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!

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!

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! 

Introducing The Rondel

After 20 months with Sweet Lemon / Nice Game Publishing, our social media and website guy is moving on to some new projects – including an online marketplace for the tabletop industry. 

Nice Game Publishing is not affiliated with this site in any way. Still… best of luck, Ash! 


The Rondel is a new website for the tabletop industry. It allows illustrators, graphic designers, writers (and more) to create a free listing and get in touch with tabletop publishers.

As an online marketplace, creators set their own rates and accept or reject any offers from publishers. We handle the invoicing, payment and reviews (for both creators and publishers) to streamline the process for everyone.

We’ve only just moved into the soft launch, but you can already create a free account at this link.

You can also follow along via Twitter and Facebook.

FAQ

How much does it cost?

This question comes up a lot, so I try to stress it: The Rondel is free. Nobody will ever be charged for creating an account or making a listing (whether seeking or offering work).

So how does The Rondel make money?

Like most online marketplaces, The Rondel takes a 10% commission from successful sales – so if the publishers pays $100, the artist receives $90.

However, creators who sign up during the soft launch phase will receive three months of commission-free sales. This means The Rondel won’t take anything from your sales in this period.

But what if I make a big sale? 10% can add up…

At any point, creators can purchase a $20 monthly subscription that completely removes their commission fees. This effectively means The Rondel will never take more than $20 / month from creators – a pretty good deal, no?

Isn’t the site kind of small?

Correct! The Rondel has only just moved into soft launch. At the time of writing, there are 53 members.

You can check out the site at www.the-rondel.com.

Any questions, comments, suggestions? I’d love any and all feedback from artists, publishers, and anyone involved with board games. Just leave your thoughts below.

Thanks for taking a look!
Ash