You’re a superstar! Now its time to mentor the stars of the future, mentoring singers and building a team to help take over the airwaves. In Upstaged! you’ll play a musical icon assembling the next big musical trio. After an artist performs, convince them to join your team. When every icon has a team, attempt to create your super group.

Upstaged! uses the game box to create a stage. Player boards fan out from in, creating runways for artists to move down. Players will use actions to entice singers to their play area, or to twist the stage to intercept singers advancing on other tracks. Artist join your team when they exit the runway into your player area. Once all teams have four artists, players will assemble their team based on musical style, matching focii, and base talent points. Highest score wins!

The first ‘twist’ here is the game board. The actual box itself forms the center stage, and the player boards (runways) slot into the space between the top and base. Not only is it a unique design, it creates a rotating game board that doesn’t have to be moved in pieces and doesn’t require picking up and moving bits individually.

There are varied play modes to accommodate the time you have to play or the skill level of your game group. Rehearsal mode is faster and somewhat easier with only two steps down the runway, while live TV mode increases the difficult and play time with three. Additionally, there are a couple variations to add more depth – Green room provides a choice of artists headed to the stage, while outspoken requires the players to role play their mentors which will cause the stage to rotate more frequently.

At its heart Upstaged! is a set collector. Varying card values coupled with different set bonuses will have you doing quick calculations every action. Is it better to match musical style types? Alignments? Can you collect the harmony bonus by getting a trio of all the same point values?

Play continues until EVERY player has a team, with the ‘upstaged’ mechanic used to cull artists from overfull teams. Its a particularly clever way to put the focus back on collecting sets and points, rather than racing to collect the most artists first.

But while racing to collect isn’t advisable, action cards can change the game state quickly. With the ability to twist the arena, remove artists, move singers down runways, switch or snatch artists away, and even interrupt another players, the arena you face will like not be remotely the same from turn to turn. Players will have to formulate strategies quickly.

The bright backgrounds are heavily contrasted by black artist silhouettes, a deliberate choice on the part of the design team. “Overall, as minorities, we agree that the root of what we want is to feel like we belong. To be included. We realize that with Upstaged! we have an opportunity to go beyond diversity — to be inclusive and to find things we have in common. To accomplish that within Upstaged!, we made a conscious decision to use silhouettes, though it may not go with the popular trend of having amazingly intricate and detailed art, especially for a Kickstarter game. Yeah, we did luck out in that the silhouettes work well within a classic music motif. But seriously, we sincerely hope that you can identify a little bit of yourselves and the ones you love within these silhouettes, regardless of your color, ethnicity or gender.”

Upstaged! can be player with 2-4, recommended for 14+, and plays in about 15-30 minutes. Upstaged! is available now on kickstarter with a target delivery in May of 2020.

Upstaged was provided to us by Koalatie games and is currently on Kickstarter.