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It has been awhile since I last played this Zoch release, but I’ve mentioned it to a few in the group, so interest was there. Since the game is going to be re-released soon, I figured it would be a good time to expose the group to it.
The description below is lifted from my July 2002 Westbank Gamers report:
Players represent managers attempting to move the bands they have signed to their record label to the top of the charts. Each round, they secretly assign point chips to 5 of the 14 bands on the charts, hoping the ultimate result will be a positive movement up the charts for their bands, while their opponents bands fall on the charts. Players also secretly bet on
which band they feel will reach number one on the charts and which band they feel will experience the greatest positive movement on the charts that round.
Yes, it is a guess fest. You simply have to guess what your opponents are doing and attempt to place your chips properly to assist in your efforts. I'm usually not a big fan of the 'guess' or 'bluff' mechanism in a game and it is VERY dominant in this game. Still, the game is fairly light, so it doesn't ruin the experience.
The neatest thing about the game, however, is the clever 'CD' mechanism which is used to tally the points on each of the 14 bands. Each player places their chips in a heavy cardboard CD recreation. These are then stacked onto a gadget which consists of a heavy wooden base and two prongs. One by one the CD inserts are removed, causing the chips to fall into 14 separate compartments. Then, one by one the base is turned and the chips
for the positions spill out and are tallied. Very, very clever.
Bands rise and fall based on these tallies, causing some bands to fall completely off the charts. Players whose bands reach positions 1 - 6 receive points (6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1), while players whose bands fall off the charts suffer the loss of 2 points for each band that suffers this fate. Further points are earned if you correctly predicted the #1 band. Points
can also be earned or lost depending upon whether the band you felt would be the 'highest chart riser' rose or fell on the charts.
At two points during the game, the top three bands are removed from the board, shaking up the charts even further. Play continues until at least one player exceeds 70 points at the end of a scoring round, at which point the player with the most points is victorious. In my previous two games, this simply took too long and the game wore out its welcome. We have since opted to play to only 50 points as opposed to the 70 points called for in the rules. This helps the game speed along at a much swifter pace and, as a consequence, it is much more enjoyable.
The game has some other features which add some spice, including an interesting method wherein you choose your initial label and, consequently, the color of the bands you are attempting to lead to the top. Players can exchange labels for unused ones during the course of a game, but this will cost them five victory points. However, this may be advisable as there are a limited number of bands for each label, so if your bands were heavy on the charts early in the game, they will be scarce later in the game. The
ability to switch labels, albeit with a cost, is a nice touch. When playing with six players, however, there are no leftover record labels, so switching midcourse is not an option.
Adopting my best Casey Kasem voice (which is admittedly not very good!), I led Gail, Ray, Jim, Jared, Byron through the cutthroat world of Deutsche Top 40 hits. Well, Top 14 in this case. Jared and I began strong, with acts that “wowed” the music world. Ray and Jim, however, failed to impress listeners with their accordion and tuba bands.
Both, however, learned quickly, and made stunning comebacks with suggestively named bands. Jim seized the industry by the throat in week 4 and dominated for the final three weeks to rise to the top of the charts.
Round 1: Jared 17, Greg 13, Gail 13, Byron 7, Jim 4, Ray 1
Round 2: Greg 21, Jared 19, Ray 14, Gail 14, Byron 11, Jim 10
Round 3: Greg 25, Ray 25, Jim 23, Jared 20, Byron 19, Gail 17
Round 4: Jim 37, Greg 32, Gail 26, Ray 25, Jared 23, Byron 19
Round 5: Jim 44, Ray 39, Gail 36, Greg 35, Jared 28, Byron 18
Round 6: Jim 57, Gail 51, Greg 46, Jared 43, Ray 38, Byron 31
Ratings: Ray 7.5, Jim 7.5, Byron 7, Gail 7, Greg 6.5, Jared 6