Lord of the Chords - game review!

Sometime last year our studio contributed to a kickstarter for a tabletop card came called 'Lord of the Chords', and several months later received our physical copy of the game. Not too long after that I scheduled a game night with a couple local music teachers so we could get the hang of game play before implementing this game in our teaching. Today I'm writing up a short review of Lord of the Chords, and how I look forward to implementing it in lessons. 

A short sum-up of game play: You try to build chords, and when you've built a chord in the chosen key signature, you get that key signature tile. Whoever gets 3 tiles first wins. It sounds fairly simple, but there's lots of fun strategy opportunities built in like 7th steals, and action cards that create all kinds of surprises as you go along. Also, when you first sit down to play, you look through the instrument cards and decide which one you'd like to be. Each instrument offers different advantages specific to that instrument. For example, the bass card has a 'walking bass' power where upon completing a chord you get to draw two extra accidental tokens. The vocalist is immune to rests, and the guitar can play power chords as well as the triad based cords everyone else is working to build. This game is also chock full of musical puns and inside jokes.

This card game obviously incorporates music theory knowledge into the game play strategy, and can get pretty nerdy. One nice feature the game creators included, since music theory can get somewhat involved, is instructions for easier variants for beginners. I really appreciated this variant being baked in, and not having to try and develop an easier version on my own to be able to play with younger students. 

So, how do I plan to implement it? Well I have two big plans at present: 

  1. Next school year our January Piano Party will be a Lord of the Chords game night. And since it is a 4-player game, and we have students of different levels, I will probably do a few smaller piano parties over 3 consecutive Mondays that month for beginner, late beginner & intermediate students. Our average piano party attendance is 10-15, and this will still provide 12 spots for students to reserve, so that should work out about right. 
  2. The second way I'm planning to implement Lord of the Chords is at Espressivo Piano Camp (which has sadly been cancelled this year, but we are hopeful in looking forward to next year!). I will be running the Music Theory & Games session at our next camp, and for intermediate and advanced students there will most definitely be a couple days of playing Lord of the Chords!
Hoping you are all keeping well, and we'll see you back next week for some reading recommendations, both musical and not, for your summertime.