Lockup: A Clever Battle Inside the Kulbak Prison Walls

September 13, 2020 | Sessions | 4 comments

Recruit helpful allies and craft unique items from inside the walls of Kulbak Prison in Lockup: A Roll Player Tale.

With a strong initial showing in Lockup: A Roll Player Tale behind me, I was ready to increase the difficulty level! Maybe it’s nice to start in the middle, yet I always start off with the easiest settings. In the worst case, I get an early boost of confidence as I lose over. And over. And over… You get the picture. Ha ha! Off I went, back inside the prison walls!

Game Overview

Game Name: Lockup: A Roll Player Tale
Publication Year:
 2019
Designer:
 Stan Kordonskiy
Artists:
 Luis Francisco and Lucas Ribeiro
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game

This time, I took on the role of the kobolds. Without the advanced side of the player board, all of the characters are pretty much the same… Except for the portraits! This crew looked pretty intimidating. The whole villain’s side is still interesting to me. What is the true motivation behind summoning another dragon? Who are the kobolds really?

Navigating Kulbak Prison as the Kobolds in Lockup: A Roll Player Tale

Finding a Way to Play as the “Bad Guy”

In most cases, I vastly prefer to take a positive path within a game. Sometimes this doesn’t really play into anything when there isn’t any sort of conflict. But I’ll admit it: I like to be the hero! Following the “good” path is typically the way I play anything. Yet at the same time, I don’t necessarily like how villains are always portrayed as fully evil.

Sure, the kobolds might have been evil to their core! Yet it wasn’t easy for me to just start playing as the evil ones. There was no need for me to cheer them on, even if the guards were labeled as corrupt. This is where the villain’s perspective comes into play for me. What are their true intentions? Are they bad, or only perceived to be bad?

Maybe this isn’t an important point when playing a solo board game. It came out pretty prominently here, hence my random musings on the topic! Perhaps it’s not always about taking sides and deciding what’s right and wrong. At times, it comes down to understanding the “bad guy” and accepting the motivations, wrong as they might appear to be.

Hidden Board Details

The play area is relatively large with a gorgeous board, yet it’s well worth the size! Every area typically has something to find upon careful inspection. Very careful inspection…

Like this little frog in the sewers! A most interesting place to find her camouflaged like this. One wonders where this came from. Is there a secret escape route hidden here?!

Alright. I can go overboard with the random narratives at times. But these little additions are pretty awesome!

Speaking of the sewers, I finally figured out that I could guarantee 1 scrap every round with a single crew token.

Looking Closely for Hidden Features in Lockup: A Roll Player Tale

At the Chow Hall

There are different strategies, but victory points often come from goons or items. Going for a combination can be difficult to fully optimize, although it’s possible.

Dominating the chow hall has been my favored strategy that I stuck with again. Being able to spend 4 resources to recruit 2 goons can be immensely beneficial.

Many goons grant immediate bonuses, often in the way of resources. So it’s more like a cost of 2-3 resources in total.

The guards only take an action here if they have the most strength. Blocking them is definitely worth it!

Finding the Most Important Part of the Prison in Lockup: A Roll Player Tale

Kobold Strengths

Once again, I had the kobolds hang out in the exercise yard for a lot of power. Pretty nice! On another positive, I still haven’t been the subject of a raid. Take that, guards!

Yet for all of that, I still fell far behind. I struggled to craft many items. But the kobolds could play some games. Ha!

The goons turned out to be pretty useful, particularly as the dwarves allowed me to claim the leader goal card.

But goodness! I just couldn’t handle the guards at this increased difficulty level. They stayed ahead every step of the play, regardless of what I tried to do with the kobolds.

Making the Most of the Kobolds and Goons in Lockup: A Roll Player Tale

Into the Library

Perhaps the most underutilized location for me has been the library. This isn’t a place where the crew may be assigned. The weaker group in each location moves here.

For the solo opponent, it simply results in an additional victory point with each visit. But for my group? Bonuses!

The various tomes grant unique abilities that can take effect at almost any time. All of the secret knowledge exists within expertly named books like Textbook Traps!

Despite these bonuses, it can be a major gamble. Losing at a location must be done very, very carefully.

The Various Bonuses from the Library Tomes in Lockup: A Roll Player Tale

Teaming Up

At it again, I tried the hybrid strategy of crafting high-value items and recruiting the most useful goons.

Part of it went well with the silent steppers worth a handy 20 victory points! Yet I struggled to keep up with collecting resources and using them at the right times.

Keep in mind that resource limitations make it impossible to stock up between rounds. Although the guards don’t abide by this rule… How terribly rude!

After my fairly easy back-to-back victories the other day, I found myself stumped as to how to improve. For now…

Searching for New Ways to Score Victory Points in Lockup: A Roll Player Tale

Crowning the Victor

Loathe as I was to admit it, the guards won by a huge margin. They earned the round marker crown, which the leader wore with a glint in his eye. You look ridiculous, sir.

This is what I love about increasing the difficulty level, though! I need to improve and find other ways to refine my decisions. Otherwise, the guards will always win.

There are definitely elements of luck with the cards, but taking risks with crew tokens boils down to planning.

I’m not at all skilled at the moment. But there are definite glimmers of hope and I expect the kobolds to win one day!

Crowning the Winners in Kulbak Prison of Lockup: A Roll Player Tale

Session Overview

Play Number: 3 and 4
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Challenging Difficulty Level
Required Play Space: 28″ x 26″
Setup Time: 5 Minutes
Play Time: 35 Minutes per Play
Outcome: 61-87 and 77-99 (2 Losses)

Sadly, the cell block will remain home for the kobolds. For now! I’m improving in some ways, although blocking the guards from gaining more victory points might be the way forward. I shall return for you, kobold crew!

Sentenced to Life in the Cell Block After Another Loss in Lockup: A Roll Player Tale

%

1 Play

Affordability

Price & Value

5

Functionality

Challenges & Mechanics

9

Originality

Design & Theme

10

Quality

Components & Rules

10

Reusability

Achievement & Enjoyment

7

Variability

Distinctness & Randomness

7

+ Pros (Positives)

  • Tailoring the challenge is very simple to do with the difficulty levels, traits, and advanced player boards.
  • Play time is reasonable with a relatively short setup process, making it easy to fit a play or more into a session.
  • The artwork is colorful and bright in contrast to the setting and gives the game its own personality.
  • Random draws for the goons and items ensure that the different resources are needed in unique combinations.
  • Although the lowest difficulty level is easy, the challenge quickly picks up and makes each choice important.
  • Resource management is very interesting with a limited inventory and unique ways to spend resource cubes.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • There are dominant strategies tied to certain locations, and the long-term variability could be rather limited.
  • The solo opponent can craft items very easily with a large collection of resources that rarely dwindles.
  • All of the tomes are interesting, yet there isn’t a way to easily cycle through to find the most useful abilities.
  • Play simply ends after the 6th round in an anticlimactic moment that feels like it could be much more.

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Continue the Conversation

How do you feel about Lockup: A Roll Player Tale? Do you have a preferred way to win? I have a long way to go in terms of learning what’s best, although the challenge is very fun! My play time is much shorter from my first play, too. To be the “bad guy” is still outside my favored play style, yet this gives me a reason to consider the other side’s perspective!

4 Comments

  1. Nice overview of the game! I kickstarted it but have only had a chance to get it to the table on a single occasion. Looks like i need to play it a few more times! Thanks for all your thoughts on the game.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind words, Paul! It definitely took off for me when I increased the difficulty level. It’s not a game I see myself getting to the table too often, courtesy of just having so many to play these days, yet it’s a very solid experience! I hope you enjoy it when you have a chance to play. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. If you need to ask why it’s a good idea to summon a dragon… Dragons make everything better. Or at least much hotter, which is nearly the same thing.

    I think that, like you, I always want an interesting story in a game, whether I’m playing solo or in company. (Or something entirely abstract, of course.)

    Reply
    • That explains it, Roger! I actually need a dragon of my own to tide me over during the winter. Just a little one will do for keeping me toasty without getting… Roasted. Ha ha!

      We do tend to have lots of similarities! Abstract or quick games without much of a storyline are fine, but when I spend a lot of time at my table playing without a narrative, it often doesn’t go so well for me. I don’t always think of this a lot, yet it’s interesting to learn about our game preferences over time. And sometimes it takes others making observations to help you realize what works best for you. Thanks!

      Reply

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