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Party with Strange Objects, Secret Identities, and Turing Machines

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
From gallery of EchoOperative
With the 2022 FIJ game fair due to open in Cannes, France on February 25, I thought I'd celebrate by highlighting a quartet of party (or party-ish) games from French-speaking publishers:

• Canadian publisher Scorpion Masque, which has released the brilliant Decrypto and the also strong Master Word, has a new game coming in the second half of 2022 that seems like it will appeal to a similar audience.

Here's a teaser description of Turing Machine, a design for 1-4 players from Fabien Gridel and Yoann Levet that plays in 20-30 minutes:
By helping to create the machine that would decrypt the Enigma code used by the Nazis to send messages during World War II, Alan Turing made a major contribution to the advent of computers.

That invention was the inspiration for Turing Machine, a unique deduction game that uses a proto-computer that runs without electronics or electricity. Your goal: Find the only code that will pass the test of all the "verifiers", AIs that answer your proposals using a never-before-seen punch card system! The game offers more than four million problems from simple to mind-staggeringly complex.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Are you ready for an intense cerebral gaming experience?
Board Game: It's Obvious
Maxime Rambourg's party game It's Obvious debuted in France from Gigamic in April 2021 under the name C'est Evident, but I hope the game makes it to U.S. shores at some point as this 3-6 player co-operative game sounds right up my alley given that you're effectively trying to read everyone else's minds:
It's Obvious is a game in which you and your fellow players, as apprentices of telepathy, have to co-operatively — and secretly — select different image cards from the center of the table.

In more detail, you choose an image card on display that in some way has a connection to the two image cards in front of you, stating something like "My choice is obvious!" or "It's a bit of stretch" or "I'm going for the non-obvious card as I think someone else will pick it". You may not give specific clues about what you have chosen or how it relates to one or both of the image cards in front of you; only a vague sense of how the choice feels to you.

One more image card is on display than the number of players, and once you've chosen your target image, you indicate this choice on a numbered secret dial. Once all players have chosen, they reveal their choices. If you're the only one who picked an image, then you take that image card and cover one of the two images in front of you. If everyone chose different cards, then you win the round! If, however, not everyone chose different cards, then you lose the round and everyone who chose "incorrectly" draws a new image card at random from the deck to replace one of theirs. Sweep any remaining image cards from the center, then reveal the appropriate number of image cards to start a new round.

Board Game: It's Obvious

If you lose a round for the third time, you lose the game; if you manage to complete a number of rounds (7-10) based on the player count before this happens, then you win! You can adjust the difficulty of the game in several ways to make it more or less difficult.
Board Game: Secret Identity
• Another French party game that challenges you to guess what others mean via their clues is Secret Identity, a design by Johan Benvenuto, Alexandre Droit, Kévin Jost, and Bertrand Roux for 3-8 players that's due out in March 2022 from Funnyfox.

Here's an overview:
ln Secret Identity, you must guess the hidden identity of your opponents while trying to make them guess yours.

At the start of a round, you receive a key card that indicates your identity among the eight characters on the table. Using double-sided "picto" cards, you try to give clues to your character so that others can guess who you are, while simultaneously guessing their character — earning points for each success. Each round, new characters appear on the table, giving you and everyone else a fresh face to guess, but your supply of picto cards is never replenished, so you must be judicious when using them in order not to run out by game's end.

Board Game: Secret Identity

After the fourth round, whoever has scored the most points wins. Will you be able to act both as a skilled informant and a sharp observer?
Board Game: Team Team
• Do we have yet another French communication-based party game to write about? Of course we do, although the designers are in fact Korean, with only the publisher being French. Still, I'm going to run with it, with the gameplay being reminiscent of Walter Obert's Tokyo Train, a.k.a. Loco Motive, for those old-school gamers in the audience.

Here's how to play Team Team from designers Yeon-Min Jung and Gary Kim and publisher Studio H, with the game requiring two, four, or six players:
As you might guess from the name, in Team Team you play in teams, with each team consisting of a speaker and a builder.

Each builder has a set of five tiles, with the tiles featuring five shapes, five colors, and five animals; each team's tiles have a different arrangement of these features. Each builder lays their tiles in a row in front of themselves, and they want to arrange these tiles in a pattern known only by the speaker, with the pattern being the same for all teams.

Board Game: Team Team

At the start of a round, one of the speakers reveals a sound card, such as "Woof!" or "Bong!", then they place a pattern card on a display that is visible only to the speakers. The pattern might be 3-5 animals in a row, 3-5 shapes in a row, or 3-5 colors in a row. Play then begins. Each builder starts by placing a finger on two different tiles, then their speaker will:

—Make the sound once — Bong! — if the builder should finger different tiles.
—Make the sound twice — Bong! Bong! — if the builder should switch the fingered tiles.
—Make the sound thrice — Bong! Bong! Bong! — if all of the tiles are arranged properly. At this point, the builder slaps the multicolored tile in the center of the table. If this team's tile arrangement is correct — and with only 3-4 tiles depicted on a pattern card, the tiles must be in the proper order and adjacent to one another — then they claim the pattern card as a point. If they are incorrect, then each other team scores a point.

The first team to score 3 points wins.
In a two-player game of Team Team, you attempt to score as many points as possible in two minutes, but that seems to defeat the purpose of this design, which is acting like a fool and reveling in the foolishness of others. Again, see Tokyo Train.
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