Designer Diary: Vamps in Concert

I had the idea for “Vamps in Concert” for quite a while. The inspiration came from a band that broke up, only one member was able to launch a succesful solo carreer while the rest of the band struggled to continue in the music scene. Usually members of typical boy/girl bands want to go solo, but only a few manage to succeed.

So there had to be a game in there.

I already did the “Villainous Vamps” game, so why not have those characters as a newly formed girl band? Time to grab my notebook and start designing the game! Read on to find out how this idea became a cardgame!

First concepts

So what would the game be like? Being in a band requires every member to play a part while performing. I also figured there had to be a way to gain fans- the goal of the game. The player with the most fans would win the game. The player with the best performance would win more fans. What about gossip to influence other players fans? So my first list of game ideas looked like this:

  • Play songs together
  • Win the hearts of fans
  • Influence other players fans
With those ideas I started designing what I would need. First there had to be a list of songs for the girls to play. Each player had to perform at each song. Then there were the gossip cards. Fans could be represented by tokens.

Let’s play some music!

The first concept I had in mind was where players had to show how well they decided to perform for each song. Each player would get performance cards to play, the cards would get a numeric value- the higher the value the better they performed. The bidding mechanic was born! Simple enough the highest bidder would get the most fan tokens. I also made a bunch of cards like “gossip twitter message” to reduce another player fan score.

With the basic cards ready I tried to play my game.


It failed. Something was missing. There wasn’t much of a reason to decide when to perform good or bad, it was a bidding shootout. The game needed something else.

Robbie Williams, Posh Spice and Felicia Day

Back to the concept. Why do some artist manage to go solo?

Robbie Williams for example was able to launch a succesful solo carreer after he left Take That. Victoria Beckham is still quite well known- even though she doesn’t produce hitsingles.

Both created an public image. Robbie Williams became the “bad boy” after he left the band. Victoria Beckham became a fashion icon, married the soccer player and continued to be known for her “posh” image.

Another person is Felicia Day. She is not really known for the big block buster movies. Still she has a considerable following for various “geek” projects she does. Her geek-friendly image gave me the idea of the various image-types for the game. If you look closely to the final version of the game, you find some similarities the geek related cards.

The set collecting idea was born! Players would try to win the hearts of target audiences by collecting influence cards and songs that correspond to one of the four image types: the Geek, the Rock-chick, the Pin-up and the Pop-Princess.


Time to sit down with a few friends and play the game! I made a first version with song cards, performance cards and influence cards. Song and influence cards had also geek, pin-up, princess and rock symbols on them.

So how did it play?

The test audience of friends liked the idea. So that’s always a good thing. We had to change the rules around for quite a bit. At one point we decided to use negative gossip cards to influence performances instead of fan groups. The “kick down a notch” cards were born.

Collecting fan tokens became an obsolete mechanic; the set collecting mechanic was enough to keep the players interested and decide what to do next.

We also experienced some situations where players were “tied” for best performance. A roll of a dice seemed a fair solution there. A better method was to draw from a set of cards and see who got the higest value. The band manager came into play!

So out were the negative gossip cards, out with the fan tokens. It now was an all cards game.

The final game

With the mechanics worked out and playtested, it was time to create the cards. I made the artwork and took in the feedback from the play testers. The positions of the symbols were changed to make counting the sets easier during play.

The end result is a nice tuckbox of colorful cards! The first tuckbox is printed and some minor graphical changes are needed. But soon the Vamps in Concert game will be launched so everyone can become a succesful rock star!

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