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Lockup A Roll Player Tale - Worth it!

Game Design: Stanislav Kordonskiy | Artist: Lucas Ribeiro |Development: Keith Matejka | Graphic Design: Luis Francisco | Publisher: Thunderworks Games

Playtime : 90 mins | Players: 1-5 | Age 10+

When last left off, you command a squadron of captured Dragul that King Taron's loyal soldiers have placed in the Kulbak Prison. The prison has enchanted gates, and Construct guards make escape all but impossible. Once each year, and it is that time of year when King Taron releases the toughest gang of war prisoners into the royal Coliseum. Your team has been planning, gathering Goons, contraband, all while keeping their Suspicion low with the mechanical guards. In six short days, they may get their freedom. Day One- let the games begin.

Lockup is a competitive worker placement game where players compete to earn their freedom by gaining control of locations for resources, Goons, and crafting magical items. Reputation is forged with the loot and Goons during the Lights Out phase. When the Suspicion is up –the guards will raid, and the player with the most Suspicion will lose Reputation. Strategy, timing and gambling is key for each round to outbid the other factions.


Choose a faction; Kobolds, Goblins, Insectoids, Bugbears, and Gnolls. Each player gets two Trait cards and picks one and discards one. Fill your cell block tray with crew tiles. Each has a different numerical value. The Lookout is worth zero; however, it can block Suspicion cubes. The Power tile has no power to start (unless stated by a Trait) but can earn points each round in the Exercise Yard.

Faction Player Boards

A player can place one, two, all crew tiles in turn, but once you have placed a crew tile in allocation, you cannot add or subtract tiles during the remainder of the round. Once all placed, in order, the highest crew tile wins the bonus in that room and any Suspicion cubes (unless the Lookout is there.)

The Exercise Yard yields Power cubes for the first and second highest crew member. The first also get the first player token, which is very useful during ties. The rest move their Crew tile to the Library. Not winning the location bonus is the only way to get to the Library, which awards Tome cards. Tome cards have unique abilities that can be played anytime during play unless stated.

The Sewers, Infirmary, and Smithy locations all have cube resource bonuses for the higher crew tiles.

There are Goons placed guarding these locations that may require a Suspicion cube placed. If you win the location, you gain the Suspicion cube. (Unless a Lookout present)

The Commissary gains a cube resource of the player choice and the only location with Gold cubes. The second and third get to exchange a cube color.

The Chow Hall is the location to gain Goons. The first place can choose one for one cube or two for four cubes. Second place, choose one for one or one for five cubes. The third can choose one for two cubes. The Goons can accrue Stars, give instant bonuses, and opportunities to give away to a player or back to the prison Suspicion cubes.

The Cellblock is the location to craft magical items. These items have Star values and icons that can accrue Stars with Goon cards. You can build an Item card or reserve it to build later.

The Library is the location for Tome cards that are clever and extremely worthy of a visit. If you do not use a Tome card during play, they are worth a Star and games end.

Time to refill Item cards and Goon cards. If you run out of Suspicion cubes placing the Goons, a Raid is triggered. The player with the most Suspicion cubes loses EIGHT stars!! The second most loses four stars, and all Suspicion cubes are placed back in prison.

After the last round, there is one more raid.

Three bonus cards were drawn at the beginning that offers Stars for achieving the goal. There is an Instant goal that scores points when completed, a Leader goal acquired, but not scored till the end because other players may steal it away. The End Goal is scored at the end.

Total Goon Stars, Resource Stars, Tome cards get one Star, and the Starter Token is Reputation Stars. The most Reputation wins.

The play takes place over three phases in each round:

Player Traits

ROLL CALL - Players take turns placing their minions in different parts of the dungeon; some face-up, showing a unit's strength, and some face down, hiding the power from the other players.

LIGHTS OUT - Each area with minions is scored based on the strength of each group. Players receive resources and have the opportunity to recruit goons and build contraband.

PATROL PHASE - New resources are placed on the game board, and the guards patrol the dungeon. Players with high Suspicion are raided, and their chambers are searched.

Mechanics That Worked for Us

They are many paths to score Reputation Stars which can be problematic if you follow just one approach. We have tried to just collect Magical Items or just Goon cards, and it just did not score a big win. A mixture of both and hoping that the cards are on your side.

Sometimes blocking a player is the best route and Tome cards are the Key. We have found zero negatives to collecting the Tome cards.

Trying to win each round in the Exercise Yard builds the Power Crew tile, which has many advantages.

Mind games!! Placing the Crew tiles upside down in the beginning, has the other players guessing.

Bits and Bobs

1 Rulebook

1 Game Board

5 Crew Boards (1 in each player color)

5 Holding Cells

30 Crew Tokens (6 in each player color)

1 Start Player Token

1 First Player Token

1 Round Marker

5 Reputation Markers (1 in each player color)

97 Cards

30 Item Cards

22 Tome Cards

16 Goal Cards

29 Goon Cards

65 Resource Markers

25 Green Scrap Markers

15 Grey Scrap Markers

15 Blue Potion Markers

10 Yellow Gold Markers

22 Power Markers

​10 Suspicion Markers

For Solitaire Play

1 Guard Board

22 Guard Cards

8 Location Cards

The Last Word

We usually have heavy games or a massive tabletop roleplaying game like Dungeons&Dragons on the table, but sometimes there is just time for a quick (er) game. Lockups is a satisfying game that pulls in the intrigue and plotting of those other games. There is no rolling of dice; however, it is a game of chance with the luck of the draw on the cards.

There is plenty of combinations to bolsters the Replayability.

The level of interaction is huge and lively.

The setup is swift, and the asymmetry of play (advanced play) makes for enterprising gameplay.

The theme could have gone a dark path with prisons and bad guys; however, it is light, and the baddies are delightful.

The components are acceptable. However, the art on the board and cards make up for what was lacking in the bits and bobs.

Worker placement with a clever and fresh mechanism that the workers have different values and have some secret deployment is where the planning and scheming commence.

This is one of those rare games that all the Nerdz at the Garage found the fun factor high.


The Nerdz Garage totally recommends Lockup.

Game Design: Stanislav Kordonskiy

Artist: Lucas Ribeiro

Development: Keith Matejka

Graphic Design: Luis Francisco

Publisher: Thunderworks Games

Playtime: 90 mins

Players: 1-5

Age 10+

Mechanism(s): Area Majority / Influence, Secret Unit Deployment, Set Collection, Worker Placement

* Review copy kindly provided by Thunderworks games. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


Let’s be honest; there is still a bit of drama when we play.

Sit Down -Grab a Drink – Join the Game

Suzzan Smith


We play. We invent. We review.



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