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Spielwarenmesse 2018 Round-up V: Jumbo Kramer & Kiesling, Bagged Dorn, and Dogged Apologies

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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I think this might be the final tweet round-up for Spielwarenmesse 2018, the annual toy and game fair in Nürnberg, Germany. I still have random pics on my phone that I haven't tweeted yet, along with notes about this or that, but I have plenty of other new things to write about as well, so let's get to it!

• Dutch publisher Jumbo has released a few notable games over the years — namely Tycoon and Merchants of Amsterdam — but those two titles are roughly two decades old, and more recent releases are along the lines of, well, here are six of its ten most recent releases on the BGG publisher page: Pirates! Stratego, Stratego Quickplay, Stratego Conquest, Stratego Dice Game, Stratego Waterloo, and Stratego Quick Battle.

Maybe we've missed titles and haven't updated their listings in a while, but imagine my surprise when I received a press release ahead of Spielwarenmesse that touted new Eurogames from Jumbo, such as Okavango from Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling, in which you're a park ranger who needs to bring animals to rivers to drink. We recorded an overview which wasn't quite clear to me at the time, but it was the next-to-last video in three days of filming, so I might have been dain bramaged by that point.

Reiner Knizia had a tile-laying, majorities game on display titled Forbidden City, which is due out in May 2018 along with Okavango:

Isidore from Hidde van Dijk uses the "student in a magic school" trope, with you needing to gather ingredients, cast elemental spells, and duel opponents:

• For the (untrue) truism that every game will return to print at some print, we find another example of this with the news that Russian publisher Lifestyle Boardgames will release a new version of Norbert Proena's Dawn Under, a memory game that somehow pulled down one of five nominees for Spiel des Jahres in 2004. So many better games made the recommended list that year: Yinsh, San Juan, Attika, Carcassonne: The Castle, King Me! How did Dawn Under make its way past all of those?!

• When I first wrote about Rüdiger Dorn's Mercado in late January 2018, the description made the game sound like a press-your-luck affair, with you choosing what to buy, then pulling three random coins from your personal bag to see whether you could. Having seen the components laid out and received (and recorded) a more detailed overview of the game, my fears have been abated.

The playing area has items on display that can be bought, along with two characters you can hire for special abilities. On a turn, you reach in your bag, pull out three random coins, then decide where to place which coins. Everyone starts with the same bag, which has coins of different values along with a few worthless counterfeit slugs. Put the right coins on an item first, and it's yours. Thus, Mercado could be seen as an area control game in disguise. Who will amass enough coins on an item first to claim it? Which forces will be available to you? Do you want to concentrate them in one area, knowing that you might end up with nothing? You can manipulate the contents of your bag to some degree, and instead of pulling coins, you can return everything to it, letting you decide when to reset.

The score track has special actions on specific spaces that would force you to add or remove counterfeit coins, gain a joker coin that might help you purchase items that require a range of currency types, pull an additional coin, and so on. This means that you might be interested in scoring one tile over another because when you move, you'll avoid a penalty or gain a bonus instead of landing on nothing. For each game, you can start scoring in any spot you choose, which puts the bonuses and penalties in different places each game, and to win you need to be the first to circumnavigate the track.

• We didn't play many games during fair hours as we had limited time in which to record, but one game that we did play was The Bark Side, a new version of the trick-taking game Docchi no Shimatsu Show (first published by Suki Games in 2016) that Korea Boardgames will release in 2018. The prototype wasn't yet in finished shape for previewing on video, and Lincoln needed to close his eyes for a few minutes, so playing a few rounds to experience the game firsthand served dual purposes.

The original setting of the game is highly Japanese:

どっちの始末Show (Docchi no Shimatsu Show) translates into English as "Apology Showdown".

About 150 years have passed since the end of Edo period, and with emergence of civilization, Harakiri ended its role as a method of expressing apology. However, Japanese habit of apologizing is still alive over generations, and a new method of apologizing is invented, which is called Shimatsusho (Letter of Apology).

A Shimatsusho is created through a magical ritual in which you inscribe lengthy and complicated magic words onto a sheet of A4-sized paper, in order that you never cause such a disaster again.

Apology Showdown is a card game in which you, as a mid-level manager of a company, hand out a Shimatsusho to your boss. You lose the game if you can't get rid of most critical Shimatsusho. You should report the most urgent Shimatsusho first. With countless troubles, your boss won't accept less urgent Shimatsusho. As a competent business person, you know which one you should hand out first.
The new version has dogs on it, and I'm not sure what the story is, but I can tell you about the gameplay. Each round, each player starts with a hand of cards, with the cards being numbered 1-10 and with this starting hand size possibly shrinking over the course of the game. One player leads the trick by playing a single card, a pair of cards, or a triplet. Each player in turn must make a higher play of the same type; if they can't, then they must discard their lowest 1-3 cards, with the number of cards being discarded determined by what was initially played. Whoever wins the trick by playing the highest cards, then leads to the next trick.

Your goal is to not win the final trick. If you do win it, then you keep the highest card that you played — along with the two lowest cards played on the same trick — in a penalty display in front of you. These cards are now out of play, and you shuffle all the remaining cards and begin a new round. If someone has seven different cards in front of themselves at the end of a round, then they've lost the game.

We played three rounds, and the game showed a lot of promise in that time. You need to win tricks, or at least be competitive in tricks, because you're otherwise dumping all your low cards, which will lead to disaster in the end — but if you try to stuff players early by jumping to 10s immediately in a trick, then you'll have no strength with which to overplay their high cards later. The idea is reminiscent of Five Cucumbers, which is itself based on the public domain game Gurka, but the new game-losing condition seems like a nice addition.

Prototype cards

• To continue the tradition of posting something silly at the end of these reports, I present this dessert maker:

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