All posts by Sweet Lemon Publishing

What's a sweet lemon? Good games that don't quite fit the criteria for conventional publishing. We run NiceGameShop and publish Terrible Monster.

Global Boardgame News (April 24)

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.

Tokyo Game Market is just around the corner. If you take a look at the official website where publishers announce their releases, you can see a massive amount of new games will be sold at the show.

The only other way to discover new titles is to follow the publishers’ Twitter accounts, where information is usually spread before anywhere else in the Japanese board game scene.

So the last few weeks we’ve been scouting both sources looking for new and interesting games to test and bring back to NiceGameShop in Germany.

We also made this survey for your input about which games should be a priority. Fill out the survey for your chance to win 50€ NiceGameShop store credit to use on all the hot new releases!

In the next few articles we’ll give you brief overviews of the new titles to make your decision a little easier – so let’s get started…

Tokyo Game Market has an abundance of games with cute artwork and unusual components, often handmade by the publisher and sold in very limited quantities.

The publisher Proto Craft showed Koroura last year, a abstract game in which you put dice in cute little tanks.

Now they’re following up with Access Magma, another abstract in which you fight with cute devils on lava tiles.

As the game was only announced on Twitter we don’t have any information on the rules yet.


In exciting news, Taiwanese publishers Shepherd Kit and The Wood Games are teaming up for TGM, and will be exhibiting together as Wood & Shepherd.

Shepherd Kit are releasing Adventurer’s Kit: Expedition, a treasure collecting card game and Paleolithic, being released at the same time with 2 separate expansions, Paleolithic: Dawn of Humanity and Paleolithic: Seafarers.

In Paleolithic:

Players act as elders from local tribes. The goal is to form a unique civilization through migration, resource gathering and tribal establishment. Bring along your tribal fellows and animal companions, and claim your land from the primal island of Formosa to become the great elder! [BGG]

Wood Games have two new editions of games already released in Europe: Emporion (previously released by Mont Taber) and Matryoshka (originally published by White Goblin Games in 2016). Both feature new artwork and come with Japanese and Chinese instructions, but are language independent and English rules are available online.

It’s interesting to see a Taiwanese publisher introducing locally unknown western games to their markets.


A similar case is Alpenzian, which will be released at TGM by Fukuroudou:

Alpenzian is a reimplementation of the game Sunflower Valley, with this re-design originating from the Japanese publisher’s discussions with designer Wouter van Strien. In addition to changes in the components, such as an original die with icons and different player sheets with new patterns to allow players to adjust the balance of the game, the gameplay has changed, with updated scoring rules and added variant rules for solitaire play. [BGG]


Game Market is always a fountain of quirky themes and unusual ideas. From the ubiquitous cat games to titles about managing hotel guests, nothing is too quirky.

I can not live by myself is a publisher who always has remarkable themes. After helping a Mayfly find a partner, blossoming a dandelion on a solitary island and hiding insects and moles in the soil, they are back with a game about Beluga whales.

Specifically one mother Beluga whale looking for her daughter:

You play as a mother beluga whale whose echo location system isn’t working properly, which is a problem as your daughter is lost and you want to reunite with her.

The game is divided into two halves: “Journey” and “Reunion”. In “Journey”, players collect ice cards that contain clues to the daughter’s location while trying not to be found by their natural enemy, the polar bear. [BGG]


Game Nowa is the publishing studio of designer Kenichi Kabuki, who has two new games in store for Tokyo Game Market.

Animals is a simple hand management game in which players try to get rid of their hand in order to score the cards remaining in the other players’ hands. Sengoku Domino mixes traditional dominoes with war games, so players struggle to take control in areas of the game board by strategically placing dominoes.


Blade Rondo is the new offering by Domina Games, and it features their distinctive art style. The game design and storytelling is by Pawn, known for such great solo play games like Shephy, Karen and the Pirate Island and Goritaire.

Blade Rondo is a card drafting game for 1-2 players in which the players draft just 7 cards each and battle each other. The solo version pits the players against folklorish creatures.


Ever thought about mixing the classic, beloved Settlers of Catan with poop? Well, Crap Games(!) did exactly that and will be selling Catain: The Most Longest Unco at TGM.

I’ll let the Google translation speak for itself:

Throw dice and collect hoods, make the longest feces and win people who could excrete safely!
Whether to stare on the path, disturb the opponent, reversal one shot or not, this feeling is boring!
Aim for an ass hole, Let’s More! [TGM Website]


Dyed-in-the-wool publisher Kenichi Tanabe will release two new designs with his studio Colon Arc.

Cinderella Magic,  co-designed with Peke of Takamagahara fame, is a fascinating deduction game I had the chance to play as a prototype last year.

Each player tries to help Cinderella attend the ball, but there needs to be all six different items present. These items are cards each player has in hand, and can be played either face down without effect or face up to trigger a special to help to deduce which items were already played.

On their turn, a player can instead announce they are going to ball and other players can decide whether to follow and then all cards are flipped.

If all six items were present, the players who went to the ball get a crystal slipper, while the players who passed get none; vice-versa if not all six items were present. The game ends when the glass slipper deck is emptied, and the players tally up their points.

The other game is another co-design but with Torjo Hojo, known for the Age of… series and Colony. From Batavia is a bigger design in which players:

Take simultaneous actions during each phase. Firstly, players choose a Cargo card face-down from their hand and reveal them together. Players pay the cost by discarding cards from their hand, but these discards go to their left neighbor.
The Cargo cards are placed onto their Ship cards to generate profits. When the values of the Cargos matches the Ship’ s total, the Ship is full and the player takes a new Ship card.
The first player to complete their third Ship is the biggest merchant and wins! [English Rules]


Analog Lunchbox made a name for themselves in 2017 with Lagerstätten, a worker placement game about excavating dinosaur fossils. They followed up with the beautiful Botanical Lab and will be showing two new games at TGM: Coffee House and the unusually colorful Passtally.

In Coffee House, 2-4 players are newspaper publishers meeting different people in late 17th century coffee house in London to gather news and gossip. Players try to manipulate the interests of the public, increase the value of the newspaper by acquiring expertise, and earn the most fame.

Passtally is a different beast altogether. In this abstract game, players move their pieces along an outside board, while laying connecting tiles across the interior in an attempt to create routes – all with a beautiful, minimalist aesthetic.


Dice Wide Shut by March Hare Games gained already a cult following prior to it’s release, mainly because of the quirky artwork on the cover. It’s:

A roll-and-write game that includes erasable markers and game boards. Try to fill the columns with checkmarks to score without bursting any rows! [BGG]


Let’s wrap this overview of new titles up with JUGAME Studio. We recently interviewed the team for NiceGameHub, when they unveiled two new releases.

Grand Opening!! Gourmet Town:

Is a game of producing successful eateries by seeking out the best locations and times for openings. ‘World Cuisine’, ‘Sweets’, ‘Drinks’, and ‘Japanese Food’ are the 4 Genres to produce… Trends fluctuate constantly, with every eatery that opens in town, so choosing the right moment is vital for success.

And Kamakura Collection:

Is a board game where players use 2 player pieces each to sightsee and experience as many attractions in the town of Kamakura by attaining Coins through visiting various sites and collecting travel memories. Certain sites and attractions may be overcrowded at times due to its popularity so seeking out the best time to visit becomes important in optimizing the experience.


We’ll soon be back again with even more new releases from the Tokyo Game Market. If you’re attending, we’d love to meet you there.

Oh, and don’t forget to fill out the survey for your chance to win 50€ NiceGameShop store credit!

Other links from around the world:

  • Our friends from Korea Boardgames are continuing their Kickstarter campaign for The Bark Side, a doggy trick-taker about avoiding the last trick. You can post your dog picture on Facebook or Twitter to win a copy of the game. And you can share the linked post on Facebook and Twitter to unlock the very cool dog meeple!
  • Law of the Forest by Strategic Game Society is now on Kickstarter – worth a look for anyone interested in Hong Kong and its wildlife! 

Global Boardgame News (April 3)

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.

There’s a lot to talk about in this edition: Osaka Game Market took place on April 1st (and didn’t fool around with new releases), we attended two fairs in Germany, and Kickstarter exploded with campaigns for global game lovers.

In terms of publisher attendance and new game releases, Game Market is the biggest tabletop fair in Asia, with three events in Japan each year. We regularly attend the two in Tokyo (so-called Spring and Autumn editions, in May and December) and will return in just a few weeks.

Then there’s the Kansai Game Market, which is smaller and held either in Kobe or in Osaka and before Tokyo Game Market Spring. This time it took place just a month before the Tokyo event, on April 1st.

In December, 2017, 730 publishers launched 466 new games at Tokyo Game Market, but there were still many new games ready for for release at Osaka Game Market.

Let’s take a look…

The hottest new release was Zogen by Oink Games, who these days are the most famous publishers in Japan, if not across Asia. Zogen is a reaction game for 2-6 players by Christoph Cantzler and Anja Wrede.

As the game description on Board Game Geek says:

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.

 

In more detail, each player starts with a hand of sixteen cards, with each card showing 0-4 types of microorganisms, which are named “Maru”, “Tsuki”, “Yama”, and “Siri”. The start player for the round places one of their cards face up on the table, then everyone plays at once, trying to lay down a card that differs from the initial card by exactly one microorganism, whether one more or one less.

 

Oink Games have been very successful and have quite a distinctive style. Maybe that is the reason so many companies try to copy them.

You probably heard of the accusation that WereWords copied Insider, and maybe you even saw the ridiculous copycat of Deep Sea Adventure at Kickstarter… and now there’s a new one released at Osaka Game Market.

A Genius Forger goes to New York has pens, paper and a similar art style in this drawing party game by Makoto Nakamura.

The rules, however, are quite different to the bestselling game from Oink. There isn’t much info on the web, but we could gather that you have to copy the drawing style of another player in order to win.

So it definitely isn’t a copycat. And, although we haven’t played the game, the price tag of only 500 yen (~4€) certainly wouldn’t stop us from buying it blind!

Hell Village is Group SNE‘s thematic follow-up to Demon Worker, although in this case the rules are not related.

Annecto Punch was previewed by Grandoor Games, the publisher behind Captain Dice and Wing Spirits. Their new title seems to be similar in terms of quirkiness, and definitely has the most fist bumps in any game I have seen yet.

It also seems highly language dependent.

Let’s wait and see if the final release comes with English in the box…

As it is the trend these days, itten also showed a giant version of Tokyo Highway. With streets big enough to knock someone unconscious I guess we won’t see a widespread release but it is cool to look at nevertheless.

In other Game Market news, Bruno Faidutti gave a panel talk with Hisashi Hayashi and Seiji Kanai. It was also revealed that One Draw’s classic Greedy Kingdoms will be released by AEG (this edition has Bruno Faidutti in the credits).

See this post for Bruno’s perspective on Osaka Game Market.

Speaking of Bruno Faidutti we also came across this very cool cover for the Iranian edition of Citadels which we had to share (by Hassan Nozadian):

MetroX, the new game Hisashi Hayashi and Okazu Brand sold out at Osaka Game Market. Good thing it’ll soon arrive at NiceGameShop (among other titles we mentioned here).

In this draw-and-write design:

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!

Okazu Brand also just announced their new release for the imminent Tokyo Game Market(!).

In Stock hold’em (ストックホールデム), 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.

While the Nice Game team couldn’t attend Osaka Game Market, we did attend two local fairs in Germany: Spieletage in Ratingen and Spiel Doch! In Duisburg.

It was a pleasure bringing our games, Korea Boardgames and the NiceGameShop to both those fairs and meeting all you lovely people.

The next conventions we’ll be visiting are in May: Tokyo Game Market, Board Game Festa in Seoul and the inaugural Moonlight Boardgame Festival in Kaohsioung.

We’ll definitely have a lot to talk about after these fairs!

Other links from around the world:

Global Boardgame News (March 5)

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.

Last week the Festival International des Jeux ended in Cannes, France with several interesting titles revealed here. JP game lovers in particular will rejoice over the handful of titles with Tokyo Game Market DNA that made their way to Europe.

Let’s kick off the news with Kimono, Superlude’s new edition of Colors of Kasane. Kimono is a card game in which players try to create the most beautiful kimono possible using the cards in their hands.

The game comes with real buttons and is just gorgeous to look at.

Meanwhile, Iello had three games from Game Market in their program.

We covered The Legend of the Cherry Tree that Blossoms Every Ten Years and Nessos in our previous article, when they were shown at Nuremberg Toy Fair.

The new addition was Les Forets Legendaire, a new version of 8bitMockup by Toshiki Sato – winner of the “Best Game” award at Tokyo Game Market in December last year.

Last but not least, the expansion for Paper Tales was unveiled in Cannes.

Paper Tales: Beyond the Gates adds new buildings and units and components to play all by yourself or with up to 7 players.

While we and our colleagues from Korea Boardgames were in Cannes hunting for new tabletop treasure, we also showed our upcoming trick taking game The Bark Side to Eric Martin.

They shot an overview video which will go live shortly – until then you can check out these glimpses on social media.

The Bark Side will go live on Kickstarter in April, and will be released at Essen SPIEL 2018.

The next convention of interest is the Game Market in Osaka on 1st April.

There have already been some announcements regarding that show….

Hisashi Hayashi will reveal his new title Metro: Tokyo & Osaka. We don’t know anything yet except for the cover art:

Takamagahara announced their new game Buzzzter, which will also premier at Osaka Game Market. This new title is once again designed and illustrated by Peke, featuring her distinctive style.

Other interesting announcements include Jack Times Beanstalk and Liquer: The Game featuring some very classic cocktails.

In late breaking news, we had to share the amazing (and delicious) components in an upcoming title from Big Fun Games. Stay Real: Just Waffle? A slogan we can all get behind!

The next shows we will be attending are Spiel Doch in Duisburg and Spieltage in Ratingen.

We’ll bring NiceGameShop for you to browse and buy. Please come by and say hello if you’re in the area! 

In other links:

  • Dojo-management sim Master of Respect by Hobby Japan is live on Kickstarter. This is actually an older game released at Tokyo Game Market 2016.
  • Another Kickstarter worth mentioning is Dream Catchers by Singapore-based Play Nation Studio. This was available in very limited quantities at Essen 2017, and people who bought this version will have the chance to purchase just the (extremely cute) minis expansion.

Interview: Hachioji Board Game Club

Global Boardgame News (February 10)

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.

The last few weeks were mostly focused on the International Toy Fair. So grab a bratwurst and throw on some lederhosen, because we’re going to Nuremberg!

At Sweet Lemon Publishing, we were happy to reunite with our friends from Korea Boardgames, who brought a booth for the first time.

Most of their wheeling and dealing involved their Essen 2017 releases. However, there was one new title for Eric Martin to scope out

We’re helping Korea Boardgames bring their first game to Kickstarter in the near future. Stay tuned for The Bark Side!

Elsewhere, most of the publishers were based in Europe, but there were outliers. It was particularly interesting to see Tokyo Game Market make its presence felt.

Those who missed it at NiceGameShop will be happy to hear Queen Games is releasing King of Frontier (scoop)!

Hobby Japan are releasing a new version of dojo-simulator Master of Respect.

American publishers Deepwater Games will be releasing Round House and Sorceror & Stones from EmperorS4 after their initial campaign to launch Herbalism and other small-box titles.

Bakudan Takarabako “Bomb & Treasures” is being released by IELLO with a new (Greek) theme and a new name: Nessos. They will also be releasing The Legend of the Cherry Tree that Blossoms Every Ten Years which updates Hitohira, another treasure from Tokyo Game Market.

From Russia, GaGa Games brought Lords of the Fjords – a strategy game with a viking theme (and lots of cubes).

Moscow’s Hobby World unveiled the latest expansion to Viceroy. Times of Darkness adds ‘fastidious aristocrats and shady underworld figures’ to spice up your games.

Hedgehog Roll by Lifestyle is a charming ‘roll and move’ game in which you roll a sticky velcro ball to collect forest goodies. Use the goodies to move your hedgehog on the board to escape the fox. It’s aimed at children (obviously), but can be also quite challenging for adults and can be played either cooperatively or competitively.

Do You Gnome Me? is a memory game that challenges players to rebuild a gnome’s features after seeing them for just a second.

Sort of like police sketches after a very small crime…

Dawn Under is a reprint of a Zoch Game from 2004 which was on the Spiel Des Jahres recommendation list. While out of print in Germany it held its popularity in Russia and Lifestyle are bringing it out again with updated artwork.

Also from Lifestyle, Finding Nessie is in the same vein as Lifestyle’s Macroscope from 2016. It challenges players to lift tiles and collect all 6 parts of the legendary Scottish beastie.

Keeping things watery, the final Lifestyle title is Aqualiens. In this speed game, players flip over a card revealing how many extremities their alien needs. Then it’s a race to collect the right transparent cards to match.

In other links: