All posts by Leon Scheuber

Leon co-founded Sweet Lemon and likes to dance.

Hilko’s Hoard: New Games from Latin America (July 2)

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

Argentina

The first edition of the game Bariesus by Marcos Mignola had already been released in 2014, now there’s a second edition at juegosdemesa.com.ar. The Bariesus are mighty wizards that can manipulate the elements. They are trying to conquer a set number of provinces by summoning armies of water, fire, air and earth and sending them against each other, which happens by playing cards. They gain taxes from the conquered pieces of land with which they can hire mercenaries. If no one can decide the war within twenty turns, the god Kasdail destroys the universe, which has rather unfavorable repercussions. This prelude to the apocalypse has been illustrated by Samanta Armonelli.

Brazil

A game that could be right up my alley (minimal rules and a lot of interaction) is 6 Pandora by Flávia Barreto and Roberto Lago Lopes. The players are mages who want to gather the elements for their spells. To amass the corresponding resources, you throw two colored dice, the small box serves as a seal-able dice cup for this purpose. Afterwards you claim something about the result of your throw and steal the resources to reach whatever individual goal you have, but you shouldn’t be caught lying, of course. 6 Pandora has been released in small numbers in an edition by 4touché.

Just released is Macacos me Mordam! (Monkeys are biting me), the first game of the new Brazilian publisher Curió Jogos, who wants to specialize on games for three- to ten-year-olds. The players are monkeys who want to climb a tree to grab as many bananas as possible. The tree is explored during the climb, meaning it’s built from trunk and treetop cards in three dimensions. Whoever first manages to gather 6 bananas wins the game. Macacos me Mordam was made by Isabel Butcher and was illustrated by Taline Schubach.

At the moment a lot of people are watching the football world cup, but if you ever tried to offer a sports game to a publisher, you’ll know how little interest you’ll often be met with. Sports games are seen as poison for sales. That of course doesn’t tell you a thing about the quality of the games, there are definitely quite a few out there that are exciting. Some of them are released by self-publishing. We’ll be talking about football multiple times in this article. We’ll start in Brazil with the game Futboard by José R. Mendes, who has also done the illustrations. His publisher is called MUNDUS and is apparently not just busy with football, since another game called Mundus Imperial has already been announced.

Futboard is a strategic board game, in which you create a team from players with different characteristics and then alternate taking three actions each, where you’ll have to decide between the typical football actions of moving, passing and shooting. Whoever scores the most goals within 45 minutes wins. Yesterday a crowdfunding-campaign for the game started, that met the funding goal within the first day.

Chile

I’ve never been to Chile, but when I look at a map it dawns on me how important the sea is for a country with a shape and location like this. It stands to reason that you can release a game about the ecosystems of the Chilean coast once in a while. That’s what the publisher Within Play has done with Toskasi (by Chilo and Dani Varela). The players move, driven by dice, through various landscapes of their choosing and gather cards in the process, which depict different organisms, which in turn interact with each other. Skillful play of the cards gains points, that can lead to victory at the end. Toskasi is the name of a certain type of conger eel, by the way, who occur in waters of the Chilean coast.

Colombia

Nivia Weizman usually creates elaborate games made of wood with his company Doubble Six. Now he has risked a foray into a ‘normal’ board game and it is about football as well, it is called Fútbol Dados (football dice). You have a lineup of 11 meeples on a football field, of course, try to move the ball into the direction of the enemy goal. To do so you throw four dice. The result of just one dice roll can be used to pass the ball to a free player, but only orthogonally or diagonally. When rolling doubles you can also pass over enemy players. With a triplet or quadruplet you don’t even have to play the ball in a 46° angle, but can play surprising far passes. To score a goal you have to reach the net with a specific number of pips.

Peru

Anevi Corp specializes in educational games. The publisher consists of Mariam Aranda, Ottoman Silva and Christopher Merino. Lately there have been three new card games released by Ottoman Silva, namely Bio Maniac (about the human body), Smash Molecules (about elements and molecules) and Super Training Football (you’ll be able to figure that out yourself), apart from those a game called Sembrando Agua (about water as a resource. This game has in fact been published ordered by the government) has been released in February already. The games, that Anevi publishes under the term of ‘Serious Games’ are designed in a comic style, despite the motto (the illustrator is called Bryan Silva). As Christopher Merino has told me, the publisher is aware that the brain doesn’t learn without being emotionally stimulated. So they’re trying to walk the line between enjoyable gameplay and imparting knowledge onto the players. Something like that doesn’t always work well, but when my currently eight year old asked me what I would do, and I said, that I’m writing something about games from Peru, which is in South America, she answered: ‘I know that, Peru appears in Länder Toppen.’ (link in German). There we go.

Games about food are (just like those about football) apparently popular in the whole world, as is the case in Peru. In a game called Perú Cocina by Javier Zapata Innocenci you gather ingredients for well known Peruvian dishes. You have cards on your hand in that depict two ingredients each. There are recipe cards on the table. You gradually play the ingredients for the recipes, but always have to take care of the order and decide, which ingredient on each card you want to play at what point of the game. If you can’t play something, you put it in a pool that everyone can access. Whoever can add the last ingredient to a dish gets that dish and the points for it at the end of the game. Perú Cocina is published by Malabares.

 

Hilko’s Hoard: New games from Latin America (June 17)

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

Well, here I was just finished patting myself on the back for my good idea of releasing these kinds of overview articles on a monthly basis, when I suddenly realized that not even that is enough. At this point I find so many games that the articles are threatening to become endless. First off, it would mean that nobody would read them, and secondly it also eats so much of my time that I’d be incredibly stressed if I wanted to write other meaningful stuff in the meantime. So it seems as if I’m going to publish my “New Games from Latin America” – articles on the 1st and 3rd Monday of a month. Among other dates, this means today. We’ll see if it proves successful.

Argentina

 

I had noted here on several occasions that I learned quite a bit about South American history from games. The game Maipú also falls under this category, in which, in 1818, the Spanish colonial troops lost against a Chilean-Argentinian army and had to retreat from Chile. The hug of the two victorious leaders is seen as the hour of birth of the independent state of Chile. In honor of the 200. anniversary of the battle there’s now the gaming simulation Maipú 1818 by Miguel García and Gerardo Montenego, which was published by Alquimia Creativa. The players move around with various troops and then fight each other with 2d6, whereby they get different kinds of modifiers according to the troop type and leader. It is designed by Sabina Mangiavacchi.

Brazil

Released in March already, but I seem to have slightly missed, is a game with the weird name Melvin vs. Kronk. In the end I want to report about it also due to the fact that it will be one of the Latin American games that will likely be available at Essen in October. Melvin vs. Kronk is penned by Renato Simões and is a reaction game. You play cards with faces (of Melvin, the Geek and Kronk, the Orc) on your personal card pile. But the cards show varying facial expressions – if you notice that there are two similar cards lying face up, you hit the pile of jewel cards in the middle. Whoever manages to do so first, draws the two topmost cards, keeps one of them and gifts the other. The player who has gathered the most juwels by the end of the game wins. The game has been published by Geeks N‘ Orks, a publisher, who despite having a name very much tailored to this one, also has other games in store.

Very close before the end of a successful crowd-funding campaign stands Orbs, by Raubher Borba, which is supposed to be released by Usina Studios. A bunch of Alien peoples have the small problem, that their sun has exploded, which of course does lower the life expectancy and quality drastically. Now they don’t just want to escape the explosion radius, but also take an artificial planet with them. Sadly there exists an old prophecy, that says that this will only work out for one of the nations. Whether this could be connected to a certain game from Chile (see below)? Orbs was illustrated by José Serrano.

Chile 


The sun of the earth seems to be fairly well, and still it’s not all just fun and games. In the cooperative game Earth’s Last Stand by Ignacio Gonzalo Paz Cornejo the oblivious players cruise around the earth in their small spacecraft, when suddenly a dimensional portal opens and a gigantic alien vessel appears and conquers the earth. The last hope now rests on the shoulders of the players, that need to destroy the strange spaceship, before it rings the end of humanity.

Oh, you’ll be thinking, that all sounds nice and all, but I’ll never get my hands on a game this exotic. Far from it, you can download a (graphically downgraded) print and play. You can find the rules (in English) here and the game materials here, Although you’ll also need 34 dice in three different colors, which already tells quite a bit about the game mechanics. Sooner or later the game is supposed to hit the shelves with full graphics.

 

Peru

I can remember vividly how my local football club Werder Bremen signed a completely unknown player from Peru in 1999 and I had some reason to have higher than average hopes, that he would become a hit. Well, he did, because it was Claudio Pizarro, who returned every couple of years and stayed a popular figure until the end. I don’t know what happens in Peruvian football nowadays. But like elsewhere it seems to be a popular pastime, since LEAP Game Studios, a publisher for computer games, has for the first time ventured into analog entertainment and released the football card game Supercards – Perú Campeón, by Luis Wong, which is available since mid-May in kiosks in Peru. The illustrations are by Edward Torres and Christian Magán. Two players compete against each other and try to combine the most successful game moves with their five hand cards. If the opponent can’t block them you score a goal. There’s also a solitaire mode, in which you can play through a world cup final. Computer gaming firms often think a bit bigger, which is the reason why LEAP Game Studios has gotten together with depor.com, a bigger sports website. If you know Spanish, you can look at a short video explanation here.

Venezuela

So far I hadn’t found anything from Venezuela. Now this has changed. As might also be known in these parts through the media, Venezuela is embroiled in a massive economic and currency crisis. In such an environment games are of course a luxury. Despite that – or exactly because of that – a publisher by the name of SBMjuegos has decided to release a game. It is called El Infiltrado (English: The Infiltrated) and is a sort of political Werewolf variant. The story is hereby told through both the lens of the extreme right (that valiantly fights against a corrupt regime) as well as the extreme left (that fights the terrorists, that want to push the country into the abyss). Meanwhile not even everyone knows their own roles (some might be controlled by the opposition without their knowledge) and the roles get merrily switched during a play. I have a preview copy of it lying around here, but sadly couldn’t find a group for it yet.

Currently there is a campaign for El Infiltrado on Kickstarter, in fact it is in Spanish and English. Since there aren’t many people in Venezuela who can afford games right now, the campaign is also supposed to make sure that the local price will be manageable and of course that it will also be produced there – due to this it is relatively pricey with 13 euros for a micro game. Whoever may have some euros spare may very well think about whether or not to back this project and in turn also support the economy in a crisis-ridden country.

Hilko’s Hoard: Game author’s fair in Göttingen 2018

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

Among the many very good gaming events of a given year, there are three events that I only miss under the most dire of circumstances. The Nuremberg International Toy Fair in February and the Spiel in Essen in October seem to be self evident. The third of these is the game author’s fair in Göttingen, which since time immemorial, takes place in the city hall in Göttingen on the first weekend of June. I have written something about this (German) on my Blog already, which I don’t want to rehash right now (editor’s note: we have published an English article by ourselves last year).

This being the oldest and still biggest event of its kind world wide was extremely well-attended, with about 350 people this Saturday (the tables were sold out for the first time, even though some tables stayed empty due to cancellations in the end). The city hall hit its capacity limit, but it’ll be renovated next year so we’ll have to move into the notably bigger Lokhalle anyway (which is the reason why the meeting will be moved to July – at least it probably won’t be running parallel to the UK Games Expo then, which most likely has forced some publishers to do a split this time around).

This year I could especially enjoy the meeting, due to the fact that I didn’t have any prototypes ready that I would have wanted to present. So I had quite a bit of time to look at exciting stuff from other people and even play quite a bit. Of course in one and a half days there’s never enough time to try everything, but it’s a bit like in Essen: It’s mainly about getting to know new people and meeting old friends again, which you only get to meet during such events. Naturally it was a special treat for me, that there were even two authors from South America who took on the long journey. I had invited both of them to come to the open game circle on Friday to be sure to have enough time to play their games. Up first was Corruptia, designed by Fernando Casals Caro together with Camila Muñoz Vilar (who sadly couldn’t be there herself). Corruptia is, unsurprisingly, a game about politics. As a politician you try to use the mood of the people to get your projects through the parliamentary votes as unimpeded as possible. The game scores with some clever and new mechanics, and went down very well in our group of five people. For me personally three rounds instead of the five would have sufficed (I am a fan of very short games), that aside it was gripping until the end. Corruptia is scheduled to be released in Chile in September, and judging from how many people attended Fernando’s table on Sunday, I can very well imagine that it might land over here as well some day (editor’s note: it will be available at NiceGameShop before Essen).


Leandro Maciel from Brazil even brought a whole cabinet of games with very appealingly designed prototypes. Sadly we only had time to play one of them, more specifically Loony Races. The name is telling, it’s a race, where you can never be too sure of your success. It is a back and forth with foul play involved, in which I mainly only got second place due to the fact that I sneaked up too close to the finish line. A little more restraint would have been smarter, given the cards I held. So I learned something again. On Sunday I then got the opportunity to play a bit of Fire in the Hole, in which a team of rabbits and a team of moles literally undermine a farm and work towards getting the carrots to tumble down. If you’re not careful though and drill into the cowshed less appetizing cow droppings will fall down into your own hole. Since both teams are intent on manipulating the labyrinth in their own favor there are nice take-that moments. Leandros’ games are easily accessible and make you laugh – his table was also well-visited and he was not only able to just gather interest from publishers for pretty much all of his prototypes, but may possibly be sitting down to finish others right now, to send them as well.

I experienced some relief there, since of course it’s never the case that every author can garner that much attention. That being the case, I’m pretty happy that at least the ones with the longest journey managed to do so brilliantly.

Apart from that I still managed to play prototypes from Michael Luu, Sophia Wagner and Torsten Landsvogt, which were in different stages of completion and included some clever ideas all around that I would definitely like to play again. We’ll see which of those will end up on the market.

Another small treat was that I had a talk with Michael Kiesling just at a time where there was nobody else at his table and he instantly invited me to play a game of Azul with him. It’s probably not a surprise that it wasn’t a very close match. What mainly fascinated me, was the fact of how quickly he took his decisions as a veteran player, while I of course had to think way longer. Azul is just an awesome game, that only very few people that I know don’t like.

In the evening we sat in a jolly circle with Reinhold Wittig and found out, that three of the five people in our room had never played The Mind. Since we didn’t have a copy with us, we improvised a game of five with Take 6! cards, some screw-nuts as lives and something else as throwing stars. It was really, really great, there was tons of laughter and legendary scenes and we really managed to clear level 6 first try. I think that the three newcomers didn’t really understand why I was so excited (third win in my 52th game). On the next day one of them told me, that they later played some more and only then realized how hard the whole thing really is.

When I look at those two gaming experiences in the space of a few hours, I get reminded why I keep my fingers crossed for The Mind as choice for game of the year so much. Azul is a cool game, very balanced and with a nice level of interaction, that’s neither too confrontational nor too much of a hug box. I would play it again any day. The Mind, however, brings up emotions and that’s what I especially wish to get in a game.

On Sunday evening I hosted Rustan Håkansson as a guest. At least his game Nations should be known to many of you. We sadly didn’t try any of his games, but it was simply a very stimulating evening with a bit of gaming and good conversations. That’s also a strength of the meeting in Göttingen: I take more time for individual people.

So, overall a really fantastic weekend for me and I’m very much looking forward to next time.

Global Boardgame News (June 13)

Welcome back to a new edition of our global boardgame news!

In May we were travelling to East Asia and you can read our reports from Tokyo Game Market and Moonlight Boardgame Festival here on the blog. In early June we were also travelling and in fact three important board game events were happening around that time: UK Games Expo in Birmingham, the Game Author’s Fair in Göttingen and in Tokyo the art/board game event Is This A Game? So let’s get ready for a world tour of board games.

At first let’s start with the show we did not attend by ourselves: Is This A Game? in Akihabara, Tokyo.

As per the title this exhibition was not so much a regular board game event and more like an art event all about the question what a game can be. There is an article up on Sugoroku’s Blog with many pictures to look at. Seeing many of the designs you can tell that the games were made specifically for the show and are not meant for daily use. Our friend Jason Franks from Games For Gaijin also visited the show and recorded an excellent runthrough. The show saw new releases by several famous Japanese companies, most notably Void by Oink Games and a Yeti in the house by itten.

Yeti in the House is a team game. One team hides the yeti and two footprint pieces anywhere in the house and gives clues in form of photos to the other team. The other team wins if they find the Yeti. However if they find the two footprint pieces before the actual Yeti they lose the game. If you want to find out more about the new Oink game Void look for #voidgame in social media where many people already posted pictures of the game.

Games for Gaijin is giving away one copy of the extremely limited Void when his Youtube channel hits 500 subscribers. We have already subscribed and if you are interested in game overviews of Asian games we can recommend the channel!

At the same weekend on another island at the other side of Eurasia the UK Games Expo took place. We visited last year for the first time and boy has it grown since then. This year you could play, buy and learn about all the new hot games in two halls for three full days. We were mostly there for scouting for new game ideas to publish and found a many at the excellently organized Playtest UK booth, but of course we also checked out what other publishers showed at the Expo.

First I would like to give a shout out to Osprey Games. I (Leon) have been a Osprey fanboy since the last expo (you can read the report here) and that has not changed this year. Osprey was showing Wildlands, an entry level miniature skirmish game. Okay, you might say there are tons of that out there already and you may be right. What makes Wildlands stand out is the following: It is designed by veteran designer Martin Wallace, it is illustrated by Yann Tisseron who did also the artwork for our Fantasy Defense and there are no dice in the game. We are looking forward to the release in Essen later this year.

Moaideas had a booth for the first time at UKGE and with good reason, since their clever train game Minirails was nominated for the UKGE awards. Moaideas were also showing their next clever game – Symphony Nr. 9

The theme is quite unusual. The players take on the roles of patrons investing in different famous composers of the baroque and classical era like Bach and Mozart as they are composing their 9 symphonies. The legend has it that every famous composer dies after their 9th symphony as all their life juice is used up so to speak.

The gameplay is a fascinating mix of composer influence tile drafting and blind bidding in order to find out which composer will give a concert this round. As the blind bidding basically dictates how much money you will make in a round you really have to get into the heads of the other players at the table.

Athens is the new game by Korean publisher Baccum which was shown at the Expo in a pre-release form. Athens is a kind of reworked version of Baccum’s own Azuchi Castle and will be released at Essen with English, German and Korean rules.

In this worker placement engine building game players try to thrive in Ancient Athens by investing in different trades and solving events which award victory points. The artwork is funky and there are a lot of different strategies to pursue.

Taiwanese publisher EmperorS4 did not have a booth at UKGE but we met Johnson during the show, who showed us 2 prototypes of games coming later this year from EmperorS4.

The first is Discovery: The Era of Voyage which will be coming out very soon. It is a new edition of the Japanese game Era of Voyage by AI Lab which was well received in the BGG community. In this quick playing engine building game the players are sailing the ocean in a rondel and trading on the different islands three types of goods. If they invest on an island they can get more out of one island when trading. EmperorS4 added rules for 2 players and gorgeous new graphics to the game.

Realms of Sand is a quick playing pattern building game in which the players build houses and palaces with tiles on their player board only to destroy them like sand castles in order to score points. The artwork is once again by the talented Maisherly, who also did the illustrations for the smash hit Hanamikoji.

UK Games Expo became bigger and also more international: Our friends from Oink Games and Smiling Monster Games (showing the German edition of Tofu Kingdom!) had a booth set up once again. We spotted Spy Tricks by Wizkids and Pocket Pharma by Alley Cat Games which both were Game Market releases originally. Then for the first time Smoox and Taiwan Boardgame Design had a booth at UKGE and had a successful fair with their new title Dice Fishing Roll and Catch and other hot new titles from Taiwan.

We will definitely come back next year to the Birmingham for the UKGE!

And then there was also the Game Author’s fair in Göttingen the same weekend. We will have a report by Hilko Drude up on the blog shortly but until then you can read our report from last year if you like.

In other links:

Hilko’s Hoard: New games from Latin America

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

 

Since the last article had gotten rather comprehensive, I decided to dedicate a recurring column titled “New games from Latin America” towards this theme (there’s indeed always quite a bit of research to be done on this). Until further notice I’ll reserve the first Monday of a month towards it. We’ll see whether this works out or not, most likely these articles will vary greatly in length, depending on what I stumble upon. It’s something I’m quite excited about myself. For now I’ll just start like this. A pointer to begin with, towards the overview page I made concerning the Latin American publishers (German description). It was a lot of work, but if someone is coincidentally on their way to Latin America, he might want to take a closer look at the publishers of the corresponding country and think about what could be worth checking out. Additions and corrections are welcome, if someone happens to know anything, otherwise I’m always finding more myself as well.

Argentina

I don’t know whether it’s different today, but in my time at school in the eighties Latin American history was nearly a non-issue, especially the time after the spanish colonial rule. How nice is it then, that it’s possible to learn a great deal from board games. For example, that on the 20th of November 1845 a joint British-French fleet tried to break a blockade on the Paraná River to force open trade routes to the interior. They broke through in the end, but with so many casualties, that the intruders had to distance themselves from further attempts. Whats only a footnote in German perception is of great importance for South America. Since 2010 the 20th November is a holiday in Argentina.

Where I got all this from? I read up on it after I stumbled upon the game Soberanía (Sovereignty) by Julian P.L. Bracco, which he published (with Illustrations by César Carrizo) with his publishing company EPICA JUEGOS. Soberania is a cooperative historical simulation in which the players fight together against the invasion.

Not long after I learned of this game the publisher put another one out there: Just released is Cruce de los Andes (Crossing the Andes). It’s about the Argentinian hero of the fight for independence José de San Martin and his campaign to expel the Spanish colonial troops from Chile – this’ll be a topic for the next article at the beginning of July again. The current game wears the subtitle “Vol. 1: Gobernación” (Part 1: Government). A second part is being prepared. Cruce de los Andes mostly consists of cards, with which you can reenact the life of San Martin, but also entails two relatively freeform short RPG’s by Benjamin Anibal Reyna and Martín Bravo.

 

The publisher Tinkuy has released another literature game, this time in cooperation with the Chilean author María José Ferrada. It is about Haikus, those minimalistic poems in a japanese style. Invención de Haikus is once again not what purists may imagine a game to be, since it is just about creating Haikus – there is no point system or other victory conditions. Instead you draw cards with seasons, natural phenomenons, first letters, beginning or end verses and you craft Haikus. I myself have no idea about Haikus, but I’m gladly lured in by tasks such as these and would therefore like to try it. But before I do it in Spanish I’ll probably have to practice a bit more.

Brazil

Two years ago already, Eduardo Guerra has released his game Crop Rotation by self-publishing. In March it has now been released in a new version by Legião Jogos, sporting the title Crop Rotation: Bug Plague. In this farming game you have cards with tasks in your hand that require a certain order of the three crops in the game. You plant something and try to get the corresponding order. Sadly the others can ruin your plans. If you instead decide to play cooperatively, there are locusts that will intervene. The game was illustrated by Jonatas Bermudes.

Also planned for publication under Legião Jogos is Eleições 20XX (Elections 20XX), which is currently vying for support on the Brazilian crowdfunding platform catarse.me. It is about elections in a fictional land, in which – just as fictitious of course – smear campaigns, abuse of power and buying votes are the order of the day. The game includes voter cards with certain preferences and the players try to steer the voters that are inclined towards them into the right direction, and try to keep the ones that wouldn’t vote for them anyway from voting at all. The game originates from the pen of Bruno Carvalho and was illustrated by Rogério Narciso and Thiago Ramos.

The game Vossa Excelência – O Jogo Político (Excellence), announced under self-publishing by Fernando Augusto C. Prado and Marcelo S. Dias was illustrated by Douglas Duarte and also concerns itself with dirty politics, and this game can be found on catarse.me as well. In this scenario the players are already representatives and have to try to consolidate their powerbase until the next election. A little abuse of power is very convenient for that. Sadly, there are some annoying forces among civil society, that have their eyes on representatives exactly like these and who could potentially put a spoke in their wheel. Two crowdfunding campaigns about dirty politics at once – apparently the people in Brazil have a lot on their mind.

Games that are called Uga-Uga Bufapum are fascinating to me in a certain way. I’m not sure whether I would have felt differently if I could really speak Portuguese. What does one need again, to become the new biggest boss of a stone age tribe? The biggest club? The most fancy loincloth? Far from it – it’s mostly about being able to most impressively fart. To this end you play cards with, small up to catastrophic, farts and this of course into the general direction of your opponents. As soon as they become unconscious, the succession dispute is resolved. All of this is conceived by Mário Sérgio, the illustrations are by Victor Cavalcanti and the publisher is called K & M Jogos. A nice side note: The portuguese words for “fart” and “wordplay” are identical, so that when I first approached the game with google translate I still had the assumption that the game was a stone age era corny joke contest. Maybe that’d also be an idea for a game.

Likewise an unusual, and presumably a far better smelling story, tells Café Express by Kevin and Samanta Talarico. After the eruption of a terrible plant disease, the last three healthy coffee beans are transported through the land to plant them in uncontaminated soil and secure their survival (Coffee bean or humanity? Your choice). Of course unscrupulous gangsters aren’t far, with the intention to grab the precious cargo for themselves. In this game for two to four people, law enforcers play against criminals – although the roles are often switched. According to the publisher Potato Cat it is one of the first Brazilian games that make use of transparent cards. The illustrations come from Jéssica Lang. Café Express was successfully financed on catarse.me, meanwhile Potato Cat already has the next campaign under way.

This time it is about New Eden Project, that stems from the same authors, but has been illustrated by Tiago Sousa. In a dark future there is war and since more and more city are destroyed, the hour of the corporations that can build entire cities within weeks has come. The players compete to plan the best city of all time, that can then be built somewhere in a wasteland. You build with cards.

A publisher that’s still young is Dijon Jogos (yep, it’s really named after the mustard). I like their website even just due to this idea – other publishers should do this (even though such numbers are subjective. But 0% is definitely a pretty clear call).

The first game of the publisher comes from Diego de Moraes, it has been released in April and is called Os Incríveis Parques de Miss Liz (The unbelievable Parks of Miss Liz). It’s about the popular theme of amusement parks again. Every player builds their own park with all kinds of attractions on a tableau – so it is mainly a tile placement game, in which you try to puzzle together the most amusing park, but you’ll also have to be economical to be able to afford it in the first place. The illustrations are done by João “Raulex”.

Azzelij from Rodrigo Sampaio Rodriguez has been published in a small series by Zuzu Board Games. It’s a tile placement game, in which you have to place the tiles in such a way, that the circles that are created in the corners are a majority of your own color. The base game, that was already released in 2017, is a simple and rather relaxed old school game. Meanwhile there’s an expansion with which you can play with notably more complex scoring, so that the game feels more interactive and should resonate with a broader audience. At least to me it’s way more fun with the expansion than without.

When I first came across the fantasy pirate game Pélaghos on the net, I racked my brain over what the name could mean. Online dictionaries didn’t help, so I asked: It is the name of the game world, and the name leans on the greek word pélagos, which means sea, and is also found in the word Archipelago. Learned something again! Pélaghos comes from Ney de Alencar and Roice and Thiago Mello and is the debut game of the publisher Tiki Games. It just finished a successful campaign on catarse.me. Herein you play one of four human nations and try to gain supremacy over a variably constructed archipelago in which not only other beings like fairies and minotaurs, but also a great deal of dangers lurk in itself. You can gain victory points with different methods, whether trade, adventure or others. The game is steered by a massive amount of cards, that you’re supposed to take on your hand in the right combination. The illustrations come from Guilherme Rodrigues Soares. The game looks big and ambitious anyway, but the publisher adds one on top regardless: In the near future a novel by Pedro Ricardo Piccini is supposed to be released, that takes place in the Pélaghos world.

Tá na mesa seems to approximately mean about as much as “It is served!” There’s again another cooking challenge, but this time it is about the top chefs making the best traditional fare. The players gather ingredients, prepare their meals and have to present them as well in the end. Whoever does this the best wins. Anyone who wants to know more can take a look at their current crowdfunding campaign (the rules are in Portuguese, but the game is nearly not language-dependent, according to publisher Mamute Jogos).

Chile

“The 11” (“La Once”) is actually a small snack in the late afternoon, but in Chile the term has changed its meaning and refers to a meal in the afternoon that can also take on a slightly bigger scope. Despite this I first had problems to understand the game title “La 11 Coffee & Tea Party“, yet it’s still about coffee and cake. In a (fictitious) café called La Once there’s a promotion each year where the guests have to play for their food. Only the winners get served the best food, while they play out the finale. Now the café has released the game to the public. Its a tight scramble for the best combination of three of the six treats (Set Collection and Take That). Recently I had written that the coolest game boxes are from Columbia. But this novelty from Chile is a real competitor here, since it is reminiscent of a cookie bag. That instantly whets the appetite. Author Carolina Baltra wants to speak to a public beyond Chile with this sweet theme, but is also thinking about releasing a version in the future, that orients itself more on Chilean customs. The illustrations stem from Paloma Amaya and the publisher has the nice name Juguemos+ (“Let us play more!”).

In the last moments, so to speak, I stumbled upon a crowdfunding campaign for Art Pieces that just started. A Chilean drawing game, of which I don’t even know who made it. The game seems to get released bilingually (English/Spanish), but the campaign is completely in Spanish, so that I just have to hope that I approximately understood the concept. The group draws three cards on which a single element of a picture is given, and an encompassing theme. Everyone now has 90 seconds to draw something according to these guidelines. Only after the drawing has been done a card is revealed, that determines which factor is relevant for the rating of the pictures. Those aren’t always the most artistically valuable portraits, but rather it could also be the most boring or the most simple.

All pictures with the gracious permission of the right holders.

Moonlight Boardgame Festival 2018

When I first heard about the Moonlight Boardgame Festival in Kaohsioung I thought: “Neat, there is this local convention in Taiwan just one week after Tokyo Game Market, which I will be visiting anyway. But will it really be worthwhile to go, especially because I can already try out and buy many Taiwanese designs at TGM?”.

Then a few months later I saw the list of publishers Moaideas managed to invite to Kaohsioung and I knew I had to go. Not only most of the Taiwanese publishers agreed to have a booth there, but also many publishers from Mainland China, Hongkong and Japan.

Here I am: jetlagged and holding a sign with Citie and Tsai at the Tokyo Game Market.

Our last article was about the Tokyo Game Market, which has to be the biggest board game event in East Asia. That makes sense, since Japan is the biggest board game market in East Asia and the output of new games is very high (but only a fraction of those games make their way to Europe). Since a few years back now also games from other parts of East Asia getting more attention: For quite a few years now the Korean Pavillion is one of the biggest booths in Hall 3 in Essen and many successful games like Coconuts and Fold-it come from Korea. One thing you can notice about Taiwanese games is that the Taiwan Boardgame Design booth in Essen is getting bigger each year. So Taiwanese board games are on a rise, and I think everyone reading this blog knows about the great titles EmperorS4, Homosapiens Lab and SwanPanasia (to name a few) have put out.

From what I understand there are quite a few board game conventions in Taiwan. We never visited but know about SwanCon, which is organised by SwanPanasia and also Golden Donkey and a few others. But as far as we know Moonlight Boardgame Festival is the first convention in Taiwan attracting international publishers and an international audience.

So I was really excited going into this fair and I am happy to come back next year.

Totally off topic, but from Seoul to Kaohsioung I was flying EVA Air for the first time and I found it amusing that their safety video was very low on (visual) safety instructions and instead filled with Pina Bausch style dance choreography. In case of emergency, dance dance otherwise we are lost.

You can see the full video on Youtube.

The convention took place 12-13 May in the International Convention Center in Kaohsioung which is in the south of Taiwan. The pics above are from setup and showing pretty much all the booths that were in the hall (except for the booths that were right behind me). So the convention was not big, but it was still worth visiting for people hunting tabletop treasure because of the publishers exhibiting. There were quite a few new (to-me) games from publishers I did not hear of before.

One of those more unknown (to me) publishers was Boxed Lightning, based in Shanghai. They previously released Rescue Polar Bears, which was picked up by Taiwanese publisher TwoPlus and released as Rescue Polar Bears: Data and Temperature. At the Moonlight Boardgame Festival Boxed Lightning was showing 3 beautiful Ticket-to-ride size strategy games. I don’t know much about them for the moment, but the publisher told me that English rules will be available in the next months.

Kanga Games is mostly a distributor of European and North American titles to the Greater China region. Now they published a reimplementation of the classic O Zoo Le Mio, called Zooronga. This new edition is fixing the runaway leader problem and has all new artwork. If you like blind bidding games, this one is a game to check out.

Z for Zombie is a game from Hongkong and based on a popular HK-comic with the same name. The game was designed by Percy Chan who designed the successful Mage Craft and will be published by Time2Play later this year. In this game the players try to escape the approaching zombies while at the same time scavenging for resources. Goal of the game is to reach the ice cream truck to make it our alive. In a round we simultanously reveal one card and then take the actions on them, for example move, scavenge or looking secretly at the top card of the Zombie deck to check how many spaces they will be moving. If they move on a space with a player on it, that player is eliminated from the game.

 

Soso Games was showing two new games: Formosa Flowers and Strange Vending Machine. Formosa Flowers was playable as a production copy and is coming out very soon and Strange Vending Machine was still in prototype stage. Both games will be available at Essen Spiel where Soso Games will have their own booth.

Formosa Flowers is a gorgeous looking Hanafuda-style card game. Play 1 card and collect cards that have the same number. Collect cards with the different weather icons to score points, but watch out for the leaves as three leaves mean you have to discard those cards. This is an easy playing card game and as I never played Hanafuda before it felt fresh for me.

Strange Vending Machine is a push your luck game with a great gimmick: Little Vending Machines. Every player starts with a certain number of coins of which are 2 fake coins which are minus points at the end of the game. In a turn a player can choose 1 out of 2 different actions: Pay the price shown at the front card and take it out of the vending machine, thus revealing the lower half which is showing something different than the top half, or taking all the coins out of one vending machine. Goal is here is to set collect certain items depicted on both halves of the cards which will award victory points at the end of the game.

I think Soso has here a hit on their hands as the mixture of exciting push your luck gameplay and the great tactile gimmick in form of a vending machine made the game a pleasure to play.

Mozi Games was showing Garden of Gardens. This game has a fantastically beautiful presentation and is quite a bit heavier than older Mozi games. In the game we are drafting cards/resources with which we can build the palace and the surrounding garden. The game will be released later this year and is one to watch out for.

I have no clue what this game is about but I definitely want to learn more about it.

That’s all for now. As always there were many more games unknown to me and/or worth talking about and if you are interested please go to our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels where we posted many more pictures and descriptions.

Many of the games will also be available to buy on NiceGameShop soon, so make sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

We have also filmed quite a few of overviews and convention runthroughs which we posted on Youtube.

Now we are off to UK Games Expo. See you next week with a new edition of Global Boardgame News.

Tokyo Game Market May 2018

In early May I flew over to Japan for the Tokyo Game Market Spring edition which took place on May 5 and 6 at Tokyo Big Sight. We already talked in the last few Global Boardgames News articles about many new releases there and at the convention we had the chance to play them and buy them for our NiceGameShop.

Traditionally the Game Market weekend starts one day before the actual Game Market with the preview events, the biggest being the Yellow Submarine preview event organised by Macoto Nakamura and the Japon Brand Gaming Party hosted by Japon Brand of course with many international guests.

The first game I tried at the Japon Brand gaming party was this beauty called Monster Empire by Freaky Design.

In this 3-8 player game players try to get 6 different jewels by defeating the various monsters. In a turn a player describes the monster they want to battle with with three features, like “the monster I am going to battle has wings”. But they have to only tell the truth about 1 of these features, the other 2 could be lies. Then all the players simultanously place their pawn to the monster they think the leading player wants to battle. Then the leading player battles the monster by dice rolling and using equipment if they have. If other players participated in the battle the also battle and if they manage to defeat the monster they split the treasure, with the leading player having the first choice.

For many monsters you need your fellow players to defeat it, but you don’t want to many players knowing which monster you want to battle, as you share of the loot will decrease.

Another beautiful game which went kind of hot at the fair was passtally by analog lunchbox. In this 2-3 player game players have two actions in a turn with the actions could be placing a tile on the board and/or moving the player piece on the outside of the board. At the end of the turn it is checked which of this player’s pieces are connected and through how many tiles the connection goes. The more, the better and scoring depends on how many. As you can imagine this is getting brain burny quite easily which is why the publisher put a rule into the rulebook to use a timer and limit a turn to 1 minute.


While the Japon Brand gaming party is all about Japanese publishers showing their games to overseas publishers, the Yellow Submarine preview event is more geared towards publishers showing their games to fellow Japanese publishers as they will have no time trying out games at the event itself.

Meteor is a dexterity dice game in which the players throw their dice on the board and where they land the resources appear. With the resources it is possible to buy upgrades and win the game.

Encyclopaedist is a fascinating 3-player only game. Every player chooses a colored ring and a post-it pad in the same color and writes down secretly one category, like for example “something you can hold in one hand” or “something that makes you wet”. That post-it you hold secretly for the entire game.

In a turn the player moves the pawn to one of the seven spaces. Now each player has to find a word that is fitting for the space. To take the example with “something you can hold in one hand” (let’s say it’s green) and “something that makes you wet” (let’s say that is red), the space where those two categories overlap could hold “water pistol”, but not “lake”, which would move in the red category and the player who chose lake would have to fold the color of their post-it so that it does not show any more. So the further the game progresses the more you can see what every category actually is and by that choosing the right words for every space. Goal of the game is to have your colored post-it with a word in every of the seven spaces.

This is a really clever game and from what I’ve been told a kind of legendary Game Market game which was sold out for a long time and got now a neat new edition by Suki Games.

On the next day I made my way to Tokyo Big Sight for the Game Market. It is always amazing to see the masses of people travelling to Tokyo Big Sight like they are drawn to a gigantic alien space ship. Game Market attendees are only a small fraction of people here, as there were several fairs and conventions on the same weekend.

 

On my way to the hall I found the nice people of Grandoor Games who were just giving the finishing touches to their new game Annecto Punch. This was barely an hour before the doors opened. While Game Market is getting bigger each year and Japanese board game market is growing, most publishers are still very indie and it is not unusual to see a game with handmade components.

This was one of the entrances to Game Market. We could go in early…

As last Game Market Oink Games were the first booth you see after entering the hall. They were one of several publishers with an Essen-style big booth and were showing their new game Moneybags and Zogen, which was just released one month before at Osaka Game Market.

Der Tunnel: Escape from East Berlin by Ficdep Games caught my eye early as I was born in Berlin myself. In this 2-player game one player is the leader of a group of people trying to get to West Berlin and the other player is the secret police trying to stop and imprison the group. In a turn the leader will play their chips facedown in the 3 different areas with Construction for building the tunnel, Funding for making money and City for doing nothing. The secret police plays cards on the same spaces and then cards and chips are revealed. If the secret police played the same person card as a chip there that person gets arrested, bringing the secret police one step closer to the victory condition. If not, the leader may build the tunnel and collect money, depending on the ability also upgrading the persons in the process.

The chips then go back to the leader for the next round but the secret police has to discard all the cards used in that round, making that people safe to play if they weren’t caught in the last round.

The publisher has previously released Kremlinology and I think they are tackling very touchy subjects. Who would like to play as the secret police? But the real gripe I have are the names for the people in the group trying to escape. Curl? What kind of name is that?

One of the prototypes I got to play was Meow-Jong by Li-He-Studio and Aza Chen. This game is simplifying the traditional game Mahjong and is adding cute cats and dogs and will be coming out later this year.

On the second day there was also a steam punk exhibition and many more RPG booths than on Saturday. Yannick Deplaedt, who helped with many Japanese games getting signed by French companies commented on that:

“Saturday was a very busy day while Sunday was kind of bland, unfortunately. The doujin scene might have suffered from the number of visitors. Many amateur designers ended up with lots of stock still available while on Saturday, many games sold out. One fourth of the venue was filled with RPG designers, and I thought that was somewhat a pity, since RPG makers have plenty of events to attend during the year.

I hope these issues will be taken into account for the next edition of the Game Market. I’m afraid most doujin will choose Saturday instead of Sunday (that’s for sure what I will do, or maybe both days if it’s financially an option), pushing the people in charge of the Game Market to draw names and ask some of them to attend on Sunday.”

I have heard a similar opinion by many publishers exhibiting only on Sunday. With the shift from a one day to a two day show only a few publishers could afford to book the booth for two days. At the same time Sunday is drawing a much more casual crowd, similar to the difference in Thursday to Sunday at Essen.

And this is it: our game haul after two days of buying, playing and scouting at Tokyo Game Market. We can’t talk about all the games here, but if you are interested chances are we already talked a little bit about them on our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels. And if not please get in touch and we may be able to shoot a video for them.

Many of those games are also available now on our NiceGameShop, so check it out.

One week after Game Market I was visiting the Moonlight Boardgame Festival in Kaohsioung, Taiwan which will be the topic for the next report. I have also filmed both events and the videos are now on the Youtube channel.

Global Boardgame News (April 30)

This series is released once or twice a month, covering international gaming news, trends and just plain gossip spotted online.

Got something we should write about? Leave it in the form below the article.

This will be our last game round up on new releases at Tokyo Game Market May 2018 before the show and we saved some of the biggest names for it. We are also quite late to the party for most of those games since they were already discussed and anticipated on BGG but let’s start with a brand new announcement, which just came in today.

This is the new release by itten, the company that brought us the smash hit Tokyo Highway.

Here Comes The Dog looks suspiciously like a dexterity game but it is not one at all.

In the game 2-4 players try to domesticate wolfs. Goal of the game is to have the most dogs at the end of the game, without running out of people, of which everyone starts with 3. Before the game starts all sticks are put at the bonfire and the different colors symbolize meat, charcoal and fire.

In a turn a player takes the dice and rolls them and can take sticks according to the dice rolled. A round ends if either all charcoal or all meat is gone. If all meat is taken, the Domestication Phase begins and every player can tame dogs with the meat they gathered. If all charcoal is taken however the round ends and the Night Phase begins in which the wolfs attacks. Player can defend themselves using charcoal and fire or 2 precious meat. If a player can not defend they have to lose one person of their tribe.

Next up is Oink Games, a company which runs the biggest booth at Game Market and is known worldwide for packing interesting games in small stylish boxes. They bring one new game to Tokyo Game Market and another one which was just released at Osaka Game Market April 1.

In the brand new release Moneybags

players try to have the most gold coins, with each player having their own bag filled with some number of brass coins. If you think you have the most coins, you might want to exit the round to keep them as others will try to transfer coins from your bag to theirs! (BGG)

Zogen was released April 1st at Osaka Game Market, merely 2 months (!) after the game idea was pitched to Oink by the authors at Spielwarenmesse.

In Zogen, a.k.a. ゾーゲン, the player researchers want to rid themselves of their microorganism cards as quickly as they can, but they can do so only by observing the current lab environment and watching the one thing that changes, then “recording” it by playing their card. (BGG)

Then we have Okazu Brand, the company Hisashi Hayashi is releasing his games with. He is one of the few full-time board game designers in Japan and you can read a little bit about his background in a recent interview at NicoBodo. After showing MetroX at Osaka Game Market (which sold out there), he is now showing Stock Hold’em. In this game

players are investors who want to use information to manipulate stock prices, buy and sell shares, and earn lots of money.

During the game, players place information cards with sources (i.e., suits) and numbers on each company, and all employees manipulate stock prices by making poker hands for each company. Since some information about these cards — either the suit or the number — can be viewed from the backside of the card, players can speculate about how a company might be valued by guessing the hands of other players. (BGG)

In MetroX on the other hand

players create subway networks by filling in the station spaces on their individual game sheets. Using the numbers revealed by the cards, all players fill up their subway map with ◯s in the station spaces. However, the number of times they can add stations to each line is limited, so they have to make tough choices. Players can score many points by getting their star bonuses in stations with many intersecting routes. Players also get bonuses by being the first to complete routes. Try to fill in all your stations to minimize the penalties and achieve a high score! (BGG)

Last but not least let us talk about the new game by Kuro, the mastermind behind Manifest Destiny. This time around he is bringing only one new game, which is quite unusual if you take a look at his output in recent years. At Game Market December 2017 for instance he was showing 6 new games. Maybe this is just the calm before the storm?

Anyways, this new title sounds interesting, especially for Ravens of Thri Sahashri fans, because Zombie Crisis is a 2 player asymmetric coop game. Zombie Crisis has a whole other theme as you can imagine, as one player is playing the scout and the other a soldier fighting off a zombie horde:

Each turn, three cards that may be zombies or humans are drawn and lined up face down against the barricades. The scout then looks at 1–3 of these cards, telling the fighter a limited amount of information. The fighter then decides to either attack the current horde by placing weapon cards on the different columns of enemies, or to defend, strengthening the barricades and pilfering for more weapons.

The scout’s cards on hand are various scenarios, with fulfillment conditions. Whenever these are fulfilled, they are played, and the scout draws a new card to hand. The scenario cards get harder and harder to fulfill, and when the team has fulfilled six of these, the game ends in victory. (BGG)

That’s all for now.

We will post more news and reports after the show has ended this coming weekend 5 and 6 May. If you want to have live reports we are going to post pictures on Instagram and Twitter. Then around the end of May we will have all of the hotness from Tokyo Game Market in our webshop. Many have already filled out the survey to help us decide which games to bring back but in case you haven’t there is still time until May 3 to do so! We will draw one lucky winner to receive 50€ store credit to use on all the hotness!