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Play Quickly and Stylishly with Helvetiq's Clean Lines and Short Games

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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From gallery of emmahelvetiq
Swiss publisher Helvetiq focuses on family-friendly and child-friendly games with a short playing time. The publisher was founded in 2008, making 2018 their tenth anniversary, and in 2017 I started seeing their games amongst the offerings in the U.S. bookstore chain Barnes & Noble — which makes sense as their minimalist approach to art and graphic design gives their publications a strong look that catches the eye and conveys the notion that you'll be as happy to look at this object as you are to play it.

I published an overview of Bandido in September 2017, and after playing a couple of other Helvetiq titles, that game seems like an archetype of what the publisher is trying to do. The rules are conveyed (in six languages) in barely two hundred words, with lots of illustrations to demonstrate gameplay. The game itself might serve as a family's introduction to cooperative games, presenting them with a familiar situation that they've all seen in movies or television shows and throwing them into roles that they can adapt immediately.

Board Game: Team UP!
Helvetiq has more than a half-dozen new titles coming out in Europe and North America in 2018, and the one that BGGers might be most attracted to is Team UP! from Sébastien Pauchon and Helvetiq's own Hadi Barkat. As with Bandido, Team UP! is a cooperative game in a familiar setting. You and your fellow players are attempting to load a pallet in the most compact manner possible, but you are presented with the objects in random order based on cards that you receive. The goods come in three colors, and you have restrictions on what can be packed where. You can stop at any time, and scoring takes into account three factors: the number of full rows on the pallet, the number of boxes that aren't stacked on the pallet at the end, and the number of penalty points (from cards you draw but cannot play). The best score is 25, which of course brings Hanabi to mind, for better or worse.

I played Team UP! once at SPIEL '17 in the Helvetiq booth, and it was a nice challenge, one that you'll likely improve at over time as you become used to the contents of the deck and better at weighing the odds of what you might be able to play next, which informs what you should be packing now and where. Team UP! will be released in France and Switzerland in February 2018, with a release in other countries happening between April and September 2018.

Board Game: Team UP!
Components in Team UP!

Board Game: Kariba
Board Game: Kartel
Board Game: GoTown
• In Q2 2018 in Europe and Q4 2018 elsewhere, Helvetiq will release two titles from Reiner Knizia. In Kariba, first released by Goliath in 2010, players take turns placing animal cards from their hand around a watering hole, attempting to scare away animals played by others in order to score points.

• In Kartel, which I believe is original to Helvetiq, players are trying to stop a cartel by placing the boss behind bars, but their detective's movement is determined by a die roll, and not everyone is trying to capture the same people.

GoTown from Morten and Alexander Bonavent is available in France and due out in the U.S. in February 2018 with other countries to follow in May 2018. As is Helvetiq's style, the game description is minimal for now: "GoTown is a card game of real-estate ego that invites a bit of (un)friendly competition. Each player tries to build a five-story tower first. Floors are made of two floor cards placed side-by-side. It's totally okay to destroy other player's towers, among other special actions."

Board Game: TopSpin
Board Game: Grand Tour USA
TopSpin from Martin Nedergaard Andersen, which will first hit France in February 2018, is a super simple game in which you spin a top (ah-ha!) inside a box, attempting to knock balls into holes to score points or simply fill all of the holes quickly. That's it!

Grand Tour USA from Pauchon and Barkat is a trivia game with questions about the United States that require either speed or knowledge, with players advancing across the states and winning points as they answer questions.

SportIQ and BabyIQ, both from Barkat and Pauchon, follow a similar format. In teams, players attempt to answer multiple-choice questions about the topic in question, with questions in the first round testing your knowledge and questions in the second testing your memory. The publisher has many titles along the same lines: MusicIQ, BeerIQ, SwissIQ. Find a formula and stick to it! You might even notice that the publisher's name is HelvetIQ. Hmm...

Board Game: Baby IQ
From gallery of W Eric Martin
• In Don Reid's King, due out in Q4 2018, you'll need a steady hand to end up on top. A short description:

Your challenge in King is to place cubes planks and cylinders on top of each other, without making the whole construction go down. Each turn, you can also choose to move one piece from one tower to the other. Whoever places the crown on the highest level possible wins the game.
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