• Designer: Bruno Maciel
  • Artist: Pedro A. Alberto
  • Publisher: Inside Up Games
  • Players: 1 – 6
  • Mechanics: Draft and Write

A prototype of Draft & Write Records was provided by the publisher for review purposes


A great shame in my life is that I never grew up appreciating music. I lived in a very small town and the extent of my exposure to music were some old country cassettes and a bunch of recorders stuffed into the school’s storage. As a teenager I got my hands a few CD’s, like Sum 41’s All Killer No Filler, Green Day’s American Idiot, and The Killers Hot Fuss. I listened to these 3 CDs on repeat on my Sony Discman, but getting new or varied albums was quite a challenge. The closest town with a ‘music’ store was 4 hours away, and at the time, buying new albums was directly competing with my desire to buy books and video games.

As an adult, living in the world of streaming, I spend most of my time listening to Pokémon Lo-Fi remixes while I work, or to the local alt-rock radio station during my morning commute. Unfortunately, music is just background noise in my life, it’s never the focus.

What I’m trying to say here, is that I have no special affinity for musically themed games. But enough about my music history (or great lack thereof), let’s talk about Draft & Write Records by Inside Up Games!

How to Play

In Draft & Write Records players will embark on a weeks long quest to become the most popular band in all the land, or, the most popular band at your table. Each round of the game is structured after a week. On the first day of the week phase, 5 cards are dealt out to each player. Each player simultaneously selects one of the cards to keep, and passes the rest to their neighbour. All players reveal their card simultaneously, taking the associated action depicted on the card.

Players repeat this three more times, until they’ve played 4 cards total. The fifth card is tossed into a common discard pile, then the weekend arrives. During the weekend, all players evaluate the common goals. If anyone achieved them, they record the score on their sheet, and the goal is discarded. After all goals have been evaluated, the goal line is refreshed, and the game continues with a whole new week.

There are 5 different actions depicted on the cards, each action corresponds to a specific section of your player sheet. The centre is building your band, which has you playing musicians, production staff, and backstage staff. Each band member has a point value, and 4 attributes. You record the points and the attributes in a single section. Should an attribute match with an adjacent band member, you create a harmony, allowing you to cross off a section on the harmony track (which can net you bonus actions and victory points.

The Agenda cards refer to a 4 by 4 grid of symbols in the top right corner. You’ll need 4 symbols in a row or column to unlock the bonuses on both sides of the line. The asset cards allow you to cross off matching icons on the asset section, and you’ll earn the bonuses if you manage to cross off the asset on both sides of the bonus.

The releases and the tours sections of the board aren’t actions represented on cards. The only way you can progress in those spaces is by unlocking the associated bonus peppered throughout the board. If you are ever in a situation where you cannot play a card, or you choose not to play a card, you must take a ‘fail’, which will deliver negative points. Too many fails will end the game for everyone.

The game is over if someone fills their fail track, fills their goal track, or, completely fills their band section. The points are tallied, and the player with the highest score is the winner!


Draft & Write Records is coming to Kickstarter on September 27th. As always with anything that gets produced via a crowdfunding campaign, everything is subject to change.

As I alluded to above, I have no affinity for the theme; music has never been a big part of my life. I’ve made a few feeble attempts at learning some instruments, but it’s not a skill I’ve developed.

In Draft & Write Records players are drafting actions to use to fill out their player board. At first glance the board looks big, colourful, and busy, difficult to intuit how all the sections work together. Learning the game from the rulebook was straightforward and clear. Each section of your player sheet operates independently and the rule book walks through them one at a time.

Every round (or week) starts with 5 cards. On your turn, you pick one card, and pass the rest along. All players reveal their choices simultaneously, and take the action listed on the card they chose. After 4 actions, the 5th card is tossed into a central discard pile, and the goals are evaluated.

Front and centre of the board is the band lineup, featuring a lead singer, 4 musicians, 3 production crew, and 4 backstage staff. Each band member has 4 traits and a point value. If you can arrange your band members in a such a way that the traits alight, you’ll create a harmony, which lets you cross off a matching colour along the bottom of your sheet. This track is worth a fair amount of points, and helps lead to record deals.

Along the right side of the board are two different grids. In the top grid (your band’s agenda) you need to cross off 4 icons in a row to earn the bonuses on either end of the row. On the bottom right is a tablet depicting your bands assets, with a series of bonuses surrounded by icons. If you manage to cross off both the icons surrounding a bonus icon, you earn that bonus.

The joy of the ‘roll and write’ or ‘flip and write’, or now, the ‘draft and write’ genre of games is the ability to earn cascading bonuses. It feels so good when you take your single card, add a musician to your band list, cross off a harmony along the bottom, which gives you a free action in your agenda, which completes a row and a diagonal, gives you a record deal, a tour, and two more harmony dots you can fill in, which can cascade into more bonuses.

Of course, a turn like that can only really happen once per game and requires a lot of set up. Slowly building up your tableau in preparation for this moment can feel painful, but Draft & Write Records is pretty good at doling out little bits of bonuses as you work towards the big combo that will rocket your band into stardom.

It’s important to promote yourself on the radio!

The player deck can be absolutely massive if playing with the full complement of 6 players. You’ll only see 5 cards at a time, and your neighbours can’t affect your game, except for hate-drafting away the exact card you need. Personally, I didn’t feel compelled to scope out my competition’s sheets, or take a card that was of little benefit to me just to keep it out of the hands of my opponent. Most of your game will be spent just looking at your own sheet and trying to maximize your score.

In between each week is a goal evaluation phase. In the centre of the table are 4 goals that all players evaluate to try and earn points. They range from piddly 4 point goals like “Collect 2 piano symbols” all the way up to 24 point diamond goals requiring you hire 6x 1 point crew members. The goals deck is hefty, with 66 different goals in the version I played, which is great for variability and can lead players down lucrative paths they might not have considered before. Many of the goals also offer extra bonuses when they’re achieved, again, potentially triggering cascading bonuses and bringing a smile to my face.

Draft & Write Records feels much bigger and slower to play than many of the other “X and write” games I’ve played in the past, like Railroad Ink, or Cartographers. I enjoy the drafting element as it gives each player a different game to play. Maybe I’ll focus on building out my assets and harmonies more, while another player prioritizes going on tours. I like that our games will be different, and it’s not just giving every player the same choices and seeing who does best with them.

In the end, Draft & Write Records is a fun game to play and achieving the cascading combos triggers a dopamine release that I find incredibly satisfying. If you’re a fan of the “X and write” genre, Draft & Write Records is worth trying, doubly so if you have any affinity for the theme.

My world tour didn’t leave the city

Draft & Write Records launches on Kickstarter September 27th!