I recently had the chance to check out this cool new card-based music game and have a chat with local inventor and Metal fan Andrew Baldock. Check it out!
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be an inventor!
Well I guess I’m a bit of a jack of all trades. I dabble in lots but I’m terrible at most of it, haha. Things like bass guitar, electrical, woodworking, skateboarding. The idea behind getting into board game design was to learn how to use graphic design software like the GIMP. That and I had an idea for a game I thought was good, and a good idea is a terrible thing to waste. So I worked on it in my free time. Though, like most game designers my first projects didn’t really pan out. I’ve got one sidelined until I have a bit more experience. But Band Room Blitz ended up being a great “starter” game. Simple art, familiar rules set, and a much, much, much smaller production budget compared to what my first game would have ended up requiring.
Can you give us a brief overview of Band Room Blitz and how it works?
It’s a pretty straightforward judging party game. One player (the band leader) picks two category cards from their hand and shows them to the table. Then everyone else (the band members) have to come up with original band names based on those cards. The band members have the option to add one modify card to the table and that might force the band name into a specific genre, add extra criteria like rhyming or alliteration, and some cards let the band members mess with the cards the band leader played. Once all the band names are done the band leader picks their favorite and the player that came up with it gets a point. Then the player to the left of the band leader becomes the new band leader.
There’s optional rules too. If players want they can get bonus points if they can think of a real band that fits the cards in play. Or if they want a real challenge the game has sand timers so you can force a 1 minute time limit to each round.
My favorite aspect of the game though is the tie-breaker round. I really needed something good because other games in the genre like Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples didn’t have one. Lord knows how often you have a hard choice to make in those games. So in Band Room Blitz players in a tie breaker have to come up with an album and 3 songs by the fictional band they named. Usually it’s pretty easy to pick a winner from those.
Could for example a bunch of Metalheads play this and keep it all ‘Metal’ so to speak?
Absolutely. In fact my main playtest group is a bunch of metalheads. The game is broad enough to fit all genres but there’s no reason players couldn’t stick to creating band names that are closer to their taste. That’s what I like about the game the most. If I’m playing with my friends I can make some really heinous offensive band names for a laugh, but I can also pull it out at family game night and just… not come up with that stuff and grandma won’t get offended.
Though removing genre modify cards like “make it country” and “make it rap” will go a long way to tailoring the experience exclusively to metalheads.
When did you first come up with the idea for the game?
Well pretty much everything that led to where I am now was my desire to be a professional music fan. Something akin to Alan Cross from The Ongoing History of New Music. That goal eventually got me working in commercial radio for a few years. Eventually the work I was doing wasn’t worth the pay (or lack thereof) so I moved home and became an AV technician. I kept up with radio as a hobby by volunteering at my local community station and it was my time there that led to Band Room Blitz becoming a thing. My show played a lot of desert rock and doom.
The funny thing about those genres is there’s not a whole lot of creativity as far as band names go. Like you see the same themes over and over again. So I figured I could find the most common themes, put them all in a bowl, and pick two to find a band to play. Like, we’ve pulled color and religion, so I guess we’ve got Black Sabbath coming up in a bit! Eventually I started asking listeners to text in original band names based on the prompts I pulled. I’d read the best ones on air and it became a regular segment on my show. From there I realized there’s a proper party game here. A few years of work later and here it is!
Did you have any trepidation inventing a physical game in this day and age when entertainment is often consumed digitally?
Not at all. There’s been a huge renaissance in the board game world. Which I think the video game industry helped usher in. Fewer and fewer video games these days let you play games with a friend in the same room on the same console. So the fun of sitting next to your friend and whooping their butt at a game is left mostly to fighting and sports games now. Bigger and better board games brought that back.
Plus I’m not totally ignoring the digital realm. We have a somewhat functional version of the game set up on Tabletopia that we play with guest musicians over twitch. I’m not sure on the timing yet but I may make that version public some time after the physical version launches.
What is it that still has an appeal for people to gather in person and play a game?
Well I think that’s a matter of personal taste. There are definitely people that would rather get most of their social interaction from digital spaces. But for people who prefer to game in person there’s a certain social “je ne sais quoi” that hanging out digitally doesn’t quite satisfy. A huge portion of communication is non-verbal and that can have a huge effect on some games. Like poker players looking for “tells”. Plus I think humans, as social animals, just get a lot more happy hormones from in person interaction. Extroverts especially.
When is the first product going to be available for sale?
Band Room Blitz will be hitting store shelves on December 1st, Just in time for Christmas. But if you want something extra special I’m doing pre-orders until November 29th on my website. If you pre-order you can get a limited run shiny box version at no extra cost. We’ve only set aside 100 for pre-order so once those are gone you’ll need to meet us at a convention or music festival to get one. Plus with some issues I’ve had due to shipping and COVID the retail price will be going up a bit. So you’ll be saving money by pre-ordering too.
How has initial reaction been to the game and test-rounds you have done on the prototype?
Play-testing has been an interesting experience. Band Room Blitz lacks the real crunchy rules depth that a lot of huge board game geeks enjoy, so I’ve had pretty mixed interest when I take it to a spiel or another board game focused event. However when I go to music focused events people absolutely love it. At one festival I had a group of players get so into it they decided to keep playing rather than watch that nights headliner. And it gives me incredible satisfaction when I’m explaining the game to a real big stone-faced metalhead and I can get him to crack a grin as I go over the game. That’s happened a couple times.
What is the best way for people to check out Band Room Blitz?
Hit up BandRoomBlitz.com and you can try out a single round for yourself. Every so often we update a set of cards on the front page for players to make a band name from. You can submit your answer and we feature the best ones on our social media, just like the old radio show version. Plus there’s lots of videos, FAQ’s, a rundown of what’s in the box, links to our socials. All that jazz.
Thanks for the opportunity!