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Nürnberg 2012: Vegas and Saint Malo from Alea & ToySmart's Voca!

Rob Harris
United Kingdom
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
The last three days of the Spielwarenmesse – the annual International Toy Fair in Nürnberg, Germany – have been a blur. Friday and Saturday were the busiest ever at the Gen42 Games booth, with no time at all to see anything else of the fair or to post news. (Bathroom breaks were rationed to one a day.) The consolation for the hard work was meeting so many great people from all over the world, including Hilko Drude from BGG. Game people really are the best people. After those crazy couple of days, we had to have an early night on Saturday to lay our heads on the strangely empty pillows they favor in Germany.

Sunday morning arrived with temperatures below minus 20ºC, and the car wouldn't start until a friendly German helped us to jump-start. During the day, I managed a quick walk around the show to find the alea stand, shared with Heidelberger.

The famed publisher was showing two less complex games that are due out in the next couple of months: Vegas, the new game from Rüdiger Dorn, and Saint Malo from Inka and Markus Brand. The photos are by kind permission of alea, but they made it clear that the games are still in a show prototype form, meaning some changes may occur before the games reach stores.

Vegas has six cardboard casino mats, one for each side of a normal six-sided die. For each mat, players draw money cards until at least $50k is showing, but the amount may end up being a lot more, making that casino more desirable.

Each player has eight dice of a different color, which they take turns rolling. When you roll your dice, you can choose to place them on the relevant casino cards; for example, a die showing a 1 will be placed on the casino mat marked "1". You must place at least one die per turn, although you may place more. All players take turns doing this until all the dice have been used. Finally, the player with the most dice on each casino card takes the money associated with it. In case of a tie, the next non-tied player takes the highest-valued money card at that casino. It is such a clear, quick and simple design that it makes you wonder how no one has thought of it before. Perfect for a more casual gaming crowd.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
alea rolls toward the easier side of the gaming table

Saint Malo is another dice game, with players rolling five dice to gain various resources; this aspect of the game reminded me a little of Roll Through the Ages. Combinations of the rolled dice may create enhancements like characters or buildings, which can provide additional victory points, money, or special actions, such as altering the outcome of a die roll. The unusual aspect of the game was how players draw symbols on a wipe-clean grid of their city with a felt pen to create an individual town. For example, players could build storehouses on squares, then place a merchant nearby to gain money each turn. Another important character is the soldier; players must acquire these to defend themselves from pirate attacks that can decimate their town. It's a great game and seeing your town take shape is very enjoyable.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Preproduction version of alea's Saint Malo at Nürnberg 2012; tablecloth not included

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Individual player board in Saint Malo; note the big "This is a rough draft!" warning.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Preproduction, non-final cheat sheet for dice rolls in alea's Saint Malo

Another game that impressed me was Voca!, a clever party/ family card game from ToySmart, designed by Avraham Yoffe and Sargit Ben-Yehuda. Players must try to memorize a sequence of face-down cards by making the appropriate noises. There are cards for animals, everyday objects like a telephone, or people actions like sneezing or snoring. For each incorrect answer, the player must take a card from the front of the card sequence, thereby altering what needs to be memorized. Additionally, a new card is added each turn. The game ends when one player collects six cards. It was a lot of fun to play and simple to learn. They kindly allowed me to take photos even though the game is still in (very good) prototype form.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
From gallery of W Eric Martin
Non-final versions of the box and cards for Voca!

Another early night to escape the cold Nürnberg streets and to write this delayed blog post. It's difficult to believe it is the final day tomorrow. Where did the week go?
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