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Recreate the 10th U.S. Election in Corrupt Bargain

Candice Harris
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From gallery of candidrum
Corrupt Bargain: The 1824 Presidential Election is a unique and accessible, political, area influence game from designer Alex Berry (High Treason: The Trial of Louis Riel), published by Decision Games in 2022. “Doc” Cummins from Decision Games graciously sent me a review copy when I expressed interest after getting a sneak peak of it at Dice Tower West in March 2022.

In Corrupt Bargain 2-4 players represent one of the major candidates (Adams, Clay, Crawford, or Jackson) and their campaign organizations, competing to become the next President of the United States in the 1824 federal election. By the end of the game, if a candidate (player) obtains a majority of Electoral College (131+) votes, they win. However, if no candidate obtains a majority in the Electoral College, then the election goes to the House of Representatives where the candidate with the most states wins.

Corrupt Bargain is played over a number of Campaign rounds (depending on player count) where players resolve event cards to manipulate populace (wooden cubes) and politician (wooden octagons) influence in different U.S. regions and states, followed by a special Final Push round where players take turns playing politician and populace cards to firm up their stance before the votes are tallied.

On your campaign turn, you select one of the event cards on the event card track, resolve the events indicated on the card, and then you complete the number of actions and insights indicated on the slot you took the card from. After you finish your actions, you take the event card into your hand, then you refill the event card track by sliding cards down and refilling the 0 action points (AP) slot with a new card from the event card deck.

In a 2-player game, players alternate taking turns round after round. However, in a 3 or 4-player game, the starting player order rotates clockwise each round. Thus, the second player in the first round becomes the first player in the second round. This means each player will become the last player the round immediately after they are the first player.

This turn order rotation seemed odd to me initially, but I think it works well to balance the potential advantages of being the first player round after round. “Doc” from Decision Games showed me an easy way to keep track of this when we played Corrupt Bargain together at BGG.Spring – use a cube from each player to set the turn order, then when you move down to the next space on the round track, move the first cube to the end of the row, and voila, you have your new turn order.

From gallery of candidrum
Campaign Turn 3 of a 4-player game

There are 80 different event cards and most of them involve placing and/or removing populace and/or political tokens in different states and regions on the map. The iconography is easy to understand, albeit small, and there's also historical flavor text on each card. Some events involve adding and/or removing your own influence tokens, but there are also cards that allow you to target your opponents (rivals). In most cases, you remove some rival tokens from one region or state, and then you also add some to a different region or state. There are also events that allow you to gain politician and populace cards which are used for the Final Push.

From gallery of candidrum
Examples of event cards
Depending which slot you took the event card from, you also gain up to three action points. Each action point you spend allows you to take one of five different actions, noting no action can be performed more than once on a given turn.
1) You can campaign for political support to place one politician octagon in any one state.
2) You can campaign for popular votes to place one populace cube in any one state with a square icon.
3) You can work the back rooms to draw four politician cards and keep one for the Final Push.
4) You can get out the vote to draw four populace cards and keep one for the Final Push.
5) Or, you can take a political intrigue action where you choose a state and an opponent, then remove one of your own political octagons and two of theirs.

While these actions are all very straightforward, plus easy to learn and remember, Corrupt Bargain comes with excellent player aids which summarize all of the actions on one side, and just about everything else you need to know related to the flow of the game on the other side. With these player aids, you should barely need to crack open the rulebook after you have a game under your belt. Also, half of the rulebook is historical background information on the Presidential election of 1824, which is very cool and informative.

In addition to action points, there are two event card slots that also grant players insight. Insight is a sneaky way for players to take politician and populace cards from one another to help with the Final Push round. After you resolve an event and take actions on an insight slot, you draw two random cards from one opponent’s populace and politician cards, keep one, and return the other. If no opponents have two populace/politician cards, then you simply draw one of either type from the deck instead.

Insight is an excellent way to keep your opponents in check and prevent a player from building up a bigger stack of populace and politician cards than everyone else. I haven't explored negotiations much in Corrupt Bargain, but I'd imagine there's room to make some non-binding side deals with others to avoid targeting certain players in exchange for them not targeting you with an event or insight. This is not mentioned in the official rules, but it could be fun to experiment with when playing with gamers who appreciate negotiations.

When deciding which card to pick from the event card track, it can be a tough decision because there are several things to consider. You may want a particular event card because it gets you influence in an optimal location. You may want an event card to obtain a certain amount of action points and/or insight. You may want a certain event card solely to prevent your opponents from taking it. Or you might want a certain card because of the card suit.

From gallery of candidrum
PA is worth the most Electoral College votes and is usually locked down first...
Each event card has one of three different suits abstractly representing slavery, trade, and western expansion. If you have three event cards with matching suits, you can lockdown any one state of your choice at the start of your turn, prior to choosing an event card. When you lockdown a state, you place a black lockdown token in it and no one can place or remove tokens from that state for the remainder of the game.

I really dig the lockdown mechanism in Corrupt Bargain; it adds an underlying tension as you look around the table and see your opponents with three or more event cards in hand. You start to scan the board and try to see which state they might attempt to lockdown, and see if there's any way you can prevent it.

The potential for a lockdown also widens the decision space of choosing your event card on your turn. Lockdowns are so good, you simply don't want to miss out on securing yourself some votes when you can. Thus, you subtly try to build up your presence in a particular state and hope to secure it by locking it down as soon as you can. Inevitably, one of your opponents usually catches on, and just ahead of your turn, they add more tokens and gain the majority in the space you were targeting. You cringe inside without revealing to them that you were just about to perform a lockdown there. So there's an ongoing race to beat your opponents to locking down high-value states, and it adds a nice layer of tension to the gameplay.

Players continue taking campaign turns until everyone finishes their last turn, which is indicated on the campaign round track based on player count (10 turns for 4 players, 13 turns for 3 players, and 16 turns for 2 players). Then the player with the most populace and politician cards kicks off the Final Push round.

In the Final Push, each player plays one populace or politician card from their hand per turn and completes the actions on it. In some cases, it might have no effect due to lockdowns, but since you must play a card on your turn until you run out of cards, playing dead cards is a great way to stall so you can see what your opponents do and respond accordingly.

From gallery of candidrum
Examples of Populace cards

The Final Push round makes you realize you can't ignore getting populace and politician cards during the campaign rounds. The cards are simple since they allow you to add or remove a token or two in a state or region, but they can be powerful. They can gain you or cost you a state, which could influence the end result of the game. It's definitely something you should try to stay competitive with during the campaign rounds -- i.e. try to avoid one player having way more cards than everyone else.

From gallery of candidrum
Examples of Politician cards

After the Final Push round, you review each state to determine which player has the most cubes in the non-capital spaces, and the most octagons in the capital spaces. There are multiple levels of tie breakers, but it's usually based on who has the most politician octagons in the space or the region. There are cards for each state that you award to the player with the most influence. Then after you score each state, players tally up the votes for all the states they won. If a player has 131 or more votes, they win the game. If no player won, then you perform a contingent election in the House of Representatives.

The contingent election is determined solely by politician octagons, so at this point, cubes no longer matter. A player wins the contingent election by winning a majority of states (13 or more), regardless of how many Electoral College votes the states have.

Corrupt Bargain tends to feel abstract, but when it comes time to count your votes, you're faced with anxiety and suspense similar to real election nights. I think it's awesome that it has different ways the winner can be determined too. It reminds me of games like The King is Dead, or scoring a dominance check in Pax Pamir. I imagine the more experience you have playing, the better you'll be able to play to both potential outcomes. Either way, the ending always feels exciting as players count their votes and see how many states they've won. It's the kind of game where it's hard to tell exactly who's in the lead until you actually score it up.

While I enjoyed playing with four players most, I was happy to find that Corrupt Bargain plays well at all three player counts, and each has its own feel, with 2 and 3-player games feeling a tad more cutthroat. Beware, it has some take-that here and there with some event cards occasionally feeling brutal. Some people might take it personally when they are targeted. However, in my games, those moments usually quickly turned into jokes. I can't tell you how many times people dumped my populace cubes into Rhode Island, which is one of the north region states with the lowest vote value. Then we laughed about it when I proudly won that state card at the end of the game. It all depends on who you play with and your group dynamic.

From gallery of candidrum
Just about midway through an intense 3-player game

If you enjoy area influence games or games where you can learn about history, I definitely recommend checking out Corrupt Bargain. It's very accessible and straightforward to learn and teach, and it doesn't overstay its welcome with each game running about 90 minutes. For an abstract feeling game which may appear a tad dry-looking to many, there are a lot of really interesting and enjoyable mechanisms at work that create a fun and engaging gaming experience between the lockdowns, two different types of influence, the Final Push, two different end game outcomes, and how it everything works together.

I'm planning to keep my eye out for whatever Alex Berry works on next. In the meantime, High Treason has been on my shelf of opportunity for a while, so I hope to finally play that soon, while happily keeping Corrupt Bargain in my rotation.
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Tue Jun 28, 2022 1:00 pm
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Game Overview: Cascadia, or Playing God in Northwest North America

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Cascadia
I finally got Cascadia to the table, and this design from Randy Flynn and Flatout Games does exactly what it promises to do: Gives you and your fellow players "a puzzly tile-laying and token-drafting game featuring the habitats & wildlife of the Pacific Northwest".

By chance, a friend of my wife was visiting from Seattle, saw the box, and said, "Hey, I recognize that!"

Whether you will like what you're given depends on your taste for solitairish game experiences. In my two playings, once each with three and four players on a copy from the BGG Library, we've finished the game and been like, so, what next? Cascadia is like a glass of cool water on a tepid day: satisfying at the time, but not memorable.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Landscapes that will soon be demolished

The design provides a nice challenge: Pick a habitat tile and wildlife token combination each turn, and add it to your landscape. Habitats come in five types, each tile features one or two habitats, and you want to group like habitats together as you score points for your largest forest, largest mountain, etc. at game's end.

Each habitat tile shows 1-3 wildlife symbols, and you can place only one of the indicated wildlife tokens on this tile, with wildlife scoring at game's end based on whatever scoring card you used. In one game, elk want to stand in lines, while in the next forming rings will make them happy. Foxes, on the other hand, are sociable and score based on the animals around them. Wildlife comes in five types, so you're trying to place habitat tiles to both build large regions and give you the possibility of making an elk ring, putting bears in pairs, and so on.

Gameplay has no downsides. Each turn, you add to one or two habitats, then place a wildlife token and score points for that as well. (All scoring takes place at game's end, but the only time you lose points is when you spend nature tokens to adjust what's available for you in the drafting pool.) You're not necessarily planning anything, but taking stuff as it comes and doing the best you can with what's on tap to pile up the points.

For more thoughts on Cascadia, check out this video:

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Mon Jun 27, 2022 5:10 pm
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Gather Mushrooms, Arrange Rings, and Avoid Barracuda with Helvetiq

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Kinoko
Swiss publisher Helvetiq specializes in quick-playing games, and here's a trio of them being released in 2022:

• In March, the card game Kinoko appeared from Tim Rogasch, who has previously designed games mostly for HABA. Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game:
Quote:
In Kinoko, each player secretly draws a color card corresponding to a family of mushrooms — musicians, scientists, etc. — and gets a hand of three mushroom cards.

On your turn, roll the three dice, then choose one of them. The result of that die, whether a number or an icon, determines your action: exchange two cards, swap two sets of cards, pick at any card secretly, etc. To win the round, you must gather the three members of your family in one location during your turn. This reunion can happen in any player's hand or on the table.

Board Game: Kinoko

Seems easy? The trick is you can see only the cards in other players' hands, and your decisions are limited to what you roll on the dice. What's more, each round one family of mushrooms turns poisonous, and having a card of that color in your hand when the round stops earns you a negative point...

The round's winner scores positive points, and the first player to 4 points wins.
Board Game: Barrakuda
• On May 20, 2022, Helvetiq released Barrakuda, a 2-4 player game from first-time designer Isaac Pante. Here's an overview:
Quote:
Welcome to Cartagena, Colombia! The colonial houses in this historical town are a testimony to its colorful past. You, on the other hand, are more interested in old shipwrecks — more specifically, sunken Spanish galleons filled with gold. Time to embark on an old-fashioned underwater treasure hunt. What you didn't anticipate is that several of you have discovered the legends of these buried riches. To make matters worse, a barracuda is prowling through the shipwrecks.

The challenge in Barrakuda is to be the first player to have eight gold pieces in their vault, but before you can lock away gold in your vault, you need to find it on shipwrecks or steal it from others.

To set up the game, lay out shipwreck cards numbered 1-6 in some orthogonal arrangement, and give each player movement cards numbered 1-5, along with a barracuda card. On a turn, each player chooses a card from their hand, then they reveal them simultaneously. If you played a movement card, move your pawn to that shipwreck card; if you're the only player there (and the barracuda isn't), take both the special action and general action listed on the card. If more than one player is on the same shipwreck card, then whoever has the fewest movement cards in front of them has the initiative and can either take the special action or take all the gold from one player's bag; after this, all players take this card's general action.

Board Game: Barrakuda
Two-player set-up

If you're the only one who played a barracuda card, roll the distance die, then move it up to that many spaces in the direction of your choice. If a barracuda is on the same space as a player, they have to drop their gold on that shipwreck space; others can pick up that gold starting next turn. If none or more than one player play barracuda, roll the direction and distance card to determine where it goes.

Actions on cards let you pick up gold, move gold from your bag to your vault, protect you from the barracuda, take back movement cards, move the barracuda, and so on.
Board Game: Oh My Ring!
Oh My Ring! from Olivier Mahy is one of those real-time games that folks seem to love or hate. Mahy's Dexterity Jane from 2021 (covered here) is a pattern-recognition game, but for Oh My Ring! you need to build a depicted pattern by sliding colored rings from finger to finger.

In more detail:
Quote:
Each player starts with eight colored rings: two of each color, with four on each hand. Each turn, a card is revealed that shows one or two hands and a combination of colored rings. As quickly as you can, move the rings from finger to finger to recreate that pattern before anyone else. The fastest player to do so wins the card, and whoever first collects five cards wins.

Board Game: Oh My Ring!

Some constraints will make the task harder, such as treating one color as another or forcing you to switch rings without looking at your fingers.
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Sun Jun 26, 2022 3:19 pm
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Find Treasures in the Shifting Sands of Morgan's Magic Map, Then Ride Twisty Tracks

W. Eric Martin
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U.S. publisher Rio Grande Games has announced three titles for the second half of 2022, one new and two revised.

• Following the release of Glory Islands in March 2022, the company is giving you another chance to play pirate in Morgan's Magic Map, an October 2022 release by first-time designer Gian Andrea Cappuzzo.

Board Game: Morgan's Magic Map

Morgan's Magic Map won the Premio Archimede, an Italian game design award, in 2018 under the name "JAP", which stands for "Just Another Pirate Game". Here's an overview of this 2-4 player game:
Quote:
After a life of raids and robberies, Captain Morgan retired from piracy. He created a magic map that would remind him where he buried his ill-gotten gains. He tore the map in many pieces to foil those who would try to find his treasures. Unfortunately for the old pirate, he was cursed by a sorceress many years ago. This curse has turned his torn-up map into a guide for others to find his treasures!

You have come into possession of many pieces of Morgan's map. Every time the fragments are rearranged, they magically point to the right place to dig! But other pirates have found parts of the magic map as well, so now you must race your fellow pirates to see who can collect the most valuable treasures before the map fades to dust forever.

Morgan's Magic Map is played over a series of turns in which players use map cards to locate where Captain Morgan has hidden his treasures. To set up, place the twenty map tiles in a 4x5 grid, with water and land edges always being adjacent to one another. Most map tiles include a reference point, such as The Tomb, The 3 Columns, or Big Nose Bay. Each player starts with two doubloons and four map cards in hand; each map card shows a reference point, a distance from the reference point, and a bonus icon.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Gian Andrea Cappuzzo collects treasure at the 2018 Premio Archimede

On a turn, you can take a map tile that has a free edge and move it elsewhere, as long as the map stays in one piece, water touches water, and no pirate is on the tile. Next, you can move your pirate — which starts in a corner of the map — up to two spaces orthogonally. Then if you meet the condition on any map cards in hand, you can play them since you've followed their directions to find treasure. If, for example, a map card shows The Tomb and has a 3 on it, then you can play that map card if you are three (orthogonal) spaces away from The Tomb. Treasure cards come in six colors, and five cards are available on a treasure board, with the more valuable cards being deeper on the board. If you play three map cards on a turn, then you can take any one of the topmost three cards. The deeper you dig, the more doubloons you earn along with the treasure!

Each map card has a bonus on it, and once you've played a map card, you keep it in front of you until you use the bonus, whether to move an extra map tile, walk farther with your pirate, or dig deeper when you locate treasure.

Once the deck of treasure cards is exhausted, the game ends. For each of the six treasure types, whoever has the most of that type earns a 6 doubloon bonus, with tied players splitting the bonus. Sum up the doubloons you collected during the game, bonuses, and the value of the treasures themselves to see who ended up the richest pirate.
Board Game: Jedzie pociąg z daleka
• In 2018, Polish publisher Nasza Księgarnia released a Jeffrey D. Allers design called Jedzie pociąg z daleka.

Rio Grande Games is now bringing an updated version of this design to print in October 2022 as Twisty Tracks. Let's get an overview of this 1-4 player game:
Quote:
Some people just want to get from point A to point B. For others, the journey is the destination. In Twisty Tracks, players are rewarded for both long journeys and arrival at point B — assuming not too many others arrived there first.

Each player has their own playing area that consists of a cardboard frame that depicts stations, loops of train track, and four train depots. Place a wooden train on each depot, and shuffle face down your personal stack of fifteen track tiles. On a turn, each player draws a tile, then places it somewhere in their frame so that they can advance at least one of their trains along the track. When you advance a train, you score 1 point each time it crosses the border between two tiles or between a tile and the frame. Try to send trains on long loopy journeys to score lots of points!

Board Game: Twisty Tracks

If a train reaches one of the seven stations on the frame, you receive the highest value for this station that hasn't yet been claimed. Wait too long, and you risk scoring nothing. If two of your trains collide while moving on freshly laid tracks, you score points for the borders they've crossed, then remove them from play. When all four of your trains have reached stations or been removed, stop placing tiles.

Once all players' trains have stopped moving, the game ends, and whoever has scored the most points wins. In a tie, the tied player who placed more tiles wins. For an easier game, you can play with only the station scoring or only the border scoring.
Says Allers, "This is a bit subjective, but [Twisty Tracks] is significantly different (and better) than the original. I worked quite a bit on it after it was published, and the strategy is different", with the number of available stations being more limited based on the player count, forcing you to decide whether you need to lock in a station early on or whether you can loop around for points first. "This tension adds a lot to the game and actually helps it fit in better with my typical designs."

• The other revised title is Dominion: Hinterlands (Second Edition), due out in July 2022, with this Donald X. Vaccarino design containing nine new types of Kingdom cards, similar to how other second edition Dominion titles have been released.

For those who have the original Dominion: Hinterlands, these new cards will be released on their own as Dominion: Hinterlands – Update Pack.

Board Game: Dominion: Hinterlands (Second Edition)
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Fri Jun 24, 2022 1:00 pm
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Prepare for a Galactic Renaissance, and Make Your Mark in Copan: Dying City

W. Eric Martin
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• Designer Christian Martinez's biggest success to date has been Inis, which debuted in 2016, and now publisher has announced what it's calling "the second installment of the Political Trilogy" from the designer-publisher combo: Galactic Renaissance.

Board Game: Galactic Renaissance

Details on the setting and gameplay are minimal for now:
Quote:
Throughout Galactic Renaissance, you build your team, adding new specialists — each one unique — to the core in your deck of cards. With this team, you discover new planets and systems, reconnect with lost civilizations, expand your influence, build embassies, and sow disorder in opposing factions — all in an effort to score victory points faster than your opponents. Sending emissaries to new planets, for example, allows you to discover new civilizations or cement relationships on known planets. Opponents may try to convince a planet to join them instead with their own emissaries, causing disorder in the process.
Note that the cover lists the player count as 2-5, whereas Matagot's website lists it as 1-4. The title isn't due out until 2023, however, so those details will surely be ironed out by then.

• Another large-scale game coming from French sources and due out in 2023 is Copan: Dying City from designers Eric Dubus and Olivier Melison and publisher Holy Grail Games, with all three entities having previously partnered on Museum, Encyclopedia, and Dominations: Road to Civilization.

Board Game: Copan: Dying City

Here's an overview of this game for 1-4 players that takes 60-180 minutes:
Quote:
Welcome to the city of Copan, shining jewel of the Maya civilization. The city is flourishing, and as one of its ruling families, this golden age holds many opportunities for you to increase your influence and wealth. But Copan is destined to fall. Dark times lie ahead, and as you work to secure your legacy over generations, you have to face the city's slow decline. Your progress will hindered by dwindling resources, crumbling political structure, natural disasters, and war.

Will your family become a part of the history of Copan, forever carved into the steps of the hieroglyphic stair? Or will your story be forgotten?

Copan: Dying City is a heavy Eurogame with both worker-placement and tile-placement mechanisms. The game features a reversed difficulty curve because when play begins, resources are plentiful, making most actions easy to accomplish. However, all resources are finite. When they reach critical levels, they trigger potentially devastating events, and once they run out, they're gone forever. Every move you make impacts the rest of the game, both for you and other players, as Copan's inevitable fate looms.
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Thu Jun 23, 2022 4:31 pm
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Houdini and The Genie Get Unmatched, and Leo Colovini Challenges You to Escape

W. Eric Martin
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Restoration Games has unveiled the cover of the next title in its Unmatched line: Houdini vs The Genie, with design from Sam Crane, Rob Daviau, Adil M. Geresu, and Justin D. Jacobson.

I don't recall Houdini being much of a fighter in all those biographies I read in my youth, but perhaps he's going to amaze the Genie into submission...

Board Game: Unmatched: Houdini vs. The Genie

• U.S. publisher New Mill Industries has signed the trick-taking game Tall Tales from Rand Lemley, with a crowdfunding campaign coming to Gamefound in February 2023. Rand has helpfully shared info about Japanese game releases over the years, and I'm curious to learn more about this design.

All In, the third installment of the Spiel des Jahres-winning MicroMacro: Crime City line from Johannes Sich and Edition Spielwiese, is due out in September 2022 in Germany.

Board Game: MicroMacro: Crime City – All In

This standalone item contains sixteen more criminal cases that you are asked to solve through careful observation of the many inhabitants of this terrible place to live. In case you're not familiar with this series, you can check out my overview of the first title.

• In the category of "co-operative games with communication limits that Eric fawns over", I'd like to present KuZOOkA, a Leo Colovini design for 2-6 players that German publisher Pegasus Spiele will release in Q3 2022. (Beth Erikson from the North American branch of Pegasus has confirmed that the title will make it to that continent at some point.)

Board Game: KuZOOkA

Here's a detailed overview of KuZOOkA, which feels like a co-operative take on Lair's Dice with bridge-style bidding:
Quote:
It isn't easy being a zoo animal. The enclosures are far too small for your needs, the daily routine is boring, and the visitors to the zoo are too obnoxious. You have decided: You need to break out of the zoo, ideally within the next seven days.

There are multiple ways to escape in KuZOOkA, but you need to work together with the other animals — in secret — to pool the trash left behind by zoo visitors and develop an escape plan that makes use of these items. Each player has one of the ten animal cards with a unique power, and you play on a game board that features a path comprised of spaces in six colors, with each space having a number in it.

In each round, a number of item cards is dealt out to players, with 20-22 cards being dealt in the first round. Cards show a colored item, e.g., a red ice cream spoon or a purple scarf. On a turn, you place one of your animal tokens on the path farther than any other animal token, say, in the 1 red space or the 2 purple space, to give some indication of what you have in hand. (The first player is limited to one of the first five spaces.) The next player places one of their tokens farther down the path, and so on, with each placement giving players a chance to suggest what cards they hold in hand. A player can use their animal power once during a round.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Image from the rulebook

At some point a player will decide that instead of placing an animal token, it's time to attempt an escape. At that point, all players reveal all cards of the color matching the location of the animal token furthest down the path. If you have more cards, you gain experience stars equal to the number depicted on that space — and with experience stars, you can purchase a higher starting experience level, which means you'll have more cards in play, including face-up cards visible to all. If you have exactly as many cards as the number depicted, you gain experience stars as well as a universal tool card that counts as a joker. If you have fewer cards, you fail.

Shuffle all cards, then deal out the current number of cards and start a new round. If during a round you manage to reach one of the six final spaces on the track and you have at least that many cards of the designated color, you escape and win the game. If you fail to do this by the end of the seventh round, you lose.

You can increase the difficulty of KuZOOkA by requiring more stars to advance in experience level or by playing on the opposite side of the game board, which requires you to win universal tools in order to succeed in the final six spaces.
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Wed Jun 22, 2022 1:00 pm
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Tokyo Game Market 2022 Spring: Report from Table Games in the World

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Editor's note: Game Market took place in Tokyo on April 23-24, 2022, and Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated reports about this event (a day one report and four slightly more detailed game round-ups) that were written by Takuya Ono, who runs the Table Games in the World blog. Mr. Ono has given permission to reprint the photos from his post. Many thanks to Saigo! —WEM

Tokyo Game Market 2022 Spring (Day 1) took place on April 23 at Tokyo Big Sight. Osaka Game Market 2022 in March had been cancelled, so this was the first Game Market after Tokyo Game Market 2021 Autumn last November.

On such a warm day, with the temperature reaching as high as 27º Celsius as if it was more like early summer than spring, many board game enthusiasts gathered. According to the official announcement, the attendance was 9,500 on the first day and 6,500 on the second day, adding up to 16,000 in total.

Soon after getting off at Tokyo Big Sight Station on the Yurikamome Line, the building with inverted pyramids comes into sight. People who had purchased early entry tickets were gathered in one place and were led in groups to the plaza in front of the venue.

The reported number of COVID-19 infection cases per day continued to exceed 5,000 in Tokyo, but it was fortunate that it had not led to the level of canceling the event like in Osaka in March when the number of infection cases had spiked from a much smaller number.

However, as in the past, strict measures were taken to prevent infection. The measures included registering contacts, taking temperatures, wearing masks, leaving some shutters open, and allowing demo tables only at block booths.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The Game Market venue is not in these inverted pyramids, but on the ground floor below them. The venue, the same as that used for the last Tokyo Game Market, is West Halls 1 and 2 with a combined exhibition area of 17,760 square meters.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Before the opening at 11:00, there was a line of 1,500 people who had purchased early entry tickets. Having learned from the trouble at the last Tokyo Game Market, the entry was made smooth and all of these people managed to enter the venue in only seven minutes.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

In the U-shape venue, the dead-end areas at the back tended to be congested. Compared to Tokyo Game Market 2021 Autumn, there were more people with children, but it seemed difficult for strollers to pass amid the congestion.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

In a prime spot near the entrance was the Jelly Jelly Games booth. They released communication party games You-Tell and Mitaina, along with the Japanese edition of the drawing game Sherlock & Picasso.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Arclight, which had announced the release of Godzilla, had a large line of people waiting to buy its games, partly due to the pre-release of the Japanese editions of some titles. (The photo shows the display area. The shopping area was behind this area to the left.)

From gallery of W Eric Martin

There was a long line of people also at the booth of Keepdry, which released Gun and Gun W SHOUT, a new standard set for the battle card game in which players each equip their gunner character with two guns available to them.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The second-hand board game store Arch Games, for the first time, released three new titles: a Japanese edition of Frank's Zoo, Storabelt, and Animanize. They had a joint booth with KANA charm, who produces custom-made board game accessories.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

At the special booth for commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of late Alex Randolph, there was a lecture by Takayuki Sasaki (from Hyakumachimori), who studies the works of Randolph, and a demoing of Randolph's games.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The other special booth, make.ctrl.Japan 2, was a joint booth to demo "analog digital games" that use everyday objects as unusual controllers. From left to right: a game to handle calls to multiple telephone sets, a game to reach the goal while covering yourself with a cardboard box, and a game to defeat insects with blowouts.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

At the GP Games booth, students from Yamagata Chuo High School presented their findings in their activity to use CATAN for community building. Having won a prize at the Japan Senior High School Design Championship, their activity is reported to have attracted attentions from the local government and shopping districts.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Susumu Kawasaki, who designed Arclight's new game Godzilla, also released the new tile placement game Connect 37 under his own Kawasaki Factory label. You can score points by connecting the number tiles on which you have placed score tokens.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Toshiki Sato, the author of Happy City (the international edition of Happiest Town), which has been well-received worldwide, released ガニメデ戦記Zero (The War Chronicles of Ganymede Zero), a two-player game in which you build robots by placing transparent part cards on top of each other and sleeving them together.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Saashi, the author of the flip-and-write game Let's Make a Bus Route, enjoys the popularity of its overseas remake Get on Board: New York & London. At the Saashi & Saashi booth, they released the Japanese edition of Get on Board: New York & London and a new card game Before the Guests Arrive.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Toryo Hojo, who has constantly released games themed on topical scandals, released two titles, namely 包装禁止 / Housou Kinshi ("Packaging Not Allowed") and 大戦争のあとしまつ / Daisensou no Atoshimatsu ("Cleaning Up the Mess After a Great War"). His games continue to fascinate us both by their satirical themes and game design with a twist.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

ClaGla, who had a joint booth with Shogakukan, presented their new game Pun University, in which players as students try to pass an entrance exam by creating puns to memorize numbers, but the printed copies of the game failed to arrive in time. There were also some other groups whose games failed to arrive in time due to the lockdown in Shanghai.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Takumi Minamibata had won the Kids Creator Award for his game TAKUMI ZOO, which he had created during his summer vacation in the first grade of elementary school.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The brothers seven-year-old Rintaro and five-year-old Ken Shirasaka released the games they had designed under the label "Rinken Games".

From gallery of W Eric Martin

At the ボドゲ神社 / Bodoge Jinja ("Board Game Shrine") booth, board game fortune slips and various board game good-luck charms were on sale. May the COVID-19 crisis end soon!

•••

Tokyo Game Market 2022 Spring Report from Table Games in the World: Report on New Games
(Links:
https://tgiw.info/2022/04/gm2022s-games-1.html
https://tgiw.info/2022/05/gm2022s-games-2.html
https://tgiw.info/2022/05/gm2022s-games-3.html
https://tgiw.info/2022/05/gm2022s-games-4.html )

Hundreds of new board game titles are estimated to have been released at Tokyo Game Market 2022 Spring, which took place at Tokyo Big Sight on April 23 and 24. From among them, I would like to report on some titles that caught my attention.

Strategy Games

Godzilla (from Arclight)

This is the first game of the Kaiju on the Earth LEGENDS series. It is a one-against-many game in which Godzilla lands on Tokyo's Shibaura waterfront and lays the city to waste while the humans set up evacuation routes and have the residents escape as much as possible.

The Godzilla player scores points based on the evacuation routes and residents they destroy, while the human players score points based on the evacuated residents and news reports. The Godzilla player announces the route they will take and rolls the dice. By rolling same-number or consecutive dice rolls, they can take actions, such as moving and firing the heat ray. As the Godzilla grows more powerful by acquiring more dice and chances to reroll them, risk management becomes the key factor for the human players.

Game Design: Susumu Kawasaki (Kawasaki Factory) / Illustration: Yuji Kaida and Takeshi Nakamura
2-5 players / 10+ / 50-70 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Tevsphere (from Shakushi Heiki)

In this planetary exploration game, each card can be used in four different ways. Players each acquire cards by consuming time and oxygen and place them on their player board. There are four spots to place the cards. Depending on where you place them, you may gain materials or use permanent effects. Oxygen that gradually runs out must be replenished by returning to the mother ship. At the end of the game, players compete to score points based on the rarity of the cards placed on their player boards.

Game Design: Rail Amasaki / Illustration: Sania
1-4 players / 8+ / 60-90 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Connect 37 (from Kawasaki Factory)

In this tile-placement game, you score points by connecting sets of four or more numbers. On your turn, you can place either one of the two hex tiles from your hand on the board. You may also place a score token on the tile placed. At the end of the game, you score points by your score tokens placed on four or more consecutive number tiles in line. Some tiles are removed before the game, so not all number tiles may be connected. Attempts to monopolize the points are hampered by other players, so it is necessary to co-operate with other players to some degree.

Game Design: Susumu Kawasaki / Illustration: Sai Beppu
2-4 players / 8+ / 15 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

解脱RTA / Gedatsu RTA ("Deliverance RTA") (from Megalomaniac Game)

In this game, players in a world of endless suffering and strife practice and accumulate virtue in order to attain deliverance from worldly attachments before anyone else. The players place vitality tokens on the "battle grounds" in snowfields and wildernesses, and when a certain number of player tokens are placed on each battle ground, the players with dominance over the area receive virtues. There are various actions depending on the order of placement, and special actions can be performed with "blessings" to change the battle situation. If you die (run out of vitality tokens) after reaching 16 virtues, you win for having attained deliverance.

Game Design: Party Taro / Illustration: Osamu Yamazaki
3-4 players / 14+ / 25-30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Potion Market (from POLAR POND GAMES / analog lunchbox)

The players' actions involve playing mancala by moving six materials in their cauldron player board, extracting essence from the materials, and combining the extracts to acquire potions and familiar spirits. The familiar spirits and potions are lined up in the play area, and how the game proceeds varies depending on whether you choose to acquire familiar spirits with various special effects or potions with bonus actions.

Game Design: Masaki Suga / Illustration: Saori Shibata
2-4 players / 14+ / 20-60 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Different World Merchant (from Wablues)

The players, in a fantasy world, aim to make the mPotion Marketost profits by trading with other players while changing the values of items, such as the armor, food, magic potions, and gems. Initially, each player knows the value of only one type of item. After performing worker-placement actions that involve taking a peek at the values of other items and swapping the values, players carry out one-to-one trading between them. Finally, the values of all items are disclosed, then the players convert the items in their hands into money. You need to guess the concealed values of items from other players' actions.

Game Design: Fei / Illustration: Namiki
2-4 players / 10+ / 20-45 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Fairy Factory (from DeDen)

In this game, fairies produce, transport, and sell gems. The combinations of gems that can be sold are determined by demand cards, but only the gems produced in previous turns can be transported and sold. You need to make a sales plans based on this time lag along with your opponents' progress in production.

Game Design & Illustration: DeDen
4 players / 8+ / 45 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Umbradeco (from KUJIRADAMA)

This is a tile-placement game in which players place hex tiles in the way that no tiles of the same color are adjacent to each other. Meanwhile, they score points from non-adjacent same-color tiles in the same row. You can also push other tiles out or place tiles on top of each other. Points are earned through several different scoring patterns.

Game Design: Emi Kuji / Illustration: Poko
2-4 players / 8+ / 20-30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Umizushi (from Umeruma Games)

This is a set-collection game in which players take turns picking the sea slugs lined up in the play area, feed them, and arrange them on the board. The higher the number (points to earn) on the sea slug you pick, the later you are in the turn order to get its food with the risk of being unable to place it. The sea slugs must be placed in specified patterns according to the numbers on them, and you score points from the sea slugs on each orthogonal row filled. The points you score are doubled if you manage to fill each row with same-color sea slugs.

Game Design: Umeruma Games / Illustration: nano
2-4 players / 8+ / 30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Monslaught in Halloween (from COLON ARC)

At the start of this "deck-building game with the joy of unpacking a package in every game play", players each draw three cards from the deck, keep one of them as their hand, and play it. Using the power of the cards in your hand, you can acquire the cards in the play area to improve your deck and prepare for the battle with the final boss. The cute illustration by a popular artist is also worth noting.

Game Design: Taiga Takeura (Tareruya) / Illustration: HAL10WEEN
2-4 players / 10+ / 45 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Trick-Taking Games

アメノキリフダ / Ame no Kirifuda ("Heavenly Trump") (from Mow Mow Games)

Players must follow suit of four seasons. The next season is the trump suit. Each time you win a trick, place on the board a stone in a square of the season you have played. At the end of the game, you score points for the number of stones placed times the number of stones in a row. However, only three or four stones are available, and if you win a trick when a stone is not available, it incurs the wrath of the goddess, and all the stones on the board must be removed. You need to win tricks by the target season while being careful not to win too much. It is possible to push other players' stones out of the squares and even use special cards to score points by filling the squares according to specified patterns, requiring a highly strategic game play.

Game Design: Sencha / Illustration: warmtail
3-4 players / 10+ / 15 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

敗者の権利 / Haisha no Kenri ("Losers' Rights") (from Senpatsu Hyakuchu)

In this game in which you must follow suit and with no trumps, the winner of the trick chooses two of the cards from the trick they won and place them in the play area, while the losers of the trick can bid on them by placing money tokens next to the cards. The cards are eventually arranged in a 5×5 grid, and you score points from the cards won by area majority. The winner of the trick can choose the lead player of the next trick, reverse the strength of the number cards, or move one of their money tokens, so winning the trick is not always a disadvantage.

Game Design: Suzuki / Illustration: Suzu
3-5 players / 10+ / 30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

不知火 / Shiranui ("Unknown Fire") (from TanTan)

In this game in which you must follow suit, the player who has followed suit with the lowest-value card scores points equal to the difference from the next lowest-value card played in the trick. The color with the highest value in total becomes the suit to follow, so a color other than that of the lead suit may become the suit to follow. In addition to this, players each draw a gem token from the bag at the start and can place the gem token on a previously-played card of the same color to increase the value. This helps increasing both the points you score and the power of the suit, but it is hard to decide when to use it to outsmart other players.

Game Design: Zagurasu / Illustration: Studio Turbine
3-5 players / 10+ / 40 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

いやどす / Iyadosu ("I Refuse") (from Mashikamaru)

In this press-your-luck trick-taking game, players each hold the cards as originally dealt, without rearranging them, and divide these cards in their hand by the insert card. Cards to the left of the insert card are the "normal" cards that must follow suit. On the other hand, cards to the right of the insert card count as "Iyadosu" ("I refuse") cards. Iyadosu cards can be played when a player can follow suit with their "normal" cards but refuses to do so. If a player runs out of "normal" cards to play, they are eliminated from the round. You can score points if you survive until the end of the round. The more "normal" cards you have, the less likely you are to be eliminated, but then you have fewer "Iyadosu" cards to spare. If you run out of "Iyadosu" cards, your score drops and you may end up with zero points.

Game Design: Mashikamaru / Illustration: Studio Turbine, Oimo3, Rabbin
3-5 players / 12+ / 30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Two Seesaws (from ORUCAgames)

In this trick-taking game in which you must follow suit, depending on the winning suit in the previous trick, the power of the values on the cards switches between ascending and descending order and the type of trick switches between "SEE trick" (in portrait orientation) and "SAW trick" (in landscape orientation). You earn 2 points for each pair of "SEE" and "SAW" tricks and lose 1 point for each of either trick not in a pair.

Game Design by: Sotogamo Nakiku / Illustration: Moyy
1-5 players / 14+ / 30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

魔女の一撃宅配便 / Majo no Ichigeki Takkyuubin ("Witch's Shot Delivery Service") (from Nekoyanagi Daikinnboshi)

In this trick-taking game with bidding, players each check the cards in their hand and announce the number of packages they can carry as their "quota". The package of your acquired tricks counts as "the package you have delivered", but if you deliver more than you can at once, you get a strained lower back, which is called "Hexenschuss" (witch's shot) in German.

Game Design: Nama Nekoyanagi / Illustration: Tasuke
3-4 players / 7+ / 20-40 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Dice Games

Monster Colosseum (from Laugh Games)

In this survival dice action game, players roll their monster dice into the colosseum surrounded by walls and compete with their dice rolls in total. You can also roll your dice to hit your opponents' dice in order to change their dice rolls or drop them into the holes in the colosseum, making it a tough survival for them.

Game Design: Mukai / Illustration: Japan Anime & Manga College
3-4 players / 6+ / 30-40 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Nozoku Dice (from Kanazawa Kodatsuno Games)

Players pick dice rolls from the play area and play action cards to change the dice rolls in order to form the most same-number dice rolls of higher numbers. The cards indicate the sides of the dice placed on them. Use them in good combinations to increase and match dice rolls.

Game Design: Tora Kuji / Illustration: Sai Beppu
1-4 players / 12+ / 20-30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Ninja Master (from itten)

The prototype of Ninja Master (Fun Brick Series 07), which will be released in mid-2022, was being demoed. It is a pattern recognition and reaction game to roll dice, count the number of ninja on the dice rolls, and race to grab the corresponding ninja or sword.

Game Design: Reiner Knizia

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Two-Player Games

Corsaire (from Fudacoma Games)

This is a two-player game from Fudacoma Games, who have produced a series of well-received pen-and-paper games. In the first half of the game, players place cards in an inverted-pyramid form to create the resource conversion route. In the second half, they collect the cards in turn to form their hands and play them to acquire areas in the style of Battle Line. The cards need to be placed with consideration to both the conversion route in the first half and the order in which they are collected in the second half of the game.

Game Design: Yusuke Sawaguchi, Illustration: Makoto Takami
2 players / 12+ / 30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Sarauabaku (from Kengo Otsuka)

This is a social deduction game between a detective and thief over treasure. The detective player knows which of the three treasure chests contains the treasure, while the thief player knows which of the six suspects is the thief. The players take turns to place a character next to a card and try to deduce whereabouts of the treasure and thief from where the characters are placed. The production team includes the character designer and scenario writer of the video game Ace Attorney series, and the game is supplied with a novel.

Game Design: Kengo Otsuka / Graphic Design: Tsutomu Dejima / Character Design: Tatsuro Iwamoto / Novel Writing: Takeshi Yamazaki
2 players / 8+ / 10-30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Rhombus (from Game NOWA)

In this abstract game, players place tiles each with two triangles on them and score points for connecting an even number of same-color triangles. The tiles to place also include the triangles of your opponent's color, so players each try to form groups of an even number of triangles of their color while trying to form groups of an odd number of their opponent's color. The advanced rules involve patterns in addition to color. The game on the left in the photo is Shinigami Preschool ("Reaper Preschool"), a new trick-taking game from the same author, in which players can score points by collecting an even number of same-color cards.

Game Design and Artwork: Kenichi Kabuki
2 players / 8+ / 20 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Ham's Sandwich Shop (from Graphic335)

Players move the hamster chef in the style of Patchwork around the cards positioned in a loop to place toppings on their bread, and they announce when they think the sandwich is finished according to the recipe. Meanwhile, the recipe changes according to the toppings in front of the hamster token as it moves around. Each time the hamster chef jumps over a seed, you can insert your hamster tile from your hand to add secret toppings. However, some hamsters may snack on the toppings underneath them.

Game Design: Kengo Otsuka / Illustration: Graphic335
2-3 players / 8+ / 30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Word Games

Poemo (B-Cafe)
After the initial phrase card is determined, players play from their hands a poetic and emotional ("po-emo") phrase card that follows it, then they vote for the best one. A poem is completed by linking four cards of such phrases. The first player to gain the specified score wins. The game contains 200 "po-emo" phrases.

Game Design: Shogo Kuroda / Illustration: Chupami
3-8 players / 12+ / 5-10 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

4コマンガ / Yonkomanga ("Four-Panel Comic") (from Shogakukan)

Players take turns to play a panel tile for one of multiple four-panel comic strips in production. After all the comic strips are complete, the reader player chooses which is "most popular" and which is the least popular one "to be cancelled". You score points for your panels in the most popular strip and lose points for your panels in the strip to be cancelled. The points to score or lose are higher for later panels.

Game Design and Graphic Design: Daipo (ClaGla) / Illustration: Kokonasu☆Rumba
3-6 players / 8+ / 20 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

がんばれ!AIueo / Ganbare! AIueo (from MILLION PERCENT)

Each letter from the "topic word" is assigned in turn to a player, who composes a sentence starting with that letter. In the style of Telestrations, each player can read only the sentence written by the player before them. Without determining the winner, the game is designed to simply enjoy the presentation at the end.

Game Design: mizumizu / Illustration: Piu
3-6 players / 10+ / 15-30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

エビフライエフェクト / Ebi Fry Effect (from Mugen Infinity ∞)

Players take turns being the storyteller, who plays a story card face down from their hand and tells a made-up story that connects the face-up card in the play area and the card they have just played. Other players try to guess from the story whether the card played includes the word "Ebi Fry" (Japanese fried shrimp) and race to take the supplied Ebi Fry replica in the center of the table if they think that Ebi Fry is included. The Story Teller can score points if everyone fails to take the Ebi Fry for a card containing "Ebi Fry" or if a player takes the Ebi Fry for a card not containing "Ebi Fry".

Game Design: Mugen Infinity ∞ / Illustration: Yui Metal
2-8 players / 10+ / 20 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

ムジュンゴ / Mujungo (Azb.Studio)

Cards are revealed one by one from the deck, and if an animal on another player's card is revealed, race to shout out the player's name before they do. Factors such as calling other players by their chosen animal names and associating multiple animals with each card by inserting it into a transparent card sleeve with different animal names make the games a quirky brain burner.

Game Design and Illustration: Azb.Studio
2-6 players / 6+ / 15 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Other New Games

Planepita (from SzpiLAB)

Players flick their discs in three concentric circles and compete for majority in each area. Each disc contains a magnet. If flipped to the other side, it sticks to the board and becomes harder to be moved away. The areas closer to the center can earn you a higher score, but the competition is also higher in these areas.

Game Design: Eisuke Fujinawa and Kazunori Hori / Artwork: Mitsuki Toyama
2-4 players / 6+ / 20-30 min.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Before the Guests Arrive (from Saashi & Saashi)

Players take turns taking an orthogonal row of cards from the play area and scoring points per set of family cards and their corresponding stuff cards. Any number of same-type cards can be collected to score points at once, but collecting too many cards incurs the risk of losing many points when the game-ending card is drawn from the deck.

Game Design: Saashi / Illustration: Takako Takarai
2-4 players / 7+ / 15 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Dungeon in Memory (from Okabodo Seisakubu)

Tiles for connecting the dungeon path are played, but instead of placing them next to each other, they are piled on top of each other, with each player picturing the possible connected dungeon path in their head. If a player guesses that the tiles can no longer be placed to extend the path, they announce "Lost" at that point. To check whether the guess is correct, the tiles in the dungeon are connected in order at the end. The game play requires spatial perception rather than memory.

Game Design: locogame / Artwork: TOPECONHEROES Daryama
1-5 players / 10+ / 10-30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Annasi! (from Puninokai)

This is a co-operative game in which players try to guess the numbers "1" to "6" assigned to each of them, using specified actions, mimicry, and comments as clues. The clues, which change from game to game, include ones such as everyone concurrently clapping their hands the number of times matching their numbers, everyone concurrently reciting the chant "Namu Amida Butsu" likewise, and talking about what they did during the month or time of their numbers.

Game Design: Mahito Mukai / Illustration: Ryoya Furukawa
1-6 players / 6+ / 15 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Judge Domino (from itten)

This is a remake of Chicken Domino, which was released from Yokke Tei at Tokyo Game Market 2021 Autumn. Players take turns adding a domino to the line or moving a domino in the line. If you think that it is not possible to knock over all the dominoes in the line, challenge the player who has placed the last domino. The player pushes the domino at the end of the line to see whether all the dominoes can be knocked over. This is scheduled to be released in mid-2022.

Game Design: Tsukii Yosuke

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Magicalligraphy Luxury Edition (from Koguma Koubou)

This is a social deduction game in which players together try to draw the specified symbol using the feather quill connected with thin wires to the ring on each player's finger and attempt to guess which, if any, of the players were attempting to draw a different symbol than the others. Originally released at Tokyo Game Market 2021 Spring, this luxury edition was produced with the handcraft by Northgame. Only ten copies were available via preorder lottery for 12,000 yen each.

Game Design: Masakazu Takizawa / Artwork: Northgame
2-4 players / 6+ / 15-30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

めぐるめぐみ / Meguru Megumi ("Nature's Blessings Circulate") (from Carrying Water Project)

In this co-operative game, players play cards to circulate water. They discuss with each other in order to prevent sewage from overflowing or running out of water, and treat the sewage so that it can be returned to nature and used again.

Game Design: Carrying Water Project+66
2-4 players / 8+ / 30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

王宮の飾り絵師 / Oukyuu no Kazarieshi ("Painter in the Royal Palace") (from Saikoro Juku)

Players blind bid on the color and number of areas they want to paint. Biddings on the same color as those bid on by players who bid on fewer areas are cancelled. Otherwise, you can paint on your player sheet the color you have successfully bid on. Players compete for points by their painted areas and by meeting the requirements specified on the "Royalty's Request Card" which changes for each game.

Game Design: Kosuke Zaitsu / Illustration: Misuzu
3-6 players / 8+ / 15-20 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The opening time had been moved one hour later from the last Tokyo Game Market. As a result, visitors have only five hours a day for regular entry and six hours even for early entry. On the other hand, there are 608 exhibitor booths. If you wish to visit and check all of them, you can spend only 30-40 seconds per booth by rough estimate. Once again, I visited all the booths, but there must be many items that I missed. On the TGIW website, we currently conduct a questionnaire survey on the games released at Tokyo Game Market. We would like to refer to the results of the survey and other information to catch up with the titles we have missed.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Mr. Ono ricochets around Game Market
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Reinforcements Arrive and Evolve the Undaunted Series

Candice Harris
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David Thompson and Trevor Benjamin’s Undaunted series from Osprey Games kicked off in 2019 with the release of Undaunted: Normandy, a hooky, 2-player deck-building game that places you and your opponent in command of American or German forces, fighting through a series of missions critical to the outcome of World War II. A year later, Undaunted: North Africa was released and featured additional gameplay elements, along with a new setting in the North African Theater of World War II where players command the British Army's Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) or the Italian forces opposing them.

As I eagerly await the arrival of Undaunted: Stalingrad, the next standalone game in the series which is due out later in 2022 per Eric's announcement in January 2022, I have been enjoying my plays of Undaunted: Reinforcements on a review copy David Thompson graciously hooked me up with.

Undaunted: Reinforcements is a modular expansion for Undaunted: Normandy and Undaunted: North Africa which continues to evolve the Undaunted series with new rules, scenarios, and units. Reinforcements comes in a big chunky box that holds all of the content for both base games and the expansion which is very handy for consolidating shelf space. That being said, I’m still holding onto the base game boxes. Roland MacDonald’s artwork on the box covers is way too good to simply toss them.

Undaunted Gameplay Overview
For those who aren't familiar with the Undaunted series, allow me to briefly describe how these games work and what they're all about before delving into the new additions in Undaunted: Reinforcements.

From gallery of candidrum
Scenario 1 of my Normandy campaign with Jake 08.06.20
Undaunted: Normandy and Undaunted: North Africa are 2-player deck-building games where you command soldiers across a series of scenario-based missions on a modular game board. Each scenario features a different landscape of tiles with different objectives which presents players with a variety of fresh challenges to play through.

The scenario booklets have details for a number of different scenarios that can be played in any order as standalone games, or multiple scenarios can be strung together for a campaign experience. Each scenario includes a historical briefing, each side's victory objective, and a list of different unit cards for each player to create their starting deck and supply.

In your deck and supply, you have combat cards which represent soldiers in your platoon, command cards which represent officers in your platoon, and fog of war cards (deck cloggers) which represent the breakdowns in communication caused by the chaos of battle. For each of the different types of combat cards in your deck/supply, you have a matching combat counter which you control by playing matching cards.

Undaunted is played over a series of rounds where both players play cards to move units, attack opposing forces, and take control of key objective locations. Each round consists of three phases: 1) Draw cards, 2) Determine initiative, and 3) Player turns.

At the start of each round, both players draw four cards from their individual decks into their hands. Then players secretly select one card from their hand and reveal it simultaneously to determine initiative, which goes to the player who played the card with highest initiative number.

The initiative process is very simple rules-wise, but is often an excruciatingly hard decision for both players. Whichever card you choose for the initiative bid is discarded, so you won't be able to take actions with it that round. Thus, you strain your brain thinking about how much you want and need the initiative, but you also don't want to sacrifice a good card that has an action you really want or need to play. The hand management struggles are real in this game.

From gallery of candidrum
Scenario 2 of my N. Africa campaign with Matt 12.10.20
Sometimes it's critical to have the initiative so you can attack before your opponent, which might make or break the game for you. Sure, if you have a fog of war card in your hand, you can toss it in for the initiative bid so you're not losing a better card with actions, but there are many times where having the initiative is extremely important, so that's a gamble. There are also moments where you think through this decision so much and end up playing a higher initiative card, only to discover your opponent played a fog of war card and you could've gotten away with putting a lower initiative card in. Oof! Either way, it's always a fun moment in the game and an exciting reveal when both players flip over their initiative card.

Whoever wins the initiative gets to take actions first with the remaining three cards in their hand, followed by the other player. Each card you play, aside from the fog of war cards, has multiple actions available which gives players flexibility each round. When you a play a card, you choose one action on the card to perform.

There are a variety of movement actions that allow you to move around the board. There are a slew of support actions that let you build your deck, draw more cards, trash fog of war cards or add them to your opponents deck, take control of tiles with objective points, and more. Then there are also a few of combat actions where you can attack your opponents or suppress them to temporarily put one of their combat counters out of commission.

When you decide to attack in Undaunted, you choose a target and determine their defense value, which is the sum of the defense on the counter itself, the cover bonus from the tile it's on, and a range bonus based on the number of tiles away the attacker is from the defender. Then you roll a number of ten-sided attack dice (based on the attack action strength). If any of the die results are equal to or higher than the defense value, the attack is successful. The defender has to find a card matching the attacked unit and remove it from the game. When looking for the card to remove, they start with their hand, then their discard pile, and then their deck. If no cards for that unit are found, then they have to remove the counter from the game board.

Each scenario has a specific victory objective for each side, which most commonly involves controlling a number of objective points, but in other cases you'll need to take down (pin/neutralize) some your opponents forces to win. In any case, you play round after round until one player wins by completing their victory objective.

From my experience, each game/scenario usually runs 45-90 minutes. Undaunted: North Africa adds vehicles, structure markers, and a few additional actions which makes it a hair more complex than Undaunted: Normandy, but both games are very accessible and have excellent rulebooks, keeping the barrier to entry low.

Undaunted: Reinforcements Modules
• In Undaunted: Reinforcements, the Armour and Armament module introduces vehicles, specialists, new actions, and four new scenarios to Undaunted: Normandy. Each of these new elements add some interesting variation and flavor to Undaunted: Normandy, while being easy to integrate if you have experience with the base game.

Normandy gets a dose of North Africa treatment with the addition of vehicles, however they work differently than the vehicles in Undaunted: North Africa. They function more similar to regular combat units except they have armored defense and cannot be targeted by normal attacks, so you'll need to load up your antitank weapons to take them down.

From gallery of candidrum
German Panther and U.S. Sherman tank battle 'bout to go down

The new Reinforcements Normandy scenarios include new units for controlling the vehicles, as well as Rifleman specialists that have unique combat actions compared to the base game Rifleman units, which tie into some of the new actions Reinforcements brings to the table.

There’s a new Advance action which allows you move a group of counters onto an adjacent tile occupied by at least one friendly combat counter. More movement options are always welcomed in a game where you're trying to beat your opponent to a particular goal. There are also new combat actions that allow you to target vehicles and attack all enemy units on a tile by tossing a grenade (Grenade action).

From gallery of candidrum
The Light Truck and Scout units should tread carefully with these mines...
• In the Under Cover of Night module, you get some similar spice added to Undaunted: North Africa with the addition of mines, new unit types, new actions, and four new scenarios.

Mines are only used in the new Reinforcements scenarios for Undaunted: North Africa. Units that have a Mine action can place mines between two tiles so the mine token overlaps both tiles, or remove mine tokens. The mine tokens are double-sided so you have a choice of placing them on the anti-personnel side which targets enemy soldiers, or the anti-armour side which targets enemy vehicles. In either case, when an enemy moves over a mine, you immediately resolve an attack against the unit that triggered it.

Mines add a whole new strategic layer to Undaunted: North Africa since you can use them to interfere with your opponent trying to move and control tiles with objective points. It's an interesting defensive tool which your opponent will have to strategize around, or ignore them and accept the risk.

There is also a new Air Support action that allows you to take Recon Aircraft and Assault Aircraft units from your supply directly into your hand. The Assault Aircraft unit includes a new Bomb action which lets you choose any tile and and attack all enemy soldier combat counters (including your own!). When you do this attack, similar to Grenade attacks, you perform a separate attack against each targeted combat counter. It can be very effective considering your targets do not receive any defensive range bonus.

• The Joint Operations module includes rules for playing Undaunted: Normandy and Undaunted: North Africa with four players in teams of two with the eight new Reinforcements scenarios. When you play two-versus-two, each player has their own starting deck and supply, and teammates share fog of war cards for their side. From there, the gameplay is almost identical to a 2-player Undaunted game with a few changes and a wee bit of extra downtime in between your turns.

One player on each team, the player who starts the game with the Lieutenant/Platoon Sergeant card is designated as the commander and gets the command token. When you draw cards at the start of a round, the two commanders draw four cards, while the other two players instead draw three cards. Then the two commanders bid for initiative. The team whose commander wins the initiative takes actions first, followed by the commander of the other team, then the other player on the team with the initiative, and lastly, the other player on the team without the initiative.

From gallery of candidrum
A 4-player game of Normandy: Scenario 101: Barenton

Each player has their own units that they control (i.e. Player 1 has Rifleman A and Rifleman B, while Player 2 has Rifleman C). Whenever you would move the Lieutenant/Platoon Sergeant card to your discard pile, you instead move it to your teammate's discard pile and pass them the commander token. In this way, the commander role alternates between players throughout the game.

In a 4-player game of Undaunted: Reinforcements, you can freely communicate with your teammate, but anything you communicate must be open so that your opponents can hear. I found it really fun having a partner to discuss tactics and strategies with, in addition to throwing our opponents some collective trash-talk here and there.

I enjoyed playing Undaunted: Reinforcements as a team game and I love that we're no longer limited to enjoying Undaunted solely as a 2-player game. The 4-player game can be a bit tedious to set up since you have to set up the modular board and build four different decks and supplies before you can get started. Playing with teams changes up the dynamic and feels different than the tense 2-player game. The team experience felt more fun-forward, like a good beer-and-pretzels game with lots of laughs and high-fives.

From gallery of candidrum
U.S. Scout solo card for Scenario 2
• For a more intimate Undaunted experience, the Enemy Unknown module, designed by Dávid Turczi and David Digby, allows you to play any scenario from Normandy, North Africa, or Reinforcements against a bot opponent driven by solo cards.

During setup you choose whichever scenario you want to play, decide which side you want to play, and then set up the game board and your deck and supply as per usual. There may be some minor changes to the normal 2-player setup for the scenario, but in most cases it's the same.

When it comes time to set up the bot, you build a deck for the bot, gather the solo cards for the applicable scenario, and then you create and shuffle bolster decks with the cards in the bot's supply. Instead of bolstering from a supply of face-up cards, the bot takes cards randomly from these facedown bolster decks when taking a Bolster action.

Gameplay for the solo mode of Undaunted follows the same flow as a 2-player game, where you play a series of rounds until one side wins. Your turns are the same as usual, and the bot's turns are driven by the solo cards matching the cards in the bot's deck.

To determine initiative, you choose a one of your four cards as usual, and then you reveal the top card from the bot's deck to compare initiative numbers. If the bot wins the initiative, the bot's initiative card is added to the bot's play area, then you draw three additional cards and place them in the bot's player area, ordering them from highest to lowest initiative level. Then you resolve all four cards as directed on the corresponding solo cards. However, if the bot didn't win the initiative, the bot's initiative card is discarded, then you would take your turn. After, the bot would only resolve three cards.

When it's the bots turn, you resolve one card at a time from highest to lowest initiative. Each card in the bot's deck has its own corresponding solo card, with conditions and instructions you need to follow, similar to flow charts found in many solo wargames. To resolve a solo card, you start with the top condition, and if it's true, you do what it says. Otherwise, you move to the next line and evaluate the same. After you resolve an action for a card in the bot's play area, you discard it.

From gallery of candidrum
LRDG bot cards for Cooperation in Destruction scenario #203

Undaunted: Reinforcements comes with a thick stack of 150 different solo cards! There is a different solo card for each type of card in the bot's deck/supply for each different scenario and for either side. Some of the solo cards are filled with lines of text which may appear daunting, while others are only one or two lines and quick to resolve. In addition to understanding how to interpret the solo cards, there is new terminology and bot-specific rules you'll need to familiarize yourself with. So there is a learning curve here, especially if you're not used to playing solo games with a bot opponent that has a conditional decision process. That being said, once you play a few different scenarios solo, you should be able to zip through the bot's turns very smoothly, since assuming you have the rules down, the flow of the bot's turn is very simple -- draw cards, then resolve them based on the matching solo card's specifications.

Considering you can play any scenario from Undaunted: Normandy, Undaunted: North Africa, or Undaunted: Reinforcements solo, there is so much to dig into with the Enemy Unknown solo module. There are also adjustments you can make to increase or decrease the difficulty level as you experiment with different scenarios and get used to how the bot works.

From gallery of candidrum
All set up to play a N. Africa scenario solo

The Undaunted series continues to impress me with the Undaunted: Reinforcements expansion. It's packed with tons of awesome new content and rules that add so much variety without bogging down a super smooth game system. Plus, the added solo and 4-player team modes give players flexibility to get Undaunted to the table more often, with each player count having its own feel.

The Reinforcements components, rulebook, and scenario books are great too. I really like that the rulebook includes an example of play for the solo mode since it's more complex than the other modules. On the components front, I do have a minor gripe with the new cards though. The colors on the backs of the new cards do not exactly match the original cards. It's not a huge issue, but if it does bother me or interfere with gameplay, I may just sleeve the cards with colored backs so you can't tell which cards are from the expansion versus the base games. This brings up another minor gripe.

While I love and appreciate that the Reinforcements box has room for all of the cards and components for both base games and the expansion, the card trays are already pretty tight with unsleeved cards, so I might have to get creative with fitting everything and keeping things organized with sleeved cards. Again, these are minor gripes that seem insignificant compared to all of the positives aspects of this expansion.

If you're already a fan of this series and you're hungry for more, the Reinforcements expansion is a no-brainer. However, there is tons to enjoy and experience in either base game (Normandy or North Africa).

For a deeper look into the origins of the Undaunted series, check out my Cardboard Creations interview with David Thompson on Undaunted: Normandy:
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Tue Jun 21, 2022 1:00 pm
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Game Overview: Walkie Talkie, or Orange Is the New Black

W. Eric Martin
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North Carolina
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Board Game: Walkie Talkie
At GAMA Expo 2022 I played a demo game of Walkie Talkie — a co-operative card game by Shei S. and Isra C. that's part of Devir's new small game line — but surprisingly a game-related event was not really the ideal setting for this design.

Instead I think Walkie Talkie excels in the slot of "game to play in a restaurant after placing your order". One reason for this choice is that the game takes only 30 seconds per player, that is, 1-4 minutes. Even at the fastest Thai restaurant, you'll be able to get in a game or two before your basil fried rice hits the table. What are you doing in this brief span of time? Ridding yourself of cards in hand as quickly as you can. In more detail:
Quote:
Everybody has a hand of six cards; cards have a letter on one side and a color on another, and you have to hold your cards however they're dealt to you. Place one card from the deck letter side up and another color side up. When the timer starts, everybody plays at the same time. You can play a letter on the letter pile as long as you can name something that starts with that letter and that "matches" the current color showing; similarly, you can play a color on the color pile as long as you can name something of that color that starts with the letter atop the letter pile. For example, when playing a "B" card next to a yellow card, you could say "Banana!", and when playing an orange card next to an "L", you could say "Lion!" You can't repeat a word previously given, and you can't name the color of the color card.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Sample letters and all the colors

Whenever you want, you can say "Roger!", and all players must flip the cards in their hand, so letters become colors and vice versa. Alternatively, you can say "Over!", and players pass their cards to the left.

When time runs out, you gain points equal to the number of stars on played letter cards, then subtract 1 point for each unplayed card. Try to score as many points as you can!
I've now played Walkie Talkie 17 times on a review copy from Devir with player counts from 2-5, and aside from that first demo game, we've always played at least twice in a row. We typically finish with a negative score in our first game, cards stranded in hand because we couldn't think of something pink that starts with any of our letters or something that starts with Z that matches any of our colors. Did we forget to say "Roger!" and give ourselves new options? Yes, we did. (Strangely, we've never said "Over!" in any of our games, and the two commands seem like they should be reversed, with "Over!" making you flip cards.)

Then we shuffle and play again immediately, and we always do better — which makes sense because you start to build a library of red things, of blue things, of green things, etc., and you can find items on those library shelves more easily with practice. Some items feel a bit of a cheat, e.g., "Underwear" because you can have a U with any color and have a match, but it's funny the first time someone says "Underwear", especially when the color is grey, which it was the first time, and after a couple of mentions of underwear, you can decide that you're going to place the underwear back on the shelf and try to think of something else...or not. Your call.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
The typeface might have you guessing a few times as with this H third from left

The first few games we found ourselves in a food rut, giving a food answer for almost everything we played, but then I banned myself from naming foods and tried to think of other things. I'm sure our score suffered, but the game doesn't worry too much about scores, not including a chart to consult to show when you score awesome, okay, and mediocre, so I'm not worrying about scores either.

What's of more concern is discovering what people say, especially when they make personal connections on an eye or shirt color or a pet or something far more out there that you never would have considered. My brother looked at E and black and said, "Entropy", and we were all like...yes, that is correct. You can protest a play, and if others protest, the card player must return their card to hand along with another card from either pile, but I've rarely encountered someone trying to cheat a card onto a pile. After all, the goal of playing isn't the score, but making a connection with others and getting a taste of what's going on inside their heads.

For more examples of gameplay, you can check out this overview video, which is twice as long as any game of Walkie Talkie you'll ever play:

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Mon Jun 20, 2022 10:02 pm
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Zauberberg Wins 2022 Kinderspiel des Jahres

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: Magic Mountain
Board Game: Magic Mountain
Zauberberg from designers Jens-Peter Schliemann and Bernhard Weber and publisher AMIGO has won the 2022 Kinderspiel des Jahres, Germany's children's game of the year, beating out Auch schon clever and Mit Quacks & Co. nach Quedlinburg, two titles from Wolfgang Warsch and Schmidt Spiele.

Here's an overview of this design, which was released in the U.S. under the name Magic Mountain:
Quote:
In Magic Mountain, you want to move the sorcerers' apprentices down the mountain ahead of the witches — but you don't always know how the will-o'-the-wisps will make the figures move.

To set up, place supports on the game board to elevate the starting area, then place six sorcerers' apprentices in the back row — the highest row on the game board — and four witches on their designated starting spaces. Add the five colored will-o'-the-wisp marbles to the bag.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Magic Mountain mid-game at BGG.Spring 2022;
only the purple wisp is still in the bag to be played

On a turn, draw a will-o'-the-wisp, then place it at the top of one of the six starting channels and let it go. If the will-o'-the-wisp hits a figure, the ball will stop. Pick up this figure and move it to the next open colored space on the winding path that matches the color of the will-o'-the-wisp. If you're moving a sorcerers' apprentice, you might want to do it quickly because if the will-o'-the-wisp hits that same figure, you can move it once again! Don't rush moving the witches, though, since you want them to move as little as possible. If a will-o'-the-wisp doesn't hit any figures, then you must move a witch of your choice to the next matching colored space. Once all five will-o'-the-wisps have been drawn, return them to the bag and start again.

If you manage to move four sorcerers' apprentices to the bottom of the mountain before three witches get there, you win! You can adjust the difficulty of the game by requiring more sorcerers' apprentices or fewer witches or both. Alternatively, you can play the game competitively, with each player or team trying to get their group of four figures down the mountain first.
For a full rules explanation and playthrough of the game, check out this GameNight! video from BGG:

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Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:47 pm
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