Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Anastasios Grigoriadis &
Panagiotis Tsirogiannis


No. of Players:
2 - 4



What is a suitable theme for a board- or cardgame? Well, tastes are quite different, and when Greek publisher ARTIPIA announced their new game Lap Dance a few weeks before the SPIEL '14 there had been an uproar at the forums of Boardgamegeek. A game in which the players are competing to become manager of a strip club, featuring card illustrations of scantily clad women, provoked many forum visitors to criticize ARTIPIA, and the discussions and speculations sprawled even more because neither the rules nor a representative amount of illustrations could be seen at that time. As a result of all these discussions, some forum threads became unfriendly and needed to be locked, but on the other side the game was ranking quite high at the BGG-hotlist for some time.

With the game being out on the market, the discussed questions now can be answered. So, the game indeed contains cards with female and male strip dancers, but although their clothing is professionally sparse there is no explicit nudity in the game. Actually, the game's artwork and the rules take a quite humorous approach on the whole theme, and as it seems ARTIPIA must have been following the worries expressed by some BGG users because the rules include a disclaimer which states that the game evolves around legal erotic dancing and that the designers and the publisher do not wish to promote any kind of human degradation or other illegal activities. From my perspective this should cool down the feelings which have run high, even though I can understand that not everybody might like a game with such a theme. However, I think that there are hundreds of boardgames available which focus on much more doubtful thematic backgrounds, and likewise the artwork found in Lap Dance is not more scandalous than the graphical presentation of heroines found in modern superhero comics from MARVEL or DC. So, I guess the time has come to check out the game itself in order to find out whether it really deserved all this buzz, or if it should better be buried in the crypt of forgotten games…

The players' competition to become manager of the club runs for one night, and during the five rounds of this night the players will try to serve the orders of each round's customer as displayed on his Desire card. These cards list three orders with different combinations of symbols (dancers, drinks etc), and the players try to get the symbols to fulfil as many orders as possible in order to collect the benefits listed behind each order. Most important, each fulfilled order will generate money for a player, and the player who has earned most money after the five rounds will have won the game.

Each player starts with a hand of Action cards belonging into several categories, and the Desire card of the current customer shows which kinds of Action cards may be used in the current round. When the Desire card is revealed at the beginning of the round, a 1-minute timer is set, and during this time each player has to chose up to four of his Action cards which he wants to use for the current round. A player who has finished choosing cards receives a player order token, and after the timer is through eventually remaining player order tokens will be randomly distributed among the players who have not yet taken such a token. Now the Action cards of all players will be revealed, and in player order to players will use their cards to try to serve the orders of the current customer.

Some Action cards list symbols which can be combined to fulfil a part of the customer's orders, but most cards will list a dice-symbol which means that they add a dice to the player's current hand. The player adds up all dice symbols on his chosen Action cards plus two, and then rolls this number of dice in order to get more symbols to match the orders on the customer's Desire card. Dice may be re-rolled, but on each roll at least one dice must be set aside and kept, and in addition all dice showing a "star"-symbol are considered to be locked. A player will receive a small compensation for a high number of locked dice, but unfortunately these dice cannot be used to fulfil any customer order.

When rolling is finished, the player may additionally spent Favour tokens gained through pervious orders to recruit help from the six members of the club's staff, and for this it is important to have a low player order number because the staff members only have a limited number of uses each round. The staff may provide additional symbols for fulfilling orders or other special functions like the unlocking of a locked dice. Finally, the player will try to fulfil as many orders as possible with the symbols he has collected from Action cards, dice and staff members, and he will gain money, Favour tokens and new Action cards for fulfilled orders.

A bit of direct player interaction is added through Event cards and Special cards gained by spending a a Favour token on Jerry the Floor Manager, and the cards gained this way usually can be used to hinder other players or to steal cards from them. Due to the game's manageable playing time and the rather straightforward approach to hand management and dice rolling, such a robust interactive approach is rather welcome in Lap Dance, because it underlines the game's orientation towards quickness and light gameplay. With no deep strategy involved, the loss of a card by such an action still can be annoying, but it is not devastating and in most cases there will be a possibility for retaliation. In case of Lap Dance this is part of the fun!

Talking about fun, it's worthwhile the note that each customer card features a two-part set of special rules. The first rule concerns the game itself, varying the normal rules in the one or other way as long as the customer is active (i.e. for one round), whereas the second paragraph sets out this customer's "Fun rule". If players agree to use these rules as well, the game takes on some elements of a party game, requiring the players to sing a song or perform other hilarious acts during their turns. This kind of funny nonsense certainly is not to everybody's liking, but it can imagine that it may cause a good degree of laughter if the game is played with the right kind of people. However, there is no harm to leave the Fun rules aside, because this does not impede the game itself.

Having followed the discussion at Boardgamegeek and considering the age recommendation of "18+", I wasn't sure what I should expect of Drum Roll. However, I was quite certain that Konstantinos Kokkinis and his crew would not produce anything lewd or objectionable, and indeed a round of Lap Dance revealed that the game is not only quite harmless concerning the implementation of the thematic setting, but it's also quick and fun to play. I rather appreciated the timer which was used during the phase when the players are chosing their Action cards, because the time limit keeps the game on the fast lane towards the following dice rolling by preventing any kind of in-depth calculation. The connection between cardplay and the dice rolling also works quite nicely. The maximum of four Action cards which can be played by each player brings its own restraints, with the players having to decide whether they should risk the use of many dice, better focus on symbols on the cards themselves or even go for some tricky player interaction by using the one or other Event or Special card. With these elements falling in place, Lap Dance can be recommended without reservations to fans of quick dice games, and being a German civil servant (this species is not known for their liking of bawdy conduct) I have to concede that even the theme is implemented with a good sense of humor and decency. The age recommendation of "18+" seems to be a tribute to all those people who have raised their voice against the game at the BGG-forums, but considering the game's harmless contents it is certainly a bit too high.

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Copyright & copy; 2014 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany