Michael Eckenfels*, 18 March 2021 ~ #UnboxingDay
Because you asked for it – nay, demanded it – with all the talk in the forums about this new craze sweeping the wargaming world, I took it upon myself to take the bullet (figuratively) for the team and get this one to the table.
click images to enlarge
No, you’re not having a stroke and yes, you saw that correctly. You saw it correctly in the title when you clicked on this article, so don’t blame me. You’re here now, so you may as well stick around for this weird little ride.
In Keepin’ It Saxy (let’s call it KIS just to save us that possible stroke), you and your friends (because surely you’d not play this game with people you hate) are trying to help Kenny G NOT have a bad day. Specifically, you’re trying to keep him “feelin’ saxy with the power of jazz.” You may wish for the opposite for poor ol’ Kenny G, of course. And also of course, should you choose to get this game for yourself, you are absolutely allowed to lose on purpose, should you wish to be that mean to such a legendary music icon.
As you can see, this is a cooperative game. There’s really not much to tell here (go figure), but because YOU’RE here, let’s go into it a little more deeply, shall we? Which is to say, kiddie pool depth.
The game is played over six rounds, with each round being made up of three phases – an Event phase, a Sax phase, and a Groove phase.
The rulebook is about as light and airy as Kenny G’s music (take that description as you will), which is to say, this sure ain’t no Avalon Hill Third Reich manual. It’s definitely lacking in the panzers department as well, which understandably may be a no-sell for most of you.
The six rounds of the game are tracked on this board. As you can see, it is divided into two Morning, two Afternoon, and two Evening rounds.
You also get lots of Groove tokens (marked with a ‘G’ – hey, which is also part of Kenny G’s name! What a coincidence! It’s also the first letter in ‘Gross misappropriation of Armchair Dragoons’ front page resources.”
There’s also that cool little oboe or piccolo or trombone or whatever the heck it is he plays. This is your First Player marker, which is a central and key concept to the game, if you actually have enough friends that want to play this with you (and will still play games with you after you make them play this with you).
The Kenny G marker itself is made of wood (insert ‘much like his music’ jokes here), as well as three d6 dice (certainly a major saving grace).
There are also two decks of cards – the Sax cards (at left) and the Event cards (at right).
And here’s something thrilling – the box insert. Whoa…am I right?
Wait…you’re still here? Okay, well…I guess I’ll talk a little bit about the game itself.
Hey, don’t blame me, you’re still reading this. But hey, I’m still writing it, so I appreciate it.
Ahem. Well, from the last screenshot, you can see you set up the Kenny G Keepin’ It Saxy’ Wooden’ Token’ in the first Morning space, then you shuffle and separate out the Event cards by Morning, Afternoon, and Evening. Then you collect twelve Groove tokens. These act like your mana, or ammunition. Run out, and its game over, man. (And then it’s time to play a real game, one assumes. Unless you need to play this again.)
Each player is dealt four Sax cards. These range from things such as “Biddle,” or the ever popular “Bop.” Even “Doop” makes an appearance at times.
You’ll note the iconography too, no doubt. Further no doubt you were hoping for NATO unit symbols, but this is a quality sadly lacking in this game.
Here’s a few more examples of Sax cards.
Yes, there’s more.
A lot more.
They go there, yes. A lot. Go figure.
Each turn, in the Events phase, you draw the number of Event cards listed for that space. If you’re a solo player, you’re probably listening to Kenny G instead of playing this game.
An example Event card. In this case, poor old Kenny G has No time For Morning Sax. (Such a shame.) The icons along the bottom of the card must be resolved by players playing Sax cards with matching icons. Once all icons on an Event card are matched, it is cleared, and players get the reward (which is in gold lettering – in this case, you all gain 1 Groove token – whee!).
Or it’s possible Kenny G could run out of his “cold coffee drink.” I guess if you’re a Kenny G listener and not a red-blooded American, you like iced coffee and like paying seven bucks a cup for it, probably just like Kenny G does. Be that as it may…if you and the players fail to fulfill all the tokens on the card, you lose the number of Groove tokens indicated (here, it’s the big number to the right of the title – in this case, you’d lose 1 Groove token).
Playing is pretty simple, though it’s a pain to lift cards up to have to slide others underneath. Like, OMG, totally what a bummer.
And…that’s pretty much it. Your goal is to get through the game without losing all your Groove tokens and, well, I guess you manage to make sure Kenny G has a good day. Good for you.
Now…go on and play the Battle of Stalingrad or something to cleanse your palate, you apes.
* just so you know who to blame – ed
Thanks for joining this month’s #UnboxingDay with the Armchair Dragoons and we hope you enjoyed our recon of our recent acquisitions.
You can always leave us your feedback in our #UnboxingDay thread, or in the comment area on this article, below.
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