Disclaimer 1: Marti now works with Talon Strikes as a social media manager. Marti is not doing this review, obviously, but wanted to make sure that y’all knew for obvious reasons.
Game: Vinyl Jukebox
Publisher: Talon Strikes Studios
Designer: Eric Alvarado
Illustrations: James Churchill
Main Game Mechanisms: Bag Building and Set Collection
Number of Players: 2 player only
Game Time: 20-30 minutes
Description: Take a trip back in time with Vinyl Jukebox, where you will be drawing coins out of your bag in order to collect 45s and add them to your Jukebox’s collection. Players compete to make the best, highest scoring Jukebox collection grid, via matching coins from your bag with available 45s.
Each player will start with:
- a pair of private scoring cards that tells them where they should want to place the different genres of 45s in their 3×3 collection grid, as well as what decade and side will give them extra bonus points in their Jukebox.
- coins and a bag to pull them from
- Player board that has two rows of slots for coins to be placed in order to make a match with the 45s
On their turn a player can choose one of two actions:
- Insert Coins: the player will pull their coins, placing them in one of two row slots on their player board in hopes of trying to make the coins in one of their rows match the genre [5 genres: Country, Rock, Pop, Blues, Jazz] decade [3 decades: 40s, 50s, 60s], and side [A/B] of a 45 in the display. The player will continue pulling coins from their bag until a 45 card is matched or there is no space left in the coins slot rows.
- When done pulling coins and players either match a 45 or not, empty your row or coins spent into the coin box. If a match is made, place your claimed 45 card where you want it in your Jukebox collection. Players will want to consult their private scoring cards before placing the 45 card so that the 45 card is placed in the desired spot in relation to other 45s in your Jukebox collection grid.
- Empty Coin Box: Player takes all of the coins in the coin box back into their bag and adds 2 bonus coins into their bag as well.
Once players complete a row or column of their 3 x 3 Jukebox grid they select a public scoring token that their row or column meets the requirements for. If a row of 45s has 3 country cards, the player may want to select a scoring tile in the country genre. The scoring tiles are randomized before the game and reward players for having a certain amount of genre, decade, and side 45s.
Players alternate taking turns until one player completes their 3 x 3 Jukebox collection grid with 9 cards, game ends at the conclusion of the round. Then you add up points from your private scoring card and public scoring tiles, determining who built the choicest jukebox collection.
Review: With the lack of conventions right now, it’s been hard for us to get demos in. Thankfully, Eric from Talon Strikes gave us a demo of Vinyl: Jukebox using Tabletopia, so I was able to get a pretty good feel for the game!
Vinyl Jukebox has a wonderfully unique theme. There are not many board games about music, which makes this game and its predecessor stand out thematically. Vinyl Jukebox reminds me of going to restaurants and diners that had jukeboxes and picking out some favorite tunes to listen to with friends and family. The 45s in Vinyl Jukebox give me nostalgia about my best friend’s Dad’s record collection that wrapped around their basement on custom shelves.
Vinyl Jukebox is splendidly brainy for a relatively short two player game. Once you get going playing the turns are smooth and quick yet you have many options. When players chose whether or not to insert coins or empty their coin box, they must evaluate the chances of getting the coins they need to match the 45s they want to grab from the display.
Does the player go for setting up their collection grid to make the most points or for getting the most for their decades and sides bonus or try to maximize the public scoring tile bonuses? Players have many choices to make and luck plays a role as well. Will you pull the one coin you really need before your coin slot row fills?
Vinyl Jukebox is colorful, yet colorblind friendly with the symbology for the genres, decades, and sides easy to distinguish. You can see that the designer and artist really put a lot of care into making it easy to read and play, even with the online version. I can’t wait to get the full version in my hands!
Kickstarter Info: Vinyl Jukebox is on Kickstarter right now for only $16. It is funding alongside of the original Vinyl game’s reprint and the Big Band Edition.