Tokyo Game Market (ゲムマ) Preview • December 2016
W. Eric Martin
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From gallery of W Eric Martin
Game Market (ゲムマ) in Tokyo takes place on December 11, 2016, and while I won't be attending this time due to family obligations — got to see my son on stage! — I'm pulling together this convention preview anyway, both to encourage participation in the BGG database by JP designers and to figure out what I need to track down should I be able to find a mule at the show. (Any takers?)

Note that the Game Market website has an extensive Japanese database of the games scheduled to be available at this one-day show, and I'm not trying to replicate that database on BGG. Instead I'm highlighting titles that (1) mostly likely include rules in English or (2) at a minimum don't include a lot of Japanese text on the cards or other components, which means that I have some chance of being able to play them, while also focusing on (3) designers and publishers with strong track records and (4) games that are so out there that I'll want them anyway for their sheer artistic creativity.

On top of all that, I'd like to highlight (5) titles that I think other BGGers would be interested in as well. After all, since mid-2015 we've been carrying a handful of games from Japanese designers and publishers in the BGG Store, and I'd like to widen that range of offerings in the future. The more that people know about this market, the greater the chance of my getting more such games down the road!

Let me know in the comments section about other games that I should be looking at during this trip — and if you can help in adding TGM games to the BGG database, please do so. Even if the descriptions are short, having something is better than nothing at this point as we know the games are coming out and more details will be available about them in the near future. Thanks!
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1. Board Game: Minimal Creation [Average Rating:7.90 Unranked]
Board Game: Minimal Creation
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2
Playing time: 20 − 40 minutes
Suggested ages: 10 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Japanese
Description:

Once upon a time, there were no lands, and it was the time for creation. There were two gods — the god of the sea and the god of the mountains — who created the world, but each loved their own creations more than anything else, so they came into conflict.

In Minimal Creation (a.k.a. 小さな創世記), players are these two gods and to end their conflict, they each decide to send one of their followers deep into the other's territory to steal a relic that sits there. Over the course of the game, you lay terrain tiles on the game board to expand your territory and lead your follower, moving it along the terrain to the opponent's temple in which the relic lies. The opponent loses a lot of victory points if you successfully steal their relic, but you also need to place tiles to accumulate small points along the way. How much effort you commit on expanding territory and stealing the relic will determine the outcome of the game.

When a follower successfully reaches the opponent's temple, the temple is removed and the game ends. If you have made any 2x2 squares of your territory, each square is worth one point. The temple is worth points if not removed (the invading follower destroys it). The player with the higher score wins.

Designer's summary

貴方たちは世界を創る海の神と山の神です。ある時二人は争いを始めてしまい、冒険者を相手の領域に送り込み秘宝を奪わせることで決着としようと決めたのでした。
 「小さな創世記」では相手と同一のボード上でタイルをつなげて配置して世界を創りながら、その世界の上で自分の冒険者を導き相手の神殿に向かわせます。限られたアクション数の中でこの二つの行動をどう配分するかで勝敗が分かれるでしょう。
 いずれかの冒険者が相手の神殿に到達した時点で、秘宝を失った2×2のマスがなくなりゲームが終了します。自分が司る地形が2×2マス以上にまとまっていればその面積が得点となり、得点が高い方が勝者となります。

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Board Game Publisher: Ayatsurare Ningyoukan
Board Game Publisher: Ayatsurare Ningyoukan
2. Board Game: Sweets Stack [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:10273]
Board Game: Sweets Stack
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 30 − 45 minutes
Suggested ages: 13 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Japanese
Description:

Sweets Stack is a competitive puzzle game in which your goal is to overfill your opponent's candy buckets first while cleverly placing candies into your bucket to prevent it from overflowing.

Each round you start with a new candy bucket sheet. Players will pass around candy cards, and each player must mark the shape of the candy they receive in their candy bucket sheet. If you plan well and stuff your candies efficiently, you will be able to put many candies in your bucket. Each candy you successfully put in your bucket scores you points.

After three rounds, each player adds up their total score, and the player with the highest score wins!

Other Information: • Price $25-29 for shipping to various places around the world; visit the Ninja Star Games preorder page to order.

• Price at TGM: ¥2,500
 
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Board Game Publisher: EX1ST GAMES
Board Game Publisher: EX1ST GAMES
3. Board Game: KIKA [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Board Game: KIKA
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 10 − 20 minutes
Suggested ages: 4 and up
Categories:
Mechanics: Show More »
Language:
English
Japanese
Description:

KIKA is a simple color-matching game for 2-4 players using rhombus-shaped tiles. To start, place the tiles on the table, choose a first player, then have that player choose one tile and place it in the playing area. Each player then takes turns choosing a tile from the supply (or one of their own tiles, which are also endgame points) and placing it next to tiles in the playing area.

If the tile you place matches one or more adjacent colors, you score points. For each point scored, take any one tile from the supply and place it face up in front of you. These are your tiles, and each is worth +1 point at the end of the game.

The game immediately ends when the last tile is taken from the table and placed. Count your tiles and add any endgame points. The player with the most points wins.

KIKA includes a rule sheet and seven rules cards. (Most of the rule cards are optional as the recommended minimum age for the game is 2 + the number of cards used.) You can choose 972 different combinations, with elements of deduction, memory, area enclosure, push your luck, and more. Try them all to discover your gamer DNA!

 
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Board Game Publisher: Hobby Japan
RPG Publisher: Hobby Japan
4. Board Game: たたらばと森 [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:10008]
Board Game: Forest of Tataraba
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 30 − 50 minutes
Suggested ages: 10 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Japanese
Description:

In たたらばと森 (Tatara, Field, and Forest), each player represents a Toryo clan engaged in the production of tatara steel with the long-term goal of allowing for perpetual production — but to do this, the players must learn to coexist with the forest of Okuizumo or else that won't be able to fire up their tatara.

During the game, players plant trees and harvest other trees that were already on the board. Trees come in different types and grow at different rates, with the planted trees growing somewhat randomly at the end of the round. Players must predict where the forest will grow, while adjusting the balance of their harvesting and planting in order to improve their production.

Other Information: • Price ¥5,000

Board Game: Forest of Tataraba
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Board Game Publisher: itten
Board Game Publisher: itten
5. Board Game: Tokyo Highway [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:1897]
Board Game: Tokyo Highway
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2
Playing time: 30 − 50 minutes
Suggested ages: 8 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Japanese
Description:

In Tokyo Highway, players compete to place all of their cars on the road — but to do that they will first have to build the roadways!

Over the course of the game, players construct columns of varying heights by using the 66 squat cylinders in the box, then connect those columns with sticks that serve as roadways, with the columns not necessarily being the same height when connected. If a stretch of highway is placed well, you can place one or more cars on it to score.


Description:

Goal of the Game

You must construct a highway and place all your cars on the highway by crossing your opponent’s roads. The first player to place all 10 cars is the winner.

Playing the Game

You have three things to do during your turn.

① Constructing a pillar
Pick a location to construct a pillar.
You may freely choose the construction point as long as your pillar is reachable from the base point. A base point is the location of a pillar or junction constructed in previous turn. The height of the pillar must be 1 above or 1 below the base point. You may not construct a pillar of the same height, 2 stories above or below the height of a base point (following is an exception - 6. Constructing a Junction).

② Constructing a road
A new road must rest between the base point and the pillar constructed in phase ①.
You may adjust the position of the pillar when placing a road.
Roads may not cross over previously placed pillars.

③ Placing cars on highway
When conditions are met, you may place a car on the road (Refer to – 5. Conditions for Car Placement).
Your turn ends with your opponent’s judge.
If there is a problem, it must be sorted out on the spot.

Game goes on repeating ① to ③ alternately.
You may no longer adjust the position of your pillar, road or car once your opponent constructs a new pillar.

Conditions for Car Placement

The chance to place a car on the highway occurs only to the newest road you construct. To place a car, your newest road must cross your opponent’s road. There are two ways to cross your opponent’s road: crossing over or crossing under it.

When crossing over :
there exist no other roads over opponent’s road

When crossing under :
there exist no other roads under opponent’s road

When either of the conditions is met, you may place a car on the highway. If not, you may not place a car but may still connect the road to the next pillar.

If the road crosses multiple roads, you may place multiple cars depending on the number of roads crossed.

crossing over two roads at the same time
crossing over and crossing under two roads at the same time

【Caution】
・ You may not place a car when crossing over/under your own road.
・ You may not place a car on already constructed roads later on in the game.
Keep the traffic rules and enjoy driving!

Constructing a Junction
The yellow pillar is called the junction. Using a junction, you may do the following.

① Increase or decrease the height of the pillar by any number
You may increase or decrease the height of your pillar regardless of the height of the pillar at the base point. However, you need to have at least one gray pillar under the junction. You may only construct a pillar of one more or less stories as usual in the following turn.

Be careful, if the road angle is too steep you’ll have trouble placing cars!

② Branching out to two-ways
You may branch out your highway from a junction anytime during the game.

Constructing Exit to Highway

If you can ground a road safely to the table from a height of 1 pillar, you have created an exit to your highway. You may place an additional car as a bonus point on the exit road. If the road crosses your opponent’s road(s) while grounding, you may place multiple cars on the road. You cannot start a new road from the exit.

Penalty

If you drop your opponent’s car or road during construction, you must hand over your pillars to your opponent as penalty. You must offer a number of pieces equivalent to the materials you dropped. Game proceeds only after the parts are fixed by the player responsible. There is no penalty for dropping your own pieces.

End of the Game

1. When all 10 cars are placed on the highway
The first player to finish all 10 cars is the winner.

2. When construction materials run out
If you are out of construction materials, you must wait for your opponent to finish the next turn. If the opponent finishes the turn with no penalty, the player with no more construction materials is the loser.

Other Information: • Price ¥2,800

Board Game: Tokyo Highway
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Board Game Publisher: Manifest Destiny
Board Game Publisher: Manifest Destiny
6. Board Game: Carillon [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 3 − 4
Playing time: 20 − 30 minutes
Suggested ages: 10 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Japanese
Description:

In Carillon, you buy bells from a workshop to build a carillon, and as in Coloretto, players either set a card on a workshop or gain all cards — but gained cards are set into a particular form, so collecting only cards of the same color is not the best way to play.

 
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7. Board Game: Final Deathweek [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Board Game: Final Deathweek
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 3 − 4
Playing time: 30 − 40 minutes
Suggested ages: 12 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Japanese
Description:

You should have died in that huge accident last summer — but one of your compatriots had had a premonition in which they saw the accident happen, and you had decided to trust this, and thus managed to escape death at the last moment. You returned from the banks of the Styx feeling that you could now enjoy summer life with more treks and more beaches...but you can't relax just yet. Fate doesn't like when people tamper with her whims, and the angel of Death is stretching his hands towards you slowly but surely. Will you be able to escape his clutches for another week? It's a desperate, shared struggle for survival.

Final Deathweek is a cooperative card game. Players hold cards that symbolize "death flags" (death warnings) of certain colors. Each turn, each player in order must select one of the available events for the day, trying to NOT match the colors of the event with the color(s) they have in hand. While not matching colors, they should also try to form chains with the events they take. If the colors do match, the player takes damage, eventually being killed if too much damage is taken.

The game lasts for seven days, and if all players survive, they beat the game.

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8. Board Game: Next Seven Days [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Next Seven Days
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 1
Playing time: 40 − 60 minutes
Suggested ages: 14 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Japanese
Description:

Next Seven Days is a solitaire card game representing the first week of the new world.

With a deck of various events, numbered 1–20, each with a special piece of story and effect, the player must discard some of the cards in order to play the cards they want. Cards must be played in a strict pyramidal form in seven layers, obeying the rules for numbering. The game is played in seven rounds, and if the player manages to create an unbroken line of increasing numbers from round one to seven, the week is complete. Points are awarded for achieving special goals.

 
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Board Game Publisher: Oink Games
Board Game Publisher: Oink Games
9. Board Game: Insider [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:1045]
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 4 − 8
Playing time: 15 minutes
Suggested ages: 9 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Japanese
Description:

Do we really have free will? Who decides this? Are we controlled by what we hear and what we see, even while thinking we decide freely? Insider is a game that deals with these questions. While communicating to others, you have to find the right answers to a quiz or find the "insider" who is manipulating the discussion. The insider will do everything to hide their identity while misleading the others.

In more detail, players are assigned roles at random. One player is the "master", and they secretly select a word from a set given in a deck of cards. (In a variant given in the rulebook, they can freely select and write down a word.) The "insider" player, whose role is not known to the other players, will then secretly view the word. The rest of the players are known as "commons". The commons then have approximately five minutes in which to ask the master "yes" or "no"-type questions so that they can deduce the secret word. The insider attempts to secretly lead the commons towards the correct word. If the commons fail to guess the correct word, everyone loses.

If, however, the word is correctly guessed in the allowable time, the master flips the sand timer, and the commons and master have until the sand runs out to discuss the game and deduce the identity of the insider. If they guess correctly, they win the game together; if they do not, the insider wins.

Other Information: • Price ¥2,000
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10. Board Game: The Pyramid's Deadline [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:7539]
Board Game: The Pyramid's Deadline
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 6
Playing time: 20 minutes
Suggested ages: 8 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
French
German
Japanese
Description:

In ancient Egypt, the king has ordered architects to his side. "Construct a glorious tomb for this eagle, and I will give a reward to whoever has created the largest tomb. Fail to complete the tomb by the time that the eagle dies, however, and it's the death penalty for you on the spot."

Your challenge in The Pyramid's Deadline is to create a tomb larger than any other player's without getting so greedy that you'll be rewarded with death instead. This game combines puzzles, bargaining, and pieces rolled on die that you'll use to build pyramids.

Other Information: • Y2,000, which is discounted for TGM

Board Game: The Pyramid's Deadline
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Board Game Publisher: OKAZU Brand
Board Game Publisher: OKAZU Brand
11. Board Game: Jungli-La [Average Rating:5.37 Overall Rank:15877]
Board Game: Jungli-La
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 5
Playing time: 30 − 45 minutes
Suggested ages: 6 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Japanese
Description:

Each player in Jungli-La is a daring explorer, progressing through the secret lands of the jungle in search of the fabled lands of the village of gold. However, the jungle is full of obstacles to overcome, and moving forward blindly will be a fatal endeavor. With your trusty dice, you need to acquire food, wood, and a variety of tools and resources to use in your journey. You also need letters to grant you abilities along the way that allow you to change your dice, exchange artifacts, and gain various benefits. Who will be able to reach the storied village of gold and earn the most fame to become the explorer of legend?

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12. Board Game: Okey Dokey [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:3194]
Board Game: Okey Dokey
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 1 − 5
Playing time: 16 − 32 minutes
Suggested ages: 6 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Japanese
Description:

In the cooperative card game Okey Dokey, the players work as a team to put on a music festival including several different performers. You need to be able to place all fifty of the cards in the game within ten columns, but players' hands are kept secret from one another and only slight suggestions can be made.

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Board Game Publisher: Saashi & Saashi
Board Game Publisher: Saashi & Saashi
13. Board Game: Wind the Film! [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:3391]
Board Game: Wind the Film!
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2 − 4
Playing time: 20 minutes
Suggested ages: 12 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Japanese
Description:

Time to walk about town and take some pictures! It's the 1960s in Japan, and you have a half-size camera that lets you take half-size vertical pictures. Let's see whether you can put together good shots...

In Wind the Film!, you're trying to organize pictures on your roll so that they appear in the right order. Each player has a hand of cards, and on a turn, you'll add 1-3 cards to the front of your hand (without changing their order), move one card in your hand closer to the front, then discard as many cards from the back of your hand as the number of cards that you added. When the sunset card comes out, you can take no more pictures, and everyone scores for what's on their camera.

The cards all have numbers and colors on them, and you try to line them up in hand to score the most points possible.

Other Information:
From gallery of Photodump
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Board Game Publisher: Saien
Board Game Publisher: Saien
14. Board Game: ReCURRRing [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:9201]
Board Game: ReCURRRing
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 3 − 5
Playing time: 30 minutes
Suggested ages: 8 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Japanese
Description:

In ReCURRRing, players try to win cards. The deck consists of 57 cards: one 1, two 2s, etc. up to nine 9s, along with a dozen Rs; with fewer then five players, some of these cards are removed from play. A 1 is the strongest single card, but any pair beats a single with two 2s being the highest pair; Rs are the weakest cards.

After dealing out the deck, the starting player lays out a single card. The next player can pass (in which case they're out for the remainder of the round) or they can play one or two cards that rank higher than what was played; if they do, they take the previously played card(s) in hand. Each subsequent player can either pass or play a higher set of cards of cards, but a set that includes at most one card more than what was played most recently. Once all players pass, the cards in the center are removed from play, and whoever played most recently leads in the new round.

When a player runs out of cards, the round ends and players score points for the cards they've collected. Players play three rounds, then whoever has the most points wins.

Other Information: • Price ¥1,800

Board Game: ReCURRRing
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Board Game Publisher: Tagami Games
Board Game Publisher: Tagami Games
15. Board Game: ノラネコ小隊 [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Wild Cat Platoon
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 2
Playing time: 10 − 20 minutes
Suggested ages: 10 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Japanese
Description:

Wild cats! This will be the start of the military exercises, which are divided into first and second platoons. Your goal is to suppress the three columns in which the enemy can attack, and you can conquer a column by having more cats than the enemy.

In ノラネコ小隊 (Wild Cat Platoon), each player has a set of twelve cards, with those cards being numbered 1-3 twice in two colors. Starting with four cards in hand, players engage in a placement phase, then an operations phase.

Other Information: • Price ¥800
 
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16. Board Game: マルチの頂点 [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
Board Game: Pyramid Scheme
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 3 − 4
Playing time: 45 minutes
Suggested ages: 12 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
Japanese
Description:

You are one of the first members in a U.S. company that has made its way to Japan, and you are now trying to recruit new people to join you in this great opportunity with "Miracle Forever Japan". Can you become the richest player?

In マルチの頂点 (Pyramid Scheme), you start the game with a hand of numbered cards and choose one of them to represent the founding member in the pyramid of business supporters that you hope to build. On subsequent turns, you'll add new members to your pyramid, but the card played in the level below an existing member must have a lower number if placed on the left and a higher number if placed on the right. Some members provide special bonuses and actions, but sometimes you might need to leave a member face down to represent a prospect who didn't work out.

When the game ends, players score points for the members of their pyramids; the more levels you build, the more valuable those members who support everyone above them!

Other Information: • Price ¥1,800
 
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Board Game Publisher: Yamato Games
Board Game Publisher: Yamato Games
17. Board Game: Sweets! [Average Rating:6.12 Unranked]
Board Game: Sweets!
Designed by:
Published by:
Number of players: 1 − 4
Playing time: 15 minutes
Suggested ages: 7 and up
Categories:
Mechanics:
Language:
English
Japanese
Description:

In Sweets!, players each start the game with three sweets cards from the fifty-card deck, with five cards placed face up in the tableau. On a turn, a player either draws a face-up card or the top card of the deck (unless they already have five cards in hand), swap two or more cards with an equal number of cards from the tableau, or eat a set of sweets in their hand to score points.

Once the deck is exhausted, each player eats once, then they tally their points based on the number of stars on the cards they ate. Whoever has the most points wins.

Other Information: • Price ¥2,000
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