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Japanese Game Round-up: Following Yellow Threads to Maid School, Card-Painting Classes, and a Lesson on Zen

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Designer
Board Game: きいろいろ (Various)
Whenever I research a Japanese game that isn't yet in the BGG database, I inevitably discover a half-dozen more such games along the way, sometimes because the publisher of that game has other releases that I didn't know about previously, sometimes because a search result for that game will be part of "convention haul" picture or post. Whatever the case, for good or ill, I will never run out of Japanese games to feature in posts like these. Finding them to play, on the other hand, is another question that I will leave aside for now...

• This particular post starts with a single tweet that I had forwarded to myself in March 2019. The game sounded interestingly minimalist — more art experiment than game as is sometimes the case with JP designs — but I was probably on my phone, so I sent myself the link to research it in the future.

Ten months later, I'm finally getting to it: In きいろいろ (Various) from Yellow Games, which debuted at the Osaka Game Market in March 2019, players are challenged to find pairs of cards that are the same shade of yellow. Here's an example of the game in play:

I've noticed a number of JP designs along these lines. Color Karuta from this Dec. 2019 round-up challenges players to overlay colored sheets to recreate an object's color. Another game that I don't recall the title of at the moment challenges you to identify different thicknesses in various white paper samples. (I think I'm remembering the concept correctly, but if not, the idea is there for the taking.)

James Nathan recently informed me of Blue Border, a diving game in which you're supposed to play four cards to dive to at least a certain depth, then play three cards to return to the surface — except that you don't see the numbers on the cards until after you play them. Instead, you must try to decipher a card's number (depth) by the intensity of the blue on its backside.

Board Game: Blue Border
Blue Border

Board Game: 下町メイド物語: The Story of Faltisia
• While searching for publisher Yellow Games on the Game Market website, one of the results delivered was 下町メイド物語: The Story of Faltisia, a game by Kagawa Shuntakashi and LAUGH SKETCH Inc. from the May 2019 Tokyo Game Market that did have a BGG listing. (I'm still not sure why this item was a search result.) Here's an overview of this 3-6 player game:
This is the Kingdom of Faltisia, a land blessed with a stable economy and with natural, rich countries that are crowded with many people. You are a girl born in such a kingdom. Your only dream is to become a full-fledged maid.

However, due to the importance of the maid occupation (it being essential to national security), only the most elite are allowed to graduate to professional status. Fortunately, you passed the entrance exams for the prestigious school "Royal Faltisia Academy". You have three years to polish yourself, so how will you spend your school life?

下町メイド物語: The Story of Faltisia is an ambitious multimedia project by LAUGH SKETCH Inc., consisting of part web-novel, and part board game. ("下町メイド物語" is approximately pronounced "Shitamachi Maid Monogatari", which means "Country Maid Story".) The board game is played out over three years during which players improve their strength, wisdom, beauty, and cleanliness. At the conclusion of the game, only the player with the highest VP can graduate to become a professional maid.

Players must choose between attending class or skipping class to instead choose from a limited number of activities (action-drafting style). Once an activity is chosen, it can be repeated in later rounds by that player.

One of the most important actions is to apply for a Provisional Maid License, which is issued to the Academy from the Maid Association. Such a license does not automatically qualify you to become a maid, but rather allows you to don your unique maid outfit, enhancing your skills all the more. In addition, each character has a unique ability that can be activated after receiving this provisional license; it is recommended you play the first game with the intention of acquiring this license.

It's also important to take advantage of the items available in the school store. Let's become an excellent maid in three years!
• What wasn't in the BGG database, however, was 下町メイド物語: The Story of Faltisia – ロンドン同時奪還作戦, an expansion for the game above that debuted at the November 2019 Tokyo Game Market. Google Translate is telling me that the subtitle of this game is "London Simultaneous Capture Strategy", but I'm not sure what to think about that.

Board Game: 下町メイド物語: The Story of Faltisia – ロンドン同時奪還作戦

Board Game: 天才画家ボン (Genius Painter Bonn)
• The original tweet that kicked off this post was from Nice Game Publishing, which runs an online store in Germany that sells a variety of games from Asia, and representatives from the company tweeted many titles from the 2019 Osaka Game Market, including one of 天才画家ボン (Genius Painter Bonn) from designer ナラセン (Narasen) and publisher ロクジゾー (6jizoGames). (As chance would have it, I featured ワイルドゴールド (Wild Gold) from this same designer/publisher team in a Dec. 2019 post. I think the BGG database is now up to date on all their releases so far, but I don't know for sure!)

Whereas Wild Gold had you laying out colored cards to create tools for use in a mining game, Genius Painter Bonn seems to work along the lines of Pantone: The Game, with players laying out colored cards — the game includes ten copies each of cards in eight colors — to create an image that others must guess. Unlike Pantone, which challenges players to do minimalist creations with only a few cards, players in Genius Painter Bonn seem to be able to use whatever they want. Check out this watermelon, for example:

Or these elaborate animal creations:

Or this duck in a purple tubetop smoking a cigarette:

Board Game: ZENタイル ソロ (Zen Tiles Solo)
• While searching for more info on Genius Painter Bonn, I ran across a listing on the Jelly Jelly Cafe retail store, which introduced me to ZENタイル ソロ from designer Youichirou Kawaguchi and publisher ちゃがちゃがゲームズ (ChagaChaga Games), which led to me discovering that this title did have a listing in the BGG database, but with the game's title and publisher being listed only in English, which means it would be difficult for anyone in Japan to run across, so now I've updated all of that info, while also adding a logo and Twitter link to the publisher page. Details!

Anyway, here's a rewritten description of ZENタイル ソロ, a.k.a. ZEN Tiles Solo:
ZENタイル ソロ is a solitaire board game that challenges you to look at yourself objectively while placing emotion tiles on a 24-hour timeline.

To win, you need to find a spot to place twenty different emotion tiles above these time boards, so think carefully about "your yesterday". You might have become happy about yourself — "I had a positive thoughts!" — or were perhaps surprised: "I didn't realize that I have negative feelings every time when I see this person."

Board Game: ZENタイル ソロ (Zen Tiles Solo)

"Knowing yourself" is one of the most important processes to find a way to make our life better, and it is ZEN. Giving five minutes each day to yourself to play this game alone in a quiet place and listen to your soul could be good meditation for the people who feel tired every day.

ZEN Tiles Solo is a game through which you can learn your hidden emotions and organize them to make your life calmer and better.
ZENタイル ソロ is definitely riding the edge of what qualifies as a game in the BGG database, but you lose points for each tile you don't place, so yes, you can score yourself and yes, you can win — specifically by reflecting on what you've experienced, by focusing on how you've responded to the stimuli around you and how you've reflected those parts of the world that are not you.

• And then while looking on the ChagaChaga Games Twitter account I saw this and died:

Job security!
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