Families and Go Fish. For many, it is a customary duty when seeing family and friends to play card games often making such games tedious hard work. However, one can now lose oneself in the world of music and immerse themselves in a world of their rock n’ roll heroes. How is this possible? XS Noize has joined forces with Laurence King Publishing to show there is not one, but three ways to do this.
The first is Battle of the Bands: Rock Trump Cards. Complete with thirty-two cards, each card contains details of well-known rock bands including the Sex Pistols, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. The aim of the game is to collect all the cards. Each band is rated according to six categories (items): legacy, commercial success, appetite for destruction, diva factor, sex appeal and shock value. The cards are shuffled and dealt out equally face down between the players. Players hold their cards face up in a pile, so they can only see their top card. A coin toss or a dice throw determines which player begins. The first player chooses an item from their top card e.g. “Diva Factor: 62” and reads it out. The player with the highest score for that item wins all the players top cards and places them and the bottom of their pile. The winning player then has another turn, choosing an item from the next card.
Whilst there are some limitations concerning the bands are chosen, for example, it is slightly bizarre to have a category called “appetite for destruction” and not feature Guns N’ Roses. Similarly, no divas feature. With the exception of Fleetwood Mac and Blondie; no bands with female members are featured. Bands with non-white members are underrepresented. Nonetheless, the choice of bands chosen will nonetheless bring all people together. This game is a worthy contender for the Nobel Peace Prize around Christmas for those coerced into being in close proximity for long periods of time with people they would not otherwise socialise with. The captivating brightly coloured illustrations by Mikkel Sommer and intelligent research by Stephen Ellcock will impress music buffs, novices and intermediates alike. Battle of the Bands: Rock Trump Cards will firstly captivate those passionate for rock music and will kick start the conversion process for those who are not. With no limit on how many people can play; no one will be left out.
Our next game is The Rock Bands Game: Come Together. Unlike Battle of the Bands: Rock Trump Cards, it is not all or nothing; the winner is the person who gets as many sets as possible. Sets of what? Bands. Thirteen bands across fifty-two cards, four cards for each band. Whilst this is democratic and fair; Mastermind level music fans will notice there are discrepancies with this. For example Pink Floyd, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones have been five-piece bands. Other lineups, including the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, don’t feature original or present lineups, but dream teams. Whilst the line-ups for some of the thirteen bands will cause both silly and passionate bickering (and with up to five players there is the potential for a lot of bickering) amongst those for a thirst for rock band knowledge; the playability is immensely elating. The raw action brought to the life of the band members through Stéphane Manel’s adroit black and white illustrations will more than serve the primary function of any card game: getting people to come together.
Last but not least is the humble Music Genius Playing Cards. Humble is probably not the correct word since the quality of the cards is superior, like a premium quality spirit or collectable aged fine wine. Unlike in The Rock Bands Game: Come Together and Battle of the Bands: Rock Trump Cards, David Bowie is featured and as a joker. Well, he couldn’t be a Duke; after all, there are no Dukes in a set of playing cards. The categories of music for the artists are determined by suit. Hearts are pop, Clubs are blues and soul, Diamonds are folk and country and Spades are rock n’ roll. Michael Jackson is appropriately crowned the King of Pop (Hearts), Beyoncé is Queen B (Bey) of Pop (Hearts), Elvis is the King of Rock n’ roll (Spades), Freddie Mercury is no other than the Queen of Rock n’ roll (Spades), and Dolly Parton is the Queen of folk and country (Diamonds). For the most part; everything is in its right place. One would expect Bob Dylan to either be a Joker(man) or the Jack of Hearts as taken from the Blood on the Tracks classic: Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.
However Dylan is actually appropriately placed here; after all, he did co-write Jack O’ Diamonds with Ben Carruthers. Ben Carruthers and The Deep would release this song in 1965. Focusing on solo artists and genres as opposed to the musical groups these individual artists performed with allows greater variety and diversity in the artists selected. Through one’s choice of a card game, whether it is poker, rummy or bridge; one will learn the most about musicians and their genres through Music Genius Playing Cards.
Whilst there could be more breadth to Battle of the Bands: Rock Trump Cards and The Rock Bands Game: Come Together; the gameplay is second to none. The central component is the focus on music and bands and getting one to think more critically and differently about the bands and musicians they love. Traditional Trump card games and classic favourites including Happy Families and Go Fish cannot compete. Music Genius Playing Cards will take anyone on an odyssey; even if you lose each time and fail to improve your card game skills. You will not find these games in any board game cafés. This is a shame. XS Noize. recommends each of these games. Bring the traditional games you love, enjoy them on a level you never thought possible and get lost in music in ways you did not think or dream were possible.
Battle of the Bands: Rock Band Trump Cards, by Stephen Ellcock and Mikkel Sommer, £8.95, Laurenceking.com is available to buy at https://www.laurenceking.com/product/battle-of-the-bands/
Come Together: The Rock Band Card Game, illustrated by Stéphane Manel, £8.99, Laurenceking.com is available to buy at https://www.laurenceking.com/product/come-together/
Music Genius Playing Cards, illustrated by Rik Lee, £8.99, Laurenceking.com is available to buy at https://www.laurenceking.com/product/music-genius/