Fake and Counterfeit Games
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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Over the last few months there have been increasing numbers of reports of fake or counterfeit games. Personally we have not been victims, but inspired by this comment by takoyakioc on this thread, I thought I would gather together some of the reports to generate some discussion and give people an idea of what to look out for.



Please add your own experiences

but in order to make this most useful,

only one entry per game please (if you have more information please add it as a comment)

and

please only add new entries for games with convincing evidence of counterfeiting.


To begin with I will sort these by date of addition, later I will sort them by title so it can be a useful resource for people worried about this.

Thanks,

Susie_Cat.

Edit: There are some comments at the bottom of the page concerning how dodgy copies get into the system. All discussion is very welcome; maybe together we can raise awareness and perhaps stop fellow geeks getting caught.
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1. Board Game: Azul [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:40] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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This was one of the first games where I became aware that there might be a problem. I'm not saying this was the first game where there was a problem, just that this was where I first became aware of it.

It ticks all the boxes:
- Very successful game so worth faking;
- Popular with non-gamers who might not be aware of what to expect;
- Very high quality original production, so lots of scope for corner-cutting.

Here is [thread=2163553]a link to a thread[/thread] by

N/A

where his likely counterfeit item is discussed in detail, with confirmation of the existence of fakes from Michael Young who is Communication Lead for Plan B Games (who produce Azul).

This is an image of the box-cover cited in that thread:

 



Edit: Another thread about fake copies on ebay...
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2. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:143]
Susie_Cat
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Oxfordshire
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Cee Phour
United States
Reno
Nevada
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mentions this in the original thread.

They give a fantastic run-down on the comparison they made between their likely fake and a thought to be genuine copy.

They compared:
- The box size;
- The box printing;
- The rulebook;
- The insert;
- The appearance and weight of the gem/poker chips;
- Colour, appearance and feel of the cards and noble tiles.

I've included one of their pictures below, but really you should visit the original source which gives the full details with pictures and is a fantastic guide to some things to look out for.



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3. Board Game: Terraforming Mars [Average Rating:8.41 Overall Rank:3]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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I've seen lots of references to this one being a problem, something which is perhaps exacerbated by the relatively low production quality* of the genuine article.

There is a fantastic rundown of how to spot one of these by

Charles Xavier
United States
New York
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I'm including one of the characteristic issues with this one, a missing letter in the titles of some cards (no idea how this one happened - the mind boggles!)



Again, the original article is fantastic and is followed by a large number of comments and a lot of helpful discussion.


* The cards are very thin and don't have linen-finish, something that is often presumed to indicate low quality. However, Jacob Fryxelius comments here that thin black core card-stock was a deliberate choice because it makes a big stack of cards more manageable, it gives them high durability, means cards can be bent back into shape if necessary and the black core prevents them being seen through.
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4. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Europe [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:104] [Average Rating:7.56 Unranked]
Susie_Cat
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This one often gets cited though it seems that they do a decent job of the fakes. There is a nice comparison on reddit including lots of pictures if you are concerned about this one.

In this case, the biggest give-away was that it came with only one stations in each colour instead of three (i.e. a total of five instead of fifteen!). Also, with any of the Days of Wonder games, if you register it online, the sticker on the back of the booklet has a fake number. The colour of the plastic was a bit off too though, especially for the blue trains, but this is really only obvious if you have something to compare it to...




Again, if you are worried about this one, check out the original article.
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5. Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 [Average Rating:8.63 Overall Rank:2]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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This both Legacy and the original Pandemic* are popular games that [thread=30964887]seems to have been a target for the counterfeiters[/thread]. In this case it seems that the most obvious indicators are that the cubes have pointy corners rather some of which have little bits of sharp sprue stuck to them when they should be rounded and smooth. Additionally, some of the plastic pieces have dimples in the side or back.

There is a nice write-up with comparison photos which I think is by

Justin V

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Here is a picture of the cubes:



As before, go to the original article for a full set of comparison images.



* Feel free to add details of Pandemic if you have an obvious fake copy...
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6. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:48]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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A game where most of the components are card is relatively easy to fake and 7 Wonders is a popular gateway game, so it's not really a surprise that this has been a target.

In this case, there apparently the key indicator was that every component in the box seemed a little bit wrong. When the owner contacted Asmodee they said they thought it was a counterfeit copy and generously sent the owner a genuine copy.

Faults include:
- An unbound/staples rulebook that did not fit in the box properly;
- Loss of detail on the printing of the cards;
- Misaligned printing/punching for the tokens;
- Poorly centred printing for the player boards.

The picture below shows the printing on the cards:



As for the others, there is more detail including more comparison images in the original article, making it worth the visit.

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7. Board Game: Codenames [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:63] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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CGE reported the existence of counterfeit copies of Codenames on their web page.

In the case of this one, the features include:
- blurring on the box images;
- components of lower quality;
- misprints;
- some pieces missing.

Here is a picture showing a typo:



As for all these, the original article includes more details.
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8. Board Game: Qwirkle [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:726]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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Qwirkle also seems to have been pirated. This time they don't even seem to have made the effort to find an original to copy. The first report I found of this was here on the 'Geek by

Alain Houle
Canada
Etobicoke
Ontario
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who commented that the picture on cover was pixelated, there was terrible broken English on the back of the box, there was no draw bag and the weight of the tiles just felt wrong.

Digging further online suggests that other Mindware Board Games might be affected too and fake Qwirkle games can be spotted by an elephant logo on the box and packaging that does not mention trademarks.

Here are some pictures:



Again, check out the original article for more details.

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9. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:77] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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This was reported here by

Jay Tummelson
United States
Placitas
New Mexico
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Jay and Scott from Rio Grande Games report the following features:
- VERY badly made plastic inlay
- the artists names on the cards are not white, but tend toward orange and red;
- the printing is less vibrant;
- counterfeits generally seem to have the batch code "ELM 62812" (this is a genuine code, but seems to appear on all the copies);
- the counterfeits have a glossy finish that looks like linen that is more due to the photograph of the cover art.

Here is a photo showing the washed out box art:



As above, it is worth visiting the original article which includes more details and images.
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10. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:337] [Average Rating:7.18 Unranked]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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All of the most popular gateway games seem to be afflicted with this problem, so it seems obvious that Settlers would be another one. There are lots and lots and lots of reports of possible fakes, but I've not been able to track down any totally convincing cases with totally convincing images.

It may be that this is because there are lots of different counterfeiters, but it is also certainly true that there are many different editions and this makes things more confusing.

If you have any convincing images of a counterfeit copy of Catan, please add them below.

EDIT: The following was posted below by

Kevin Buchanan
China
Shenyang
Liaoning
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but has been buried by subsequent posts, so I'm quoting it here.

oneshallstand wrote:
I tracked down a copy that has two things going for it that suggest it's a copy, the first being to my experienced eye the colour saturation on the cover seems off (and the text on this one is in Chinese) and the other being that I'm pretty sure I couldn't normally buy Catan for under 6 gbp.

I'll try to get photos uploaded later (I don't have a copy of RealCatan here to compare with) but despite not stating anything on the box lid, this has the 5-6 player materials included inside.



The tiles feel too glossy to me (again from memory) and the dice are the big giveaway. These white dice with the blue and red spots are pretty near omnipresent out here and worth teeny-tiny amounts at retail (literally a couple of pence each if you shop in the right place). The quality of the material and the look doesn't match any edition of Catan I've ever played.

The wooden pieces feel quite nice although the paint application seems a little uneven from place to place. Also as other people have mentioned for other games...





punching the tiles is not an exact science here and there are tufting issues with the pieces.

I'll admit, quality is better than I expected, but this in no way matches up to my previous experiences with this game.
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11. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:235] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
Level 3 Tunt
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At its core, Dixit is just a card game, and a language-independent one at that. That means it's very easy to duplicate. Add to that the fact that the expansions are priced on the upper end of the spectrum for a deck of cards and it's a counterfeiter's market. There appears to be a separate branch of Dixit expansions that's evolved over time as people want to stay consistent with the product line they're already playing with.

I intentionally ordered a set of knock-off Dixit cards just to see what they were like. Smaller, that's what they were like. Other than being half the size they were great. In fact, I keep wondering why there's not an official Travel Dixit with these cute little cards.

Side-by-side comparison pictures:



The boxes are very different but have a similar feel. It looks like "Who Knows My Heart" is specifically for this set of cards but I have no idea if that's a translation of "Dixit". It's on sites like this under that name as well: https://www.dhgate.com/product/new-quot-dixit-7-quot-board-g...;searl|1434864774.




Real Dixit has a neat insert to make you feel like you didn't just drop $25 on a deck of cards. Fake Dixit has a plain cardboard tray.




Besides the obvious size difference, Fake Dixit doesn't have a white border around the card back. The color of the card back overall is close to Real Dixit, which between expansions is pretty inconsistent anyway.




An assortment of cards from Real and Fake Dixit. The color and image quality is pretty good overall with Fake Dixit.




Real Dixit on the left, Fake Dixit on the right. Fake Dixit cards are only slightly thinner than Real Dixit cards, so much so that I had to look closely and bend them quite a bit to find a difference. The one thing that stands out is that Fake Dixit cards have a plastic coating. This makes them pick up glare a little more but maybe they're water resistant to enhance the travel aspect.
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12. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:159] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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Another popular gateway game, another target for the fakers. There are a few reports of iffy copies like this one and the ones in here.

Symptoms seem to be:
- poorly shaped meeples;
- mismatching tile backs;
- misaligned roads;
- "nibs" on the tile edges when punched;
- misaligned box art.

Here is a picture showing the tiles:



As for all the others, if you are worried about your copy, check out the original article where there are more details.
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13. Board Game: Mysterium [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:201]
Susie_Cat
United Kingdom
Oxfordshire
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This one seems a bit more unlikely somehow, but the report on reddit is very thorough with lots of side-by-side pictures.

The indicators are the same as those for many of the other games listed here:
- poor quality components;
- misaligned printing/punching;
- cheaper insert;
- poor and inconsistent shrink-wrapping of cards;
- poor die-cutting.

Here is a picture of the cheaper black insert compared with the more robust brown insert of the genuine copy:



As for all the other entries here, the original article and the accompanying journal have many more details and are well worth a look.
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14. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:758]
Tim Synge
United Kingdom
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Devon
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This is a popular family game which appears to have suffered from an unauthorised version being published, as reported here by the designer.
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15. Board Game: Patchwork [Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:65]
Ivan Barker
Canada
London
Ontario
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I purchased this copy of Patchwork from Amazon last year.

Much to my surprise, it shipped from China (I thought it was shipping from Canada, at least that's what the ad said). After waiting a month for it to be delivered, I cracked open the package to be greeted by what seems like a counterfeit copy of the game.

- The boards are warped and curved.
- A lot of the cardboard pieces have wrinkling of the top-coat paper on them.
- The box itself has a really matte finish on it.
- The best one is that it came with Chinese instructions that leaves all copyright info off of it.

I contacted the Amazon seller calling him out, and he quickly refunded me.

Mayfair Games told me this about it:

Quote:
Ivan,

Thank you for getting back to me. We agree that this is absolutely a counterfeit copy of Patchwork. Please let me know if we can be of further assistance.

Kim
Customer Service
Mayfair Games, Inc.

Here are a couple of pictures:









Edit: hopefully fixed the images.
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16. Board Game: Cards Against Humanity [Average Rating:6.00 Overall Rank:3161] [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
jan w
Belgium
Brussels
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Ordered the UK version for a relative off of Amazon (yes, a pattern here!) Only to discover later that it was being shipped from China (entirely my fault). The shipping date on the Amazon website was something like a week, tops, so it didn't look suspicious. In practice, it took 4 weeks to be delivered.

Whilst I felt skeptical of a game being shipped from China, the communication with the seller in poor English, I didn't immediately think of a fake copy. Handling the box in the shrink wrap, a few things triggered me, which, together with the prior alarm bells, led me to look up if someone else had documented what a fake looked like. This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFtwO4SOAvc shows exactly what my copy looked like. The big warning should be the cheap cigarette package foil: flimsy and sealed with an overlap, rather than a single seam in thicker plastic (honestly, if you've bought several games, this should jump out), then there's a the holo-sticker on the back. My copy also had noticable off-set text: everything was a little too close to the edges of the box and cards.

I contacted the publisher and provided all details. Did the same with Amazon. In starting a process against the seller, I received a message from them offering to refund the game and send a new one, as long as we closed the complaint process because "it would be very bad for our shop". Well d'uh. I pushed on and refused, but Amazon came with the same message: the shop wants to refund so it's fine, right? I pressed them on this, at which Amazon refunded me, and told me to keep the package. Looking up the game right now, I still find the shop active (which is selling most out of print stuff of CAH and Azul).

Now you might conclude that you shouldn't buy off of Amazon - however:

I bought a copy of Bunny Kingdom from a Belgian webstore, and everything was off: the board was torn, cards had blotches of yellow ink, the tokens were cut completely wrong,... So much was amiss. I contacted the publisher who sent me a few new cards and a few new tokens, and asked for the barcode. In doing so, I read on the box that it was printed by a different games company, for Iello. So it could be that the quality standards are different depending on the printing company, but I've yet to see such a great discrepancy in quality between my copy of a game and someone else's. Plus I have two friends who own Bunny Kingdom, and they didn't have any of these problems. The online store didn't offer any help in the matter.

So where should we get our products, if even the supply chain is infiltrated by fakes?
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17. Board Game: Secret Hitler [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:177]
James Clarke
United Kingdom
Caithness
Scotland
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A plentiful supply of fakes on eBay and Amazon.

WARNING : Fake copy's for sale!

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18. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:78]
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This is not from firsthand experience - found at https://www.wired.de/article/vergesst-gefaelschte-iphones-de... (which I swear I've read in English but can't find now).

Wired wrote:
A fake version of the board game Pandemic by Asmodee. Already by the cheap, white packaging of the cards it is clear that something is wrong here.

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19. Board Game: Exodus: Proxima Centauri [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:1132]
Patrick Stangier
Germany
Offenbach
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Counterfeits can even appear in legitimate games.

The space ship miniatures used in NSKN Games Exodus: Proxima Centauri are originally from Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE) Silent Death: The Next Millennium Deluxe Edition game.

Exodus: Proxima Centauri minis

Silent Death minis

NSKN Games did the right thing here and, as soon as they were made aware of the situation, purchased a license to use the miniatures.
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20. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:120]
Jim Stevenson
United States
New Cumberland
Pennsylvania
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Before I knew about counterfeits I bought it off of AliExpress. Problems:

1. Box is not the correct dimensions
2. The game had no insert to hold the tokens
3. Many tokens were printed off centered
4. Directions are only in Chinese
5. No stuffed panda!

Photographs (by someone else): https://imgur.com/gallery/KIRuO
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21. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:415]
Kevin Buchanan
China
Shenyang
Liaoning
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On my adventures yesterday I came across another bootleg of a game I had so decided to run them side by side. As this cost less than a classic Cheapass game,I figured it was worth having a look... FOR SCIENCE!



Bohnanza... one of the first 'hobby' games I bought here alongside an impersonator. I know there have been a few editions since I bought my German copy back in the day, but I don't remember seeing box quite like this one (with or without the Chinese text). Still, inside things may have been a little less obvious.



In terms of size and print quality we can see a distinct difference between the two. My original cards are a little shorter and the colours a little softer (These bold, over-saturated colours seem to be something of a trademark in teh games I've looked closely at). On closer inspection lies one final difference.



Whilst the cards may be bigger and glossier, they've lost the texture of the original and are much less pleasant to hold (and probably less likely to stand up to repeated shuffling).
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22. Board Game: Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:88] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Jack Liw
Malaysia
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