All posts by Leon Scheuber

Leon co-founded Sweet Lemon and likes to dance.

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!

Global Boardgame News (April 27)

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.

Hello and welcome back again to another edition of our Global Boardgame News. “How come so soon?” you might ask. Well, because of the massive amount of new releases at the upcoming Tokyo Game Market next week May 5-6 and so that everyone can make a more informed decision on our survey about which games to bring back to NiceGameShop.

Thanks for everyone who already took the survey. If you have not already you really should as we will draw one lucky winner who receives 50€ store credit for NiceGameShop to use on all the hotness!

Let’s get going with the new games.

Zee Garcia of the Dice Tower seems to be a big fan of the games by Saashi & Saashi and with good reason: Their games have unusual themes, beautiful distinctive artwork and innovative gameplay. Their new game Let’s Make a Bus Route will be no exception and offers according to the publisher the simplest rule of any of their games yet.

Let’s Make a Bus Route

is a 2-5 player board game where players draw bus routes on a map of Kyoto. You play the role of a bus company employee tasked with making a new bus route.

To make an effective route you must fulfill the needs of visiting tourists, commuters, students, and elderly passengers, while balancing impacts on the city including road traffic. Can you build the bus route that delights the most riders? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to connect to a famous sight-seeing spot while building your requested route? When the busses start moving will you have built the route that delights the most riders? 


The Lost Woods is a cooperative card sliding game by the board game circle Oui-Kai. Within a time limit of 8 minutes 1-4 players try to guide Little Red Riding Hood to the grand mother’s house without getting eaten by the big bad wolf.


In the past designers who showed their games at TGM were often self-publishing and in many cases self-assembling their games. Since they made it for the artistic aspect and not the business side of it, printruns were often as low as 100 copies and if a game was sold out it was gone.

It feels like that around 75% of the games shown at TGM are either purely card games or card games with 1 or 2 added components, mostly cubes or small components you might find at a art supplies shop. These are games you can make inexpensively and are quite fitting for the punk attitude of many publishers at TGM.

While the indie spirit is still very strong at Game Market, this is changing as board games are becoming a bigger market in Japan and Asia and publisher and visitor attendance at TGM is rising every year.

New Games Order was early to break that trend and tends to publish some of the biggest Japanese games in terms of size, scope and materials. They have published Stone Garden with spectacular stone pieces which was also released in an English version in 2014. Then they have followed up with titles like Sixth Rural Village and Patronage, which were unfortunately never translated into English.

At TGM they will be showing Glover, a Euro game for 3-5 players by Akase Yog. With over 300 components it will be definitely one of the biggest games released at the show, but up until now rules were only published in Japanese and information is scarce.


 

Yamato Games is showing their 6th game at Game Market and their titles are easily recognizable because they all have the same size and the same clean and fancy graphic style. After games like Cat’s Party and Animal Village they now show Green Finger, an easy cute, area control type card game for 1-4 players.

The game comes with 29 cards. 25 of them are put facedown in a 5×5 grid in the middle of the table with only the middle card face up and each player gets 1 hut card in their hand. In a turn the player takes a face down card and plays then one card from their hand in the grid where they have just taken the card. When all cards in the middle are face up the game ends and scoring happens. The hut card of each player decides how many points a player get.


Happiest Town is the new game by Toshiki Sato, who previously designed Dice Age: The Hunt and 8bit Mockup, which won the Best Game of TGM 2017 autumn award.

They had a preorder campaign running and because more than 100 copies were sold there, each copy at TGM will include 8 promo cards. What to do with the promo cards and how does the game play? Since the English rules were already posted on BGG they know the answer:

Take charge as one of many mayors in Happiest Town to build buildings and attempt to make your city the happiest of all. The game includes more than forty types of buildings, and in the game you earn money, build stuff, earn more money from what you’ve built, and score at the end of the game with your city’s happiness being determined by a “population x happiness” formula.


The idea of Hiktorune is clever and unlike anything I have ever seen. It is a cooperative dexterity game for 1-5 players, in which you pull cards out of a vertical stack of cards. If you pull them out successfully you can trigger the effects.

The publisher Koguma Koubou previously released BABEL, which mixed the card tower stacking of Rhino Hero with hidden traitors!


Another game for which we don’t know much about the rules but just adore the components is Monster Empire by Freaky Design Inc. We saw the game in a prerelease form at TGM in December last year with wooden standees.

Now they are made out of cardboard but still look phenomenal. The back of box suggests that the game is coming with English rules so we are definitely excited to try out the game while we are in Tokyo.


Gift10Industry must be one of the most innovative companies when it comes to board games. After making games for blind people and a Virtual-Reality party game they are showing their newest creation at TGM.

Morse Karuta by Takashi Hamada is a fascinating educational app-based speed game, in which the 2-8 players can actually learn morse.

There are two different version to play the game. You can either place the cards with the morse code face up and one player taps the morse code on the smartphone and the others try to grab the right card as fast as they can or you can play the advanced rules in which the cards are with their picture side face up and one player taps the morse code while the others have morse reference cards in their hand and try to hear what the right word is and grab the picture card.


Madrick by first-time publisher Sextile Zealot is a game that could interest many people, if only you could find some information in English about it. The only gameplay explanation is blocked in a graphic, so that google translate can’t reach it, but the artwork and the tone of the game immediately drew us in and gave us strong Darkest Dungeon vibes.

We know that it is a 2-player card-driven battle board game with strong Cthulhu influences. Since the components themselves have no language on it, the only thing stopping us from trying it out is that there don’t seem to be any English rules available.


Rule of Magic by River Games is another game we hope to have English rules for one day, but since the game was released already at Osaka Game Market and there was an interesting article from Sugoroku, we know a little bit more about it.

Rule of Magic is a game for 3-6 players in which the players place tokens with a certain number and color on the seven spaces on the board and try to have certain cards in hand similar to poker to gain points.

The interesting aspect is however that rules can be proposed freely, as in every player has a sheet of paper and can write down a rule they would like to play with. Then there is a vote and if the rule reaches a certain number of points it will be integrated into the game.

Rules like “50 points for each red token on the board”, or “The player with the longest facial hair gets 1000 points” could be proposed and then voted on.


Run Metro! by Gemini Games is a tile laying game for 2-4 players. Each player starts the game with 1 tile in hand and each turn draws one tile and may play one tile which has to connect to one tile already in play.

When a station was formed at both ends of the same color line, the player completes a route section and scores points. The score is the sum of the numbers written at the station at both ends multiplied by the number of ○ in the route.

There are also landmark tiles which score points the moment they are placed. It is possible to play both tiles in hand at once thus finishing maybe a station before another player. The player with the most points wins the game.


Let’s finish this roundup with a game that comes with English rules and has just gotten a BGG treatment: Salmon Run

In  Salmon Run, players want to move their salmon upstream as far as possible to lay eggs.

At the start of the round, players take turns laying down cards face down one at a time in a pyramid shape until each player has placed three cards. Then players take turns placing their salmon on a card in the first row.

Players then take turns in an action phase in which they optionally swim their salmon to a new location, jumping occupied spaces and revealing the card where they land, if it were hidden. Land on a bear and you’re out for the round unless you can counter with a bear from your hand. After moving, you can either place a card from your hand face down to add to the river or pass. Once all players pass in turn, the round ends and players then collect ikura tokens equal to their rank in the pyramid.


Stay tuned for one more games round-up before Game Market starts in one week. In the next round-up we will talk about the usual suspects like Oink Games, Okazu Brand and Manifest Destiny who all have new games to show at TGM.

If you have not already please fill out the survey to help us decide which games to bring back!

Scouting for games at Göttinger Spieleautorentreffen

Ah yes, Göttingen.

When I think of Göttingen, I think of the many bicycles at the train station, the beautiful medieval cobblestone streets, my friends who lived there, and a meticulously crafted ‘hobo on a train’ simulation.

Wait – what?

Each year board game authors and publishers meet in the lovely German town of Göttingen to test board games prototypes. The Göttinger Spieleautorentreffen was initiated by Reinhold and Karin Wittig in 1983, and is the oldest and biggest game author’s fair in Germany.

I recently returned to Göttingen in the quest to find new exciting games to publish. We have been doing this scouting work for many years for our partners at Korea Boardgames, but since founding Sweet Lemon back in 2016 we are naturally also looking  for tabletop gold which doesn’t quite fit traditional publishing.™

When scouting new games for a publisher, there are always guidelines and restrictions based on the company’s market and the style of games that bring them success. Generally, if a publisher passes on a game, that doesn’t mean they didn’t like the game. It just isn’t a good fit with their company at the moment.

For example, Korea Boardgames is the biggest distributor for board games in Asia and has published its own games for many years.

While KBG distributes a wide array of different styles of games for families as well as hardcore gamers, when it comes to publishing they’re looking for family games which can be played in under an hour and are fun for children (age 8+) and adults alike. There are many authors presenting games of that segment in Göttingen, so naturally it is an important event for us and we visit every year.

Four years ago, I visited for the first time and back then my colleague Simon wrote an article about the experience scouting for games:

This kind of work will always be taxing. Sometimes it is hard to judge games: Maybe it is fun but… is it -original? -marketable? -fitting your company lineup? Maybe it is not a lot of fun but you can see it could be?

 

Sometimes it is hard to communicate one’s (negative?) opinion to an enthusiastic author. Maybe you feel that the author is missing some elementary flaw in his game: Should you try to help out?

This still is true and will always be true. There are people who put blood, sweat and tears into a project and as a scout you only have the chance to snatch a glimpse of that before moving to the next table, always looking for the perfect fit for your company.  For example, we found a cute dexterity game with launchers and cups several years ago in Göttingen which later became our very successful Coconuts.

Each year we see a lot of promising games that get published some time down the road and this year was no exception. From the quirky designs of Florian Racky to the fun city building games of Filip Miłuński, I played several very cool prototypes and look forward to their proper publication.

Even if it often does not seem like it when testing: I enjoy playing board games 🙂

Last year, around 220 authors presented their games to scouts from 40 different publishing companies. Last weekend, the fair got even bigger and I can imagine it will be even bigger next year – because tabletop games are up and coming.

If you’re an aspiring game author or a publisher in or around Germany, it’s a fair you can not miss. The first day is for authors and publishers, while the second day is also open to the public (although limited to four hours).

What’s the most creative prototype you’ve ever seen? Comment below with your ‘hobo on a train’ simulation!

UK Games Expo 2017

I’ve just returned from my first trip to UK Games Expo. If you’ve never heard of it before, this year it became the 3rd biggest board game fair in the world (only exceeded by Gencon and Essen – though Origins may claim its 3rd place back next week).

Regardless, it will remain the biggest board game fair in the UK. If you are in the United Kingdom, you should go!

All the big and small publishers from the UK were there, as well as many smaller publishers I’ve never seen in Essen before. That doesn’t mean it’s a UK-only event. Queen Games, Pegasus Spiele, Asmodee (through Esdevium), Devir, Board & Dice, ArtipiaNSKN Games and more all had booths.

On my first day I also met our friends from Smiling Monster Games who presented their games CABO and Mission: Combat and also sold their Swan Panasia sleeves to the masses.

Though UK Games Expo is an excellent event to play and test games, it is even excellent-er to buy games and accessories to games.

Not only are there retailer stalls on every corner giving you the best prices on the hotness, there’s also a bring-and-buy area where you can register your old games. They provide you with a price label, so you can drop it off at the booth – giving you back more money to put into new games at the show.

Plus, if you don’t want run around with bags full of games, you can even store them at the Shop & Drop for 2 pounds.

There were also some really interesting seminars by Ian Livingstone and Cartamundi, and of course the guys from Shut Up & Sit Down recorded live podcasts each evening.

But let’s get to the games, right?

Since I was mainly there to to playtest new designs, I didn’t have the chance to play all the new hotness, but here’s my list of games that interested me at UK Games Expo 2017:

Zombies, Run! The Board Game

Although not yet released, the publisher was showing a pre-production copy and I was able to play the tutorial mission.

Zombies, Run! The Board Game is a real-time card game featuring an app which gives audio story and puzzles to solve. As the title suggests, the players are in the zombie apocalypse and have to run so that the zombies don’t kill them.

Along the way, they can rescue other people and solve puzzles. The app notices what you choose and changes the story accordingly. The card play itself is basically color and icon matching, but under a lot of time pressure which makes it nerve-wracking.

I rather enjoyed the tutorial and am curious to see more of this game.

Anything Osprey

I fell in love with Osprey Games at the fair.

Despite only playing The Lost Expedition and Odin’s Ravens – which I absolutely loved! – I can also imagine loving their other games. I already like Shahrazad (which I played as Tarot Storia before), but also Agamemnon and Escape from Coldlitz looked rock solid.

There’s something about their graphic design which lets me gravitates towards them. After this show, I am definitely  curious about everything Osprey puts out.

I’m an Osprey fanboy now!

 Lightseekers

Although a game I would personally never play, Lightseekers nevertheless stood out by virtue of the sheer amount of stuff presented. I’m pretty sure it will be a hit for the publisher (Asmodee, of course).

It’s a collectible figure/app/trading card game taking more than a few cues from Blizzard’s graphic style, especially Hearthstone. I played one of the app minigames in which you used a figure’s gyroscope to fly through a course and collect coins… it was rubbish, but just one of the gajillion uses.

There’ also a (free) WoW style app in which you can use the figures to equip your heroes and use the trading cards to equip even more. On top of that, you could play the TCG by itself if you’re feeling traditional.

Blank: The Card Game

Another game riding the legacy hype train, this time using UNO.

Blank: The Card Game from The Creativity Hub is basically UNO Legacy. After each game, you can write on a card and change the rules of the game. So simple… but could be fun with the right group of people.

Apart from that, I pretty much playtested the day away at the Playtest UK booth – shoutout to Rob Harris for organizing this! I played many cool, new and interesting games, and hope they get picked up by a publisher at some point.

The atmosphere at the playtest was  amazing, with everybody supporting  each other and the tables always full with people wanting to test the  hotness of tomorrow. Maybe someday, someone will organize something like this for Essen? The author’s booths in Essen are a bit neglected…

So that was my first visit to UK Games Expo. If, like me, you’ve been to Essen many times, and are considering the trip to Birmingham, here is a short comparison of the two events:

Size

There are no two ways about it – Essen is much much bigger than UK Games Expo, with all the advantages and disadvantages that come with size.

It would be impossible to check out Essen in one day, but if you know what you want it would be possible (although difficult) to do so at UK Games Expo. On the other hand, many publishers don’t have a booth at UK Games Expo (yet), which means Essen is still more international.

Gaming

I’ll give the nod to UK Games Expo here.

There is a huge open gaming area with a huge library of games. While you could play all the new hotness at the publisher booths in Essen, they are often crowded.

Buying

While the flea market/bring and buy is a great idea for a wide array of games, fewer publishers means also fewer new games available to buy.

Especially for geeks interested in more obscure games, you have to go to Essen, because many publishers won’t go anywhere else. On the other hand, the retailer-to-publisher ratio is better at UK Games Expo, and there were many bargains to be had for older games at the stalls.

Food

Let’s talk about food.

UK Games Expo, please invite some food stands, because everything at NEC sucks big time. I think I gained a few kilos because of all the chips and burgers.

While the food at Essen is not amazing, it offers a good variety of different styles.

If I had to choose between the two, I would still go to Essen, but nevertheless I enjoyed my visit at UK Games Expo tremendously and hope to visit again soon.

Were you there? Let us know your favorite new games!