Dale Yu – First Impressions of Tempo


  • Designer: Pak Gallego
  • Publisher: GDM Games
  • Players: 2-6
  • Age: 10+
  • Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by publisher at SPIEL 2022


Tempo is a game all about the rhythm.  In the game, one player is the metronome and all the other players are singers.  The deck of cards has musical notes (quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenths, etc).  

Players are dealt a card to start each round.  The metronome player now starts to mark a rhythm, counting out 1-2-3-4.  After the first measure, players now must sing a note on the first beat of the measure.  Depending on the card they have, they will have to make 1 to 4 notes for that beat.


In each measure, the metronome gives a new card to one player – and now that player has to make two sounds, now on the first 2 beats in the measure.  This continues until either all players have 4 cards and are able to make all the noises appropriately.  If this happens, all singers keep their highest valued card and put it in their score pile. 

Alternatively, if the metronome notes an error, he immediately stops the round.  In this case, the metronome gets the highest valued card from the player who made the error, and everyone else keeps their highest valued card.

The game continues until all players have had a chance to be the metronome, and the player with the most points wins.

This is one of those games that sounds audacious when you read about it, and I was definitely interested to try it out when I first read about it.  The guys at GDM have always had some great game ideas, and so we brought a copy home. I’m not a musician, well not past the usual “I played piano and violin as a kid” – and my sense of rhythm (as evidenced by my dancing) is Instagram worthy only in the worst possible contexts.  So… though I was super interested in trying the game out, it was unclear whether I would be a good fit for it.

The rules are quite simple, fitting on a single sheet – and the sounds that the players have to make create a rhythmic cacophony of noise.  The sounds made create a snappy song at times, and certainly the players can embellish their turn by singing in different tones.  The cards all have different noises to be made, and while syncopation isn’t in the cards; the right combination of sounds makes for a nice result.  That part of the game was neat, and unlike anything else I’d played before.

 For us, the game turned into a fun activity with plenty of laughing and pointing of fingers – but it did not work well as a game.  Mostly because we couldn’t find a single gamer who was able to do all the things that the metronome player has to do…

Consider the tasks:  

  1. Count 1-2-3-4 in a steady rhythm
  2. Deal out cards at an appropriate time so that the players could see the card, get it in the right slot and have appropriate time to internalize it by the next measure.
  3. Monitor the sounds of all the players to determine if someone has screwed up

Trust me, it’s impossible. Well, impossible for me.  It’s akin to how I feel about how drummers are able to make music.  My hands and feet don’t seem to able to do things independently; and likewise, my brain couldn’t compartmentalize how to manage the tasks here.

As a competitive game, it didn’t work for us.  Having only the metronome player have to keep track of errors was hard, and the scoring didn’t seem to work.  It would have been more interesting In our experience to have this as a cooperative game – can the group get through the deck, etc.  Of course, there is still the issue of how to mechanically get it all done.  One of my game group even tried a game with an actual metronome; to take that part out of the equation; and the reports were that this still wasn’t enough to allow the metronome player to do it all.

We still had fun with the game, and like many small games, getting a laugh and a few enjoyable sessions is a good enough return on investment.  But, for us, it was too hard to accomplish all the things that the game needs you to do – and as such, I have passed the game onto a gamer who is also a musician to see if the game works better for them.  I think that this is probably a game that has its niche, and will be loved by those people that get the game.  

tempo 2

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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