Archive for Convention Reports
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W. Eric Martin
On the day before Tokyo Game Market, which took place May 14, 2017, I attended a preview event hosted by designer Shimpei Sato (Onitama, Eggs of Ostrich) where a number of Japanese and Taiwanese designers and publishers showed off their TGM titles in advance. Here are four of the games I saw and played at that event:
• Mark Gerrits' Mini Rails from Moaideas Game Design is a magically simple rail game for 3-5 players. At the start of each round, you draw colored discs equal to twice the number of players plus one from the bag, then in player order (as shown by the pawns on the player order track) players take one of two actions: buy a share or place a track. Whichever action you don't take the first time, you must take the second time. When you buy a share, its value is zero no matter activity has already taken place in that color. When you place a track, the value of all existing shares goes up or down $1-3 depending on the space covered, with all discs of a color being placed contiguously.
As you take discs, you determine player order for the next round. Whichever disc hasn't been taken drops down to the bottom row; that action represents the company paying its taxes, and now that color will score points for all shareholders at the end of the game, with the value for each player being determined by the location of that share disc on their player board.
The game has a few other details, but that's mostly it. With only twelve disc choices in the game, along with the placement of those discs on the board, every choice matters. I played horribly in my one game, not looking ahead to what might be placed where and setting myself up for failure. Moaideas will have a presence at SPIEL 2017 should you not be able to travel back in time to TGM.
• Crows Overkill from EmperorS4 is a new version of Roy Nambu's Sanzen Sekai: I'd kill all the crows in the world to be with you a little longer, which he originally self-published in 2015. The title is less flamboyant in the new edition, but the setting remains the same: You're visiting your sweetheart and want to stay as long as possible, but your lover is very sensitive and you know that as soon as the crows start crying out that you'll have to leave, so you resolve to kill as many of them as possible in order to stay longer. I would imagine that the feathers and blood all over your hands would be a bigger turnoff than the squawking, but hey, who am I to judge?
You start the game with three bird cards in front of you and two shamisen (action) cards in hand. On a turn, you gain three more bird cards — which might show 1-3 crows, roosters, owls, warblers, or bats (and no, bats aren't birds, but they're here as well) — and two more action cards, then you must take actions so that you have fewer crows in front of you than the current limit. Oh, and no owls. They hoot all the time, so you must scoot any owls along to another player. The bird deck contains a few gong cards as well, and each time a gong is rung, the hour advances, which lowers the acceptable bird count. Suddenly you can't have a pair of roosters in front of you, or even one warbler, so you must shoo them along to some other lover, being content to ruin their relationship to ensure your personal happiness.
• Sweet Honey, Bee Mine! is from Katsuya Kitano and New Board Game Party, creators of Who Soiled the Toilet? in 2016. This game combines bluffing, hand management, and your ability to be a jerk in one tidy package. In a round, each player starts with a hand of five cards, with the cards being similar to a Pairs deck (one 1, two 2s, up to ten 10s), but with some of the cards from 1-5 being labeled "low" and some from 6-10 being labeled "high"; if a card isn't labeled, then it can be anything from 1-10.
Each player reveals one card simultaneously, and whoever reveals the highest card starts. On a turn, the player choose one card from hand, places it face down with 1-3 honey chips on it, then draw a new card. The next player can either place the same number of chips on it to pass the card to the next player or take the card and chips; if the card matches a number the player already has, they are out of the round and must ante a number of chips equal to the card number to the pot. If no one takes the card, then whoever first played the card must take it, scoring lots of chips but killing themselves if they played a number they already had.
The round continues until a player has cards that sum to at least 35, they have three cards valued 1-5 in front of them, or they're the only one still in the round. That player wins the pot, then everyone scores points equal to the number of honey chips they have. After a certain number of rounds, whoever has the most points wins.
• Host Sato taught his new game Korocchi!, the description of which I wrote previously:
In Korocchi!, you try to find the correct card that is determined by two (or three) unique dice, and whoever touches the correct card first score points. Each of the two dice in the basic game has two pieces of information:
• Color die: Shows you the outside color and inside color.
• Shape die: Shows you the outside shape and the inside shape.
Three different creatures (cat, bat and obake) are depicted on the cards, with these creatures appearing in three colors. Each card depicts one large creature in one color holding a tiny creature in another color. By pairing the two dice, you know precisely which one card to touch from all those face up on the table.
For an additional challenge, you can roll the third die as well. The faces on this die might just show that you play as normal scoring one or two points, or it might show the shapes or colors being reversed — which means you need to look for the opposite card (sort of) instead.
The gameplay matches precisely what I thought it would be: ye olde game of rolling, staring, and pouncing. Sato's tie-breaker rule for when two players touch the right card at the same time is hilarious: Whoever yells "Korocchi!" louder wins. "Korocchi" combines the Japanese words for rolling (as in dice) and grabbing, so the yelling makes sense.
You can also use the cards to play a memory game by turning them face down. On a turn, a player reveals two cards and if both the outer colors and the inner colors match on the cards, then the player claims the cards and takes another turn. Whoever collects the most cards wins.
To follow up the translation of Nicobodo's report on the 2017 Kobe Game Market, Saigo — who frequently translates game rules from Japanese to English and who tweets a lot about new JP games — has translated several reports from Takuya Ono, who runs the excellent Table Games in the World blog. Mr. Ono has also given permission to reprint the photos from his posts, and I've linked to each post in the section title. My great thanks to Saigo for the effort involved in getting permission and translating these reports! —WEM
Kobe Game Market 2017 Report (original post in Japanese)
The event took place in the same venue (Building No. 3) as in 2016;
the booth layout was not narrow, but it was quite congested in many areas
On Sunday, March 12, 2017, Kobe Game Market 2017 took place at Kobe International Exhibition Hall (Chuo Ward, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture). This was the sixth Game Market in the Kansai region and the second Game Market after the event moved from Osaka to Kobe. The 198 groups of participants — including board game publishers, board game stores, and doujin game circles — sold and displayed doujin board games (including 84 new titles), imported games, used games, books, and other board-game-related items; the attendance was later announced at 4,700 people.
A line of people waiting under the Port Liner railway viaduct before the opening,
with a passion for board games to beat the cold!
Over one thousand people waited in line before the opening for the limited number of items sold at the event. This year's Kobe Game Market was held approximately one month later than in 2016, with the weather showing some signs of spring. Still, it was below 10º Celsius in the morning. When the venue opened at 10:00 a.m., many people rushed to board game stores DDT and Trickplay. Both of these stores sell unique games imported through their original routes. Many attendees rush to imported games before doujin games. This may be a notable characteristic of the Game Market in the Kansai region.
Chim, the store manager of BOARDGAME.Lab！DDT, cosplaying as a phantom thief;
On the other hand, doujin games are gathering attention as well. Many booths were constantly crowded until late afternoon with many games becoming sold out. With people crowding in front of booths, it's become vital to plan in advance to visit some booths. Otherwise, it would be difficult to simply wander around and casually seek games that may interest you.
Still, with fewer participants compared to Tokyo Game Market, I had relatively ample time to have a look at the games. The venue was open for seven hours, the same as at Tokyo Game Market — but compared to TGM in late 2016 in which 539 groups participated, I could, at a rough estimate, spend more than twice the time at each booth. I heard both participants and attendees saying, "This is just the right size." At the venue, I tried out quite a few games, nine titles in total. I hope to report about them separately.
At TGM in late 2016, Oink Games set up a large booth like those seen at the SPIEL game fair in Essen, Germany. They recently established a German branch — Oink Games GmbH — to spread their games farther in Europe. I heard that the female German staff member who helped the Oink Games booth at SPIEL will be the branch manager to market their games. I was also told that Oink Games is considering participation next year in fairs like Gen Con (USA) and the Cannes International Games Festival (France). Such activities would open up a new field for Japanese board games, which so far have been introduced overseas through license contracts with overseas publishers.
Oink Games released Startups at this Game Market; their recent release The Pyramid's Deadline is also getting off to a good start, already having sold 3,000 copies
At the venue, some news was also announced, such as that of the Osaka-based Kiwi Games board game store opening their second store in late April near Shin-Osaka Station and Kobe-based Group SNE planning to start publishing an analog game magazine, Game Mastery, in August. Let me also note that Toryo Hojo, a Kansai-based satirical game designer, released two new games, namely Oden no Shukusai (A Feel for Oden) and a free-distributed game Trump Wall.
As I did in 2016, in Kobe I attended a gathering on the previous day of the Game Market as well as a gathering held right after the Game Market. There, I met and talked with the people sharing the hobby, both local people of the Kansai region and people from distant regions, such as Kyushu. On both days, after the gatherings, I visited Trickplay where I had long talks until 11:00 p.m., some of which were recorded for the board game podcast "Buta no Nakigoe". With the attendance to the Game Market having increased by one thousand from last year, it's difficult to stay at "the right size". Meanwhile, it was still a cozy event with a feel of "knowing each other's face", a feel that we may be losing rapidly at Tokyo Game Market.
Kobe Game Market 2017: Attended by 4,700 People (original post)
Arclight, the organizer of Kobe Game Market 2017, held at Kobe International Exhibition Hall on March 12, 2017, announced that 4,700 people attended the event. From Kobe Game Market 2016 (with 3,700 attendees), attendance increased by 1,000 people, approximately 30%.
In 2017, the number of participants was 198 groups, five groups fewer than last year. (The second-round application was not launched so as to keep some space in the venue.) The number of new games released at this event was 84 titles, which is 17 titles more than last year. Along with them, many previously-released games, imported games, used games, accessories, and self-published books were displayed for sale.
Tokyo Game Market 2017 Spring will be held two months later in Sunday, May 14 at Tokyo Big Sight. The attendance at Tokyo Game Market has constantly increased by approximately 1,000 people at each event, having reached 12,000 attendees at Tokyo Game Market 2016 Autumn [in December]. It seems that the attendance in the Kansai region is increasing at the same pace.
Kobe Game Market 2017 Game Report: Mask of Moai, Bon Voyage: Weather vs Navigator, Garimpeiro (original post)
At a Game Market venue, I try to play as many games as possible without spending too much time on buying games or talking. It's partly for gathering information for the Game Market Award and personally due to the fact that buying the games tends to result in leaving them unplayed while many other new games are released almost daily these days. Furthermore, after hearing a request from overseas asking for information on new games, this time I played games at the venue more actively. Most of the booths have only one demo table, so you often wait until the previous group is over. On the other hand, it was a lot of fun to play the games with the playful gamers of Kansai. I'd like to thank the staff who explained the rules and the people who played the games with me.
Mask of Moai (Publisher: GIFT10INDUSTRY)
Following Mask of Anubis, Mask of Moai also uses the smartphone for a cooperative game incorporating virtual reality (VR). First, attach a smartphone with the supplied application installed into the paper VR goggles. Then describe what you see to your team members, who try to create a map of a temple by arranging tiles and pieces based on your information. The goggle-wearing player's position in the temple changes each time the players change their turn. Combine the information from each player to create a large map.
Certified by Mu, a magazine about paranormal phenomena, the game is set in a unique world with a moai statue at the bottom of the sea. Using clay to create the shape of extraterrestrial strange creatures named Rapa Rapas, the players win by helping the Rapa Rapas reach the landing place of their spaceship.
The map and the shape of Rapa Rapas are automatically generated at each game with approximately one million variations. Exploring the fun factors of a board game, there is also a variant with additional puzzle elements along with communication restrictions using yes-no questions and onomatopoeia.
First, describe the landscape above the water, then dive into the water and describe what you see inside the submarine temple. Your communication skills are challenged by a time limit. Furthermore, if you encounter a Rapa Rapa, remember its shape so as to reproduce it with clay after removing the goggles. Getting totally absorbed in the game made me feel somewhat like wandering into the submarine temple.
Mask of Moai
Designer: Takashi Hamada
Artist: Haruka Kajikawa, Toshi Murase, Masashi Sato
2-6 Players / 10+ / 30-60 Min / 4,600¥
Bon Voyage: Weather vs Navigator (Publisher: COLON ARC)
This voyage card game is a remake of Koukai no Hibi (Days of Voyage), which was released by Jiyu Rakka as a 500-yen game at Tokyo Game Market 2012 Spring. It's a light game from COLON ARC, following To Unlimited, and Beyond and Sly Knight Robbery.
The players hold their crew chips in their hands and disclose them at once. After that, flip the current event card and pay or receive chips in order from the first place. Mostly, being first is advantageous with less payment, but it may occasionally lead to a loss depending on the event, thus making you wonder how much you should hold in your hand.
You keep flipping the event cards until the "Touching Land" card is flipped. This provides some ideas to assess the cards that haven't been flipped with some elements of counting. The game ends when the crew chips of one of the players are used up, and the player with the most crew chips wins.
There is also an additional set of rules to use special event cards with drastic effects for a more dynamic game. The variety of events, some of which imposing a penalty for holding too few crew chips, also led to lively conversation, like "That card would come out soon", "No, no, it's still early".
Bon Voyage: Weather vs Navigator
Designer & Artist: Yusuke Soraji
Publisher: COLON ARC
2-6 Players / 8+ / 15 min / 1,800¥
Garimpeiro (Publisher: Group SNE)
In this board game, the players compete in gold mining at the Amazon river. A game which received an honorable mention at the first Group SNE Board/Card Game Contest was developed into this game. With this, all the games which won prizes at the said contest have been made into products: two games which won the awards, namely Space Ninja and Gambler × Gamble!, and three games which received the honorable mention, namely Animal Mind, Demon Worker, and Garimpeiro.
In this game, the players first put out planning cards all at once, disclose their cards one by one in order, then replenish their hand with money or workers along with raising their workers' status. Since you cannot choose the same item as the player before you, select your planning card while considering what other players are likely to play.
After replenishing your hand, place workers in descending order of their status and take action. To perform an action already chosen by another player, more workers are required.
While various actions, such as buying victory point cards to gain special abilities and carrying over your money to the next year, are available, the main action lies in what to do with the gold mine. In this phase, you draw special dice from the bag according to the number of workers you've placed and roll these dice. You gain points according to the number of gold nuggets on the dice roll. The special dice vary in probability, ranging from the white die to get gold with a one-sixth chance to the purple die to get gold with a half chance. It was exciting to both draw and roll such dice.
In the long run, you cannot win by the simple gambling of sending more workers to the gold mine. The special abilities of the victory point cards also become increasingly effective. This is a gamer's game designed precisely down to details.
Designer: Kazuto Masukawa
Artist: Kouji Ogata
3-4 Players / 12+ / 45-60 min / 4,500¥
Kobe Game Market 2017 Game Report: Wild Gold, Putzroboter, Across the Universe (original post)
Here is my second report of the games that I played at Kobe Game Market 2017 on March 12.
Wild Gold (Publisher: 6jizo [Rokujizo])
In this card game, the players create tools from cards and use them to dig a gold mine. It's the first time for this circle to participate in a Game Market. The name of the circle 6jizo (Rokujizo) comes from Rokujizo Station in Kyoto. This game was quickly sold out at the venue and its reissue is to be waited.
At the start, each player has a "small axe" made of one stone card and one wood card. Using the small axe, you can draw one card from the play area. In the play area, there are item cards — wood, stone, iron, and fire — and treasure cards. As you collect item cards in your hand, you can assemble various tools, such as a "big axe", "small pickaxe", "spear", and "wood bomb".
I found it interesting to assemble each tool by placing the item cards in the shape of the tool. By this rule, it's easily recognizable what you can do in your turn. With the "small axe", you can draw one card from the play area. With the "big axe", you can draw two cards. With the "small pickaxe", you can choose and take one card from the discard pile. With the "spear", you can draw one card from another player's hand and snatch it if it's a treasure card. With the powerful "wood bomb", you can choose to draw four cards from the play area or draw one card from each player's hand and snatch the cards if they're treasure cards. The tools' effects vary, but their easily recognizable shapes were helpful to play the game.
Initially, I thought it would be advantageous for the start player to make more tools than others, but such an advantage is nullified by the rule to "check the upper limit". According to this rule, the active player can have only up to seven items in total of the cards in their hand and their tools. Because of this, the player may have to discard some tools or treasure cards in their hand. You can win the moment you gain 10 points through treasure cards, but because of the upper limit, we often encountered cases where you stop at 9 points and have your cards snatched from other players before your next turn, resulting in a seesaw battle.
I managed to win narrowly by making two "swords", each of which allows you to announce a type of card in another player's hand and snatch it if it's there; I snatched gold (2 points) cards from other players. It's a game with depth in which you need to change your tools flexibly according to the situation.
Artist: Junta Kamura
Publisher: 6jizo (Rokujizo)
3-4 players / +8 / 30 min
Putzroboter (Publisher: Butagoya)
In this game, you slide the robot vacuum cleaner "Putzroboter" to collect only the paper clips of your color. It was designed by Mr. Otsubo, a.k.a. "Attack". Mr. Otsubo is the manager of B-CAFE, a board game cafe in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture. Putzroboter's robotic movement is fun.
First, spread all the players' paper clips, then launch Putzroboter from a distance. Putzroboter is a simple structure made of a bowl covering a magnet ball. If you launch it while spinning, it makes a sharp turn. Then remove the paper clips that are pulled to Putzroboter by the magnetic force. The first player to have Putzroboter remove all the paper clips of their color wins.
Since the paper clips of all the players are mixed, it's difficult to remove only the clips of your color, as in Bellz! Along with the luck factor, this game would also require dexterity skills, especially near the end, when only a few paper clips remain, to move Putzroboter to the clips of your color.
Designer & Artist: Attack
2-4 players / +6 / 10 min
Across the Universe (Publisher: Spieldisorder)
This game was made as a homage to the British musician David Bowie, who died in 2016. In the first new game from Spieldisorder in two years (its prototype was demoed at Game Markets in 2016), the players collect stars through bidding and link them to help "the man who fell to Earth" return to his home planet.
In each round, the star cards are placed in a row of four seasons. The players plot their cards face down to bid on each of the star cards in spring, summer, fall, and winter. After all the players have placed their cards, they bid four times, starting with the star card in spring.
The player who bid by the card of the highest number receives the star card (with points) in each season and discards the card played. Meanwhile, other players, in turn, choose what to do with their card played, from among the following actions:
(1) Carry it over to the next bidding,
(2) Return it to their hand, or
(3) Add it to the card pool in front of them.
If you carry over your played card to the next bidding, you can add its value to the next card you play for bidding.
Adding the played card to your card pool is an important action in this game because at the end of the game you can score only up to the total points of the cards in your pool. If the total points of the star cards you've gained through bidding is higher than that of the cards in your pool, you must discard the star cards until their total points fall below that of the cards in your pool. Furthermore, the number of cards in your hand is less than the number of auctions, so you're required to lose some biddings, to add some cards to your pool, and to return some cards to your hand. It's very tactical to carry out this adjustment along with simultaneous bidding.
The star cards also have various marks on them as bonus set-collection and majority points. It's interesting also to take such factors into consideration when you assess the value to bid for the star cards.
Across the Universe
3-4 players / +10 / 38 min
Kobe Game Market 2017 Game Report: Long Long Line in HELL, Kikka-Sai, Startups (original post)
Here is my third report of the games that I played at Kobe Game Market 2017 on March 12.
Long Long Line in HELL (Publisher: March Hare Games)
In Long Long Line in HELL, ogres queue at supply stations for beautiful gems. It's another dice game from March Hare Games following the fishing-themed dice game Lord of the Die-Angler (2016).
First, each player rolls their 15 ogre dice. There are big and small ogre dice. At the start, you can only use big ogre dice. Small ogre dice are placed on each player's sleep card. To use them, you need to wake them up by rolling big ogre dice.
In your turn, as in Las Vegas, roll your dice and place all dice of one number on one of the three supply stations. Each supply station has a capacity, and when it becomes full, gems are distributed in ascending order of the rank of players who placed dice on it. The ranking is determined according to the number, size, and roll results of each player's dice placed on the supply station. There are not many big ogre dice, so you need to promptly wake up small ogre dice as reinforcements.
You can wake up small ogre dice only by rolling one big ogre die and achieving the dice roll matching that of some small ogre dice. You can re-roll the die, but one big ogre die is consumed for that, too. Used big ogre dice rest for one turn, after which they can be used again.
When a supply station is nearly full, you can choose in your turn whether to place a die in order to rise in the ranking, or instead increase the number of your dice so as to gamble more on your next turn. Even if you choose to increase the number of your dice, your dice rolls are still uncertain, leading to dramatic outcomes.
The game ends when two of the supply stations become full. Calculate your score according to the gems you've collected. You can score more by collecting the same type of gems. Thus, the players collect the gems tactically, like "I don't need this very much, but I can't allow that player to take this." With the dice rolls' unpredictability and careful calculation for the area control, this game is rich in variety.
Long Long Line in HELL
Designer: Satoru Nakamura
Artist: Mamiko Taguchi
Publisher: March Hare Games
3-4 players / 12+ /30-40 min
Kikka-Sai is a two-player game in which you try to meld three chrysanthemum dice to win at a chrysanthemum show. It's the latest game by Shinojo, which has published simplified mahjong card games ALL GREEN and Yaochu! This game, also called "a two-player dice mahjong game", has a flavor of mahjong, but it's a quite distinctive game along with the theme of a chrysanthemum show. At the Game Market venue, its demo booth was constantly busy with people such as couples and pairs of female visitors playing the game.
There are three types of chrysanthemum dice, namely white, yellow, and orange. You're required to collect three dice, a sequence or triplet, of the same color or all different colors. The game starts with each player drawing two dice from the bag and rolling them behind their screen.
On your turn, draw a die from the bag and choose to swap it with one of the dice behind your screen, discard it, or add it to your two other dice to win a hand (tsumo). You can also win by claiming a discard (ron). After one of the players wins, calculate the score. There is a predetermined dice roll in trend (dora). If you win by its matching color or value, you gain an additional score.
According to your score, your opponent's "point die" value (starting with 6) is reduced. If it falls down to 0 or below, you win.
I played a game with Mr. Ikeda, the manager of the Foyer Pikkorino board game café in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture. Right from the start, Mr. Ikeda melded chrysanthemum dice in trend to achieve a high score. Aiming for a come-from-behind victory, I tried to collect the dice roll in trend, but he melded again while I was still struggling. The scoring points varies depending on whether or not you have the dice roll in trend, leading to an enjoyable dynamic play.
Designer: Takahiro Shinozaki
Artist: Kotori Neiko
2 players / 8+ / 15 min
Startups (Publisher: Oink Games)
In this card game, the players invest in six companies to make profits as top shareholders. This reimplementation of Rights (2015), supporting more players along with a Knizia-esque dilemma and tasteful company logos, is quite intriguing.
On your turn, all you do is draw a card and play a card from your hand. Basically, you play cards in front of you. At the end of the game, the player who has played the highest number of cards of each company (i.e., invested in it) receives payment from other players who invested in the same company.
Naturally, you don't wish to play the cards with which you're unlikely to become the top shareholder. In this case, in Rights you pass such a card to the player to your left; in Startups, you place such a card in the play area ("market") in the center of the table. The next player can choose whether to take that card from the play area or draw a card from the draw pile. When drawing a card from the draw pile, the player must pay money and place it on the card in the play area. The player who takes the card in the play area also takes the money on it. If taking the card can make you a top shareholder, it's a timely offer, though it could be a trap.
Furthermore, the antimonopoly chips make the game even more exciting. These chips are initially given to the first player to take each company's card, then move to the current top shareholders during the game. Having these chips makes it difficult to take cards from the play area, thus preventing the current top shareholder from taking a strong lead. It might be wise to stay in second place and achieve a come-from-behind victory at the end, but can you really do that?
In the end, the players also reveal their hand, so you won't really know who'll eventually become the top shareholder. The top shareholder receives money from other shareholders according to the number of cards each shareholder invested in each company, and the player who has earned the most money wins. During the payment, each one money paid is flipped and becomes three money when received. Thus, it would be wise not to give up early and instead extend your investments for a chance.
At the demo table, I enjoyed an exciting game of five players in which the winner was unpredictable until the very end. Compared to Rights, which supports up to five players, Startups can be played with up to seven players. The gameplay would also vary according to the number of players.
Designer & Artist: Jun Sasaki
Publisher: Oink Games
3-7 players /10+ / 20 min
W. Eric Martin
Time for more game overview videos shot in the BoardGameGeek booth at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show, starting with a title that we previewed at GTS 2016 ahead of its Kickstarter campaign and which is now in the hands of backers ahead of a U.S. retail release in June 2017. That game is Eric Vogel's The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game from Evil Hat Productions, and it pits characters from the first five novels in the "Dresden Files" series from Jim Butcher against a scenario based on one of those novels.
• Some publishers brought only a game or two to feature in their time on camera at GAMA, and some brought everything and the kitchen sink. Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold Games is an example in the later category, with him running through nine games in less than thirteen minutes. Three of the titles were released at SPIEL 2016 — Flamme Rouge, Cottage Garden, Not Alone — so you might already know something about them, with the main takeaway from this video being that Stronghold will release this titles in the U.S.
• White Wizard Games has released three successful card games — Star Realms, Epic, Hero Realms — and its next release, Sorcerer from Peter Scholtz, sticks to its card game roots while combining an RPG-type element as you create a character in the game by shuffling together different decks that will combo together in varying ways.
• The latest iteration of Seiji Kanai's Love Letter coming from Alderac Entertainment Group — their annual premium version, as it were — is Lovecraft Letter, which gives you an opportunity(?) to go insane during a round in order to make use of special "insanity" powers but at the risk of being booted out for being too mad for the table.
• AEG seems to specialize in spinoff games or games that can be iterated in multiple ways, and this specialization is evident in Custom Heroes, which takes the transparent cards from John D. Clair's Mystic Vale and uses them in a trick-taking game that allows you to level up cards during play, with those changes persisting in future rounds, thereby altering the nature of the deck from which everyone is receiving their cards.
W. Eric Martin
Let's continue with more preview videos from the 2017 GAMA Trade Show. We have 32 videos in our GTS 2017 playlist on YouTube, and I haven't even finished publishing everything from day one. We sliced nine hours of video on day one into 52 videos, which seems a bit crazy, to be honest, especially since a number of the videos feature multiple games. We just jammed out as much as possible, which barely left us time for eating at the end of the day. Such is convention life.
One new title I'm happy to see announced is Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion from USAopoly as my son and I have had a ball playing the Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle base game. We haven't lost yet through five games — and we've come close to losing only once — but we're playing with only two players, so the dark arts events don't hit us the same way they hit people in a four-player game, which seems like a developmental miss.
I can overlook that uneven player count scaling, though, as he's a Potter fan who's enjoying himself greatly and I get to do all my silly voices while playing. Maybe after we finish, we can go through the game again with three players to up the challenge — or we can jump into this instead the material another way.
• USAopoly showed both HP:HB–TMBOME and the Munchkin: Rick and Morty standalone game (and many other things) at NY Toy Fair in February 2017, but I couldn't take photos in their booth. Such are the restrictions that come from working with licensors to transform their stuff into games. At GTS 2017, Andrew Wolf from USAopoly could now talk about Munchkin: Rick and Morty — as well as a Munchkin: Deadpool expansion — while still not revealing any of the cards themselves.
• USAopoly also teased Donald X. Vaccarino's Nefarious: Becoming a Monster, an expansion for Nefarious that existed in prototype form when the Ascora Games version of Nefarious went to market in 2011, but which never previously saw print.
• Let's make a licensing sandwich with a creamy Nefarious middle by taking a look at Evil Dead 2: The Official Board Game from Space Goat Productions. Some people have looked at this release and the next one and wondered how this company they never heard of landed these licenses (as well as one for The Howling), and the secret is that this "new" company has existed for a decade, having been founded in 2006 as a "talent management agency and production studio" for the comic book industry.
• SGP collected more than $200,000 for The Terminator: The Official Board Game on Kickstarter in March 2017, and the ideas in the game sound like what you'd want to see in an adaption of The Terminator, but we won't see what the final result is until the game hits the U.S. market at the end of 2017.
In an attempt to bring BGG users coverage of the 2017 Kobe Game Market, which took place March 12 at the Kobe International Exhibition Hall, Saigo — who frequently translates game rules from Japanese to English and who tweets a lot about new JP games — has translated a report from JP board game journalist Nico, who runs Nicobodo. With Nico's permission, here is Saigo's translation of Nico's report from the 2017 Kobe Game Market. —WEM
Here is my brief report of my visit to the 2017 Kobe Game Market.
About the Venue
The venue for this event was the same as in 2016, the Kobe International Exhibition Hall, which is a few minutes' walk from the Shimin Hiroba (Convention Center) Station on the Port Liner.
Approximately 300 people were waiting in line by 8:00 in the morning — two hours before the fair's opening time — under the Port Liner railway viaduct.
Translation of the caption:"About 300 people wait in line at 8 o'clock for Game Market."
Inside the Venue: Board Game Shops
DDT had various rare games in stock, being a likely candidate for many visitors in line to visit their booth first.
Trick Play is the boardgame store located closest to the Game Market venue. At this Game Market, their stock of The Colonists and The Networks seemed to have gathered attention.
The manager of Gamestore Banesto poses.
Inside the Venue: Publisher Booths
Hobby Japan sold their latest games, along with expansions available only here at the show. Their game lottery also seemed well-received.
At the Oink Games booth, colored uniformly blue, they released their latest game: Startups.
At the booth of Group SNE, which is based in Kobe, some tabletop role-playing games were being promoted.
Inside the Venue: Used Game Booths
There were three booths mainly selling used games:
(Pricing note: To roughly convert from yen to U.S. dollars, take off the final two zeros, then subtract ten percent from the total, e.g., ¥2000 ~ US$18. —WEM)
The Nihon Board Game Taisho Award (Japan Boardgame Prize) was announced, with the people's choice being Codenames and the Yuumoa Award (U-more, or stores' choice) being Karuba.
Next to the Japan Boardgame Prize table was a kids' game section, where many families were playing games.
The board game "Kami no Kiseki" (Miracle) originated from the TV program "Derugeetsu" from the Hiroshima Home Television Co. The TV staff was filming the booth and table for a long time from the start. The details are expected to be aired.
The congestion peaked just before noon. The venue was just the right size, allowing one to view the entire venue.
A food court of about four stalls had many customers since there aren't many shops or restaurants nearby. Approximately fifty people lined up to wait before the kebab stall.
The gate at this section of the Exhibition Hall was left open so that people could move in and out of the hall, and the exhibitors at C booths near the gate looked cold. The exhibitor Puninokai told me to write on this blog that it was really cold, so let me emphasize that!
Lastly, let me report on the Joynt Game Factory booth. Taking advantage of their location at a corner, they used a large board to present a steampunk-ish decoding game. I was impressed by this idea, which constantly brought crowds around their booth.
What I Bought
Since my chances to play games have been declining, I bought more books than games. Still, I hope to play them soon.
So that's my brief report on the 2017 Kobe Game Market. I hope that the atmosphere of the show somewhat comes across though this.
This year, I visited board game shops and other places on the previous day. Having enjoyed board gaming for two days, it was a very satisfying trip.
Thanks to those of you I met during this trip to the Kansai region! I hope to make a visit next year again.
For more news and reviews on boardgames in Japan, you can visit the Nicobodo website.
W. Eric Martin
Time for another round-up of upcoming games that were on display in the BoardGameGeek booth at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show, starting with an overview of Codenames Duet, a cooperative version of Vlaada Chvátil's massive party game hit from 2015. Now two players — or more should you want to play in teams — work together to try to identify all their spies in the field. You think these guys would keep better notes by this point!
I played Codenames Duet once at PAX East 2017 with CGE's Joshua Githens, and the game presents an interesting challenge, especially since three of the spies are shared among the pair of you. This makes it impossible for you to guess only those words that don't show on your side of the card, yet you don't know which three are shared, so you're then considering everything on the board when given a clue — which is as it should be. (One word of advice: Just try to remember when you do identify a spy that's also part of your "half" of the team since that will help you narrow down choices in the future.)
During play, you're both staring at the board and either of you can yell out a clue and a number, but since each of you has spies unique to your side, you can't only throw or receive; you need to do both. Sometimes, though, you're happy for the other player to give a clue as the answers might eliminate something troublesome with a clue that you wanted to give — which mimics the nature of the original Codenames.
As Josh mentions in the video, CGE is still working on the timing mechanism at this stage of their development. We played with a stack of green "found spy" tiles, along with a row of individual spy tiles. When you gave a clue, you'd pick up the stack, cover any spies guessed correctly, then place the rest of the stack on the first individual tile of the row (thus increasing the size of the stack by one). If you need to place the stack back down but no individual spies remain, then you've run out of time and you lose; if you ever place the final tile in the stack and have nothing to put back down, then you win immediately (as the gamemakers presume that you're smart enough to guess any remaining spies on a 1-1 basis at worst).
• At GTS 2017, CMON Limited announced that it had brought on designer Eric M. Lang full-time as Director of Game Design as of April 1, 2017, and we spoke with him at the show about his responsibilities for the publisher and what this entails for future designs from him. Rising Sun was on the table, so we talked about that a bit as well.
• Lang then stuck around in the BGG booth to preview The Godfather: Corleone's Empire, which will be released in July 2017, presumably to avoid the money crunch that gamers will experience at Gen Con 2017. We actually recorded an overview of this game at GTS 2016, but now the design and components are final, so you can see the game as it will hit the market.
• And there was still more from CMON Limited as Lang and Jared Miller stuck around to present an overview of plans for Michael Shinall's A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game, part of which will launch on Kickstarter in Q3 2017 and much of which will unwind in monthly batches once the initial starter set hits the market in 2018.
W. Eric Martin
BoardGameGeek was at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show for two days in mid-March 2017, and we streamed game demos over both YouTube and Twitch for nine hours one day and eight hours the next. Since you possibly don't want to sit through more than seventeen hours of video to find the overviews that interest you, I've started posting the individual game demos on YouTube (in this GTS 2017 playlist) and on the individual game pages here on BGG.
Most of the videos highlight games due for release later in 2017, and while some don't contain much more than a teaser, as with this short clip on Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game—
—many of the videos show off the finished look of a game, as with this pre-production proof of Wasteland Express Delivery Service from Pandasaurus Games—
—while others sometimes show the entire game being played, as with this nine-minute video of Pyramid Poker from R&R Games.
Some folks had mentioned that the Dice Forge overview that I shot at FIJ 2017 in Cannes was unclear or didn't give them enough information about the game, so here's another take from GAMA.
As might be expected, many games currently on Kickstarter or scheduled to be funded via Kickstarter showed up at GAMA, as with Pandasaurus' Dinosaur Island. They do have a pandasuarus promo as part of the KS campaign, right? Right?!
We tried a new microphone set-up at GAMA. Instead of having wireless mics that attached to the collars of host and guest — a mic that needed to be placed onto, then removed from each guest — we instead had wireless microphones on tripods that projected over the demo table, yet out of view of the cameras. I feel the guests sound great, while I sound like I'm speaking from inside a large vase, but maybe that's just me hearing my voice outside my head.
W. Eric Martin
I'm almost through posting game demo videos recorded at the 2017 Festival International des Jeux in Cannes, France, leading off this time with a trio of games from French publisher Libellud, with Dice Forge coming from company owner Régis Bonnessée.
Dice Forge is a dice-crafting game along the lines of Rattlebones and the LEGO dice games as the faces of the dice can be changed over the course of the game to customize the dice to a player's strategy.
I hadn't realized how softly I was speaking in these three videos until I processed them. We were located in the press area on the third floor of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès where FIJ takes place, with open space all around us and balconies that opened onto the floors below. Everything was peaceful and quiet, so without the buzz of the convention that normally takes place, I was practically whispering...
• Mysterium: Secrets & Lies from Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko adds more of the same to the Mysterium base game in the form of new object, location, and characters, along with new story cards that can replace object cards to give the game a tougher challenge.
• Antonin Boccara's Jelly Squad is a frantic dice-rolling game with players trying to collect jelly from the monster that attacked the city so that they can crow about doing more to save people than anyone else. Hold that jelly high, champion!
• Mafiozoo is a new version of Rüdiger Dorn's Louix XIV with publisher Super Meeple working the endgame scoring, the power gained during the game, and the setting.
• Seeders from Sereis: Exodus is an oddity for publisher Sweet Games, which normally releases tiny boxed games with relatively short playing times. The game originates from a future history derived from Serge Macasdar and Charbel Fourel, one that has the human species traveling to the stars over thousands of years, modifying itself in multiple ways, and encountering others along the way.
W. Eric Martin
• Let's check out more upcoming games that were previewed — or in some cases released — at the 2017 Festival International des Jeux in Cannes, France, starting with Secrets from Repos Production. Co-designer Eric M. Lang is on the minds of many gamers due to the Kickstarter launch of Rising Sun, but that title's more than a year from being released whereas Lang has six titles scheduled to debut at Gen Con 2017, this being one of them. That's not necessarily ideal as at some point I would think that Lang fans would pick and choose, leading to some releases being overlooked, but those release decisions are made by publishers, not him. Of course the potential audience for, say, The Godfather: Corleone's Empire is likely going to differ from that of Secrets, so maybe all will go well for everybody. We'll see.
In any case, Lang and co-designer Bruno Faidutti showed up at FIJ to talk about Secrets —and many other titles, of course, some in the design stage, others nearing publication, and I missed getting Faidutti talking about Fearz! due to overlapping appointments and Detectives due to me not checking Geekmail for a week! In any case, here's an overview of the hidden team game Secrets, and I'm curious as to whether anyone else is also feeling the American Flagg vibe.
• Not Alone was a big hit at SPIEL 2016, and now designer Ghislain Masson and publisher Geek Attitude Games have two expansions in the works for release in 2017, with Not Alone: Exploration adding more of the same for variety and Not Alone: Sanctuary adding creature mutation and other new elements.
• The As d'Or — France's game of the year awards — were announced the night before FIJ opened, and designers Josep M. Allué and Víktor Bautista i Roca won the best game for children's prize with Go Cuckoo!, which is published by HABA under the title "Kikou le coucou" in France. They talked with me about the game's origin and development, specifically its transition from a game for adults to a game for children — despite it still being a game for adults in the end — while also demonstrating how to play.
• Another As d'Or winner was Unlock!, the escape room game series from Space Cowboys, with this title selling like gangbusters in France while still awaiting release in most other places in the world. Cyril Demaegd designed one of the scenarios in Unlock!, which will be sold individually in the U.S. instead of as a trilogy, and he talked about the game's reception and what else is in the works.
• To round out this handful of videos with designers talking about their creations, here's Florian Sirieix on one of two games that he has coming out in 2017: Oh Captain! from Ludonaute, with this being the launch title for the publisher's Legends of Luma world.
W. Eric Martin
• Didn't I just finish posting game preview videos from Spielwarenmesse 2017 the other day? Yes, yes I did. I have a lot of preview videos in the can, though, so here's another batch for you, this time recorded on the shores of Cannes, France at the 2017 Festival International des Jeux, which took place February 24-26.
Let's start with an overview of Batman: The Boardgame, which was probably second only to Cities of Splendor in terms of breathless excitement generated from those monitoring FIJ from home. Batman: The Boardgame is based on the design of Conan, both being from Frédéric Henry and Monolith, with the game system at the heart of the design being mostly finished while everything else is still in the works. No release date yet as Monolith wants to move everything to the finish line first in order to avoid Conan-like delays upon completion of the inevitable Kickstarter.
• Roberto Fraga, co-designer of Captain Sonar with Yohan Lemonnier, gave an overview of what to expect in Captain Sonar: Upgrade 1, which wasn't on hand to try out at FIJ 2017 in the Matagot booth.
• Fraga also showed off Princess Jing, a two-player game being published by Matagot that he designed eighteen years ago. Yes, this design predates the third millennium on the Gregorian calendar. Fraga told me only after we stopped recording that the inspiration for this game came from a Michael Jackson video in which characters hid from one another behind columns in a labyrinth of some sort. Perhaps someone can link the video below as this one doesn't ring a bell for me...
• Pearl Games is collaborating with Libellud on its 2017 release Otys, with Pearl providing the gameplay and Libellud the world-building. Sébastien Dujardin presents an overview of this game about diving in a post-apocalyptic world, noting that it should be available for previewing at Gen Con 2017 ahead of its scheduled release at SPIEL.
• Christophe Gonthier's Booo! from Blackrock Games falls into the category of "staring games" — games in which players stare at a board, seemingly petrified, until someone finally notices a way to do whatever it is they're supposed to do.
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