Disclaimer: This preview is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Weird Giraffe Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Game: Big Easy Busking
Publisher: Weird Giraffe Games
Designer: Joshua J Mills
Artists: Adrienne Ezell, Andrew Thompson
Main Game Mechanisms: Area Control / Area Influence, Hand Management
Number of Players: 1 to 5
Game Time: 45 to 60 minutes
Description: Big Easy Busking has players competing to gain influence over crowds on bustling streets in New Orleans. The game plays over 3 rounds, with the number of crowds available increasing over time. Players must manage their band members’ energy to play songs to the crowds to add influence there. Each player which meets the minimum influence threshold gains money at the end of the round, and the player with the most influence gets a larger money bonus as well.
Each turn starts with finishing a song (if you started one your previous turn). At that point, you can (optionally) tip your musicians, where you pay $1 for each energy cube you want to move from your reserve to the specific musician on your player card.
After you complete that, you can take one of the following actions:
- Play a song – Play a song card from your hand onto a crowd and move energy equal to its requirements from your matching band members onto the card.
- Learn a song – Spend an energy from each band member to learn an available song from the market. You keep that song for the rest of the game.
- Pass – You’re done for the round. Play continues with the other players until they also pass.
When you finish playing a song (the turn after starting it), you can move the energy cubes onto the crowd card as influence. If the song type doesn’t match the mood of that crowd, all energy must be moved. If the moods do match, you can choose whether to move all the energy and take $1 in tips, or move some of the energy to the crowd and take the rest back to your band members.
Can you successfully manage your energy, influence, and available songs to maximize your earned money? After 3 rounds the band with the most cash wins!
Review: First, I have to comment on the theme. How cool of an idea is it to have your own band that you’re busking with in New Orleans? Everything about the game screams New Orleans (from what I know of it – I have, sadly, never been there). When this game was in the development phase, I remember that Carla asked if anyone knew the term “Busking” – and while it’s not a universally recognized term, she learned that more people knew it than she realized. But, it’s a concept that everyone is familiar with if you’ve been to a city – street musicians.
Even though this was just a prototype, it looks great. The art is absolutely beautiful, with lots of bright, bold colors that stand out easily. According to their Kickstarter page, each of the player boards will have unique art – I can’t wait to see what that looks like! The commitment to diversity in the art that they have currently is fantastic, and I imagine it will maintain that level of diversity. Also, when you put the song cards together, they can make panoramas! How cool is that?
As with all of Weird Giraffe’s titles, the commitment to ease of play for colorblind and vision impaired people is still there. The symbology is clear and the player colors are easily distinguished by people with most types of colorblindness (teal, yellow, white, purple, and black).
From our pictures, you may notice that the song cards have your musician symbols in a different order than on your player board. As we mentioned, this is just a prototype, and Carla at Weird Giraffes has assured me that this is not the case in the final production.
The gameplay is very smooth. Your turn seems pretty basic – you finish a song, and you can start a new song or learn a new song. But balancing where your cubes go, what cubes should go to what crowds, and dealing with the songs in your hand is a huge balancing act! Games where you have to balance your resources with area control really get all of my brain cells moving. Once you get the hang of what you’re doing, each turn is very quick.
It says that it’s 45 to 60 minutes, and it definitely fits comfortably into that time frame. Some area majority games can overstay their welcome, but that’s not a problem with Big Easy Busking. Three rounds is quick enough to keep you interested, while also being long enough to feel as if you reached a satisfying end point.
Big Easy Busking is a vibrant game that brings New Orleans busker life to your table. It’s filled with interesting choices while still being an “easy to learn, challenging to master” balancing act. We really enjoyed it, and recommend that you check out the Kickstarter if this sounds like your type of game!
Kickstarter Information: The Kickstarter for Big Easy Busking is relaunched right now! Use this link to head over there and see what is to come with it. The standard edition is $25, the Deluxe (which looks fancy) is $39.