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Game Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2016: Pegasus Spiele — The Great Chariot Race, Camel Up Cards, Animals on Board, Yeti & Much More

W. Eric Martin
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Hoo boy, did we record a lot of videos at the Pegasus Spiele stand during Spielwarenmesse 2016? And despite recording as much as we did during that time, we still didn't cover everything as some forthcoming games had nothing more than a box cover to show (which didn't stop us a couple of times) and others were German-language licenses (that we've probably covered from the original publishers) and still others were new but we just didn't have time. We did what we could.

• To start with, here's a teaser for a Matt Leacock title that Pegasus plans to debut at Spiel 2016 in October, a 2-6 player design titled The Great Chariot Race that has components similar to those in Roll Through the Ages. How exactly this all works is not yet public knowledge, but here's what we have for now:





• New items come into play and your tailoring students become more experienced in Rococo: Jewelry Box, an expansion by Louis and Stefan Malz for Rococo.





• As has been the case with many games this season, Steffen Bogen's Camel Up has been carded, shrinking into Camel Up Cards, with players effectively recreating the dice in the original game with cards from their hand.





• Another title that's experienced the board-to-card transformation is Glück Auf from Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling, which will appear in 2016 as Glück Auf: Das grosse Kartenspiel.





• The exact contents of Istanbul: Brief & Siegel, the second expansion for Rüdiger Dorn's Istanbul, are still being developed, but this video presents an overview of what you'll find here — or possibly in another expansion down the road.





• If the portion of floor space devoted to a game is any measure by which to judge — and it usually is — Benjamin Schwer's Yeti is the family game being pushed the hardest by Pegasus. Ideally someone will be wearing a full yeti costume at Spiel 2016 and posing with passersby.





Animals on Board from designers Wolfgang Sentker and Ralf zur Linde, which Stronghold Games will release in the U.S., has a clever cheeky concept at heart, something to which the term "fridge logic" readily applies.





• Finally — at least in this space as BGG's YouTube channel has more — we have the brilliant two-player card game Elements, first published as Khmer by the designers in Team Saien. I've played the original ten times, and it's such a clean, simple design, yet so engaging in how it plays, with each player trying to get into the other's head.

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Thu Feb 4, 2016 4:35 pm
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Game Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2016: The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game, Broom Service: The Card Game, Legends, Make 'n' Break Architect & Memory: Das Brettspiel

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This past weekend I took a trip to Spielwarenmesse 2016, the annual toy fair in Nürnberg, Germany, and I've already uploaded a dozen game overview videos to BGG's YouTube account. Woohoo! Much faster progress than for Spiel 2015 and other recent conventions, partly because I'm not posting all of the videos that we've recorded on BGG News, but instead simply on the individual game pages (and on YouTube itself, of course).

That said, I will highlight some of these videos when I expect interest in the featured game to be higher than average or when I think people will get a kick out of the video itself. We'll see whether I'm right. (Also, I must apologize in advance for forgetting to white balance these videos. Perhaps someday I'll function like a professional in this regard, but I haven't made that leap yet in five years. Sigh.)

• Let's start with an overview of Stefan Feld's The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game, one of two "board game to card game" transfigurations to take place from German publisher alea. My ever-increasing smile in this video comes from me thinking than Alban is about to wrap up, but then we keep plowing on with yet more that you can do on your turn. The half-sized cards in this game make a lot of sense as you'll be sprawling all over the table with your holdings!





• The other alea title that we covered was Broom Service: The Card Game from Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister, which unlike TCOB:TCG adheres much less closely to the preceding board game. Only a few finished cards were on display — and none of the expansion material for the board game — but I think this will give you an idea of the "brave vs. cowardly" mechanism taking place in this design.





• I received information from Ravensburger not too long before my flight, so I've entered many of that publisher's titles into BGG's Nürnberg/New York 2016 Preview only since returning to the U.S., including the family game Legends from Knut Happel and Christian Fiore. This design features a time track movement system a là Thebes and challenges players to collect knowledge of legendary events to earn points, while also requiring them to give up some of that knowledge if they actually want to score those points.





• The Make 'n' Break game series takes a familiar concept — do something quickly to complete a challenge — and presents it in all sorts of different ways, with the 2016 offering from Ravensburger being Make 'n' Break Architect, with players now wielding a colored folding ruler and trying to shape to match the images provided.





Memory: Das Brettspiel? By Kramer and Kiesling?! At first I wondered whether I was being punked, but after seeing the thing itself, the design and brand extension makes perfect sense, and the choices made here provide an interesting lesson for game designers.

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Tue Feb 2, 2016 4:37 pm
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Game Overview: Hot Tin Roof, or While The Cat's Away, The Other Cat Is Lonely and Desperate

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In October 2015, I posted about a Seth Jaffee article about designing responsibly, that is, about designing a game so that poor choices on the part of a player won't ruin that player's enjoyment of a game (and presumably the enjoyment of all other players, too).

I disagreed with the idea of this being a goal that game designers should shoot for and mentioned Leo Colovini's Hot Tin Roof from Mayfair Games as one such example of a game that allows you to nail your foot in the ground so that you move only in circles. Said past Eric: "I still need to record a video about Hot Tin Roof, so perhaps I can dig into the topic more at that time." Well, that guy has finally done the job he promised months ago, but he forgot to mention in that video several odd details about the game:

• He forgot to cover the way that the cat colors (black, white, gray, orange) don't match the token colors (brown, purple, blue, orange), leading to some confusing moments during the game when you're not sure who owns which catwalks and shelters.

• He forgot to point out that the nicely detailed game board highlights the precise spot on the ground where the pipe over which the cats will walk is missing, thereby obscuring the important detail that the pipe is missing and this gap needs to be closed by the placement of a catwalk.

• He forgot to finger the oddness of using a can of sardines as one unit of food/currency and a fish for ten units of food/currency, despite the can of sardines having fish inside of it, which suggests that the can should be more valuable.

• He failed to note that the name "Hot Tin Roof" probably doesn't resonate with anyone under a certain age, making it a curious choice for this design, but in retrospect he acknowledges that choice as superior to "Hot Bakestone".

He's still learning how to do this. Give him another year, and he might finally remember to say all the stuff that he intended to say.

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Tue Jan 5, 2016 4:00 am
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Game Overview: All Queens Chess, or I Can't Believe It's Not Chess

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I don't know about you, but I tend to groan when I see "chess" in the name of a new game release. From past talks with chess fans, I know that they rarely want to play anything other than chess — especially chess-byproducts such as designs on a 10x10 board with new pieces or the introduction of special power cards that "shake up" traditional chess play — and from my perspective as a barely competent visitor to the world of chess, I find such designs uninspiring.

Thankfully All Queens Chess from Rudell Design and ThinkFun is chess in name only, something to get grandma to pick it up off the shelf on its way to the birthday table. Yes, your pieces move like queens, but your goal is simply to place four of them in a row — and with the board being only 25 squares, the elbowing for space starts immediately.

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Sun Jan 3, 2016 10:30 pm
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Game Overview: 10 Down, or Getting Racked Over Tea

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Designer Odd Hackwelder seems to have a pattern for how he names games: 8 the Liar, M80, and Monster Deck 55. Okay, not all of his games fit this pattern — e.g., Ninja Bowling and counterfeit — but his designs do include a lot of "cards with numbers", with 10 Down from CSE Games being the latest such release.

This review copy arrived at my doorstep at just the right time as several of my holiday visitors comprised the perfect audience for this sequence-creating card game that felt just right on a café table surrounded by drinks and snacks...

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Sat Jan 2, 2016 1:00 pm
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Game Overview: The Game on Fire, or Playing Cards Faster

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When I first heard about Steffen Benndorf's The Game (a.k.a. The Game: Spiel...so lange du kannst!, a.k.a. the game that's easier to find when you search for its subtitle rather than its main title), I didn't expect much. You play cards onto discard piles. That's it.

Publisher Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag gave me a demo copy at Spielwarenmesse 2015, and I played a few times with my cameraperson in the airport and solo on the flight home. The more that I played, the more I got hooked, and I've now played more than seventy times. I've given away multiple copies as gifts and bought additional copies so that I can have it on hand in the car or at home. I recorded an overview video in March 2015 ahead of The Game's Spiel des Jahres nomination, and now I'm presenting an overview video of The Game on Fire, a mini-expansion that NSV released at Spiel 2015 on its own and as part of a compilation.

Following the success of both Qwixx and The Game — simple designs that keep everyone at the table engaged at all times — I'm excited to see what Benndorf and NSV have coming in the years ahead...

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Fri Jan 1, 2016 9:30 pm
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Spiel 2015 XXIII: Bombyx Game Previews — Histrio and Zany Penguins

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• The year 2015 is coming to a close, and I regret to report that I still haven't posted everything that BGG recorded at Spiel 2015 in October. For heaven's sake, Eric, what's your problem?

Thankfully many of the videos still to be posted are ones that I recorded away from the BGG booth, videos that serve as previews of forthcoming games — which means that I'm not late with these videos after all! Instead they serve as previews of what's coming in 2016! Why, that's just good planning on my part (as long as we ignore the videos for which this is not true).

In any case, let's look first at an overview of Histrio from Bruno Cathala and Christian Martinez, which publisher Bombyx will also release as Fourberies in French. The gist of the game is that players are pulling together a troupe of animal actors to put on a play, manipulating the tastes of the king so that he's anticipating what you plan to deliver. The artwork by Jérémie Fleury is amazing; here's a sample showing the queen. Intense! (Tric Trac published an excellent overview of Fleury's work on this game, showing sketches and historical influences, along with finished illustrations.)







• Cathala also showed off the card game Zany Penguins, a co-design with Mathieu Lanvin that Bombyx will debut at the Cannes game festival in February 2016 before releasing the game in France in March and elsewhere in later months.

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Sat Dec 26, 2015 6:00 pm
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Game Previews: Tokyo Game Market • Nov 2015 — Balloon Challenge, TimeBomb II, Nine Tiles, and Violinista!

W. Eric Martin
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• Let's look at a quartet of game demo videos that I recorded at Tokyo Game Market in November 2015, with my wife Linda running the camera while I presented the games. (I had heard from multiple people that Japanese game designers rarely want to be photographed as they are often undertaking game design as a secondary job that they would not want associated with their main line of work, so I planned on learning the games, then demoing them — which is precisely what we did.)

Japanese game publisher Oink Games had a new title for TGM, one not from director/main designer Jun Sasaki but rather from Jean-Claude Pellin. Here's an overview of Nine Tiles:

Quote:
In Nine Tiles, each player takes nine double-sided tiles, with each side of a tile having one of six images, and arranges them in a 3x3 gird. Each image appears a total of three times on the tiles, with it being paired with a different image in each of the three instances. (The sets of nine tiles are identical, and they have 1-4 dots on them to help players sort the tiles.)

Each round, one of the thirty goal cards is revealed, then players race to rearrange their tiles — flipping one tile at a time, or swapping two tiles — in order to make their nine tiles match the image shown on the card. Whenever a player thinks they've done this, they slap the card. If they're correct, they keep the card; if they're wrong, they still keep the card, but flipped face-down. If a player collect two face-down cards, they're out of the game.

The first play to collect four (face-up) cards wins!

By combining two sets of Nine Tiles, up to eight players can compete at once. When more than four people are in a game, reveal two of the thirty cards each round. Each player can claim at most one card in a round.

Pellin has told me that this design will also be released in 2016 from Belgian publisher AzaoGames under the name Flip Hop, with the symbols being replaced with hip-hop snails. Curious. (I'll probably merge these listings once we confirm that they're essentially the same thing.)




In case you want to see Nine Tiles in action, check out the video below. I've since played twice on a purchased copy — well, two copies as we played with six people — and I crushed all comers. As with other pure speed games, if you're 10% faster than others in Nine Tiles, you're likely to win 90% of the time as there's nothing other than speed to determine who wins and who loses. Still, I'm ready to face other challengers should they want to throw down the tiled gauntlet...


Speaking of Oink Games, the publisher's Deep Sea Adventure won the first Game Market Award, with the other four nominees for this debut prize being Minerva, Princess Escort, Hitohira, and Stone Garden. Here's a pic of Sasaki accepting the award during TGM:





• Designer/publisher Kenichi Tanabe has been releasing games since 2007, and for the Nov. 2015 TGM he released two titles through his COLON ARC brand: Lisboa and Balloon Challenge. I didn't record an overview of the former, alas, but we're getting a few copies of Lisboa as well as Balloon Challenge for the Geek Store, so perhaps I'll get a chance to do so later. For now, though, here's an overview of the card game Balloon Challenge:





• I bought TimeBomb from New Board Game Party on the recommendation of a trusted source and highly enjoyed this secret-role game, despite me not normally taking to such things. (Here's my overview of the game from May 2015.)

Thus, when I discovered that NBGP would release TimeBomb II at Game Market in November 2015, I made a note to pick it up, in addition to recording an overview video for the game. That said, I still need to get a translation of the rulebook since my overview gets me only 85% of the way through the complete rules.





• We'll close with バイオリニスタ!Violinista! — a convention-only cooperative game from Bouken Adventure Planning Service that to this untrained ear comes across as four people playing violins somewhat at random, but my ineptness at Japanese limited me from finding out about the game in detail. In any case, I wanted to share this unusual experience:

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Thu Dec 17, 2015 10:00 pm
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Game Preview: The Waltzing Cat, or Picking Up Kitties, Then Knocking Them Over Again

W. Eric Martin
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Is a game preview still a preview if the game has been released but seen by only a few hundred people? I'm guessing that it does given that I chose to use the word "preview" in the header of this post, but that decision leaves open the question of exactly when something stops being a preview and instead is an overview — or perhaps just a view.

In any case, one of the hundreds of new games released at Tokyo Game Market in Nov. 2015 was The Waltzing Cat by Saien, and the four-minute video below includes rules and a complete game played by perhaps less-than-completely-aware players:




For those who prefer a written description to video, here you go:

Quote:
The Waltzing Cat is a two-player game that consists of eleven wooden blocks, with each of those blocks depicting two differently-colored cats on opposite sides. Gold cats show up five times, red and blue four times, and white, black and green three times; no color is repeated on a block with another color that appears the same number of times, e.g., red doesn't share a block with red or blue, but it does with the other four colors.

To set up, shuffle the blocks without looking at them, then set them up so that each player can see only one side of each block. The player who sees more gold cats takes the first turn. On a turn, a player pushes a block away from them (so that it falls on the table), pulls a block toward them, or declares the end of the game. If you push a block and the face that lands facing up appears on another face-up block, then you keep the block that you just pushed over. If you pull a block — thereby revealing a face that you haven't seen — and the face that lands facing up appears on another face-up block, then you keep both matching blocks.

If you declare the end of the game, the other player takes turns either pushing or pulling blocks (claiming blocks when appropriate) until no further matches can be made; the player who claimed the end of the game then takes all remaining face-up blocks.

Players then tally their scores for the face-up cats in their collection. Each gold cat is worth 2 points, while each non-gold cat is worth 1 point. A pair of one blue and one red cat is worth an additional 3 points (for 5 total points). Whoever scores the most points wins!

The Waltzing Cat resembles Saien's Katteni Shiyagare (which I wrote up in May 2015) in its components and graphic design, but the two games aren't connected except in you needing to use deduction to try to figure out which blocks might be which colors based on what you've seen so that you can make smart plays.

I've now played The Waltzing Cat more than a half-dozen times on a purchased copy — I'm not sure how many times as the game lasts only a few minutes, and we typically play a few games in a row — and find it a fascinating distillation of deduction games. You have so little with which to work, but each turn you must push or pull something, which reveals information to the opponent in the process and possibly sets them up with opportunities.

In the video above, I was wondering why the girl kept pushing tiles away from her, which revealed info to my son and told her nothing — yet she knew exactly when to call the end of the game in order to have enough points to win. Okay, perhaps that was luck, but I have no idea. Even with 6+ games under my belt, I'm not sure what constitutes good play in The Waltzing Cat!

As with many other Japanese games, this design intrigues me partly because I feel like I don't understand it, but I could if I just played it a few more times. The game tickles something in my brain; I want to figure it out and play better while also wanting to introduce it to others because it seems so far removed from most of the other games that I play. Yes, it's a deduction game, but it's not a Frankenstein's monster of designs I already have on my shelves. I'm not sure what to make of it, so I'm reduced to being a kid again, poking at something with a stick to try to figure it out...

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Wed Dec 16, 2015 7:00 pm
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BGG.CON 2015: Game Previews — Gale Force Nine's Star Trek, Pixel Tactics Deluxe, Far Space Foundry, Pack O Game, The Grizzled, and The Next Great American Game

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• Time to close out the video coverage of BGG.CON 2015, starting with the announcement of an enormous Star Trek 4X board game from Gale Force Nine, with the publisher hoping to have this title out in Q3 2016.





• If you run across a two-player fighting card game with cutesy anime-style artwork, there's a good chance you're looking at a release from Level 99 Games, as with owner/designer Brad Talton's Pixel Tactics Deluxe, which was previewed at BGG.CON 2015.





• Dan Manfredini's Far Space Foundry from Terra Nova Games is a two-part mining operation in space: get the raw materials, then process them. Maybe you'll sell the finished goods in a expansion...





• This video doesn't tell you much about the actual games in Chris Handy's Pack O Game line-up from his own Perplext, but it does show them off and Handy describes each title in a couple of words should you care to further investigate any of these microsized microgames.





• Fabien Riffaud and Juan Rodriguez's The Grizzled from Sweet November debuted to great acclaim in France in early 2015, then found an equally appreciative audience at Gen Con 2015 when Cool Mini Or Not released the game in English. In case the game is new to you, here's a two-minute overview:





• Finally, BGG News correspondent Phoebe Wild speaks with Douglas Morse about his documentary The Next Great American Game, which focuses mostly on aspiring game designer Randall Hoyt and his initial title Turnpike.


•••

My thanks to Phoebe Wild and Beth Heile for speaking with dozens of designers and publishers at BGG.CON 2015 while I traveled to Tokyo Game Market, which took place at the same time. We have one more BGG.CON post to come — the second half of Mary Prasad's travelogue/convention report — then I'll finally start sharing what I saw, did and played in Tokyo...
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Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:00 pm
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