Card games are, by and large, heavily responsible for my love of game design. Growing up I’d often play Pinochle games with my Grandparents and Blackjack, Speed, and War at family gatherings. These along with exploring the latest TCG to hit the playground were all important steps toward designing my own card games. To make use of what is at your disposal while playing against the odds is thrilling. So, when I saw Battle Bands in the Steam Next Fest demo list, a card game about the beautiful association between music, card games, and the synergy they both eternally strive for, suffice to say it immediately caught my attention.
“I deeply enjoyed playing off of my bandmates’ cards and watching the flow of the match shift.”
In Battle Bands, you hit the road with your bandmates using your musical prowess to compete for the favour of the crowd. Each band performs spicy verses and sick riffs, aiming to reach the requisite Hype needed for that match. You earn Hype by activating cards, with each instrument in the band having its own deck. Decks mostly consist of Performance cards, which you play on top of SongSection cards. Once a SongSection is stacked to capacity, it is completed generating additional Hype. Additional card types exist, such as Crew Members which sport persistent effects each turn.
Most cards require Energy to activate, making mindful decisions of which moves you and your bandmates’ make essential. I deeply enjoyed playing off of my bandmates’ cards and watching the flow of the match shift. With effects represented visually, it’s easy watching the Hype bars and other status effects escalate. At the end of the turn, you discard your hand for a new one. Your opponent’s turn becomes the ideal time to review your new hand. This hand renewal mitigates the stress that comes with strategizing over multiple turns, helping to keep Battle Bands fast, fun, and engaging.
“Jamming out between turns is relaxing and just as fun as reading the wacky card names.”
While each band is given over a minute to complete their turn, I never felt rushed to make decisions. On the contrary, the roaring crowd, amazing music, and humorous visuals create an entrancing experience. Jamming out between turns is relaxing and just as fun as reading the wacky card names. Each band I faced sported a unique theme and strategy, showcasing a variety of playstyles. From orc bards to suspender-wearing dogs, Battle Bands never falters when it comes to charm.
In Tour Mode, you move across a game board to visit venues, shops and trigger random events. Winning battles and exploring events rewards you with cash to improve your chances on tour, and Morale needed to move to new spaces. If Morale reaches zero your run ends, rewarding you with experience that raises the level of your respective deck and unlocking new cards for future tours.
Difficulty quickly ramps up with your level. My first run with each deck allowed me to experiment at a more casual level, getting to grips with how they functioned individually. As the difficulty increased, however, I found that it began to pose a serious challenge. Before and after a battle you can choose from some new cards to add to each deck, though you can forego them for Cash instead. Cards gain experience when played, improving them and adding additional effects over a run. All of this makes the replayability extremely high, even in the very limited demo.
“Battle Bands also features a huge sixty-four band Royale Mode that is not available in the demo.”
Battle Bands also features a huge sixty-four band Royale Mode that is not available in the demo. Though I only played solo, Battle Bands is a multiplayer experience. Each bandmate is controlled by either another player or bot. This means a whopping 256 player jam sessions are waiting when I get my hands on the full release. Along with the expanded map in Tour mode, and the hilarious customization options, I can only imagine whats the future holds in store for this inspired title.
Be sure to head on over to the Battle Bands Steam store page to try the demo out for yourself. You can also wishlist it on Steam to be notified of any future updates.