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Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2019 III: Alea, Mini Garden, Monkey Duel, Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal, and Herb Witches in Quedlinburg

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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• Okay, two more conventions are in the books — NY Toy Fair 2019 and Festival International des Jeux 2019 in Cannes — which means it's time to get back to all of the overview videos that we recorded at Spielwarenmesse 2019. It's hard to keep up with all of these, but I've now published on our new BGG Express YouTube channel two-thirds of the videos that we recorded in Nürnberg.

Here are a few highlights from these videos, starting with an overview of alea's plans for its twentieth anniversary, which begins with Rüdiger Dorn's Las Vegas Royale and an expansion-filled version of Stefan Feld's The Castles of Burgundy:

Mini Garden from MOZI Game is a real-time puzzle-solving game in which you rearrange your garden cards as quickly as possible — flipping them, overlapping them, etc. — to have your garden match the roll of the dice. Mostly I'm charmed by how brazenly Livia demonstrated victory by cheating....

Wolfgang Warsch and Schmidt Spiele had a hit in 2018 with The Quacks of Quedlinburg, and for the first half of 2019 they have a new big box game: Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal, a.k.a. The Tavern of the Deep Valley, which has deck-building elements and dice drafting as each player builds up their own tavern.

• Speaking of Quacks, we got a peek at the Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg: Die Kräuterhexen expansion for that game, which adds new spells and components for a fifth player, introduces a new herb, and welcomes herbal witches. A representative for North Star Games, which released an English-language edition of Quacks in the U.S., told me at NY Toy Fair that it aims to release this expansion in English at Gen Con 2019.

• The weirdest marketing of a game at Spielwarenmesse 2019 might have come from Canadian publisher MJ Games for Alex Weldon's Monkey Duel.

This two-player game features backgammon-like gameplay in which players roll dice to enter their monkeys in the bamboo forest or move through the forest. You can move up bamboo to get higher, and that's good since the higher you are when you reach the opposite side of the game board, the more points you score — and players are racing to score twelve points first to win. When you move sideways across the board, though, you slide down the bamboo, so you need to rise and fall repeatedly, while also watching out for coconuts. Each player has a coconut die, and this die shows the exact distance which you can throw a coconut to knock an opponent off its bamboo. Knock someone off the bottom of the board, and you score a point while that monkey must start from the opposite side of the board once again.

The gameplay is all straightforward; the weird part comes from the packaging of this game with a Donald Trump vs. Kim Jong-un image, along with the marketing of "Make Jungle Great Again" caps on its Kickstarter campaign (link). The teaser video for the game is equally bizarre.

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