Updated: May 9
Notionally set in the same universe as the hit game Roll Player, Lockup has only a stylistic connection with that game. In Stan Kordonskiy, it has a different designer but it is from the same publisher (Thunderworks) and the artwork is by Lucas Ribeiro and Luis Francisco, both of whom worked on Roll Player: Monsters & Minions.
By contrast with Roll Player, Lockup is a worker placement game where each player (2–5) is deploying the six members of their jailed gang to various locations in a prison. Their aim (usually) is to gain the resources for having the highest or second highest strength at that location. Resources can be converted into items that score points. Players can also recruit to their crew the goons who guard the prison. These offer further ways of ramping up players’ point tallies. Being in first place at a location can be a mixed blessing, however. It is quite likely to accrue suspicion, and that can lead to a stiff points penalty when the suspicion levels trigger a raid.
Played over just six rounds, Lockup plays more briskly than most other work placement games. The randomly set up objectives offer further ways of scoring points and so change the dynamics of every game.
Part of the joy of Lockup it that it incorporates a very strong element of intrigue and bluff. Players place out two of their six tokens face down, so opponents do not always know for sure the value of tokens at a particular location. Adding power ups and magical tomes into the mix gives players a lot to think about but avoids the trap of unnecessarily overcomplicating the game.
Lockup also incorporates a solitaire version. This loses some key aspects of the core game (no bluffing or raids, for example) but it substitutes the cards and components to make for a workable automata. Played solo, Lockup has a very different feel, however, so think of this option as a bonus. The game itself works best as a multiplayer competitive game. We found we were suffering a little from prison overcrowding when playing with five, so, for us the game was at its best with three players.