New games from Latin America (November part 1)

This is a guest post by Hilkman translated from the German article originally published on his blog Du Bist Dran!

Back in normality – while I’m trying out the first new releases from the fair, a few news from Latin America have accumulated. Have fun reading.

Argentina

I don’t think I’ve seen Dragqueens as a game theme so far. This has changed not too long ago, since at the moment there is a Crowdfunding-Campaign for Las Divas by Mariano Medina Gouguet (by self-publishing). According to the cover it isn’t about being a Dragqueen… but being the BEST. There are different Dragqueens with different goals, of which you draw one face down. One may want to have many cameras on her, another wants fame, another may want to talk the others down. There’s a small number of different cards with different functions that you draw and play. Whoever reaches his personal goal first wins. Las Divas has been illustrated by David Salamanca R.

Years ago Friedemann Friese got attention with a solo game called Freitag (Friday). Some years later, Super Noob Games are now releasing a solo game called Lunes (Monday). As you can guess, it doesn’t have anything to do with a lonesome island, but something completely different, the least favorite day of the week in the office. Here you try to leave the office, without your boss noticing. You move through variably built office buildings, finish some tasks on the way and hide from the boss. And sometimes you should fill up on coffee (also something you can know from Friedemann Friese, even if in a pretty different fashion). When you manage to get outside, you win. Lunes is made by Aibel Nassif and Julián Tunni, who also contributed to the illustration.

Chile

Back in June I already mentioned Corruptia by Camila Muñoz Vilar and Fernando Casals Caro with praise, of which I could play an advanced prototype at the game author meeting in Göttingen. In Chile the game is released this month through the publisher ZXG. In Corruptia the players take on the role of politician that want to become as powerful as possible. On some of the cards laid out at the beginning there are meeples, which are basically people, that have been involved in a project due to the politics surrounding it. The players play out cards onto the table in turns and try to pull meeples from the laid out ones onto the new cards. At the end the connected cards of one color are multiplied with the number of meeples on a group of cards and then you gain points for each card of the corresponding color you still hold in your hand. Sadly playing out the cards isn’t that simple. There are certain formal requirements, but also a vote in parliament about it. So you should be sure you have enough allies, or when that’s not the case, to be able to bribe or blackmail the other players. As in many negotiation games that you play for the first time, we were very reserved at the beginning of the game, since we couldn’t really understand the consequences of our actions yet. Going further the negotiations and agreements got louder and more interesting. A really nice game, the release of which I’m very happy about. It was already available at Nicegameshop in Essen (and there you can get it afterward as well).

Whoever is sad about the fact that many of the games are still very hard to get over here, may be happy about getting the opportunity again to make a game themselves via Print and Play. I’m talking about La Marca del Cthulhu. Its a sort of deduction game, in which you try to find out the identity of others (in the best case without going insane yourself). First you roll and then you may place tiles in the playing area, with which, if they fit, you may undertake actions. Each character has different goals (although everyone wants to survive). Some have the goal to gain knowledge, others work towards killing a specific other character. It has been published under the publisher name Nebrall Games.

Peru

In Excavatumbas by author and illustrator Juan Diego Leon the players dig for treasure at a graveyard, where they intend to sort worthless from valuable stuff. Of course they also have to take care, that the others don’t run off with the best things, so you also have to steal amongst each other and sabotage to your hearts content. But beware, there are also three ghosts at the graveyard. When the third appears he puts a stop to it all and you should have gotten as many treasures as possible until then. Excavatumbas has been released under the publisher name of Black Lion Games.

 

Interview: Saigo

Could you quickly introduce yourself, for the people out there that may not know you already?

Okay. I’m Saigo, a translator living in Kagoshima in the southern part of Japan, and I play board games mostly with my two kids. I’ve translated and proofread the rules of some Japanese board games into English. I’m a member of a translation team led by Jon Power (@jonpower), who’s helping people register Japanese doujin (indie) and other Asian board games onto BoardGameGeek (BGG). I’m also a member of Japon Brand‘s annual translation team. Recently, I’ve translated some reports on Game Market by Japanese board game websites, namely Table Games in The World (TGiW) and Nicobodo, and uploaded them as BGG News articles. These translated articles appear shortly after each Game Market, thanks to the generous support of these websites’ administrators and BGG News editor W. Eric Martin. And I have a twitter account (@saigo012) from which I tweet about Japanese board games regularly, sometimes sporadically, on weekdays.

We’re very interested in board game cultures around the world. How would you describe the scene in Japan?

Playing a variety of modern board games is still a hobby for a small population, but there are many people in that group who promote the hobby in many directions, and the population is steadily growing. It’d be nice if the board game culture can be widespread in Japan like in your country Germany.

The Tokyo Game Market is developing a reputation for the high volume and ‘quirky’ style of games published. Why do you think the independent tabletop scene is flourishing in Japan?

With regard to the games produced in Japan, I’m really not the right one to comment on it since I haven’t produced any games, but I’ll try my best. Most of the board games currently designed and produced in Japan are doujin games, whereby the designers directly sell their games at Game Market and other shows, as well as through board game stores. Like the culture of Comic Market (Comiket) on which the style of Game Market is based, one is regarded a game designer the moment they’ve produced a game and presented it at Game Market or elsewhere, regardless of the game’s commercial quality or even playability, and regardless of the number of copies produced or sold. I think this openness has motivated many people to design games freely, some of which may turn out to be “quirky”.

As an insider of the Japanese indie board game scene you have seen many different games. What are some of the more unique concepts or mechanics you’ve witnessed?

I’m afraid I don’t have the sufficient overall knowledge to tell which games are more unique. So, instead, I’d like to recommend you to check out the doujin games released over the years. I see many people coming all the way from overseas to the Game Market in search of good games, but the games brought to the latest Game Market are only the tip of the iceberg. To be more specific, most doujin game designers produce games as their hobby with their pocket money. To keep producing new games, they can’t take the risk of producing many copies that might not be sold out within a certain period. In other words, they don’t have rooms to stock so many copies of their games. Thus, many doujin games, even good and popular ones, are produced in small number of copies without ever being reissued. Under these circumstances, it’s highly recommended to dig into the past and look for the games that have been released and played over the years.

As an example of such an act, Encyclopaedist, which was initially released in 2006 by Josee Design, was reissued by Suki Games at Tokyo Game Market 2018 Spring. This game was long rumored as an “addictive” game that one should try out by many notable board gamers. I bought it this spring and it’s quickly become my go-to 3-player game. (For information about Encyclopaedist, see here)

Another one of my go-to game from the recent past is Painter Detective, which was released in 2015. I’ve played it with people of various ages and nationalities, both gamers and non-gamers, on various occasions, on bar tables and on picnic sheets, and it’s constantly fascinated the people who played them that they requested to play it over and over. I keep hearing many people recommending this game, but then again, it hasn’t been reissued (though it was reimplemented by Painter Detective Girl in 2016.)I recently saw a tweet by its game designer hinting that its sequel might come out, so I’d recommend you to check it out. (For information about Painter Detective, see here)

As a good source of information on such doujin games, Jon Power has listed the many hundreds of doujin games he’s helped people register onto BGG.  And, in this age of advanced machine translation, I’d recommend you also to check up doujin game overviews and reviews on major Japanese board game websites, such as Table Games in the World (TGiW), Fuuka’s Board Game Diary, and Nicobodo. Especially, on Fuuka’s Board Game Diary, the writer reports about the many doujin games she’s played shortly after each Game Market.

You also work as an interpreter on the Tokyo Game Market for overseas publishers. How has the interest of overseas publishers developed over the years?

More and more people, including publishers, are coming to visit the Game Market from overseas. Regarding the publisher I’m accompanying at the Game Market, they say that they’d like to establish a good relationship with doujin game designers over the years and they keep visiting the show constantly with an interest. I respect their careful and thoughtful action and am looking forward to seeing their visits bearing fruit by and by.

Could you give a sneak peek of what you are working on right now? Which Japanese games can we soon expect to play with English rules?

As a translator, I don’t refer to the information about these games before their designers do, sorry. Instead, I’d like to refer to your great service to keep doujin games at your store with English rules, along with your inquiries asking about the availability of English rules to the designers of the doujin games that have caught your attention, because I think it’s wonderful. As mentioned, many doujin game designers produce and release their games as a hobby in their free time with their pocket money. They normally can’t spare extra time and money for translation and localization. However, the interest expressed by overseas gamers may motivate the designers to take an extra effort to make their games available also to non-Japanese gamers. It’s a mutual thing. Thank you for the interview, and see you at the next Game Market!

New games from Latin America October part 2

This is a guest post by Hilkman translated from the German article originally published on his blog Du Bist Dran!

Due to the massive amount of work I’ve put into the preview article on Essen, my research about Latin American games has come up a bit short. Though there are a bunch of things I did find, and if I missed something, I’ll try to hand it in in November.

Mexico

There’s a new Kickstarter-Project from Mexico called Weapon Wars, which has reached its financing goal already, but will still be up for a while. In Weapon Wars cosplayers fight with iconic weapons, from spoons to pillows to nerf guns to I don’t know what. You always attack the person to your left and hope that she can’t fend it off and you gain a pixelated heart from her. Whoever gathers three hearts first wins the game. Of course there are a lot of special cards, with which to manipulate the whole procedure. I found the video for the campaign to be quite funny. Maybe you’re interested in looking into it. The author is called Carlos David Perez Tovar, the publisher is Lodus Games and the illustrations stem from Rodrigo Gil.

In September I already reported on the publisher Guerras Gato Games. Their new game is called Kanyimajo and comes, like the others from this publisher, from Ramón López. The evil witch Robacolores (who steals the colors) has imprisoned the Kanyitos. Kanyitos are little energy balls (whoever wishes to get a better picture of it should take a look here). Now there are only three days remaining to rescue them, otherwise the world will stay colorless forever. Luckily the players have gotten wind of the witches’ cat, that could transform the Kanyitos into Kanyikats. To win, you have to rescue as many of the poor creatures as possible, without meeting the evil witch twice. The illustrations are made by Shengolia again.

Uruguay

There’s also something new from Uruguay once more. There’s supposed to be a gold treasure in the woods around a small village, which means you should go and have a look around there. Sadly the treasure is guarded by a Werewolf, and a Werewolf sorta isn’t really harmless. Where I got that from? From the game Matching Adventures: The Werewolf’s Treasure by Federico Franco, which has been published by Arnár Estudios (with illustrations by Rodrigo Linares and Pablo Luthar). The game is memory based: You have to find pairs of cards within the laid out cards. If you find one, you may keep one of them as an action card and use it later (for example, those are weapons with which to defend yourself) – with the goal, to find six gold coins before the Werewolf eats you.

New Games from Latin America – October 2018 part 1

Argentina

The author collective Maldón is known for often designing their games rather spectacularly, which it releases under its publisher of the same name. So, I always instantly perk up my ears when there’s something new from Maldón. That’s why it nearly surprises me that I missed the release of El Camarero this summer – I really got to hand this in now. In this game, every player has a set of cards and loudly creates an order of a five-course menu. In the middle of the table you then have eight cards lying around, and you take turns being a waiter and either have to assign cards to customers, who ordered the corresponding thing, or you have to carry stuff back into the kitchen that nobody wants. However, there’s also a bell and whoever notices an error slams it incessantly, so that the waiter gets a complaint-chip. In the end you get points for fulfilling your own order (if it has been delivered back to the kitchen you should have complained) and point deductions for unfilled orders and complaint-chips. Sounds like an atmospheric party game. You can find a video with the instructions here.

I’m not entirely certain how dangerous a Pogo-hug can be. If I want to find out some day, I should probably play Nació Popular by Leandro Bortolussi and Julieta Vega, that has been released by La Jugandéra Magica. This two-player game is about snatching jewels, which you can do by playing cards. The cards that have been played are then compared according to a rock-paper-scissors system. Whoever has the most points at the end wins. Additionally, there are there further game modes. What does this have to do with a Pogo-hug? Well, the player that gathers the most jewels may throw a hug-die, that determines a type of hug. The Pogo-hug is just one of the possible variants. I’ve also never seen something like that before.

Colombia

From 11. to 15. October the SOFA, “Salon del Ocio y la Fantasia” (along the lines of: “Salon of Leisure and Fantasy”), will take place in Bogotá. There’s music, video games, cosplay and pretty much everything else you can imagine in a huge area. More than 200.000 people were there last year! Of course, that also means that board game publishers are there in numbers and there are a bunch of new releases to report on (probably in the next article as well).

Asedio means “siege” in English and is a card game by Manuel Jacobo Monroy, who also illustrated it (link to his illustrator page). The players brawl for the vacant imperial throne of the empire of Draboria. To do so, they first build themselves a small power base in the shape of houses, then villages, then towns, hire mercenaries and send them off to attack the others (in which case they of course shouldn’t neglect the defense of their own settlement). Since the cards simultaneously represent money, you always have to think about whether you need them for your plans or better use them to finance those mercenaries. The player who does this most successfully and reaches a certain number of points wins the game. Asedio has been released in self-publishing.

The publisher Ludo BrandTeller has a new release with Medieval Magic Market by Christhian Bedoya, a card game, in which different fantasy-figures go to a market and try to get a hold of items that are as valuable as possible… and then also keep them, since the other people are interested in them as well. The various characters have different abilities, of course, and you can easily lose the things you gained again. Additionally, you don’t know exactly when the market closes, so you always have to try to stay on top. The illustrations are also done by Christhian Bedoya. By the way, the publisher name does not have anything to do with burning dishes (Brand is fire in German and Teller means plate), rather it is the English brand and teller that is referred to.

Mexico

As an adolescent I went to the football stadium from time to time – it was less expensive than the movies and easy to get entertainment. Nowadays modern football has arrived… with all its commercial overhang. I haven’t watched the Bundesliga live in ten years and since there are no more free radio broadcasts anymore, I don’t even properly follow it anymore. It appears to me, that it’s the same with some games. In my youth I played Blood Bowl here and there, but then there were 27 different editions and a massive overhang – it feels foreign to me. Yet still I have pleasant memories of how I painted my team of dwarves back then and played a few hot matches. So, I can understand pretty well that it has its allure. So I want to call some attention to  Kings of the Pitch, a Kickstarter-campaign by Juan Montaño from Mexico, in which you have the possibility to buy a set of referees for fantasy football. It’s a niche-product indeed, but the financing goal is modest and I feel like it is interesting that miniatures don’t have to come from China (I had reported on a different miniature workshop here [German; he’s talking about this]). Maybe someone may find this of interest.

From Essen SPIEL to Tokyo Game Market

As of this writing we have less than 4 weeks until the biggest board game fair in the world, Essen SPIEL, open it’s doors to the public. Also as of this writing the BGG preview list by Eric Martin for that event has more than 1000 games on it and new titles are still added daily and there are many more games releasing at Essen which will never have a listing as publishers don’t know about the list or don’t care.

Like for many other publishers Essen SPIEL is the most important fair of the year for the Nice Game team. We can present and sell our games to a gigantic audience and since ‘everyone’ is there we  arrange meetings for game submissions and distribution (Note: If you want to pitch a game idea to us or if your are interested in distributing one of our games please get in touch).

This year we are presenting 3 new games at our booth at 4-E103. We are selling Das Geheimnis der Tempel, which is the German version for Mystery of the temples, a compact strategy game with a innovative crystal grid mechanic.  Furthermore we are demoing two titles:

In Dragon Canyon players competing in reigning over the canyon by battling the opponents and racing to to claim the different buildings in this gorgeously illustrated and quick playing game.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage puts the player into the role of an ancient vampire building a bloodline through the centuries. In this quick-playing legacy card game players will experience a 700 year campaign, unlocking new challenges, characters, and rewards along the way. This game you can also play at Paradox booth 5-A104.

Apart from showing our own games Essen SPIEL is equally important for acquiring new games for our Nice Game Shop.  Since we are based close to Essen we can easily get new titles for our shop directly from the many publishers which are present.

But which games to choose? Obviously we are looking for obscure games published outside Europe or North America. But this is a broad term, the BGG preview list alone has over 120 titles which fit that criteria.

Let me show you some of the games that piqued our interest.

Eco-Links by our partners at Korea Boardgames is a frenetic tile laying game with great theme: restoring natural habitats of various animals and help them reconnect with their families. In the game you are making paths connecting all the animal markers as fast as possible, first player to do so takes the 1st token and flips the sand timer, now all other players have little time to finish. Depending on speed and if you build all paths correctly you score points.

Wangdo is the new game by Korean publisher Mandoo Games, who brought us Rising 5 last year.

In this East Asian themed game we play as anthromorphic bears trying to reign the lands by placing strategically steles on the board, thus securing items and dragon seals. Steles can only be placed adjacent to other steles, but have to have another color than neighboring steles. Then you pay steles equal to the steles surrounding you to the supply. If you manage to get 3 copies of the same item you get to draw one dragon seal card which can change the rules for you if played. The game ends when a player collects all the 4 different items 3 times, thus filling the player board. Theme and illustrations are top notch here and it is one of those games that is easy enough to play with casual gamers or with kids, but gives some tough decisions for the most hardcore gamer, too.

Mayfly is a cooperative game about a fly trying to find a partner. The game is seperated in two parts. First we feed the grub so that it grows into a big and healthy fly. Then, as a fly we have to overcome several obstacles like frogs and birds to find our partner. There are several different endings and the stories at the end of a game are just heart-melting.

Scientia is a game I have played three years ago as a rough prototype and I enjoyed my play of it a lot. The card turning mechanism felt very fresh at the time and the theme is still great. Now it has been illustrated by the magnificient Vincent Dutrait and got a lot more development so I am very excited to try it out. The game is sadly not for sale at Essen but you can test it at the Korean Pavilion.

Mizo/Teenage Riot has to be one of the publishers pushing the boundaries of board game theming the most these days. Last year they presented at Essen Raid on Taihoku, a coop game about the people living in the city during the bombings in WW2. Then they followed up with Zoo of Depression in which they players take the roles of animals native to Taiwan in their struggle for survival against all odds and the urbanization of the island.

Now they are bringing Dare to Love to Essen, which was crowdfunded very successfully in Taiwan earlier this year. Dare To Love is as far as I know the first game called LGBTQ friendly on the box. In this one vs. many game one player assumes the role of Asomrof who tries to stop or kill the lovers of the people he imprisoned. The other players acting as those lovers trying to stop Asomrof and free their friends.

The presentation is absolutely spectacular with a cardboard dicetower, transparent plastic standees and great artwork all around.

Eye my Favourite things is actually an older game now coming back in a new edition and seems to bring some innovation in the trick taking genre. Quoting from Board Game Geek:

Each player asks some topic of the next player, such as favorite movies, cartoons, animals, etc., and that neighboring player writes down their top five favorites on cards in sleeves. Behind these answers are hidden cards numbered from 1 to 5 and one non-favorite on a card numbered 0. These six cards are now your hand for playing tricks.

You don’t know what card answer corresponds to what rank number, so you have to guess the next player’s preferences and tendencies, and play one card based on your judgement of their tastes. Once cards are played to the trick, the hidden numbers are shown. Your neighbor’s preference rank is the card’s strength. Card 5 is highest, 0 is lowest, but if 5 and 0 appear in the same trick, 0 wins.

In short, understanding your neighbor is the key to winning the game.

Strange Vending Machine is flying a bit under the radar which is a shame because it is a game that many people will enjoy. Essentially it is a push-your-luck set-collection game in which you take cards you can only see one half of it and add them to your collection. According to the symbols you have gathered at the end of the game you will score points.

Now, the cool part is that the game comes with little cardboard vending machines in which you put little cardboard coins and then you get to draw a card. If you don’t have coins you could also take all coins out of one vending machine (ideally the one with the most coins in it) but beware of the false coins with which you can pay, but which are minus points at the end of the game.

Last but not least I would like to give a shoutout to APIBGI, the Indonesian association for board games which will have a big booth at Essen this year. They will bring a total of 24 games of which 12 are for sale. Some of them we could also try like Acaraki and The Festivals, and now we are very curious to see what new games are brought to the fair. Hilko wrote a nice overview article about the games which are for sale, which you can read here.

While Essen SPIEL is still on the horizon and we are still busy finishing up everything we want to show there, we already started the preparations for Tokyo Game Market, which will be taking place November 24-25 at Tokyo Big Sight.

Many publishers already announced their games on Twitter and we went ahead and created a Preview list on BGG with all the new important releases.

We will go into full TGM mode after Essen but already it is easy to say that especially the new Yokohama Duel by Okazu Brand will get a lot of attention. Also, there is a new Shun/Studio GG release called Mystery Homes and a new game by Ayatsurare Ningyoukan called Jumble Order which we are looking forward to. On the more quirky end of the spectrum there is Masala Magic which is a cross between Poker and Incense smelling (a la The Perfumer). The components just look insane especially considering the price of just 4000 yen. Then there is Mech Maker by Proto Craft, which is a crossover of mech dueling game and modeling kit.

Definitely a lot to look forward to at the next Game Market.

As already discussed in previous edition of the Global Boardgame News Iranian publisher Houpaa Games will be bringing Dej, the Persian edition of the classic Citadels, to Essen SPIEL.

This game will be exclusively available at our booth 4-E103 and if you want to make sure that you get a copy you can fill in the reservation form we have created. On Friday and Sunday at 1 PM there will be also the author Bruno Faidutti at our booth to sign the game.

We will also be bringing the whole Li He x Facio lineup to Essen. If you make a reservation here, we can add those sweet cat dice bags!

And that’s it for this edition of Global Boardgame News. If you are in Essen make sure to visit us. We will bring the whole Nice Game Shop. If you don’t come to Essen and like the look of the games here, then don’t worry as we will have all of them in the online shop after Essen.

New games from Latin America (September part 2)

This is a guest post by Hilkman translated from the German article originally published on his blog Du Bist Dran!

Brazil

This weekend the Diversão Offline in Rio de Janeiro is about to take place, an event that is sometimes called the “Brazilian Essen”. With about 5000 visitors on each of the two days it of course isn’t comparable in size, but it is definitely one of the biggest board game events in Latin America. Many publishers showcase their more or less new games there. While I announced some things in the last weeks here already, there is still a lot more to go. Sadly some of the publishers only announce their new games on site.

At least I have found this:

It doesn’t seem as if you could announce a merger in a more charming fashion… the new publisher Diceberry Editora of Iaggo Piffero, who just prepared to launch his first micro game, was taken over, before doing so, by Potato Cat (who we talked about here already). That’s something you don’t see every day. Diceberry will continue as a separate studio, though, and will likely be responsible for micro games at first. It begins with three releases:

Jetpack Lhama sounds gloriously quirky. The paths on which the Lamas transport goods have been destroyed by natural disasters and now they need to think of something new. What would be more appropriate than jet packs? So they strap them on their backs and get going. On the way they sadly have to get through city ruins and take care not to hit old stone pillars and, this is very important, not to get hit with a curse, which can happen easily once in a while. It sounds like it is right up my alley. Jetpack Lhama is a micro game, in which the racing track is put together with cards.

Magic Flow doesn’t seem to be a lot less absurd to me. Here the players take the role of magical rappers, who have to fight monsters with their rhymes. Each monster has a certain verse length and the card back determines a specific way of death. You have to find fitting rhymes very quickly, so that the other magical rappers don’t get it first. It sounds rather bizarre to me and apparently it’s even language independent. I’d like to take a closer look at this as well.

The big Sudoku wave is possibly over already again, but sometimes you still see someone fill squares with numbers at a bus stop. If that’s not interactive enough for you, you might want to try Sudokiller. A detective and a serial killer circle around each other here in 1880s London. The killer owns one of the numbers, while another belongs to his next victim. The detective then has to find out which of the numbers these are, before the Sudoku has been completely solved.

All three games have been developed and illustrated by Iaggo Piffero. And when I take a look at these unusual descriptions, I’m not surprised by Potato Cats interest.

Mine has definitely been sparked, and I’ll see that I can get my hands on them soon.

Vitor Cafaggi is a Brazilian comic artist, who seems to be relatively popular. At least that’s what I inferred after the game he illustrated, Valente – O amor em jogo („Valente – The love in the game) had been swarm-financed within three quarters of an hour.

Valente is a dog, who is split in two between two women (a cat and a panda lady). The players are now trying to get Valente onto their side by releasing comics. Those consist of three cards each (pictures), and once a strip is finished, he becomes a part of the overall story and influences Valente’s decisions. Valente is a comic character made by Cafaggi, that has existed for a while already and hasn’t been created specifically for this game. The author of the game is Renato Simões and the game will be released by Geeks N‘ Orcs.

Mexico

Cat aficionado Ramón López releases his games through his own publishing house called Guerras Gato Games and most of them revolve around cats. His first game, Guerras Gato („Cat wars“), was first published in 2016 and is now being released in the second edition. What it’s about is hardly hard to guess: Leaders of cats send their subordinates at their enemies – and you only have nine lives. When you’re defeated for the ninth time, you leave the game and the last living cat wins. It has been illustrated by an artist that can be found under the name Shengolia.
Shengolia has also illustrated another one of López‘ games, namely
Miaurcenarios. It is a bit hard to translate it, this time around – mercenarios means mercenaries and miau means miau. Here the cats are ninjas and have to beat, among others, evil rats. The illustrators of Bakenoko: Soul Reaper, which is the third game in the series, come from a comic event called Draw Break. This is the only game of the three, in which the cat pictures aren’t the focus. Whoever is capable of speaking Spanish and wants to take a look at the games, you can find short explanation videos here. For October there’s already the next cat game announced. I’ll report on it then.

Peru

Years ago I got the assignment to develop a game on the subject of “fair trade in communal procurement policy” together with Reinhold Wittig. This was quite a challenge, but in the end we kind of managed to put something reasonable together, even on such an un-sexy sounding subject. Working supposedly boring subjects into games is something that occurred to others as well, for example the team of Anevi, with their new release “En Busca del TeISOro Perdido”. The title actually means “the search for the hidden treasure”, but there’s the word ISO woven into the word treasure. Why? Well, because the game is about the ISO-45001-standard, that describes requirements for worker protection management. It has been published together with Ludo Prevención.

Choose the Clans for the Vampire: Heritage Essen 2018 Demo

Hello Everyone!

We are diligently preparing all the material for the demonstration copies that will be shown this year in Essen. The full game will include more clans but for the SPIEL fair we will only prepare 4 of them.

If you would like to have your say as to which 4 those should be, vote below!

Which Clans should we include for the Demo?
Vote

Characters, Illustrations and Attributes in Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage

Hello everyone! This is the first in a small series of posts where we want to introduce a few key concepts and new ideas of our upcoming game, Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage.

The basic structure of the game is very simple: Each turn, players choose a character card to join their bloodline. This character is his own personality and will act accordingly on all battlegrounds currently in play. The character may then be used to take an intrigue action if the player desires. At the end of the game they will automatically be counted for any mission cards that fit its type.

We’ll discuss more topics, including  battlegrounds, missions and intrigue cards later. This time we want to focus on the characters:

Double-sided Cards

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All character cards come with 2 sides, human and vampire.

The human side portrays the characters as they were in life. There’s all kinds of different characters, beggars and kings, hardened mercenaries and grieving children. For gameplay purposes humans don’t have any special skills, so the only way they affect the game is via their personal combination of attributes (more below). In the first game, almost all characters will be human.

However: after every game players have the opportunity to Embrace one of the humans in their current bloodline – or to endow an existing vampire with additional traits.

Once a character is Embraced, it is turned around to reveal its vampiric side. That side shows a fully colored portrait of the character in their vampiric form, as well as one trait inherent to them. Players will add the appropriate clan sticker and name the character and then return it to the common pool of cards.

Embracing characters like this will not (usually) make them exclusively available to you. They might just as easily end up on another player’s hand in the next round. As this is the main legacy element of the game, it means that you will remain on (mostly) equal footing with players for the purposes of playing individual game rounds.

So it is no problem for a player to skip a few games of a campaign and return later. They might have lost some ground in the meta-game of the campaign – but their chance of winning the current game are the same as everyone elses.

Here’s an early rendition of what character progression might look like (Note that the artwork and layout is alpha-stage):

(From human side to vampire side to first sticker added)

The little quill in the top left indicates the character to be a scholar-type. The three flags on the side of the card that get expanded as the character is developed signal the character’s basic inclinations and dispositions via Attribute Colors. Beyond portrait and name, these  are what gives each character card their own personality.

Character Types and Personalities

The four types of characters in Heritage are indicated by one of these symbols: Sword, Quill, Mask and Coin. As you might imagine, Sword indicates a warlike profession, Quill is for the scholarly types. Coin is for merchants and rich people while the Masks are more on the shady side.  Generally you will need a certain combination of character types in your bloodline in order to complete one of the historic missions in the game (more on that in another post).

As for Attribute Colors, they are the main way that characters interact with the world and they are what fleshes out an individual character for the purpose of the game.

These are the different categories:

Politics/Attitude: Red points to nobility, arrogance, elitism or refinement while Green signifies things like low birth, humility or egalitarian tendencies.

Ethics/Spiritual: Blue signals humanism, wisdom, benevolence or even passivity or meekness. Yellow might mean the character is cruel or evil – or it could stand for passion, force of character or creative destruction.

Origin/Geographical: The characters are roughly divided geographically and culturally by the four cardinal directions, as signified by black (North), brown(East), white(South) and turquoise(West).

Attribute Colors are a way for us to introduce role-playing elements into the game without making the game overly complicated to read and play. They are thematically kept vague in order to give players room to define their favourite characters in the way they desire.

But it’s important to note that Attribute Colors have an absolutely unambiguous effect in gameplay. So if -for example- your character has the green attribute color, it might mean he is an uneducated peasant or it might mean he is a noble striving for a more equal society. But it will always shift power slightly towards the Low Clans if the corresponding battleground is in play.

And since characters always apply all their colors to all battlegrounds in play and their character type always counts for missions, the main consideration for players when choosing them is to weigh those different consequences against each other.

I might, for example, really want to play Elias, my trusted noble knight in order to crush low clan opposition in the Battle of the Vampire Castes, but maybe his choleric personality will hurt my clan so badly that it is not worth it? Oh well… I desperately need warriors for my mission. Good old Elias will do the job!

That kind of situation is typical for Heritage and for us it is one of the reasons we enjoy the game so much: When considering the advantages and disadvantages of characters for your bloodline, the line between theme and mechanics starts to blur.

Games from Indonesia at Essen SPIEL 2018

This is a guest post by Hilkman translated from the German article originally published on his blog Du Bist Dran!

Since a few years the presence of Asian publishers at the convention in Essen is growing. The Korean Pavilion has been well established by now, Japon Brand is a veritable legend already (I reported on it here [link in German]) and Taiwan Boardgame Design (TBD) has also blown up in recent years. A ton of smaller publishers gather at the three booths, who probably wouldn’t be able to sustain a presence in Essen otherwise. At least Japon Brand and TBD each have their own central preordering system and are helping the smaller publishers with public awareness (apparently its similar with the Korean booth, but I’m honestly not that familiar with them). Off and on one of those publishers gets big enough to become independent, figuratively speaking, as is the case with, for example, EmperorS4 from Taiwan, who will be having their own booth this year. So it seems that the collective booths as a steppingstone for further presence on the European market have paid off.

The Logo of the APIBGI. See the note at the end of this article.

This year, there’s another country that wishes to tread this path, and it is Indonesia. The procedure there was partially comparable to the other Asian countries, it does include some new characteristics though. 2014 was apparently the first time that an Indonesian publisher was present in Essen, and it downright led to a boom, a country wide number of events, where about 300 authors participated and finally released four games, published by one of the biggest media companies in Indonesia. Other submitted games also found publishers, or the authors published them themselves.

Last year another small Indonesian booth was there, all the way in the back of Hall 8. I was able to play a prototype there which constituted one of the highlights of the convention for me, and so I tried to find out again and again whether it had been published or not (so far it hasn’t). The two publishers that were present there sent a report to the Indonesian creative economy agency (BEKRAF) and founded the Indonesian board game union (APIBGI). The BEKRAF has now financed a massive booth for APIBGI, an impressive 66 square meters in Hall 3.

There was a kind of submission contest for it, in which 46 games took part. Of those, 24 were chosen that will now be presented in Essen in multiple variants. 12 games have already been released, you’ll also be able to buy those in Essen. The other 12 are finished prototypes, that can be played and whose authors are also hoping for contacts to publishers abroad. 8 games will be spotlighted specifically, those are basically the main winners of the selection process, those are four published games and four unpublished ones.

I quickly want to introduce the games that are already available for purchase here. Given the amount of what is being offered I’ll be brief – in the end you guys need to have something to discover for yourself as well.

In Acaraki: The Java Herbalist the players are in a competition to find out who can deal with herbs the best. They gather herbs and try to heal the sick village population with them. When a village is completely healed, the person that was able to heal the most people will become the chief herb person. Acaraki was made by Erwin Skripsiadi and has been published by Hompimpa Games (€20)

Aquatico is the only one on offer that I’ve already had a chance to play. Its about building an ecosystem consisting of various types of environments. You try to play more of the different types than the others to gain points. Sadly environmental pollution sometimes gets in the way – a leaking oil barrel and the whole landscape is counted as a zero. You’ll have to decide on a case to case basis, whether you play new cards or first try to repair the damages. Aquatico isn’t strictly speaking my kind of game, but it looks fantastic with the spectacular graphics by Rezza Rainaldy. The author is called Brendan Satria and the publisher is Manikmaya Games. (€24)

The Art of Batik comes from Adithya W. Purnama and has also been published by Hompimpa Games. The players assist the owner of a Batik workshop in her work and, of course, try to stand out. The Batik work is apparently done by multiple people together and you’re given points based on your contribution. (€22)

A student of mine once had a sadly wise answer to the question of when someone is poor: “You’re poor, if you have less than the neighbors.” In reverse, you might also be rich if you have more than the people around you. This is tested in Bluffing Billionaires by Darwin, Desyanto Lie, and Nata Chen (in self-publishing). The players are billionaires and want to show, that they’re the richest among the rich. To do so, they play one of their starting cards face down and try to guess who has played smaller cards than them. Whoever wins such a challenge gains a random card from the loser. Whoever is the richest in the end, wins. (€20)

The Festivals by Isa R. Akbar has also been published by Manikmaya. The players try to take part in several festivals on the different Indonesian isles. The one who reaches a certain festival first gains experience points, that are needed to win the game later on. It comes with fancy traveler meeples. (€24)

Flipeek: Medieval is a Memory-based game, in which you have to find objects to complete missions. In the solo variant, you have to fulfill as many missions as possible in five minutes (which is always a nice length for a game for me – even though I’m not really a solo player). The whole thing takes place with the background of a dispute between the Dragon King and the Human King. Flipeek: Medieval is made by Lovita Darwin and Febndy Kwik and is published by Coralis Entertainment. (€20)

Math Cat is a small card game, in which you want to adopt cute cats. But first you’ll need to gain their trust, and to do so you’ll need to do math. The cats have numbers and you have to make a calculation with the displayed cards, which has to result in the number of the cat. The player who adopted the most cats in the end wins. Math Cat comes from Senno Adi and Ergiena Tria Siani; it has been released by Hompimpa Games. (€10)

Oktet is apparently a weird party game for 3 to 9 people. I couldn’t find out more so far – except, that it was made by Elbert Santosa and Sammael Candra Setiawan and is published by Morfosic Studios. (€10)

In Orang Rimba – The Forest Keeper the players have to protect the jungle from destruction through unscrupulous over-exploitation. Sadly I don’t know much more than that about the game. It was developed by Anggreini Pratiwi and Alvian CB. It has been published by Hompimpa Games. (€46)

You don’t have to have studied Indonesian to see an interaction between the title Roket Raket  and the words Rocket and Racket – in fact, it is about badminton rackets. Roket Raket is indeed a Badminton-Simulation. We’ll have to see how big the market for something like it is. The game comes in a small card game box, guess it makes sense to give it a try then. It stems from Dio Al Sabah Akbar Zain, Kamal Ikmal, Ara Kurniawan and Brendan Satria and has been published by Manikmaya Games. (€10)

Senggal Senggol Gang Damai by Erwin Skripsiadi is a cooperative games, in which the peaceful coexistence of the various people in a street has to be secured. If there are problems anywhere, the players have to rush over to solve them. In the best case it works, in the worst case they make everything even worse and the problems escalate. Like Acaraki by the same author, the game has been released by Hompimpa Games. (€32)

Stockastic comes from the same team as Flipeek: Medieval and it is about the stock market. The players try to trade as successfully as possible on the market, but also want to make life difficult for the others. In advanced mode there are characters that come into play who try to influence the stock market with different abilities. (€30)

Alright, now you guys already have a first overview about what’s in store for you. Don’t forget, another whole 12 games will be presented, which you just can’t buy yet. There will surely be something exciting to find there – among other things they are about food, coffee, carnival and the travels of  Ibn Battuta. At any rate, I’m hoping that there are gems hidden among the Indonesian games the same way that there are among the Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese games that can be found in Essen.

Note: I kind of just asked what the logo of the APIBGI represents. The answer was way more extensive than I expected, so I don’t want to keep it from you:

If you look closer to APIBGI’s logo it looks as if 4 people (indicated by those circles) holding hands and at the top lit/holding fire. API in Indonesian means fire, those 4 people holding hands represent the usual sight of people playing board game together in a table. The torch sized / relatively small fire (compared with the people in the logo) indicates warmth since we’re trying to bring the best thing in play culture to Indonesian people, especially to its families, through the board game. The position of fire looks like it’s being used like a torch to light the way, it indicates we’re trying to go nowhere but up, we are committed to grow the industry to always looking forward the great things and do good things especially to the industry itself. API, the fire, is the tools, the vehicle, the way to get to somewhere as it is shortened from Asosiasi Pegiat Industri which is translated as the association itself. BGI in the otherhand is the people, the passenger, the object being carried by the API, it is shortened from Board Game Indonesia (quite self explanatory)).

I think I should ask such questions more often.

All pictures © boardgame.id.