UK Games Expo 2018: The Gig - First Thoughts

“First comes the bass.
Then the drums.
Then we bring in the keys, oh yeah.
Followed by the sax.
Then, and only then do we lay down the lyrics; it’s poetry really.  
Now that, that’s Real Cool Jazz”
MAD E. Upman - The Spirit and Soul of Real Cool Jazz

The Gig is a light and fast dice placement game that caught my eye, attention and imagination at the UK Games Expo 2018 and it was quite simply a joy to play.

In this game, each player takes on a role of a member of a jazz band, whose goal is simple, put on a damn fine gig, yet be the crowd favourite at the end of the performance. Players will draft dice from two separate pools to place on either a central area, the song board, or a private solo board.  Depending on the song and instrument, the rules governing the placement of these dice differ slightly, but in any event, you are going to want as many of your coloured dice or your key number on the main song as possible, whilst also having completed the most, if not all of your possible solos.

Polyhedron Collider UK Games Expo First Thoughts Preview - The Gig - Main Song Board
The central song board, this time playing, Harmony and Me
You’ll score points for every die placed on the main song, how many points will depend on how much the crowd are loving or hating the overall performance. The main way to shift this score is by completing sections of your solo which all players will be doing.  This allows an audience roll, which can then shift those dice placement points up or down.  Getting the timing of this can be key to bagging a seriously good run on points, and in a game about music, timing is understandably important.

This idea of timing and rhythm blends into the turn sequence selection, where players select one of their five cards to denote order of play.  Being the leader for a round means you get first dibs on the dice and first placement of those dice, which can bag you those ‘special’ scoring areas on the song board.. This puts you squarely in control of the song, just with fewer choices... well, in theory.

Polyhedron Collider UK Games Expo First Thoughts Preview - The Gig - Solo Board
Each player will take on a different instrument, each with its own puzzle to score for solos
Not only do you want to manage your dice selections, but you also need to consider your place in the band, in terms of turn order.  Being aware of what other players/band members are doing and anticipating these shifts in audience appreciation is a skill, but once mastered will surely elevate the game.  However, should any players clash, by selecting the same turn order card, well that means you've just ballsed up royally and the crowd appreciation drops down.

One of the aspects I like about the Gig, and one that certainly stood out, is that it deftly steps around a common 'issue' in dice placement games, in that often they hold some agonising, and game-slowing decisions.  With the Gig players will always have a choice, not only on which board to play on, but with the dice themselves.  You can place two dice from your allowed pools, or flip a dice to the opposite face, or keep the face but change the colour, or even, in a last-ditch attempt return three and roll three new ones.  These choices, although can feel sometimes sub-optimal (but actually aren't) keep this game moving and flowing at a decent pace.

In short The Gig combines some great, light mechanics; the central play area is an area control game, the solo area is a roll and write sudoku-style-thing and this is all managed through dice placement. It hits a lot of strong chords with me, and on top of all of this it was quite simply really good fun.

The Gig is still in development but at present, Braincrack Games are planning to bring it to Kickstarter in the winter of 2018.  

[edit] The Gig is live now on Kickstarter, so if this sounds like your cup of tea, go check it out.


This preview is based on a demo of the game played during the UK Games Expo 2018 ran by the publisher/designer. 
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