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Game Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2020 II: Dodo, Four Gardens, Castle of Mind, Moovz, and Die Wikinger Saga

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Publisher: KOSMOS
I've already posted one round-up of game preview videos that BGG recorded at the Spielwarenmesse 2020 trade fair, and now we have 44 such videos in place on our BGG Express YouTube channel in a Spielwarenmesse 2020 playlist. Lincoln and Nikki have been cranking through the editing on these videos ahead of a trip to Cannes, France to cover the Festival International des Jeux, and you can be the beneficiary of that work. Let me highlight a few of these videos here:

• I knew the basics of Dodo when we visited the KOSMOS booth — a co-operative kids' game in which you try to save the dodo's egg — and I assumed this would be a ridiculously difficult game intended to teach children about the meaningless of life and why you shouldn't bother trying to achieve your goals. After all, dodos are extinct, so clearly these children failed.

What I didn't expect was the bizarre, wait-a-sec-is-that-egg-broken-or-does-the-presenter-not-notice-it's-still-OHMIGOD-THAT-EGG-IS-WOBBLING-ALONG-LIKE-IT'S-POSSESSED effect of seeing the dodo egg in action. The gameplay is basic, with players needing to roll a die and find stuff (or remember where they saw stuff previously), with you being to increase the difficulty of the game if needed, but the production quality of the game is astounding, with action that will look like nothing in still images, yet be eye-catching in videos on social media.

Board Game Publisher: Korea Boardgames co., Ltd.
• Martin Doležal's Four Gardens from Korea Boardgames has a collect-stuff-build-stuff core that you've likely experienced in other games, but it features a four-level pagoda that depicts the stuff that you can collect, and on a turn, you rotate some level of the pagoda, with all levels above this also rotating, which can be good or bad since you have limited space in which to store that stuff.

The scoring part of the game has a neat twist as you move up four colored tracks as you complete buildings. If you reach the top of a track and score that color again, you don't gain any more points — you being at the top and all — but everyone else is knocked down one scoring level in that color. Keep scoring in that color, and you can knock them off that track completely with no chance of readmittance.

Board Game Publisher: Fontanus Center
Castle of Mind is a two-player abstract strategy game and the first release from Hungarian company Fontanus Center.

At some point during the many discussions that Lincoln and I had while rushing between exhibitor booths, I mentioned that I found it surprising that publishers didn't create a set of thumbnail-proportioned images (640x360, 1,280x720, 1,920x1,080) to give members of the press so that videos wouldn't have so many odd-looking thumbnails that wedge a 3D cover in place awkwardly — and lo and behold, Fontanus Center was the first such company to deliver a thumbnail-proportioned image when I requested a 2D front cover for use on BGG. (I'd still like the flat front cover, but at least this video looks sharp!)

Board Game Publisher: Schmidt Spiele
• I had published a short overview of Die Wikinger Saga from Schmidt Spiele in mid-January 2020, but that description didn't give me a sense of how the game was played. A much longer description is now in place on the BGG page thinks to co-designer Knut Happel, but I still feel like it doesn't capture what you're doing in the game — and the tricky thing is that I don't know how to properly summarize the gameplay either, even having sat in during this presentation.

Too many games in too few days perhaps. Time to watch it again to re-learn what's already fallen out of my head...

Board Game Publisher: Helvetiq
• I'm not sure this video does justice to the cool concept behind Moovz from Helvetiq, a two-player game in which each player sets up marbles in a pattern on the wooden board they hold in their hands. Once both players are ready, someone flips the challenge card to reveal the target arrangement of marbles, then each player must tilt and jostle their board to move marbles into the proper places. Part of the challenge is physical, but part is also seeing what you need to do in order to reach that target pattern.

Ideally we can shoot a better presented video of this game at SPIEL '20 as we'll then have an overhead camera and can do a better job of keeping things in the frame. Still, I hope you'll give it a look.

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