Battle Bands: Rock & Roll Deckbuilder Steam Early Access Report (Launch)
Disclosure: A copy of Battle Bands: Rock & Roll Deckbuilder was provided for free.
Battle Bands: Rock & Roll Deckbuilder, developed by Aerie Digital, is a game I played the demo of in 2021 that I enjoyed. Battle Bands is not your typical deckbuilding game, as you play in a band that is more designed for co-op play than solo. I’ve only played solo so far, but I definitely plan on playing co-op very soon for progression reasons I’ll explain further below. You can play the guitar, bass guitar, drums, or keyboard, with each instrument having a somewhat different variation of cards, but they all generally play the same within the card game. This is a roguelike experience, as each solo run can end when you run out turns (sorry I forget the official name). As a solo player you can add cards to other instruments for the AI to play, but when a tour mode run ends you only gain experience and unlock cards for the instrument you play. As a solo player, this makes the game feel grindy and encourages co-op and sticking to one instrument. I wish this changes. When starting out, this means that as a solo player I have to rotate instruments in different tour mode runs just to make myself stronger solo so the AI has stronger decks.
The actual gameplay flow of band battling is very unique. A band member plays a song card, then performance cards have to be played on top of the song card to complete the song and gain hype score. There is no turn order within the band, so for song cards its essentially whoever plays one first, but I’m delighted to say the game has built in communication commands to signal you have a certain card. Energy is used to play cards, as each player starts out with two energy and energy can be transferred among band members when necessary. This unique feature is useful if a player with energy left doesn’t have a performance card if more performance cards need to be played or if the player only has performance cards and a song card needs to be played. Every card can be upgraded after the battle if they are played a certain amount of times. The different types of cards in the game are very interesting, as you can have Crew cards that are like what enchantment cards are in Magic: The Gathering, as they stay on the board giving bonuses to the band until they are removed by the opponent. The band battle ends when you reach a certain band hype score. The entire flow of the card battle is very fun, I just wish I had more control of what cards the AI plays as a solo player. The game does have a good soundtrack while you’re battling, and no, the cards you play don’t affect how the music goes, at least I didn’t notice it.
Like other games in the genre, you can gain cash and buy items to help your band in battle based on your decisions while on the tour map There is a boss on the map, but I haven’t beaten the boss just yet for reasons I mentioned about needing to get stronger and strengthen the decks of all instruments. I have no doubt that once all the instruments are stronger I can beat that boss solo, and I could also probably do it if I stuck to building one instrument in a co-op campaign. Customization is a big plus in this game. You can create your own band name, customize your character’s looks, and also what your instrument looks like. There is a Season Pass that contains cosmetic unlockable items that you can use currency gained through your tours. The game contains no real money microtransactions. The other mode in the game is a 4v4 64 band royale mode that I haven’t tried yet, but plan on trying once I strengthen my decks.
Battle Bands is a game that is clearly designed for co-op, but needs adjustments for solo play. Once my decks get stronger and the game is updated more I will dive into co-op play via the matchmaking and give another Steam Early Access report.
Battle Bands: Rock & Roll Deckbuilder just launched into Steam Early Access and estimates to take roughly 6-12 months to reach version 1.0.
My Version 1.0 Wishlist:
- Ability to play with all instruments playing solo with increased turn timer
- Gain EXP for all instruments playing solo, not just the one you play.