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A Report on the Games Scheduled to be Sold at Tokyo Game Market 2020 Spring

From gallery of W Eric Martin
[Editor's note: Game Market was scheduled to take place in Tokyo on April 25-26, 2020, but wasn't held. Even so, Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated three reports about games due out at this event — from May 7, May 9, and May 11 — 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]

Game Market 2020 Spring was scheduled to be held at Tokyo Big Sight on April 25-26. However, like the Osaka Game Market 2020 in March, the event was cancelled to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Under the circumstances, I acquired some titles from the official Game Market shopping website. Here is my report on playing these games.

ぬくみ温泉繁盛記 / Nukumi Onsen Hanjouki (Managing Nukumi Hot Spring Inn) (from Kudousan no Game)

This is a worker placement game to compete in expanding one's hot spring inns and making them popular. Its Japanese theme works in harmony with its Uwe Rosenberg-like system.

At the beginning, the players each start with only the reception at their inn. The players each place their three workers on action cards to collect materials and money and use them to build guest rooms and facilities, such as bathrooms, vegetable gardens, and fish tanks. You must pay your workers at the end of the round, and the action spaces are increased and upgraded each round. You can also use the helpers' special effects. The rooms and helpers provide you income and points (popularity points). You can also gain bonus points if you meet the "Individual Policy" and "Overall Policy" requirements at the end of the game.

In addition to expanding your inn and increasing your income, you can also enjoy the growth of various items, such as having eggs turn into chickens, which in turn lay eggs, and growing vegetables and fish in your vegetable gardens and fish tanks. In the action space, there are several chance spots to roll the 12-sided die. You can also use a helper to modify the die roll and take a chance. It is quite apt that the most luxurious guest room "VIP Nukumi Hall" can be acquired only on such a chance spot.

DATA
Game Design: Kudousan / Artwork: Chika Tamakawa
1-4 players / 12+ / 20-60 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

アルヴィウム / Alluvium (from Fudacoma Games)

In this flip-and-write game, multiple players/tribes work together to cultivate an unexplored land. It is another game from Fudacoma Games, who released In the Ruin in late 2019. The system to pass the sheet to the next player after drawing a piece in it creates an amusing interaction.

At the start of the game, the players each draw a Tetris shape on their sheet with their unique colored pencil. On each turn, a card is flipped. The players then draw that shape in their color in an empty area on the sheet or otherwise fill out one empty cell on the sheet and simultaneously pass the sheet to the next player in clockwise order. After the sheets are passed around and come back to their owners, the players each gain points according to the largest contiguous filled square or rectangle area on their sheet. This is repeated three to four times. By filling out the cells adjacent to the area filled out by the owner of the sheet, you can help them make a larger contiguous area and gain co-operation points for that. By gaining many co-operation points, you can also gain points from your areas on other players' sheets.

The gameplay to fill out adjacent cells to earn co-operation points while keeping gaps here and there to hinder the owner from scoring along the strategy to stay neither too close to nor too distant feels unique and fun. You can find out how your sheet has been filled out only when it has been passed around and returned to you. While your sheet is being passed around, other players might fill it mischievously to your disadvantage, so you wait for the sheet to return to you with mixed feelings.

DATA
Game Design: Yusuke Sawaguchi / Artwork: Makoto Takami
3-5 players / 8+ / 30 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

ANTIQUE OR GHOST? (from POLAR POND GAMES)

In this card game, the players, as antique dealers, buy and display antique items. This is the second card game project from the members of analog lunchbox, who have produced a number of heavyweight games, such as Airship City. The values of the exhibits fluctuate according to the number of items on display and their market values.

There are six types of antique items. At the beginning, the players each place two item cards as items for sale. Then the players take turns to choose another player's item. The owner of the chosen item chooses whether to:

—Take the item into their museum's collection and let the current player use the item's effect, or
—Use the item's effect and let the current player take the item into their collection.

Each item has a different effect, such as changing or locking items' market values, increasing one's hand size, and swapping an item in one's collection with another player's item on display. Once you have five cards in your collection, you exit the game. The game ends when all players have five cards in their collections. The collections' final values are determined according to the number of the cards in the play area and market values, and the players compete to score higher points in total.

According to the GHOST cards dealt randomly to the players at the start, each player has an item that cannot be included in their museum collection. Furthermore, if that item ends up with the lowest market value, a curse will be put on them. Choosing which items to collect and which items to give to other players and use their effects require tactical handling.

DATA
Game Design: Masaki Suga / Artwork: ?
3-5 players / 14+ / 15-20 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

ゲムマイスターの選択 / Game Meister no Sentaku (Game Meister's Choice) (from Friends at Ten-gan-an Alley)

This is a game to collect doujin indie games from the Game Market according to orders stating criteria such as one's budget, playing time, and number of cards. Note, however, that you must guess these criteria from mere looks of the games without referring to the game data.

First, the order is determined and announced, like "180 cards", "playing time of 110 minutes", and "16,000 yen". Starting from the cards positioned in a loop (representing booths), roll two dice, move your player token a number of steps matching either one or both dice rolls, and take the card from the booth where you have stopped. Repeat this and go out when you think you have met the order. When all the players have gone out, the players flip their cards to check the game data in total and the player whose cards meet the order most closely wins.

The only information made public for choosing the games are their photos and titles. While you might know some of these games, there is no way you could aptly remember their number of cards and playing time. Sharing uncertain guesses and chattering like "you wouldn't use so many cards in a game with such a title" and "a licensed game of this size would take an hour or so" facilitates a fun game play like that of Fauna. The photo of the owner of the board game café Ten-gan-an with the games at the Game Market venue in 2018 and 2019 is quite impressive.

DATA
Game Design: Ringo Kobayashi
3-6 players / 10+ / 20-40 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

Chrono Collection (from luck movies)

Incorporating set collection and special abilities along with an elaborate artwork, this auction game to bid on watches provides substantial gameplay.

The current player to take a turn is always the last player on the time track. On your turn, advance your player token 1-4 steps and bid the amount matching the number of the cells you have advanced on the color of the cell you stop. Bid "1" if you advance 1 step, "3" for 2 steps, "6" for 3 steps and "10" for 4 steps. By advancing a lot at once, you can make a higher bid, but you will have to wait longer for your next turn. On the time track are "Ending Auction" bars. Each time all players have passed one of these bars, the #1 player of each color gets a card. There are Watch and Contract cards. The Watch cards are used for recording the scores, and the Contract cards are used for VIPs with special abilities. There are also Watch Set Collection bonus points.

Each time an item of a color is successfully bid, the bids from the #2 and later players remain active, but the number of remaining item cards is reduced and the bids are reset when the item cards run out. There is a choice between gradually raising bids for a certain item or widening the lead at once, causing intense maneuvering over slight differences between each bid. The game play remains competitive until the very end. The VIPs used in different combinations per game adds good flavor.

DATA
Game Design: Imai / Artwork: kis
2-4 players / 10+ / 40 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

神のツルハシ / God's Pickaxe (from SHUNROID)

This is a Machi Koro-like dice game to dig up ore with items such as a pickaxe, trolley, and dynamite, then sell the ore at a high price to build refining furnaces. You have the choice of spending money on upgrades or saving money on the bare necessities.

The players all start with the God's pickaxe. On your turn, roll the die, check the corresponding field and take ore or money accordingly. The ore price goes up each time it is taken and goes down each time it is sold. You can use this profit to buy new items, which increases what you get by the die roll. You can own up to three items, but you can use only two of them on each turn, so as the game proceeds, the players discard their God's pickaxes to replace them with better items. There are also upgrade parts to enhance specific effects. The refining furnace each costs 15 G, and the first player to build four of them wins.

Since many actions allow the players to take money from the others, it is quite risky to have cash on you. On the other hand, you can own at most three ore and their prices fluctuate wildly, so you may not make much money by selling them. With the cost of two same-colored ore, you can buy its association, which supplies you income each time that type of ore is sold. However, this association also may be taken by another player. There is a great sense of accomplishment when you manage to build the refining furnaces after surviving a fierce exchange of blows.

DATA
Game Design: SHUNROID
3-5 players / 8+ / 30-45 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

Suzie-Q (from OKAZU Brand)

In this game, the players compete to score points by writing three-digit numbers using the numbers from "1" to "9". The restriction whereby you cannot use the number you have previously used facilitates a tactical gameplay to outwit your opponents.

Meanwhile, you may use the same number multiple times in each of your three-digit numbers, such as "999" and "988". When all the players have written their three-digit numbers, they reveal these numbers all at once. The revealed three-digit numbers are then arranged in descending order. Three-digit numbers that include any number included in any other lower three-digit number presented are disqualified. You can definitely score by presenting the lowest three-digit number, but there is little to gain by doing that because you score points equal to the first digit in your three-digit number. Then the players each place an X through each number used in their three-digit number and move on to the next round. In this way, the players compete to score in total over five rounds.

When aiming to score by a higher number, it is risky to use three different numbers. It would be nice to score with "999", but such an attempt may be hindered by other players. Then how about "888"? But it may be hindered by an "8" from another player. It is safe to use the numbers already used by all the other players, but so long as any other player has not used such numbers, it is hard to predict the outcome. Furthermore, the points to score double in the final round. In this way, the excitement curve keeps rising in this game.

DATA
Game Design: Hisashi Hayashi / Artwork: Ryo Nyamo
2-5 players / 8+ / 10 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

大江戸地引網 / Edo Dragnet (from Accent Circonflexe)

This is a game to catch and collect fish by laying nets around hexagonal cells. Make sure to collect the fish adequately, or otherwise they will count as negative points.

There are fisher pieces on the central island and boat pieces in the offing. The players take turns to use three action points and perform a combination of two actions, namely placing a net piece on one side of a hexagonal cell and moving their piece to an adjacent cell. By laying the net and enclosing an area with your piece(s) in it, you can get the fish in that area. After that, the net pieces enclosing the area are removed and more fish are randomly replenished. Repeat this, and the game ends when the fish to replenish run out. You gain points for the type of fish you have collected the most of, but if you collect three or more types of fish, the types of fish other than those you have collected the most or least will count as negative points.

You can quickly catch fish by spreading communal nets with other players, but the order to choose and take the catch from the communal net is determined according to the "IKI rank". As a result, you may fail to take the fish you want and end up with unwanted types of fish forced upon you. Since you can place the net pieces freely, you can also use them to divide the areas where other players have cast their nets widely, so as to reduce their catch. Especially when the game nears its end, the players work together to chase down the top player by making them catch the types of fish that will result in negative points. The game requires strategic thinking to play with considerations not only on cooperation but also on betrayal and obstruction.

DATA
Game Design: Koyashun / Artwork: Yuhey Ishihara & Katsubayashi
3-4 players / 8+ / 40-60 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

名前はマダないワンシーン / Namae wa Mada Nai One Scene (As Yet It Has No Name: One Scene) (from Ram Clear)

This is a party game to give names to the kinds of phenomena that we frequently encounter in our daily life, such as "part of a dropped piece that is still 'okay' because the part did not touch the ground" and "staples that failed to be stapled". After the players have each pitched a name, they vote on which name to adopt. The player who has presented the most successfully-adopted names wins. Short and impressive phrases seemed to have a higher chance to be adopted.

DATA
Production Direction: Kyo Tumuki / Illustration: Ryosuke Otomo
1-(many) players / 6+ / ? min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

怪盗ルパンツ / Lupints the Phantom Thief (from Coco de Natta)

This is a game to give clues in order to make another player take a certain underwear you are aiming for from among those arranged in the play area. The player sitting across from you is an inspector, so you must not let them guess and take the correct underwear before the others. The type of clue — such as a word, Kanji character, onomatopoeia, and Senryu poem — is determined by the die roll. It is prohibited to give certain types of clues, such as those that can infer the gender, color, pattern, certain name, and type. Such high restrictions on the clues facilitate much thinking.

DATA
Game Design & Artwork: ?
4-8 players / 12+ / 20-40 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

DATTO! (from 42GAMES)

This rabbit-themed trick-taking and racing game is new from Osaka Game Market 2020.

The players must follow suit, and the player who wins the trick advances their piece the number of steps matching the number on the lowest-number card among those played following suit. If the card you play as the Leader is the last card of that color, you can announce "DATTO!" when you play it and advance with additional steps matching the number of cards in your hand. If, among the cards with the color matching that played by the Leader, you played "1" and another player played "9", you win and make the One-Nine Dash like a "Datto", which means "dashing with lightning speed like a fleeing hare" in Japanese. The Leader is the player with the fewest steps taken, so if you dash too early, you might miss an opportunity.

When to play your Nap card, which allows you to pass once during the game, is an important key to victory. If the two remaining cards of a suit are "1" and "9", there is a chance of both "DATTO Announcement" and "One-Nine Dash" to occur at the same time, leaving the players in breathless suspense over the outcome of the game until the very end.

DATA
Game Design: ? / Illustration: michibata
2-4 players / 8+ / 20 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

Micronesia (from Toydrop)

In this dice game, initially released in 2017, the players each send their tribe to 12 islands.

Roll three dice, divide them into one-die and two-dice rolls, and send your tribe pieces to the islands with corresponding numbers. On each island, place one of your tribe pieces if it is unoccupied. If it is already occupied by any number of tribe pieces, you must place one additional piece more than those present. (The tribe pieces that were occupying that island return to their owner's hand.) The number of tribe pieces to place on each island thus increases in this way. The player who runs out of their tribe pieces to place is eliminated from the game. Then the remaining players compete to score points from the islands.

Using dice rolls matching the numbers of the islands occupied by your tribe pieces, you can move your tribe pieces between the islands. Furthermore, you can change the dice rolls freely by cancelling a die roll, thus allowing you to control the luck factor.

DATA
Game Design: Toshihiro Hachisuka / Illustration: Omanazaki
3-4 players / 8+ / 25 min

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••
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