All posts by Leon Scheuber

Leon co-founded Sweet Lemon and likes to dance.

Abstract building, thematic destruction and chess on the hill: New games from Latin America January 2019

This is a 2-part guest post by Hilkman translated from the German articles originally published in December on his blog Du Bist Dran!

Welcome to the new year.

I intend to keep up the regular overview articles each first and third monday of the month. I’ll just number them now, though, since that is easier for me. Let’s go! [Editor’s note: We combined both articles of January into one here, but we are trying to catch up with Hilko to release them alongside their German release]

Argentina

Someone asked me recently, pretty much out of the blue, to teach them chess, after I hadn’t even touched the game in years. In essence I could still do it, and I can’t deny a certain fascination for chess, even though I generally prefer completely different games. But there’s one great thing with chess: There are a lot of fans all over the world, so it also kind of connects people cross-culturally, similar to football. But chess is only for two people, which is a pretty big difference. So there are always attempts to publish variants for more. Alex “Vikingoviejo” Schmidt, from Buenos Aires is not the first who has tried his hand at making a chess for four players, but he, first of all, makes beautiful games and secondly, included an additional part in his game Der Hügelkönig.In the middle of the playing area there’s a hill and the goal of the game is to move your own king onto that hill. The game is put together from variable elements, so there are multiple possibilities of building the board.

Sucesos Argentinos (Argentinian Events) was a game from 2016 that lends its concept from Chronology/Anno Domini/Timeline. This means that there are cards with events, where the year is printed on the back side. The goal is to put the cards in the correct chronological order. Sucesos Argentinos differs from the others, in that it introduces a drafting component. You lay out your own chronology, but draw the cards from a combined pool. Apart from that, the cards of course include events from Argentinian history. A new (Expansion-) edition has been released now, with the themes of economy and society, and a third one is apparently also in preparation. Sucesos Argentinos comes from Guido D. Cegarra and was illustrated by Santiago Rodríguez. The publisher’s name is AA Lúdica.

Brazil

In December a new game by Marcos Macri has been published by MS Jogos. It is called Xingu and revolves around the contact between Brazilian natives of the Xingú area with the arriving white folk at the end of the 19th century. During that time telegraph lines were laid there, which led to the “discovery” of multiple tribes, which wasn’t necessarily to their advantage. The players now lead one of these tribes each and have to try to survive, despite violence, the arrival of diseases and the dangers of the slave trade. Whoever wants to know more about the historical background, can find some information on Wikipedia here and here. The design of this worker placement game, which includes a lot of materials, has been done by Diego Sanchez.

Abstratus has been on my watch list for quite a while now, since it doesn’t just look unusual, but also instantly speaks to me with its game concept, because I like creative as well as building games. The players each have a batch of abstract parts, usually made from wood, and then draw a card each on which a word is printed. Now they build whatever is written on their card with their parts. The cards are then shuffled together with a bunch of cards from the card pile and everyone has to guess which sculpture represents which word. It maybe is comparable to the great Krazy Wordz, but instead of words you have sculptures. It has been created by Thelma Löbel, Auber Bettinelli and Alberto Duvinier, who also appear under the name Zebra5. It has been published by Ludens Spirit.

While it is inexplicably necessary in Germany to double the letter X, it doesn’t seem to be the case in Brazil. A party game called Quix! Has been released there now, by Marco Aurélio Tayt-son

In this game a letter card is flipped open every round. Then you throw a die which shows something to do. In the end it is about finding words in a category that has been drawn by lot that begin with the current letter. How this is done varies from round to round. Sometimes every player guesses at the same time, sometimes you take turns, whereby every player advances a letter in the alphabet, sometimes there are duels between two players, and so on. Whoever gains any points may advance on the game board. On certain spots you gain Heureka cards, with which you can intervene in the moves of the other players. When you reach the end of the game board first, you win the game. It has been released by TGM Editora, and illustrated by Guilherme Marques.

How do you become the new head witch when the old head witch has been burnt at the stake? By turning the city that did it into ash. Triora – Cidade das Bruxas (Triora – City of Witches) by Michael Alves was crowd funded last year and will now be released in a bilingual version (English/Portuguese) by Arcano Games and Meeple BR Jogos. The players race to destroy the small city of Triora as thoroughly as possible. To do so they rely on the help of the ghost of the old head witch, while they have to be careful not to fall prey to the inquisition. The real place Triora, that is situated in northern Italy, near the french border, was the stage for the first witch trials in Italy in 1587-1589. The thematic approach of the game is definitely unusual – since the women persecuted and murdered as witches in the early modern period were completely innocent victims of superstition and misogyny. The game turns the tables, so to speak, and uses witchcraft to punish the actual guilty party. The design is made by Marcelo Bissoli. Outside of Brazil Triora is intended to be published by Grey Fox Games.

Chile

Tesoro Maldito means cursed treasure and is a recently released game by Alexander Larrain and Ignacio Roldan, published by Half-Zombie Games. The players in the game semi-cooperatively steer an expedition through a dungeon, by voting with anonymously played cards where the group is supposed to go next. Doing so they gather treasures, which are personal property, since at the end of the game the player who has secured the most treasures wins. Of course the dungeon is also guarded, and it is generally a good idea to first and foremost survive the journey into the deep. Tesoro Maldito was illustrated by Osmel Adelso Castellano Marchena.

Mexico

In December I already announced the Roll A Game Expo, at which the Quetzalera was supposed to be awarded. With about 1200 visitors it was probably Mexico’s biggest game expo. During the announcement of the candidates for the award I noticed that the list that I had wasn’t really complete. So there are 3 games among the 8 finalists (in the picture) that I hadn’t reckoned with, even though I already reported on them in the past. One of those was the winner, specifically Cooks & Crooks by Luis Muñoz and Andrés Novelo (in the yellow t-shirt). Together with them on the steps there was also Seat Wars by Andrés Ayala (middle) and Geisha by Ana Coronado (fourth from the right). Accordingly it was a triple-triumph for Detestable Games, who have already announced some new released for 2019. We can look forward to that.

Fish, Football and the RAGE in Mexico

This is a 2-part guest post by Hilkman translated from the German articles originally published in December on his blog Du Bist Dran!

Brazil

K&M Jogos just released Treta do Anzol by Mário Sérgio and Rodrigo Sampaio Rodriguez (the latter is mentioned here under the name of Rodrigo Zuzu). Loosely translated the title is “Fish hook pranks”. In this crazy fishing tournament the members of a family argue about who has caught the best fish. Sadly you always seem to get other things, from monsters to mermaids and when there finally are fish there, you have to protect them from cats and envious relatives. For the others you’re in the same category, of course, and so you constantly duke it out as hard as possible. Whoever has the most fish at the end of the game can win the competition. It has been illustrated by Douglas Duarte.

Since summer I have a prototype of the football simulation Bola na Rede (Ball in the net) lying around here, sadly only with portuguese rules, so I couldn’t play it yet.

I was a bit taken by surprise by the Crowdfunding-Campaign for a completely redesigned version of the game by Yuri Piratello and André Coelho (illustrated by Rodrigo Satyro). Apparently it wasn’t just like that for me, since so far the campaign has barely gotten any attention. This despite the fact that this version doesn’t just include another game, called Footpoker, but as a sadly unusual stretch goal, it also includes a women’s team. Something like that is scarce and a nice detail. A successful end to the current campaign seems doubtful, in light of the weak start, but maybe this game will be published in one way or another anyway. I at least will keep my fingers crossed.

Chile

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One year ago in Essen I could already get to know an early prototype of Hegemonía: Sombras del Poder (Hegemony: Shadow of Power) (I had already reported on it quickly here). Now the game by Nico Valdivia Henning has been released. The publisher Niebla Games released computer games as well as board and card games, that mainly play in a shared universe, namely the world of Causa: Voices of the Dusk. In Hegemony you make alliances and take on challenges together. Each member of an alliance carries a hidden wager, which means the most successful alliance can profit. The art of bluffing and of course the skill in diplomacy are needed to be part of the right alliance at the right time. A whooping eight artists have been part of illustrating the game.

Mexico

On 20. November 1910  Francisco Madero called for the Mexican revolution against the dictatorship of Porfírio Diaz. For the 108th anniversary the Kickstarter campaign for the new edition of Tierra y Libertad (Earth and Freedom) by Saúl Sánchez was supposed to start (the predecessor was released in 2010 already). It didn’t make it quite in time, but now the campaign is running.
The players each lead a group of Mexican revolutionaries and try to topple the dictatorship, competitively or cooperatively, and establish a new constitution. The Kickstarter advertises connecting worker placement with direct conflict (making a kind of hybrid game). Now the Mexican revolution is not only 100 years, but also a whole continent away for most Germans, but maybe someone here has heard of guys like Emiliano Zapata, at least since 1994. If not, maybe the game offers a good opportunity to change that.

Peru

Junior Achievement is a nearly 100 year old organization, that aims to further entrepreneurship among youths. There are branches nearly everywhere, just like in Peru. At a competition of the organization, K’iraw una cia JA just won four categories with the game Wakkeball War, for the company of the year, the most innovative project, the best socially responsible project and the best production process. Now K’iraw will also compete internationally, first within the Americas. Behind it is a group of 27 students around the 16 year old Sathya Mariluz Garcia. In Wakkeball War four rival ball shaped characters are on their way to the legendary city Paititi. The game is played on a map of Peru and the actions are resolved through different kinds of cards. The game is supposed to further knowledge of Peru on the side, and you can download an app with questions in addition to the game. The author says that the game is intended to strengthen the national identity. Something that sounds a little weird from a German perspective isn’t that unusual in Latin America, I’ve found a bunch of games with goals like this before (see above). Mostly it is about a theme that is connected to their own history in some fashion.

RAGE

On 15th and 16th December RAGE (Roll a Game Expo) takes place in Mexican Guadalajara, a relatively large-scale project, which should become Mexico’s first real game convention. To convince the publishers and authors to come, a Mexican game award has been brought to life, which is supposed to be handed out in different categories. A jury does the selection, but an audience award is also planned. I already had the opportunity to look at a model of the trophy in Essen, the Quetzalera (english: Quetzaladder). Its a word play consisting of Quetzalcoatl and escalera, in which Quetzalcoatl is a central American snake god and escalera means ladder – You might know “Snakes and Ladders”, the classic ladder game. So the snake snakes itself through a ladder.

To my great joy there will also be an award specifically for Mexican games, even more specifically for those that present themselves at the convention. It spans from advanced prototypes to already released stuff. Role playing games are also part of it. For me, as a blogger, this award is also awesome, because I suddenly find out about a ton of games that I haven’t heard of before. It seems like there is a lot more to the Mexican gaming scene than I had previously assumed – Mexico is a little bit of a sleeping giant among the Latin American gaming nations. We’ll see whether the convention gives this a boost. One can hope.

I already reported on War for Chicken Island by Ivan Escalante last time. The campaign has since been canceled and restarted, this time with a lower financing goal and much more success – it was a massive difference to the first go they had. I still find the miniatures fun. Tierra y Libertad by Saúl Sánchez is currently in Crowdfunding, as you may know, at the latest since last Week. Kanyimajo by Ramón López I have reported on here already. Who else is there?

For 2019 Geisha by Ana Coronado at Detestable Games has been announced. As expected it takes part in Kyoto and several different Geishas try to be the most successful. For that reason they work on their skills, like poetry, Ikebana, music and so on. It is executed in the form of a worker placement game, where you play mini games at the places you wish to do something. I might not be the most experienced worker placement player on earth, but I haven’t come across a concept such as this before, and I often find mini games particularly appealing. The illustrations stem from Daniel Sotomayor.

Also with Detestable Games Meeplepalooza by Kina Jager and Santos Artigas is supposed to be released. In this drafting game you found a rock band and take part at a festival – where you of course want to be the band that everyone is talking about in the end. To get this done, you need musicians, instruments and good songs, that you need to write yourself, by filling in notes on sheets. Add to that a few nice solos and you’ll be famous in no time. The illustrations are made by someone by the name of Nabs.

There is supposed to be a crowd funding campaign for Geisha as well as Meeplepalooza in 2019.

Bound takes place in the future. More specifically in the year 2048. All humans have access to a kind of successor to the internet. The player try to dominate this net as hackers and remove their enemies from it. One is Shade, a super hacker, and the most successful criminal. The others try to follow in his footsteps and can’t shy away from anything to get to the top. Bound comes from a trio of authors, José Pablo Lara Robles, Erick I. García Rodriguez and Juan A. Velázquez Ovando. Art design wise E. Kazunari Shiraki Merida and Enrique Palos Reynoso are responsible.

Mentes Voladores is a party game by Luis Alfredo Cortés, which he designed together with Cristián Bredee. Every player has a plastic mind frog, or rather three of them. Each round you compete for a reward chip, then a task card is revealed. Reacting to that you flick the corresponding mind frog into the box – whoever does so first wins the chip, assuming that it was the right frog. Why frog? Well, those things kind of look like the frogs in the flicking games in my childhood. Mentes Voladores is supposed to be released in February 2019 under the label Lúdika y Artefactos.

Dark Maiden by Lis Luna is a cooperative card game for up to three people, in which you fight through four locations and gather items to finally face an evil end boss. Until then you should of course be strong enough. The illustrations come from six different artists and studios and Dark Maiden will be released by Sun Fairy Games.

Sajkab is the name of a World which various historical populations have been transported to by a mysterious maelstrom: Maya, Spartans and so forth. There continue having battles against each other that they’re used to from home. That’s the story that Omar Benitez tells us with his game Sajkab. It is a card driven board game, in which the players move their pieces through, partially, harsh terrain and try to get superiority in battles. Sajkab has been illustrated by Damiant.

My wild role playing time are long gone, and usually I don’t write anything about role playing games on here, but I’ll make an exception for Leyendas de Elden (Legends of Elden), since it also competes for the Quetzalera award. So far I know about Leyendas de Elden, that it is supposed to be a role playing game that is as accessible as possible, which also targets inexperienced role players or real newbies. Added to the simple rules there will be unusual character classes, and it takes place in a world that mixes fantasy and science fiction. Leyendas de Elden comes from Daniel Ortiz and will be released under the label OR15 Gamelab. This publisher also has another game in the race, a card game by Guillermo Esquivias, which will be unveiled at the expo. So we can be excited.

In Colorbugs by Israel Ramos the most famous artists of the garden, namely Vincent Van Bugh, Frida Kohlor, Pabug Picasso and Salvabug Dalí, want to finish their paintings. Each of them has their own goals, in the form of secondary colors behind a screen. To reach these goals, they have to mix the base colors that they find in the garden. The delightful illustrations come from Julieta Maldonado. The publisher is called Ludens Games and has released a diverse range of games in the one year of its existence, from abstract games, to educational games, to party games.

Chakkan is a deck building game for two players. Sadly I’m not that well-versed in this genre, but a push your luck mechanism was new for me: You place 8 of the cards from your deck in a face down pile and reveal two of them. If they match in color or number, you may reveal more – but if you reveal the wrong card, you need to place all of them back again. Or you stop and take the revealed cards onto your hand and can play them afterward. The game itself is a fighting game, in which you try to reduce your enemy to 0 points. The game, with illustrations, has been made by Juan José Cabrera Fernandez and has been released by Another Game.

I couldn’t find any substantial information about three more games:
Code 10: Chase the Alien by Jorge Velázquez
Demon Hunters by Hugo Hernández (probably another role playing game)
Party Booster by Alberto Sánchez

I will report on the results at some point.

Editor’s note: In this update on Kickstarter the winners have been announced. The organisers also have uploaded a video of the expo.

Tokyo Game Market Autumn 2018 in pictures

Tokyo Game Market Autumn 2018 took place November 24-25 at Tokyo Big Sight. We went there to bring you all the good games for www.nicegameshop.com and we took a ton of pictures, too!

New games from Latin America (November part 2)

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

Argentina

Criaturas y Cristales means – probably not that surprisingly – “Creatures and Crystals”, which might give a first premonition on what the game is about. It is a card based fantasy game by Martin Venturini, which can be played by 1-5 people either competitively or cooperatively. You play a character that you send through markets and temples during the game to gain abilities and equipment there, to prevail in a hostile world. This doesn’t just include the fight against evil monsters, but also the contest with other characters in a special arena, where you can prove that you’re better than the others. Criaturas y Cristales is published by 3D Fantasy in three differently priced versions, each illustrated by Emmanuel Bou and designed by Daiana Diaz.

These days MendoZen is releasing Pegó el Zonda Ancestral by Munir Ots, illustrated by Fernando Carmona. In this game we set off into the history of the Cuyo region in West-Argentina to the Huarpe. Various tribes are competing to gain the favor of the gods, the worthiness to which they mainly demonstrate by controlling the Zonda wind. With the help of different play styles of the wind you attack the other players and deal damage to them, if they can’t protect themselves through other natural phenomena. The whole thing is done with cards and card combinations that you play until there is just one player left, who therefore has won thanks to divine favor.

A new edition of the 2015 title Los Caminos de Alicia (The Paths of Alice) by Matias Esandi and Amelia Pereyra has just been published by Rewe Juegos, this time it’s not in a fancy box like the original, but includes an expansion. You lay down a labyrinth of hexagonal path tiles from a central spot. There will appear scenes from Alice in Wonderland in the labyrinth here and there, which have certain effects on the game. Each player follows a different goal on the way through the labyrinth. Since this is, it feels like, the one hundredth game with the theme Alice in Wonderland, that I’ve encountered (I’d be surprised if there were more games for a different literary source), I capitulated and just ordered the book. I guess I’ll indeed have to read it in order to join in on the discussion.

Finally I have two more short news from Argentina.

Tinkuy releases an expansion to the game Contame, on which I have reported here in the past. The expansion is called Contame Inicio and includes new cards for the storytelling game. On the 24th and 25th November the event Innovando el Juego takes place in Buenos Aires, which I will participate in, in a certain sense, as well, sadly only virtually: On Saturday at 18:30 German time I’ll be interviewed live via Skype. The whole thing will be released afterward on Youtube as well, apparently, but at the moment I just find it awesome to be able to be near such an event at least a bit. I’m very excited about it, although I’m not certain yet what awaits me there.

Brazil

Roberto Tostes has won the first prize at a prototype competition by Diversao Offline in 2017 with Sobrevivência na Amazônia (Surviving in the Amazon). Now he has started a Crowdfunding-Campaign for his game to get it published. The players have dropped themselves off in the Amazon region via parachute to explore little known territories. They now have to fight through the rough terrain until they reach the extraction point. There are dangers lurking, but also the possibility to gain extra points by photographing animals that are threatened by extinction. To survive, the brave explorers have to get food and water and they need to build camps to sleep in, every four rounds, because of the darkness of night time. Sobrevivência na Amazônia has been illustrated by Manoela Boianovsky and Orly Wanders and is intended to be released by self-publishing.

I wrote about Wagner Gerlach and the Clube do Tabuleiro de Campinas here once already. Equilíbrio escaped my attention then, which seems to have been made in spring. It is again a game which can be made by yourself with supposed disposable stuff, meaning you don’t need to buy it (and also can’t). A hexagonal game area is placed with bottle caps on which further (partially stickered) bottle caps are stacked. You move through this area with your meeple and try to gather five different elements (Water, Earth, Fire, Metal and Wood), which you can exchange against a Yin-Yang-Symbol afterward. When gathering the playing area gains holes, which make movement harder; when you exchange a symbol though, you can place down the five elements again to acquire new tactical options. Whoever has exchange three Yin-Yang symbols first, wins the game.

And in September I reported on Meeple Heist , with the assumption that the publication by Papaya Editora was just around the corner. Yesterday I now found out that Papaya Editora are closing down completely. All the rights to the games have been sold to Ludens Spirit an apparently bigger publisher. What they will do with all the rights, I don’t know, but at least the release of Meeple Heist should be secured. Currently it is set for January 2019. We will see.

Mexico

In miniature games on Kickstarter I usually also shrug when a ton of people longingly count the days to release, because there are sooo many cool miniatures included. For me, all of these classic fantasy miniatures kind of always look the same. Absolutely not belonging into that category is War for Chicken Island, which currently has a lot of effort on Kickstarter to reach its funding goal. Even though the miniatures this time around really look quite cool. They are chickens that fight for limited resources on an island that is way too small. Despite their exaggerated weaponry they are less concerned with clubbing in the others skulls, but rather to high five them, because that gains you points you need to win. Leads to the same thing, but without someone dropping out of the game. War for Chicken Island comes from Ivan Escalante, who also illustrated it. The publisher is called Draco Games and I thought the Kickstarter video was pretty cute sometimes. Currently it looks like there is a relaunch, even though the final decision (as of yesterday) has not been reached yet.

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.