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.
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.
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).
“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.