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New Game Round-up: Bananas, Pennies, Flowers, Geishas – But No Glory

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• French publisher Jactalea has announced the next release in its line of tiny games, which already includes The Blue Lion and Button Up! As with that latter game, Okiya is from designer Bruno Cathala and it's a lightly themed two-player abstract strategy game. Here's a description of Okiya, due out July 2012:

In Okiya, subtitled "The House of the Geishas", each player tries to arrange her geisha tiles in a pleasing manner in order to gain the favor of the emperor. Alternatively, you can prevent your rival from placing a geisha in the Imperial garden, showing that you have more control than your opponent.

To set up the game, shuffle the 16 tiles and arrange them in a 4x4 square; each tile shows one of four types of vegetation (maple, cherry, pine or iris) and one of four types of poetic symbols (rising sun, bird, rain or tanzaku - the small pieces of paper on which people sometimes write wishes).

The starting player removes one tile on the border of the square, sets this tile aside, then places one of her geisha tokens in this space. The opponent must then do the same thing, but can choose from only those tiles that depict the same type of vegetation or poetic symbol shown on the tile first set aside. Play continues, with each set-aside tile determining where the next player can go until:

• A player forms a line with four of her geisha tokens in any direction,
• A player forms a 2x2 square with four of her geisha tokens, or
• A player chooses a tile which doesn't allow her opponent to place a geisha token.

In any of these cases, the player has won the game. A match can be a single game, a "best of three" series, or a point-based match, with the winner of a game earning as many points as the number of tiles remaining in the grid when she wins; in this case, the player who first collects ten points wins the match.

• Ed Carter of U.S. publisher Cambridge Games Factory has posted an update on the status of the black box edition of Carl Chudyk's Glory to Rome. The short version: The games have yet to ship from China, and Carter doesn't have a new expected release date as he's still trying to arrange everything. He notes: "The original dates we were working to slipped because we didn't get our quantities/paperwork finalized in time." Whoops.

• Speaking of Chudyk, U.S. publisher Asmadi Games has a new release from him titled FlowerFall that will be available in a short-run edition for $10 at the Origins Game Fair, which runs May 30 to June 3 in Columbus, Ohio. Why so little advance notice for this release? Says Asmadi's Chris Cieslik, "Because I like going from a silly idea to printed game in twelve days."

You play FlowerFall by letting your flowers...fall. In more detail, you set up the game by laying out four green cards that have five green flowers on them. Each player has a deck of ten cards, with each deck having a different color of flowers and the backgrounds being part green and part white. Players take turns dropping the cards onto the table for eye height, and whoever has the most flowers in a green patch scores one point for each green flower in that match. The player with the most points wins. Quite a change in tone from Glory to Rome and Innovation!

• With the Ogre juggernaut now resting its treads until its end of 2012 release, Steve Jackson Games has slurped another geeky mainstay into its vast Munchkin universe with the September 2012 release of Munchkin Penny Arcade, a fixed 15-card booster pack that features artwork by PA's Mike Krahulik.

• In Q2 2012 Winning Moves will distribute a special edition of Bananagrams that bears the London 2012 Olympics logo and includes "five additional colored 'joker' tiles featuring various Olympic sport pictograms". Why? Because "the London 2012 Olympic committee has named Bananagrams the official word game of the 2012 Summer Games", according to the Bananagrams blog.

Official word game? That's pretty specific, so perhaps an enterprising publisher or two still has time to lock up official push-your-luck game or official worker-placement game.

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