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Convention Preview for Tokyo Game Market • May 2015

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Game Market takes place in Tokyo on May 5, 2015 — two weeks from the date of this post — and BoardGameGeek will have a presence at the show in the form of me running around to grab whatever games I can, struggling to say more in Japanese than numbers and old karate terms that I vaguely recall, talking to designers and publishers when possible (see "struggling..."), taking pictures and video of the booths and people (when allowed) to share the experience with you, fighting off jet lag, and otherwise immersing myself in this fevered one-day event.

For those not familiar with Game Market, I invite you to read this convention report from Simon Lundström about his experience at Tokyo Game Market in November 2014. In short, Game Market takes place three times annually (twice in Tokyo and once in Osaka), and it's a game fair where many designers present their own creations in small quantities that you may or may not ever see again once the fair ends. As Lundström writes, "Some people who check out Japon Brand's booth at Spiel have complained about the games not being available after the fair. Well, Game Market is Japon Brand's booth — only about a hundred times as big."

I've been rereading posts like this one in preparation for my trip, in addition to creating a Tokyo Game Market • May 2015 Preview to track games that I've reserved, games from designers and publishers who might already have a presence outside of Japan, and games that look interesting for one reason or another. My standards for listing games are somewhat ambiguous for this first TGM Preview as I don't know enough to know all that I don't know. (If, by chance, you'll be at TGM with a game to sell, please let me know. Once we get the game in the BGG database, I can then add it to the TGM Preview.)

My enthusiasm over games from Japan might have been a tad apparent to some who read BGG News, especially given all of the preview videos that I do in the run up to Spiel, and I'm incredibly excited to attend Tokyo Game Market and see all that there is to see, especially because I'm not sure when I'll be able to do this again in the future. I look forward to sharing the experience and possibly giving you a head's up as to which games you can expect to see at Spiel or possibly elsewhere!
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Tue Apr 21, 2015 6:02 pm
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Upcoming Games Teased at the 2015 Gathering of Friends

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For those who don't know, the Gathering of Friends is an invite-only game convention that designer Alan R. Moon started in 1990, and while the convention was indeed a gathering of friends when it started, over time it's morphed into a gaming industry event that draws publishers who are looking to showcase upcoming games, designers who are looking to pitch prototypes to those publishers, and gamers who are looking to play as much as they can in the time available.

I've attended the Gathering multiple times since the mid-2000s, but I'm not at the con in 2015 as I'm planning to travel to Tokyo instead to cover Game Market in May. (More on that con at a later date.) Thus, I'm following the Gathering game teases from afar like anyone else, and in case others aren't doing the same, I thought I'd post a round-up to let you know what might be coming out in the months and years ahead. Gathering attendees are supposed to ask permission before sharing unpublished game designs, and ideally that's the case with everything included below because that would mean the depicted games are indeed to be forthcoming releases. Note that these games are almost always presented with non-final graphics and components.

To start with, Czech Games Edition has a ton of material being shown at the Gathering, such as this:


Image courtesy Aeos James and used with permission




Okay, that's not exactly news since CGE announced in June 2014 that in addition to redesigning Through the Ages for the digital version then under development, it was also working "on a new edition of the physical board game that will feature similar improvements", with those improvements being new card design, new illustrations, some rebalancing on cards, and the possible addition of new cards. At the time CGE announced that "you can expect the new version of the board game at Essen 2015", and oh, hey, here we are in April 2015 looking ahead to what's going to be released later this year.

What else do we have from Czech Games Edition?


Image courtesy Aeos James and used with permission



As a CGE rep later clarifies, this expansion is indeed a prototype — i.e., it's not finished and of course might never appear in print at all — but "the main domain of these Demons will be 'Hell gate' aka teleport".



Image used with permission

• On Opinionated Gamers, Ben McJunkin shows off a "Quests" expansion for Galaxy Trucker that in his words "works to adapt the board game to the app".




Prototype artwork; images used with permission

• In a separate OG post, McJunkin gives an overview of The Castaway Club, a design from Last Will designer Vladimír Suchý that takes the basic premise of that game — in essence, lose all of your money first to win — and expands the challenge to you losing influence and political clout in addition to your money. As OG editor Dale Yu explains in another post, "The game ends when someone gets to zero thumbs or zero influence, and then your score is your score in your worst of the three categories", although I'm guessing that he means the highest of your three categories.

• In that same OG post, Yu posts a pic of what I believe to be Splotter Spellen's Food Chain Magnate, which is scheduled to debut at Spiel 2015 in October, but it mostly looks like a million cards in tiny piles, so you can't make out much of anything.

• To return to Czech Games Edition, Debbie Ohi offers a couple of pics of Adrenaline, a first-person shooter board game from Filip Neduk, designer of the 2012 CGE title Goblins, Inc.:





Image courtesy Aeos James and used with permission


• Ben McJunkin also offers this small CGE teaser of a word game from designer Vlaada Chvátil:



• To tie in to all of the CGE titles just mentioned, here's designer Vlaada Chvátil and Heli Barthen playing Flick 'em Up! from Pretzel Games, with the pic showing off many of the components in the game:



• One of the other publishers showing off a large number of forthcoming releases at the Gathering is eggertspiele, such as the table-hogging Porta Nigra from Kramer and Kiesling, which has only this description so far:

Quote:
Porta Nigra is named after a large Roman city gate from the 2nd century in Trier, Germany. The game is set in that place and time, and the players are Roman architects working on this gate. Each player has a master builder that moves around a circular board, with you allowed to buy or build only where this builder is located, although with multiple movement points you can perform actions in different locations, with the type and number of actions coming from cards in your personal draw deck.



• Dale Yu has a couple of other shots of Porta Nigra in this OG post.


Mombasa, eggertspiele, 2015 — photo used w/ permission


• On Opinionated Gamers, Ben McJunkin highlights the 2015 release Mombasa from Alexander Pfister and eggertspiele: "This is a very good, meaty game that will appeal to most heavier Euro fans. As a point of comparison, think about something like Russian Railroads." He summarizes his first play of Mombasa in a separate post: "I won, but it took half a game for anyone to figure out what they should be doing."

• Another title coming from eggertspiele is Friedemann Friese's BAU!, a building game in which players try to build towers from wooden parts based on what they roll on the die. OG Dale Yu summarizes the game on OG, but the design is still in the oven at this point, so details must wait for later.

• Speaking of Friese, he playtested his big Spiel 2015 release 504 at Toronto board game café Snakes & Lattes prior to the Gathering and has continued to playtest it throughout the Gathering with 2F-Spiele comrade-in-arms Henning Kröpke:





• That's most of what I've seen in terms of soon-to-be-released games at the Gathering, although there's also this one of Rob Daviau's SeaFall:


Image courtesy Aeos James and used with permission


• And my sweetheart:



Me neither! So bummed to be missing out on more Time Stories, but that day will have come already soon.

For a last pic, here's an overview of how Paul Jeffries reconstructs game boxes to keep them from being shelf hogs. I talked with Paul about this in 2014 after seeing a few of his creations, and he is way more dedicated to making them both compact and beautiful-looking than I am. (I shoot for compact and don't worry about recreating the box sides or replicating the cover in a smaller scale, but man, does his work look good!)

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Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:00 am
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PAX East Part III: Nevermore, Twirk with Heavy Steam and More

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In early March 2015, I had the chance to head to PAX East and catch up with the latest happenings in board gaming. Here's my third round-up of videos from the event highlighting upcoming board and card games.

GTG Productions

Okay, I am biased here as I have wanted board games to enter the streaming space for more than year now, but this may be the coolest thing I saw at PAX East in 2015. The Greater Than Games team has put together a system to livestream tournaments of their games.

Similar to the set-up that BGG has at Gen Con and Spiel, these guys have also added in commentators in a separate location. There was even a TV at their booth that a passerby could watch if desired. All in all, a very cool set-up.





Nevermore

Curt Covert from Smirk & Dagger Games took the time to show me a new game it will release in the middle of 2015 called Nevermore. In this game, players are trying to curse other players and turn them into ravens. Being a raven does not eliminate you from the game; it just changes the way you play. The game features a mix of bidding and bluffing mechanisms which seem to gel nicely.

Check out the video for a closer look at the art and design of the game:





Heavy Steam and Ninja Dice Expansion

In 2014, we took an early look at Heavy Steam, an interesting miniatures game from GreenBrier Games that has Eurostyle resource management mechanisms mixed in. That game is nearing release, so we were able to get a better look at the final components here. We also got a chance to take a look at the new Ninja Dice: Kage Masters expansion that was on Kickstarter in March 2015.







Twirk

We had a chance to check out Twirk, a new word game from JR Honeycutt, podcaster and finalist in the recent BGG Summoner Wars tournament. The goal is to make five (or more) letter words as quickly as you can by using communal cards (think Texas hold 'em) as well as cards in your hand and vowel dice.

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Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:00 am
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PAX East Part II: Asmadi Games Update, Funemployed, Letter Tycoon and More

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In early March 2015, I had the chance to head to PAX East and catch up with the latest happenings in board gaming. Here's the second round-up of videos from the event covering board and card games.

Asmadi Games Update

I had the chance to sit down with Chris Cieslik from Asmadi Games at PAX East and he gave me a quick rundown of what they have coming up this year. First off was Adorable Pandaring, a quick-playing panda card game that is on Kickstarter now. He also updated us on Heat and Consequential.

Chris also teased a new storytelling game in the vein of Tales of Arabian Nights. You'll have to check out the video for the full details:





Funemployed

Funemployed! is back again after a first run with a new publisher and an updated package. In Funemployed! you are trying to vie for a job using a hand of trait cards. Your goal is to tell why each of these wacky traits makes you the best person for the job. It is part Apples to Apples, part drama exercise.

Check out the video for more details on the game and when you can get your hands on it:





Letter Tycoon

Okay, this is one of the most interesting games I have seen in a long time, plus it has a plastic zeppelin in the box. Letter Tycoon is a word game with a twist. You are aiming to form words to score points; however, on top of that you can buy stock in certain letters so you score when they are used. It is a wacky combination of Euro economic game with a classic word game. It looked fascinating. It is being printed now for planned delivery later in 2015.





Ad Magic / Breaking Games

We had a chance to catch up with Ad Magic CEO Shari Sparo and find out how Ad Magic is becoming a board game publisher in its own right with Breaking Games. Check out an update from her on the growing scope of Ad Magic. (Note: This video contains strong language in reference to a game title.) (Editor's note: I'd link to the game, but it has no listing in the BGG database. You can visit their website and make it happen. —WEM)

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Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:00 am
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PAX East Part I: Orcs Must Die! The Boardgame, Cinelinx, Mahou Shojo, and Poop

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In early March 2015, I had the chance to head to PAX East and catch up with the latest happenings in board gaming. I'll have more updates in future posts on BGG News

Orcs Must Die!

One of the big announcements from PAX East was about the board game Orcs Must Die! The game (which is actually two companion games: Orcs Must Die!: Order – The Boardgame and Orcs Must Die!: Unchained – The Boardgame) is coming from Sandy Petersen, designer of Cthulhu Wars. The game is co-operative if you own one box or can be a team game if you own both boxes. This is in line with the latest developments in the video game.

They had some mock-up components at the show, which looked up to the quality that was applied in Cthulhu Wars. If you have not played Orcs Must Die!, it is a sort of tower defense type game in which you lay traps to try and kill a band of orcs before they reach your base. It's exciting to see what they will do with it on the tabletop.

Check out this video for more details:





Cinelinx

Cinelinx is an interesting mash-up of dominoes and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Each card in the deck lists an actor, director, film, or genre. You start with a hand of ten cards and a genre card in the middle. The goal is to empty your hand by placing cards in a positions that works.

I've tried the game myself and it is, in a word, challenging. It will push your movie knowledge to the limits. Luckily, the game allows you to use up to three connections to link a card, which is much easier than one-to-one links and prevents you from getting stuck as often. It's a unique idea and one that will surely delight movie buffs.





Mahou Shojo

On Kickstarter until April 8, 2015 is Mahou Shojo: Fight like a Girl!, a card-battling game between two "magical girls". The game features four factions, each with a prebuilt deck. The goal is to take gems from your opponent. It really needs to be seen. Check out the video for full details:





POOP

I hope you've saved up some giggles because it's time to talk about poop. POOP is a card game in the vein of UNO. Your goal is to empty your hand of cards by adding them to a toilet card in the center of the table. Each toilet card has a limit where it will clog, sticking a player with all of the poop cards in play. There's even an expansion available that offers new twists to the basic formula.

At the show they offered gift wrapping which involved wrapping each deck in toilet paper...all very dignified.

Check out the video for more fun:

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Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:24 pm
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Videos from Spielwarenmesse 2015 IX: Da Luigi, Lumis, Dohdles!, Harry Hopper, Crazy Time, ZomBee, Tschakka Lakka & The Big Bang Theory: Das geniale Spiel

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BGG recorded eighty or so game demonstration videos at Spielwarenmesse 2015, and one-tenth of those were in the KOSMOS booth. Amazing!

Most of these videos clock in at less than three minutes, and I think that's because Katerina, the KOSMOS representative, remembered what happened in 2013 when we visited with a near-dead camera battery and had to whip through games as quickly as we could in order to record them all. For 2015, she raced through the demonstrations, giving what I think is enough of a hook on which you, the potential player, can hang your hat while not getting bogged down in extraneous details.

We'll start with Rüdiger Dorn's Da Luigi, a family-style game in which competing restaurant owners inflict customers — bad customers, mind you — on one another while trying to serve those sitting in their own place.





• Dorn also has a second title due out from KOSMOS in the first half of 2015: Tschakka Lakka: Die rasante Würfeljagd nach dem Tempelschatz. That subtitle succinctly summarizes the game's setting and manner of play, and once you remember those details, you can forget the actual subtitle and just focus on saying "Tschakka Lakka!" over and over again — although if you do that too much, you inevitably start singing this song.





• From a glance at the game board, it's easy to tell that Stephen Glenn's Lumis: Der Pfad des Feuers has some relation to Hex, and your goal is indeed to connect opposite sides of the board before your opponent can do the same, but you do through cardplay that creates towers and flames on the board. I'm hoping to try this out soon as Glenn and I have chatted a bit about the game, and I've enjoyed his past work, especially Rattlebones.





• Klaus Teuber won the 1988 Spiel des Jahres for Barbarossa, a party game in which you create clay objects that are ideally not too easy and not too hard for others to guess what they are. For 2015, he's transformed that design into the faster-playing Knätsel?!, which will be released by KOSMOS in the U.S. in 2015 as Dohdles!





• Alex Putfin's Crazy Time features the familiar "take turns flipping over cards, then race to do something when something specific happens" formula seen in Jungle Speed and other games, but now we're worried about the hours on the clock, the passing of time, and special rules that get added to the game each round.





• Michael Schacht is the designer behind The Big Bang Theory: Das geniale Spiel, in which you use characters from the show in order to collect treasured items, possibly thanks to a paradox or two thrown into the mix.





• My cameraperson John Knoerzer had not heard of Klaus Kreowski's dice game ZomBee before we stepped up to the demo table, and he groaned mightily at the title, but I find it a clever, kid-friendly take on a game trend — plus it opens up thoughts of exciting convention promos!


Okay, maybe not.





Harry Hopper is the debut title from Florian Nadler, and I can imagine this game's origin at a bar, with people making up rules for how they can flip coasters and what they're trying to target with their flips. Maybe that's just me though...

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Videos from Spielwarenmesse 2015 VIII: The Big Book of Madness, Sapiens, Pingo Pingo, Kenjin, Master Fox, Welcome to the Dungeon and Tales & Games: The Grasshopper & The Ant

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Yes, I have still more game demonstration videos to post from Spielwarenmesse 2015, lots more. I meant to jam all of these out in the two weeks between that show at NY Toy Fair 2015, but things happened (as they do), followed by eight snow days in two weeks here in the unable-to-cope Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. Finally, I'm somewhat back to being able to do stuff, starting with...

The Big Book of Madness from Maxime Rambourg appears to be IELLO's big title of 2015, with this deck-building game confronting the young apprentice wizards with all sorts of nasty things that they need to return to the book from which they came. Matthieu Bonin from IELLO had a rough version of the game on hand in Nürnberg, Germany, which allowed him to give us an overview of the gameplay.





• Nicolas Sato's Kenjin is one of (at least) two titles coming in 2015 from Superlude Éditions, with IELLO providing distribution and support for this bluffing card game.





• IELLO's Bonin gave me an early look at Frédéric Vuagnat's Master FoxMaître Renard in French — at Gen Con 2014, and the game has nice chunky wooden components to accompany the fox masks included in the box. You'll be pleased to know that I cut myself singing Ylvis' "What Does The Fox Say?" from the end of this demo video. You're welcome.





Sapiens is the first release from Cyrille Leroy and his Catch Up Games, with IELLO once again providing publishing guidance and distribution for this newcomer. Sapiens debuted at the Festival International des Jeux in Cannes at the end of February 2015, so this video now serves as a postview for those who tried the game at the fair but a preview for the rest of you.





Purple Brain Creations is a frequent co-publication partner with IELLO, and in early 2015 it will release Tales & Games: The Grasshopper & the Ant from ant specialist Yoann Levet, this being the fourth title in PBC's Tales & Games series.





• Masato Uesugi's Dungeon of Mandom debuted from Japanese publisher Oink Games in 2013, and while the title seems a tad off, it also relays the nature of the gameplay, with players essentially boasting about how little equipment they'll need to enter a dungeon, despite them knowing little about what might actually be waiting for them inside. For its release of Welcome to the Dungeon, IELLO has boosted the number of characters in the game from one to four, with each character having a different set of equipment for you to forgo in your manly boasting.





Pingo Pingo has you running away from bear-riding penguins and consulting monkey sorcerers, and once you discover the game is from Roberto Fraga, it all makes so much more sense. Pingo Pingo is a remake of Squad Seven and possibly should be merged with that game listing, but I know that people have previously objected to penguins showing up in unexpected places...

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Tue Mar 3, 2015 3:37 pm
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Videos from Spielwarenmesse 2015 VII: Discoveries, Zambezi, Pronto, Bermuda & Think Str8!

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• Cédrick Chaboussit's Lewis & Clark from Ludonaute received heaps of praise when it debuted in late 2013, and for 2015 the designer, publisher and artist Vincent Dutrait have come back together for Discoveries, which presents the Lewis & Clark from a different perspective, with players now seeing what they can find during the trip instead of simply trying to be the first to the Pacific shore.





• A first look at Leo Colovini's Think Str8! from HUCH! & friends might have you thinking, "Hey, that's just Hanabi with card racks!" but in fact the design is a throwback to an older release in which you face your stuff away from you: Alex Randolph's Code 777. With Colovini having designed several games with Randolph at the start of Colovini's career, that connection isn't a surprise, and the design provides a twist on the "decipher what you hold" nature of that game.





• Udo Peise and Marco Teubner's Pronto from HUCH! & friends bears the subtitle "Race around the word", and that should cue you in to the nature of the design. In fact, Pronto includes two racing elements, with the active player racing against time each turn and all of the players racing against one another to cross the finish line first.





• Carlo Emanuele Lanzavecchia's card game Bermuda from HUCH! & friends has an element in its gameplay that few other games do: the need to hold your breath at various points during the game. I'll leave it to you to decide whether or not that's a good thing.





• Peter Burley will always be first and foremost associated with Take it Easy! — although I'm more a fan of his excellent abstract strategy game Kamisado — but he's still creating and self-publishing through Burley Games from time to time with his next release being one that he's co-designed with his son Jonathan. Here's an overview of Zambezi:

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Videos from Spielwarenmesse 2015 VI: Broom Service, Stichling, Tausch Rausch & Drachenhort

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• Game publishing is a funny business. Andreas Pelikan's Witch's Brew is in high demand for a reprint and sells regularly for $60-80 on the BGG marketplace, yet German-language copies are priced in the €20-25 range and I recall seeing them on clearance for (I think) €10 at Spiel several years ago. I imagine that dichotomy in the marketplace makes it tough for publisher alea to think about reprinting the game since one market appears to be saturated while another is dry.

Perhaps that's what has led alea to decide to publish Broom Service in 2015. This game, from Pelikan and Alexander Pfister, takes the card-based role-selection core of Witch's Brew and plants it inside another game, a game still bearing a witchy theme but one in which you're trying to deliver potions across the land by outguessing and outplanning what others will do.





• When I mentioned Rüdiger Dorn on BGG News in January 2015, I noted that he "is not normally associated with cute family games", after which someone reminded me of his authorship of the great dice game Las Vegas from alea, and now here I am with a video of his card game Tausch Rausch from Ravensburger, which reminded me of an earlier excellent Ravensburger release of his: Jetzt schlägt's 13, a light card game that few people seem to enjoy as much as I do. All I'm saying is that I need to recall in the future that Dorn hits homers to both sides of the playing field.





• Most of Ralf zur Linde's published games have been co-designs, such as Finca, Milestones and the SdJ-nominated Eselsbrücke, but he designs games on his own, too, with the latest such publication being the trick-taking card game Stichling from Ravensburger.





• Ravensburger has two titles due out in 2015 from designer Reiner Knizia, and I neglected to record a video about one of them — Captain Black — as it's a King Arthur-style board game with electronics that speak to you only in German and it's unlikely to ever be released in the U.S. due to previous sales efforts of such titles in that country, but then I forgot to take pictures of it as well to at least represent it in some manner. Sigh...

I did, though, record a video of Drachenhort, which is reminiscent of Heimlich & Co. in how the figures on the game board are linked to players, but no one knows who is linked to whom — until you start taking actions in the game, of course, perhaps revealing who you want to succeed.

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Pics from NY Toy Fair 2015 II: StoneBlade Entertainment, Bombyx, Kosmos, FoxMind and MindWare

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Time for another round-up of tweets showing off new and nearly new games on display at NY Toy Fair 2015. I'm still posting more images on BGG's Twitter feed, and I'll post another round-up or two in this space in case you're not a twit like me.

















To elaborate on Maze Racers a bit, to start the game you roll a die that determines in which quadrants you place the start (green) and end (red) gates, then you race to build a maze from the parts, which in the prototype show above have a magnetic edge in order to attach to the metal base. At any point during the construction, one of the players can call time after which the other player flips a sand timer, then has one minute to finish construction. Players then swap boards and attempt to race a marble from one gate to another, and whoever does so first wins.

What popped to mind when I heard this description was Inception, with players racing to build as complex a maze as possible in next-to-no time. I assume that the game has specific construction rules so that you can't plop a gate in an empty area and force someone to roll a marble into it from nowhere. We'll see...





























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