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Tokyo Game Market 2018 Spring: Report from Table Games in the World

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Editor's note: Game Market took place in Tokyo on May 5-6, 2018, and Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated his reports about the event (day one and day two) from 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

On Children's Day on May 5, the first day of Tokyo Game Market 2018 Spring was held at Tokyo Big Sight. The number of visitors has not been announced yet. However, according to an announcement by the Game Market Management Office, attendance reached over 10,000 people by the afternoon, so it seems certain that this show topped the attendance of the first day of Game Market 2017 Autumn.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Approximately 2,700 people were queuing before the opening at 10:00 a.m. (according to Rael-san's report). And they dispersed each to the booths of their destination as the show opened. The venue, joining two halls, was L-shaped and had many blind spots, so it is difficult to determine which booths had especially long queues in front of them.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
After waiting for four hours, people tend to walk hurriedly.


Still, the overwhelmingly number of people queuing to buy the new Sakura Arms game from BakaFire Party was quite remarkable. BakaFire Party had a block booth with a large stage in their area to hold a talk show to which the people who bought their games were preferentially invited.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
BakaFire Party talk show


There were eight block booths of varied colors, such as the blue Oink Games, red GP Games, orange Sugorokuya, and black DEAR SPIELE booths. Such block booths each covering an abundant space with many demo tables reminded me of the atmosphere of SPIEL in Essen.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
Blue Oink Games

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Giant Ubongo 3-D at the GP Games booth

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Enter the gate into the Sugorokuya booth


Perhaps DEAR SPIELE's wall-covered Privacy demo room suggested a dazzling world awaiting the visitors as they walked through the split curtain with the R-18 icon on it?


From gallery of W Eric Martin
R-18!


I felt a SPIEL-like atmosphere not only from the use of the space. With an increase of participation and attendance from overseas, I frequently heard foreign languages, such as English and Chinese, at the venue. The number of exhibitors from Korea and Taiwan have also increased. Antoine Bauza, the designer of Hanabi and 7 Wonders, was playing Taiwanese board games with his friends. (An exhibitor's ability to teach how to play their games in English is very useful, especially for demoing their games to visitors from overseas.) BoardGameGeek, the world's largest board game database website, also had a booth at a corner of the venue to interview people and film their games.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
Antoine Bauza at a demo table

From gallery of W Eric Martin
BGG interviews and filming assisted by Ken Shoda as an interpreter


My Japanese translation of the book "Leitfaden fur Spieleerfinder und solche, die es werden wollen. Ein praktischer Ratgeber" (by Tom Werneck) was released at the show before its official publication. Titled "ボードゲームデザイナーガイドブック" (which would translate as "Board Game Designer's Guide Book: A Practical Guide to Those Who Aim to Become One") (from Small Light), this pre-sale of 250 copies was well-received and sold out. I heard that many of those who bought the book had exhibitor tags on them. I hope that the book will be useful for their game production in the future.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
Board Game Designer's Guide Book


The first issue of the analog game magazine "ALL Gamers!" was released. It includes many notable articles, such as the talk between Ginichiro Suzuki and his son Kazunari Suzuki, as well as a report on the Board Game Café Award to select the best games through the voting by board game cafés and shops.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
ALL Gamers!


After checking the newly released games at the venue in about four hours, I managed to try some games and talk to some people. Let me report the games I tried along with those that gathered attention.

In From Batavia (from COLON ARC), the players collect spice cards and load them on their ships. Depending on the spice cards, you can trigger special effects to improve the efficiency. The rule to hand the cards used for paying the cost to the player on the left leads to interesting gameplay.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Patisserie Trickcake (from KogeKogeDo) is a trick-taking game in which you must follow suit and supply tasty cakes to your customers. Even if you cannot win the trick, you can still keep your used cards as items on sale and play them collectively, so it is also possible to lose deliberately to save up such cards as a strategy.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Moneybags (from Oink Games) is a bluffing game to take coins from others' bags "to make them even" while trying to gain more money unnoticed. The sound produced when shaking each bag provides the clue.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Trap of Love (from TUKAPON) is a card game to form melds by your hand and use them to gamble. Some cards revealed from other players' hands provide clues for gambling, but they might turn out to be bluffing.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


In Alpenzian (from Fukuroudou), the players each build their village by choosing dice rolls and drawing pictures on their player sheet.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Glover (from New Games Order) is a negotiation game that won the Tokyo German Game Award.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Marché de France (from Head Quarter Simulation Game Club) is another heavy game from this group after Improvement of the POLIS.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Motto Watashi no Sekai no Mikata (from Ten Days Games) is the publisher's original expansion set to its Japanese edition of Wie ich die Welt sehe....


From gallery of W Eric Martin


In Saikoro New Town (from IOP Games), the players roll many dice, then create lands and buildings by combining the dice rolls.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


HIKTORUNE (from Koguma Koubou) is a cooperative game to pull out vertically-erected magic cards without toppling them.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Happiest Town (from Sato Familie) is a town-building game from Toshiki Sato, whose previous game (8bit MockUp) won Game Market Award's Best Game of the Year.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


In Savannah Smile (from Bodogeimu), the players try to assess the animals' movement in order to place their smartphones in the spots to take the best shots.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


In Renkin (Alchemy) (from ruri ruri games), the players use beads to connect high-scoring materials. This group has constantly produced games with gorgeous components and few copies.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Tsumigei Quiz ("Quiz on Unplayed Games on Your Shelf") (from Saikikaku) is a quiz game to present the names of games from their first and last letters.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Tokyo Sidekick (from Little Future) is a cooperative game in which superheroes and their sidekicks work together to fight against villains.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


•••


Here is my report on the second day of Tokyo Game Market 2018 Spring, which was held at Tokyo Big Sight. The number of people queuing before the opening amounted to approximately 40% of the number from yesterday (according to Rael-san's report). Lower attendance may have been tough for some exhibitors with regard to their sales (some exhibitors had wished to participate on Saturday but ended up on Sunday by lottery), but the visitors on the other hand could take seats at demo tables as well as engage in conversation with the exhibitors more easily.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


I noticed some people visiting the Game Market after other shows at Tokyo Big Sight. Regarding the changes to the kind of people visiting Game Market, increases in female visitors, couples, and families has long been mentioned. Furthermore, an increase in overseas visitors and specific game players was remarkable.

It has been a while since we began seeing visitors from overseas publishers, such as AEG, Cocktail Games, Asmodee, and Hans im Gluck, coming to Tokyo Game Market in search of games to scout, but I also felt a strong presence of exhibitors from overseas at the current show. Furthermore, a BoardGameGeek crew was filming interviews and videos to introduce many games. Some overseas visitors were negotiating at the Oink Games booth to buy games in bulk. French game designer Antoine Bauza was visiting the show with his friends. I heard many people talking in foreign languages at this Game Market. If this trend goes on, the exhibitors might as well consider getting staff members who can explain their games' rules in English just like at SPIEL.



By the term "specific game players", I am referring to people such as the players of Sakura Arms and Magic: The Gathering, people who mostly play TRPG and live-action role-playing games (LARP) as well as Escape Room game players. They tend to visit only a single section of the venue without walking around to check various booths. While the attendance has been rising, we might as well question the proportion of people visiting the show to see doujin (indie) board games. Besides, such board games at the show have become quite diverse, ranging from light party games to heavy ones, making it difficult to report about them all together.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
Tokyo Game Market shortly after its opening


After checking newly released board games, I tried some games just like I did on the previous day. I limited the games that I'd buy only to those with original themes or systems, those with some degree of reliability on the designers' skills (according to their previous works and game description), and those I could not try at the venue. I did not reserve any game. Instead, I saw the games while visiting booths to check newly-released games and chose which ones to buy after hearing the game descriptions. I managed to visit all the booths before noon on both Saturday and Sunday, and I bought most of the games I chose before they became sold out.

In our board game community, there is a wise saying: "It is better to regret buying a game than it is to regret not buying it." I agree with this, but if I bought a game and left it unplayed, I would feel sorry for the people who produced it. Thus, I bought only enough games to play in one month after the show.

Under the circumstances, it was easier to buy books than board games at the show. I bought the first issue of "ALL Gamers!" (from AHC), Spiel Stern 2018 (from COLON ARC), Board Game Quiz Extended (from Banjiro), Gamer Tsuma no Yuutsu ("The Melancholy of a Gamer's Wife") (from Horiba Koubou), and Board Game Café Path (from Bodotte Iitomo!) and read some of them during the trip.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Board Game Café Path sold out. Its second issue is scheduled to be released in Autumn. I also had some time to spend outside the venue, so I had lunch at the kitchen car area. I tried the food tasting of yogurt and pudding supplied by Pal System food home delivery service, then ate a plate of kebab. It was windy but the weather was fine and felt good. The sunshine was so dazzling.


From gallery of W Eric Martin
Kitchen cars, all looking nice


The next Game Market will be held on November 24 (Sat) and 25 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight. Due to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, it will be difficult to reserve a venue in the Tokyo Metropolitan area starting in 2019, but I hear that the Game Market Management Office is presently on the move to secure one.

Here are some games that I tried and some that caught my eye at the venue.

Suzume-Jong (from Sugorokuya), a mahjong game with minimized mahjong tiles, sold a lot at the show. There was also a section to try mahjong along with many books on mahjong. The booths exhibiting Goita-related products were also popular, indicating the power of such traditional games.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Stock hold'em (from OKAZU Brand) is a stock trading game in which the players place their cards face down and the stock prices are eventually determined according to poker hands. Hot stocks have high prices, so you would hope to buy stocks when they are low-priced and sell them as their prices rise. However, if you keep buying the same stock, other players would hinder you. According to OKAZU Brand, their sales (at a single event) was an all-time high.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


SMART 500 Games released four titles, namely Stray Cat, Negotiator, Starry Swear, and Stationeries. They have firmly revived the 500-yen game project, which has long continued in some way or other as a kind of tradition at Game Market. Their games, sharing the same box art, stimulates one's desire to completely collect such games.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


In Kokikoki Station (from EVIL Team), the players put the cargo pieces in their hands onto containers. The objective is to have the fewest cargo pieces in your hand when all the containers are filled, but you drop out if you run out of your cargo pieces before that.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


The tricktaking game Ubergang des Barocks ("Transition of Baroque") and trivia game BodoCa (from Colorful Spiele) were both designed by Aya Matsunaga, an administrator of the board game data base ボドゲーマ (Boardgamer).


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Kani no Koushin ("Marching of Crabs") (from Azb.Studio) is a cooperative game to guide and help crabs. Its Styrofoam box contains gorgeous components.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


In Morse Karuta (from GIFT10INDUSTRY), the players try to identify a card according to the Morse code tapping produced with the game app downloaded to a smartphone. Various audio versions of the Morse code are available.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


Yuusha ga Ichigeki de Yarareta! ("Our Hero Was Defeated at a Single Blow!") is a one-against-many game in which the warrior, wizard, and priest try to escape from Satan in its castle. With a point system, you might also get to survive by sacrificing others.


From gallery of W Eric Martin


The questionnaire survey on newly-released games will soon begin. Even after buying games at the venue, until you have shared your comments on such games with others and answered the survey, Game Market 2018 Spring will still continue...
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