Full disclosure: Weird Giraffe Games sent me a prototype copy of Big Easy Busking so that I could write this preview.
The KS campaign page for this game can be found here.
What is Big Easy Busking about?
Big Easy Busking is an area control game about street musicians in New Orleans who are playing their hearts out and competing for the affection (and tip money!) of the crowds at various locations. When you play for a crowd, you give them some of your energy. Leave just enough, and you'll meet a threshold and get some tip money. But if you leave the most energy on a card, you totally win the crowd and get a bonus payment! The winner of the game will be the player whose band has earned the most money after three rounds.
Big Easy Busking is tougher than it appears. The theme is fun and colorful, and your turns will be deceptively quick and easy. But it's harder to make the right decision than it sounds! Your musicians begin the night with a limited amount of energy, and there is only so much you can do to get more. It costs energy to play songs, as well as to learn new ones. Which crowds will you fight for? If you focus on only a couple, you might lose too much potential profit by ignoring the others. If you spread yourself too thin, you could get some money, but not as much as a player who wins the favor of multiple crowds. It's possible to get some energy back if your song matches the mood of the crowd you're playing for, but if you give the crowd all of your energy, you get more money. You might choose to tip your musicians to give them an extra burst of enthusiasm, but that means spending money you might need to win the game. Big Easy Busking is all about those small-but-consequential decisions that will see you either win the night or slink home in defeat!
How does it play solo?
As is the norm with games published by Carla Kopp, Big Easy Busking has an excellent solo bot. In fact, it has three of them, each with a different play style! Each bot presents a serious challenge. Like a slick hologram competing with living, breathing people, your bot opponent will never have to tip its band members and will never run out of energy. It will push you hard to budget your resources well and to play with greater efficiency than you would need to against human players. Of course, this is what I love about Carla Kopp's bots—they are vicious opponents. You can adjust the difficulty level, but trust me, medium will be fine to start! Also true to form is the bots' lightning-fast upkeep, meaning that the AI turns go by very quickly and leave you to ponder your next move.
I have played and filmed previews for several Weird Giraffe titles at this point, as well as for Animal Kingdoms from Galactic Raptor. Carla's solo bots have yet to disappoint me, and are a great experience for solo players who want a challenge. If you want a quick solo game that you can also easily teach your family or game group, a game from Weird Giraffe is always a solid bet.
Things I like about Big Easy Busking
Big Easy Busking is an excellent light game—it's fun and easy to learn, but it's challenging enough to warrant more than just a couple of plays. The solo bots are tough, which means it will be a while before I feel I've fully mastered the gameplay. This is a major plus for me, and as a solo player, I'm delighted by the variety and challenge of the bot opponents. Big Easy Busking's gameplay also fits the theme well. Musicians have a tough job and limited energy, and it's tough to satisfy a demanding crowd!
Possible Concerns about Big Easy Busking
If you're into zero-luck or heavier games, then Big Easy Busking may not be a good fit for you. In my battles against the bot, I have gotten some lucky (or very unlucky!) card draws, and you never know what mood the crowds will be in or what songs might be most useful for a future round. Also, if you don't spend resources well, there may also be a few rounds where you run out of energy early and have to pass.
Should I back it?
I intend to! I think this game will be excellent to play both alone and with others. Also, as is customary with Weird Giraffe Games, the game will be affordable and fairly priced at $25 + shipping!