Published on October 7th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich0
The JiveCat’s Meow
Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge
(Editor’s note: WhiskeyGinger Designs, the company behind AtBG has a professional relationship with Daily Magic Games, the publisher of Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge. We feel that we can review the game objectively, but we also value transparency. -Luke)
This decorated cocktail and 60’s nightlife themed game went to Kickstarter in February this year and is currently in the process of shipping to their 589 backers. We had the opportunity to play a copy of SJVL after visiting the Game Designers Clubhouse headquarters. The backers of this game are definitely in for a treat with this game. From the moment we opened the box, we were hit with lots of color, groovy stylistic design and decorative custom game pieces. Players get to play with martini glasses and plastic monkeys, and flip through a 54 card stack of unique cocktail recipes. SJVL is much more than a game-it’s a cocktail party centerpiece.
A Game Perfect for Cocktail Night:
If the name of the game doesn’t grab your attention, the plastic martini glasses with dangling blue monkeys and spiffy board art will. The game board art depicts a sprawling nightclub with 4 distinct lounge areas as marked by their different background colors: The Cocoa Lounge, The Tiki Lounge, The Neptune Lounge and The Lava Lounge. These happening places are where wannabe hipsters, cool cats and hang out and enjoy cocktails.
In Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge, you are one of the wannabes–a person who craves navigating the social ladder to get to the in-crowd. The objective is to end the game with the most points. Points in this game instead of tokens or victory point tracker are represented by plastic cocktail monkey which daintily hang from your martini glass. There are two ways to earn points in this game: 1) buying drinks for hipsters and jivecats and 2) fulfilling the requirements of Trend Cards.
Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge features a surreal and fantastical mix of characters and animals. The Trend Cards give player points for acquiring specific groups of friends usually in grouped thematically-pirates, classic horror monsters, animals and super spies. SJVL turns the scavenger hunt of products like Where’s Waldo and I-Spy as part of the game.
The other part of the game is Voodoo Magic. Voodoo magic cards are actions players can take to maneuver their influence, interfere with opponents’ success and work to move more quickly around the board. Cheval, Rada, Zombie and Voodoo are the different actions and are on Clique Cards, the same cards which double as the cocktail cards used to buy jivecats and hipsters.
I really wanted to see a turn example in the rules to show how players might use the Voodoo actions to work towards victory in combination with buying drinks. I had difficulty understanding their relevance and how best to use the actions in combination with one another.
The Voodoo You Do So Well:
Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge is definitely the best looking game I’ve played. Every single artistic and design aspect in the game is made to represent a certain style. 60’s Mod is the best way I would describe it. Everything from the icons, card borders, color choice, character art and the name of the game call back to this style, which is reminiscent of other 60’s Mod design in Jetson’s, James Bond, Frank Sinatra, Brian Setzer Orchestra, etc. This game very elegantly frames all the characteristic in the art style it is emulating.
Even with that level of thematic detail, I wish there were some design changes to make jumping into a game easier. I felt the groupings on the Trend Cards needed some notation, colored border or something to show where on the board these people were located. I found it very difficult to try to complete theses trends when I had to keep referencing the card on the other side of the table. It was also difficult to prevent any telegraphing of my turn and next actions.
I had a hard time figuring out the flow of a turn. The rules and reference coasters told me all the actions I could do on my turn but I could have used some context with how to connect those dots in a rulebook example. I also want to know the different phases of the turn. Knowing how you start your turn and when to pass to the next player are key to understanding the flow of a game especially when you have such a unique context and theme like this.
Before it Was Cool:
I had a good time playing Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge. It took a few rounds before I knew how all the elements fit together. Strategy is a key aspect in the gameplay and new players are definitely at a disadvantage and victory isn’t luck of the draw.
I believe the game experience is definitely improved with some big band music and sipping on a Moscow Mule, Tortuga, Blue Hawaiian or any of the many other cocktails printed on the cards. Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge definitely grabs attention of a specific type of gamer: someone who likes games for their ability to pair well with social drinking events and casual conversation.
Swinging Jivecat Voodoo Lounge is currently going out to their Kickstarter backers; however, you can still pre-order the game on the Game Designers Clubhouse website.