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Tokyo Game Market 2019 Autumn: Report from Table Games in the World

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Editor's note: Game Market took place in Tokyo on November 23-24, 2019, and Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated reports about this event (day one and day two) that were written by 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 November 23, a rainy chilly late autumn day, Tokyo Game Market 2019 Autumn opened at Tokyo Big Sight Aumi Exhibition Hall. With 1,068 booths, over 600 newly-released board games from Japan were available at this two-day event taking place in the exhibition halls covering an area of 23,240 m² and temporarily built due to the Tokyo Olympics.

On the first day, despite the rain, a line of approximately 4,000 people waited before the opening (according to Rael-san's report). At this Game Market, a system to queue between the two halls was newly adopted so that visitors could each choose to enter either one of the halls first. Block booths and company booths were in Hall A on the left, and standard booths were in Hall B on the right.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

At the opening, the MAGI booth selling the Magical Bakery series had a long queue of people in front of them, despite having set up multiple sales counters. They again distributed reversible bags for free as they did at the previous Game Market.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Gamestore Banesto sold new games from SPIEL '19, which took place in October 2019. Especially with regard to something large like Orléans Stories (3 kg., ¥16,000), it is worth noting that they supplied the Japanese translation of each player's booklet.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Likewise, GP Games released the Japanese edition of Catan: Starfarers (2 kg., ¥13,200), which had just been released at SPIEL '19. Its large box size is comparable to Orléans Stories, but some tough visitors had queued from early morning to buy both of these games.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Suki Games sold new games from SPIEL '19, namely Terramara and Aquatica with Japanese rules. Furthermore, they released a remake of Gunter Burkhardt's Volltreffer under the title 地下迷宮と5つの部族 ("Underground Labyrinth and 5 Tribes").

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Although Ten Days Games' booth was missing for the first time in a while, they released the Japanese edition of Barrage, which had been released at SPIEL '19. The game was sold at the Yellow Submarine booth.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

At this Game Market, I saw many new murder mystery games. Small Light sold the Japanese edition of Death Wears White, which is said to have triggered the boom. At the Moaideas Game Design booth, to promote Kasoku Suru Yami ("Darkness in Acceleration"), which is designed by Yusuke Tokita and will be released in Q2 2020; the characters from the game were announced and introduced.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Subarashiki Party Joy no Sekai ("The Wonderful World of Party Joy"), written by Inunosuke Sakamoto and Office Shin-tairiku and published by Small Light, covers the 135 titles in the Party Joy game series that were sold in the 1980s and 1990s by Bandai in Japan.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Characters from Kasoku Suru Yami ("Darkness in Acceleration") and Mr. Tokita

In addition to sales, there were various exhibits and events at the booths. Man-in-do, one of Japan's leading board game printing companies, exhibited card cutting dies. Sponge is applied around its blade to make it smoother to return after cutting.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform, provided an on-site video filming service to support board game designers. They filmed with notably professional equipment.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

While exhibitors from Taiwan and Korea have steadily increased, Kozo Games sold board games from China, Taiwan and Singapore, and Grain Gear Games sold board games from Vietnam and Myanmar. There were many people from overseas not only among the exhibitors, but also among the visitors. I saw people explaining their games' rules in English at the booths.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Pingyao and Ocean (from Jingyansi Board Game) are well-received in Japan.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Hội Phố is a board game from Vietnam, and Bagan Journey is from Myanmar

At the "Bodocon!" board game contest (hosted by ボドゲーマ [Boardgamer]), board game creators pitched their games within the time limit of three minutes in front of publishing companies, and the publishing companies interested in the pitched games raised their hands.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The presenters were A.I.Lab.遊, Seisyun Koubou Shirayuri, NonPro, Studio GG, and SoLunerG. Six of the eight companies raised their hands for SoLunerG's FOGSITE, which had won the Game Market Award 2019, Grand Prize.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Publishers, from right: Arclight, Engames, Jelly Jelly Cafe, Sugorokuya, DEAR SPIELE, Ten Days Games, Hobby Japan, and Yanoman

The Jelly Jelly Cafe booth held a number of events at this Game Market again, such as a talk show by Nilgiri (from Surume Days) about the 2018 special exhibition "Is This a Game?" and a talk show by the people who had visited SPIEL '19 on recommended tourist spots.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

"Is This a Game?" #2 will be held December 7-15, 2019 at 3331 Arts Chiyoda.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Audience smiling at the tourist spots introduced by Mr. Hata (of Kleeblatt)

At the Delightworks booth, Seiji Kanai and Sho Shirasaka had a talk show about their new game Shibuya Struggle. Seiji Kanai says that it is a game with many exhilarating points to rejoice over one's achievements.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

At the food court, in partnership with Ramen Walker, two ramen shops set up stores, and pleasant smells floated in the air in the hall.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

I ate Konmen's miso ramen with spicy miso. Shichisai's Temomi Ginjo soy sauce ramen was also alluring.

•••


With the closing of the Game Market Award, we stopped making the list of newly-released games, but more than 600 new titles are estimated to have been released in light of the number of exhibitors. I could not see all the games in the limited time, but I would like to pick up and report on some of them.

Vulcanus is the first game of the "Kaiju on the Earth" series, the release of which was initially announced at Tokyo Game Market 2019 Spring. The players co-operatively work to fight off the lava scattering monster approaching Tokyo. One of the players plays the monster and can overhear all the discussions made by the human players. Furthermore, with an hourglass time limit for action selection, things do not go as planned.

At the Game Market, only the copies sold by pre-orders were available. The game's general release date was November 28. In the crowdfunding campaign that accepted pre-orders, 1,167 people funded ¥7,087,400, indicating the high attention on the game. I played the game at a pre-TGM gaming meet-up, so I will review it later.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Oink Games' new game is Fafnir. The players collect valuable jewels through simultaneous blind bidding. The jewels are also used for bidding, so the number of jewels changes. Meanwhile, their values fluctuate depending on the number of each type of jewels owned by the players. While you'd hope to get rid of the jewels that are likely to give you negative points, so do the other players. Among the games for casual gamers from Oink Games, this game has a wide range that would also cater to long-time gamers.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

In Remember Our Trip from Saashi & Saashi, the players look back on a trip to Kyoto/Singapore and together recreate a map of the city they visited. The players choose the tokens matching the number of players from among those randomly combined and place the tokens on their individual boards according to the patterns specified on their cards. When the specified number of the same type of tokens have been placed, locations are determined, then buildings and parks are placed on the central board. You can score points by the tokens in the same area as determined locations. This is a romantic game reminiscent of Old Town.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The Era of Traveling Marchant is the latest game from A.I.Lab.遊, whose previous games Discovery: The Era of Voyage and Era of Hunting have been highly regarded. Using action points, the players move on the game boards, collect items, and deliver them to the cities specified on the cards. The delivered items remain in the cities, and other players can reuse them, which allows for strategic actions. It is also notable that you can change the map by arranging the boards.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Orchard Ocean is the latest game from analog lunchbox, who has previously released games such as airship city. This game was also brought to SPIEL '19 through Japon Brand.

With the fantasy theme of creating an orchard atop man-made islands in the sea, this is a relentless tiling game with various ways to gain score. The players take turns to take island tiles stating factors such as the turn order, tile orientation, and orchard type, then place the island tiles on their individual boards. The fruits and fish produced on the production island tiles can be sold to earn income by placing store tiles adjacent to them. Meanwhile, you also need to seek ways to link multiple production and store islands as well as ways to allocate workers.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

SCOUT! from One More Game! is arguably the most talked-about game at this Game Market. It had become a hot topic of conversation at VORSPIEL 2019 Autumn, a pre-TGM event held in early November where many game designers who would participate in TGM Autumn had demoed their upcoming games and had been later featured by the major board game podcast "Horabodo!" The goal of the game is to quickly use up one's hand. Like Krass Kariert, you cannot change the order of the cards in your hand. On the other hand, the number on each card changes according to the card orientation and you can choose to "scout" and add one of the cards played by the previous player.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Shibuya Struggle, the latest game from Delightworks, was produced with the supervision of Seiji Kanai and Sho Shirasaka. The players place gangsters on the tiles in line to acquire areas, use their special effects to reinforce the gang, and challenge the Big Four. If they win, they will further reinforce the gang and enter the showdown against the "KING".

From gallery of W Eric Martin

4tousei is a group of game designers who have released prominent games in the Eurogame genre. Their latest game Porte Saint Denis is a four-player, engine-building, worker placement game. The players compete to score points by increasing their influence at the Arch of Triumph in Paris and constructing buildings.

Their other game REFINERY is a three-player resource management in which the players, as oil kings, use building effects to refine oil and compete for wealth.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Planet Plant from Surume Days is a card-combo game to grow mysterious flowers on small planets. The players buy seedlings, water them over three turns, and can use the flowers' effects if they bloom. You need to carefully count this time difference to combine the flowers effectively and score points.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Subete ga Tome ni Naru ("Everything Will Become Tome") is a new game from Yuruart, which made their international debut with The Queen of Hansa. It is an area control game themed on the great merger of municipalities in the Heisei period. The power relationships change by merging areas.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

BLAUMARE from Otemachi Spin is a communication game to form pairs by conveying the image of each picture through means such as onomatopoeia and diagram. There is a hidden traitor who hinders other players from forming pairs. You need to find this traitor quickly.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

1 mm Kankaku ("Sensing 1 mm") from Chottozutsu Chigau (Slightly Different) is a game to find a card that is larger by 1 mm from your current card from among the cards differing in size in scales of 1 mm. Iro Kankaku ("Sensing Color") is a game to identify cards differing by percentage.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Dream, which has produced various creative products, released Gulala, a balancing game to stack blocks specified by dice rolls on a wobbly stand. The player who makes it collapse loses.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

FUSAF SUCCESS (from Accent irconflexe) is a game to communicate the topic by Fallen Hair cards. As might be expected from fallen hair, the number of cards gradually decreases, thus increasing the difficulty to communicate the topic.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Soukaikan ("Refreshing Feeling") (from Pilgrime) is a simultaneous blind-bidding game to flush poops down the toilet. If you manage to flush, flip the card to reveal a word. You can score by forming a set of "超" (super), "爽" (refreshing), "快" (fine) and "感" (feeling). On the other hand, you lose points for "不" (non), "快" (fine) and "感" (feeling).

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Unko kato Omotta ("I thought it was a poop") (from Morikawa Seminar, Hokkaido Information University) is a game to flip poop-like item cards to determine whether they are poops or not.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

The Game Market Award announced just before this Game Market that 2019 would be the last Game Market Award. Regarding the winners, FOGSITE, which won the Grand Prize, and Polarich, which won the Kids' Game of the Year, sold out quickly at the venue. Yokohama Duel, which won the Expert Game of the Year, is currently out of stock, but its English edition is scheduled to be released through Kickstarter.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Tenka Meidou (Rumble Nation), which had won the 2018 Grand Prize, was published from Hobby Japan and was being demoed at the venue.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Lastly, I would like to refer to the memorable talk by Mr. Yoshida of New Games Order/B2FGames, upon releasing the Japanese edition of Senators.

Mr. Yoshida says that they released the Japanese edition of Senators, a medium weight game (45-60 min) without prominent awards because he believes that "there must be a reason for the long game length" in light of the recent trend toward long games. In terms of a deep gaming experience, it can be felt also in light games, while you cannot experience it even in a long game if all you do is just follow the rules. When you think about it, being able to have a deep gaming experience within a reasonable playing time means a lot. Many of the games released even at this Game Market could provide such a deep gaming experience, so the rest is up to the players to see how to enjoy the games.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

•••

Postscript: Tokyo Game Market 2019 Autumn: Attendance of 29,300
(original article)

Game Market Management Office has announced that a total of 29,300 people attended Tokyo Game Market 2019 Autumn, which was held on November 23 (Sat) and 24 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight Aumi Exhibition Hall. It was 17% higher than the attendance of 25,000 at Tokyo Game Market 2019 Spring.

On the first day, 769 groups participated, an estimated 4,000 people lined up before the opening, and the attendance was 16,300. On the second day, the number of participants was 652 groups and the number of people queueing before the opening was 2,000 people (according to Rael-san's report), and the overall attendance was 13,000. The percentage of the numbers on the second day to the first days is 85% in the number of groups and 80% in the attendance, which are almost the same as in TGM 2019 Spring.

Since Tokyo Game Market was expanded to a two-day event starting in Tokyo Game Market 2017 Autumn, the attendance has increased from 18,500 to 20,000 to 22,000 to 25,000 to 29,300. The growth rate at the current Game Market is remarkably high. The number is certain to exceed 30,000 at the next Game Market.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Final Game Market Award Ceremony on the second day

After ending the Game Market Award, "Game Market Selection" has started from this Game Market. By entering the number on one's admission ticket on the special voting website, the Game Market visitors can each vote for one game they like, thus designed to prevent multiple voting. Voting is being accepted for the 482 titles that made entries.

Among the upcoming events, Osaka Game Market 2020 will be held on March 8 at Intex Osaka. Tokyo Game Market 2020 Spring will be held on April 25 and 26, and Tokyo Game Market 2020 Autumn will be held on November 14 and 15 at Tokyo Big Sight Aumi Exhibition Hall.
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