Since a few years the presence of Asian publishers at the convention in Essen is growing. The Korean Pavilion has been well established by now, Japon Brand is a veritable legend already (I reported on it here [link in German]) and Taiwan Boardgame Design (TBD) has also blown up in recent years. A ton of smaller publishers gather at the three booths, who probably wouldn’t be able to sustain a presence in Essen otherwise. At least Japon Brand and TBD each have their own central preordering system and are helping the smaller publishers with public awareness (apparently its similar with the Korean booth, but I’m honestly not that familiar with them). Off and on one of those publishers gets big enough to become independent, figuratively speaking, as is the case with, for example, EmperorS4 from Taiwan, who will be having their own booth this year. So it seems that the collective booths as a steppingstone for further presence on the European market have paid off.
The Logo of the APIBGI. See the note at the end of this article.
This year, there’s another country that wishes to tread this path, and it is Indonesia. The procedure there was partially comparable to the other Asian countries, it does include some new characteristics though. 2014 was apparently the first time that an Indonesian publisher was present in Essen, and it downright led to a boom, a country wide number of events, where about 300 authors participated and finally released four games, published by one of the biggest media companies in Indonesia. Other submitted games also found publishers, or the authors published them themselves.
Last year another small Indonesian booth was there, all the way in the back of Hall 8. I was able to play a prototype there which constituted one of the highlights of the convention for me, and so I tried to find out again and again whether it had been published or not (so far it hasn’t). The two publishers that were present there sent a report to the Indonesian creative economy agency (BEKRAF) and founded the Indonesian board game union (APIBGI). The BEKRAF has now financed a massive booth for APIBGI, an impressive 66 square meters in Hall 3.
There was a kind of submission contest for it, in which 46 games took part. Of those, 24 were chosen that will now be presented in Essen in multiple variants. 12 games have already been released, you’ll also be able to buy those in Essen. The other 12 are finished prototypes, that can be played and whose authors are also hoping for contacts to publishers abroad. 8 games will be spotlighted specifically, those are basically the main winners of the selection process, those are four published games and four unpublished ones.
I quickly want to introduce the games that are already available for purchase here. Given the amount of what is being offered I’ll be brief – in the end you guys need to have something to discover for yourself as well.
In Acaraki: The Java Herbalist the players are in a competition to find out who can deal with herbs the best. They gather herbs and try to heal the sick village population with them. When a village is completely healed, the person that was able to heal the most people will become the chief herb person. Acaraki was made by Erwin Skripsiadi and has been published by Hompimpa Games (€20)
Aquatico is the only one on offer that I’ve already had a chance to play. Its about building an ecosystem consisting of various types of environments. You try to play more of the different types than the others to gain points. Sadly environmental pollution sometimes gets in the way – a leaking oil barrel and the whole landscape is counted as a zero. You’ll have to decide on a case to case basis, whether you play new cards or first try to repair the damages. Aquatico isn’t strictly speaking my kind of game, but it looks fantastic with the spectacular graphics by Rezza Rainaldy. The author is called Brendan Satria and the publisher is Manikmaya Games. (€24)
The Art of Batik comes from Adithya W. Purnama and has also been published by Hompimpa Games. The players assist the owner of a Batik workshop in her work and, of course, try to stand out. The Batik work is apparently done by multiple people together and you’re given points based on your contribution. (€22)
A student of mine once had a sadly wise answer to the question of when someone is poor: “You’re poor, if you have less than the neighbors.” In reverse, you might also be rich if you have more than the people around you. This is tested in Bluffing Billionaires by Darwin, Desyanto Lie, and Nata Chen (in self-publishing). The players are billionaires and want to show, that they’re the richest among the rich. To do so, they play one of their starting cards face down and try to guess who has played smaller cards than them. Whoever wins such a challenge gains a random card from the loser. Whoever is the richest in the end, wins. (€20)
The Festivals by Isa R. Akbar has also been published by Manikmaya. The players try to take part in several festivals on the different Indonesian isles. The one who reaches a certain festival first gains experience points, that are needed to win the game later on. It comes with fancy traveler meeples. (€24)
Flipeek: Medieval is a Memory-based game, in which you have to find objects to complete missions. In the solo variant, you have to fulfill as many missions as possible in five minutes (which is always a nice length for a game for me – even though I’m not really a solo player). The whole thing takes place with the background of a dispute between the Dragon King and the Human King. Flipeek: Medieval is made by Lovita Darwin and Febndy Kwik and is published by Coralis Entertainment. (€20)
Math Cat is a small card game, in which you want to adopt cute cats. But first you’ll need to gain their trust, and to do so you’ll need to do math. The cats have numbers and you have to make a calculation with the displayed cards, which has to result in the number of the cat. The player who adopted the most cats in the end wins. Math Cat comes from Senno Adi and Ergiena Tria Siani; it has been released by Hompimpa Games. (€10)
Oktet is apparently a weird party game for 3 to 9 people. I couldn’t find out more so far – except, that it was made by Elbert Santosa and Sammael Candra Setiawan and is published by Morfosic Studios. (€10)
In Orang Rimba – The Forest Keeper the players have to protect the jungle from destruction through unscrupulous over-exploitation. Sadly I don’t know much more than that about the game. It was developed by Anggreini Pratiwi and Alvian CB. It has been published by Hompimpa Games. (€46)
You don’t have to have studied Indonesian to see an interaction between the title Roket Raket and the words Rocket and Racket – in fact, it is about badminton rackets. Roket Raket is indeed a Badminton-Simulation. We’ll have to see how big the market for something like it is. The game comes in a small card game box, guess it makes sense to give it a try then. It stems from Dio Al Sabah Akbar Zain, Kamal Ikmal, Ara Kurniawan and Brendan Satria and has been published by Manikmaya Games. (€10)
Senggal Senggol Gang Damai by Erwin Skripsiadi is a cooperative games, in which the peaceful coexistence of the various people in a street has to be secured. If there are problems anywhere, the players have to rush over to solve them. In the best case it works, in the worst case they make everything even worse and the problems escalate. Like Acaraki by the same author, the game has been released by Hompimpa Games. (€32)
Stockastic comes from the same team as Flipeek: Medieval and it is about the stock market. The players try to trade as successfully as possible on the market, but also want to make life difficult for the others. In advanced mode there are characters that come into play who try to influence the stock market with different abilities. (€30)
Alright, now you guys already have a first overview about what’s in store for you. Don’t forget, another whole 12 games will be presented, which you just can’t buy yet. There will surely be something exciting to find there – among other things they are about food, coffee, carnival and the travels of Ibn Battuta. At any rate, I’m hoping that there are gems hidden among the Indonesian games the same way that there are among the Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese games that can be found in Essen.
Note: I kind of just asked what the logo of the APIBGI represents. The answer was way more extensive than I expected, so I don’t want to keep it from you:
If you look closer to APIBGI’s logo it looks as if 4 people (indicated by those circles) holding hands and at the top lit/holding fire. API in Indonesian means fire, those 4 people holding hands represent the usual sight of people playing board game together in a table. The torch sized / relatively small fire (compared with the people in the logo) indicates warmth since we’re trying to bring the best thing in play culture to Indonesian people, especially to its families, through the board game. The position of fire looks like it’s being used like a torch to light the way, it indicates we’re trying to go nowhere but up, we are committed to grow the industry to always looking forward the great things and do good things especially to the industry itself. API, the fire, is the tools, the vehicle, the way to get to somewhere as it is shortened from Asosiasi Pegiat Industri which is translated as the association itself. BGI in the otherhand is the people, the passenger, the object being carried by the API, it is shortened from Board Game Indonesia (quite self explanatory)).
I think I should ask such questions more often.
All pictures © boardgame.id.