Publisher: Talon Strikes Studios LLC
Developer: Eric Alvarado
Artist: Jason Wasburn
Player Count: 2-4 Players (Played at all player counts once)
A prototype copy of Vinyl was provided by Talon Strikes Studios for preview. I would like to thank them for supporting my blog. Everything you see in today’s preview is in prototype form and does not represent the final product. Vinyl is seeking funding on Kickstarter, and their campaign launches on March 19, 2018.
Vinyl is a set collection and worker placement game set in a local vinyl record store. Players are competing to create the most prestigious vinyl collection and score the most points. To acquire new records, players use Magazine Cards match the attributes of an Album Card. Players can bump you out of aisles and jock for position to see who can come out with best collection. Let’s look at what Vinyl has to offer.
“I’m Just Looking”
Each player receives a player board, meeple, a set of three Loyalty Cards, and 5 to 7 Magazine Cards based on the player count and turn order. The two slots on right side of the player board are for placing Album Cards to create a maximum of two Active Collections. On the left side you have a Layaway area to tuck away one Album Card. The Retire Collection area is used to count points for Loyalty Cards during end game scoring. The Publication bonus earns you a bonus for buying consecutive albums from the same publisher. The board also has an album distribution chart so you have an idea of exactly how many card types are still in play. Vinyl doesn’t have a lot of hidden information when it comes to your Active Collections and Layaway Cards, so you want to use this chart to your advantage.
“Take a look around and let me know if you need any help”
Vinyl has striking table presence. It straight up looks like you’re browsing the aisles of a record store. Most locations on the board have two spaces for worker placement. One spot is designated for two primary actions and the other is for a secondary set of “bump” actions. Here are some quick details about each location.
Magazine Rack: You acquire regular and wild Magazine Cards from the board to pay for Album Cards.
Record Bin: You use Magazine Cards to purchase Albums to build an Active Collection of Albums or put Albums on Layaway to buy them
Sales Bin: The last row is a last chance opportunity to buy an Album Card for a discount before it’s removed from play
Front Counter: You pay for cards stored in layaway and swap loyalty Cards
Collection Rewards: Players receive points for collecting specific combinations of two to five Album Cards.
Album Card Box: A set of evenly divided Album Cards stored on the side of the board used to refill the Record bin sets are retired. When the last divider pops up, the game is over
“Hey dude, I had that record reserved!”
What does the gameplay feel like? Vinyl has gameplay elements similar to Ticket to Ride and The Gallerist. You also have very familiar set collection mechanics that any casual player can learn. A player’s turn has three phases:
Move Phase: A player places their meeple at one of the locations and takes one of two primary actions. If you push or bump another player out, they move to the secondary action slot. If you’ve played The Gallerist, by Vital Lacerda then you might be familiar with bump actions. Since there are two slots at each location, you can bump a meeple off the location completely by bumping both characters. Who knew it could be so bumpy in a record store?
Action Phase: At each location on the board, the acting player has the choice of one of two primary actions. If another’s meeple is bumped they take one of the two bump actions. Bump actions are just as important as the primary actions, because you have an opportunity to follow up with lesser versions of the primary actions. Having something to do if you’re bumped, keeps everyone’s attention on the board. Basically, you’re a create a decent hand of Magazine Cards, to head over to the Record Bin and buy Album Cards. From there, you want to buy as many Albums with matching attributes to score points to score the most point. Along the way, you can set an album on layaway and pay for them later or switch up your Loyalty Cards (end game bonus) on the fly. I like the Sale Bin location at the bottom board, since you get a slight discount for buying Album Cards and it’s a nice way to give everyone a way to close a set. I find that some albums get passed over so thankfully there is a location to assist players like myself who aren’t as attentive as I should be. Overall, the gameplay has a nice pace for all gamers to stay engaged and just have fun.
Maintenance Phase: After each player’s turn, if an Album Card is purchased from the Record Bin, new ones are drawn from the Album box. Album Cards get shifted down and new cards are replaced at the topmost space available. Album Cards naturally slide down to the Sale Bin and previous cards are removed from the board. As you place Album cards and reach the dividers, you trigger the Salesperson action. This action clears the current Magazine Rack cards and the Sales Bin row. The end game triggers when you reach the last divider called Store Closing.
“Check out my Sweet Collection”
(Set Collection and Loyalty Cards)
During the game, you will collect sets of one to five cards and receive points from the Collection Rewards area. The fastest player to create pure and mixed sets will receive more points. Once you receive a Collection Reward, the cards are placed in the Retired Collection area on the left side of the player board. Here are samples of the types of sets:
Pure Sets share the same genre and at least one other icon. Trust me, these are not easy to complete when players are attempting to grab the higher point collection cards first.
In Mixed 1 and 2 collections, you match up one or two icons, BUT the genres must alternate.
Loyalty Cards reward you points at the end of the game. You get bonus points from the Album Cards in your retired area of the every player’s board. You can gain additional points for collecting early- and late – decade albums, having multiple Albums with the same publisher, and having cards that match the genres on the bottom of the game board.
“Excuse me, the store is closing”
The game ends when you run out of Album Cards and the last divider is revealed. You finish the current round and play a final round. Players will have one last opportunity to grab collection rewards in turn order and tally up their points from Loyalty Card. That’s a game of Vinyl.
Why should I back Vinyl?
- Engaging Light/Medium weight set collection and worker placement gameplay
- Bump actions keep the downtime between turns interesting
- The Publisher and Chart Topper expansion add more advanced gameplay options
- Scales at all player counts (based on simulating a 2-player game)
- Amazing table presence
- Hit’s the theme perfectly and graphic design is on point
- Graphic design is on point
- Some players might be turned off by an NPC (dummy player) at the 2 and 3 player counts
- Takes up too much table space, at 4 player, takes up a decent sized space at 4 players
- The board looks a little busy at first glance( remember prototype)
- A little overwhelming for very casual gamers
I have a lot of positive things to say about Vinyl. Talon Strikes Studios set out to create a heavily thematic set collection and worker placement game and I believe they hit the mark. I’m digging the theme, gameplay, and graphic design, which is still in prototype form! The game has a plethora of ways to score points and I think that will attract a wide range of players to Vinyl. There aren’t a lot of icons or things to process, but I think some casuals might be overwhelmed when they play for the first time. I believe Vinyl will appeal to a range of players, from casual to seasoned gamers. I also had a chance to play around with the Clearance Bin, Publisher, and Chart Topper expansions. All three expansions raise the gameplay to an advanced level and add even more replayability if you choose to incorporate one or all of them. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store during this Kickstarter campaign, because I think there’s so many interesting possibilities to expand on this theme. Look, I can’t tell anyone what to back with their money. I can only help you make an informed decision. If you’re looking for a game with heavily thematic gameplay and a solid amount of replayability, give this one a look.
I hope today’s preview helps you make an informed decision about Vinyl. What do you think about the game? Have any questions? Please share your comments below. Thank you for your time.
Jambalaya’s Classic Records
Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie Wonder
Thriller- Michael Jackson
Superunknown – Soundgarden
Radiohead – “Radiohead”
Greatest Hits -Earth, Wind, and Fire
Babyface – “Babyface”
Maxwell – Urban Hang Suite
Outkast – Aquemini
Roots- When Things Fall Apart
Wu-Tang – Enter the 36 Chambers