Tag Archives: Tokyo Game Market

From Essen SPIEL to Tokyo Game Market

As of this writing we have less than 4 weeks until the biggest board game fair in the world, Essen SPIEL, open it’s doors to the public. Also as of this writing the BGG preview list by Eric Martin for that event has more than 1000 games on it and new titles are still added daily and there are many more games releasing at Essen which will never have a listing as publishers don’t know about the list or don’t care.

Like for many other publishers Essen SPIEL is the most important fair of the year for the Nice Game team. We can present and sell our games to a gigantic audience and since ‘everyone’ is there we  arrange meetings for game submissions and distribution (Note: If you want to pitch a game idea to us or if your are interested in distributing one of our games please get in touch).

This year we are presenting 3 new games at our booth at 4-E103. We are selling Das Geheimnis der Tempel, which is the German version for Mystery of the temples, a compact strategy game with a innovative crystal grid mechanic.  Furthermore we are demoing two titles:

In Dragon Canyon players competing in reigning over the canyon by battling the opponents and racing to to claim the different buildings in this gorgeously illustrated and quick playing game.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage puts the player into the role of an ancient vampire building a bloodline through the centuries. In this quick-playing legacy card game players will experience a 700 year campaign, unlocking new challenges, characters, and rewards along the way. This game you can also play at Paradox booth 5-A104.

Apart from showing our own games Essen SPIEL is equally important for acquiring new games for our Nice Game Shop.  Since we are based close to Essen we can easily get new titles for our shop directly from the many publishers which are present.

But which games to choose? Obviously we are looking for obscure games published outside Europe or North America. But this is a broad term, the BGG preview list alone has over 120 titles which fit that criteria.

Let me show you some of the games that piqued our interest.

Eco-Links by our partners at Korea Boardgames is a frenetic tile laying game with great theme: restoring natural habitats of various animals and help them reconnect with their families. In the game you are making paths connecting all the animal markers as fast as possible, first player to do so takes the 1st token and flips the sand timer, now all other players have little time to finish. Depending on speed and if you build all paths correctly you score points.

Wangdo is the new game by Korean publisher Mandoo Games, who brought us Rising 5 last year.

In this East Asian themed game we play as anthromorphic bears trying to reign the lands by placing strategically steles on the board, thus securing items and dragon seals. Steles can only be placed adjacent to other steles, but have to have another color than neighboring steles. Then you pay steles equal to the steles surrounding you to the supply. If you manage to get 3 copies of the same item you get to draw one dragon seal card which can change the rules for you if played. The game ends when a player collects all the 4 different items 3 times, thus filling the player board. Theme and illustrations are top notch here and it is one of those games that is easy enough to play with casual gamers or with kids, but gives some tough decisions for the most hardcore gamer, too.

Mayfly is a cooperative game about a fly trying to find a partner. The game is seperated in two parts. First we feed the grub so that it grows into a big and healthy fly. Then, as a fly we have to overcome several obstacles like frogs and birds to find our partner. There are several different endings and the stories at the end of a game are just heart-melting.

Scientia is a game I have played three years ago as a rough prototype and I enjoyed my play of it a lot. The card turning mechanism felt very fresh at the time and the theme is still great. Now it has been illustrated by the magnificient Vincent Dutrait and got a lot more development so I am very excited to try it out. The game is sadly not for sale at Essen but you can test it at the Korean Pavilion.

Mizo/Teenage Riot has to be one of the publishers pushing the boundaries of board game theming the most these days. Last year they presented at Essen Raid on Taihoku, a coop game about the people living in the city during the bombings in WW2. Then they followed up with Zoo of Depression in which they players take the roles of animals native to Taiwan in their struggle for survival against all odds and the urbanization of the island.

Now they are bringing Dare to Love to Essen, which was crowdfunded very successfully in Taiwan earlier this year. Dare To Love is as far as I know the first game called LGBTQ friendly on the box. In this one vs. many game one player assumes the role of Asomrof who tries to stop or kill the lovers of the people he imprisoned. The other players acting as those lovers trying to stop Asomrof and free their friends.

The presentation is absolutely spectacular with a cardboard dicetower, transparent plastic standees and great artwork all around.

Eye my Favourite things is actually an older game now coming back in a new edition and seems to bring some innovation in the trick taking genre. Quoting from Board Game Geek:

Each player asks some topic of the next player, such as favorite movies, cartoons, animals, etc., and that neighboring player writes down their top five favorites on cards in sleeves. Behind these answers are hidden cards numbered from 1 to 5 and one non-favorite on a card numbered 0. These six cards are now your hand for playing tricks.

You don’t know what card answer corresponds to what rank number, so you have to guess the next player’s preferences and tendencies, and play one card based on your judgement of their tastes. Once cards are played to the trick, the hidden numbers are shown. Your neighbor’s preference rank is the card’s strength. Card 5 is highest, 0 is lowest, but if 5 and 0 appear in the same trick, 0 wins.

In short, understanding your neighbor is the key to winning the game.

Strange Vending Machine is flying a bit under the radar which is a shame because it is a game that many people will enjoy. Essentially it is a push-your-luck set-collection game in which you take cards you can only see one half of it and add them to your collection. According to the symbols you have gathered at the end of the game you will score points.

Now, the cool part is that the game comes with little cardboard vending machines in which you put little cardboard coins and then you get to draw a card. If you don’t have coins you could also take all coins out of one vending machine (ideally the one with the most coins in it) but beware of the false coins with which you can pay, but which are minus points at the end of the game.

Last but not least I would like to give a shoutout to APIBGI, the Indonesian association for board games which will have a big booth at Essen this year. They will bring a total of 24 games of which 12 are for sale. Some of them we could also try like Acaraki and The Festivals, and now we are very curious to see what new games are brought to the fair. Hilko wrote a nice overview article about the games which are for sale, which you can read here.

While Essen SPIEL is still on the horizon and we are still busy finishing up everything we want to show there, we already started the preparations for Tokyo Game Market, which will be taking place November 24-25 at Tokyo Big Sight.

Many publishers already announced their games on Twitter and we went ahead and created a Preview list on BGG with all the new important releases.

We will go into full TGM mode after Essen but already it is easy to say that especially the new Yokohama Duel by Okazu Brand will get a lot of attention. Also, there is a new Shun/Studio GG release called Mystery Homes and a new game by Ayatsurare Ningyoukan called Jumble Order which we are looking forward to. On the more quirky end of the spectrum there is Masala Magic which is a cross between Poker and Incense smelling (a la The Perfumer). The components just look insane especially considering the price of just 4000 yen. Then there is Mech Maker by Proto Craft, which is a crossover of mech dueling game and modeling kit.

Definitely a lot to look forward to at the next Game Market.

As already discussed in previous edition of the Global Boardgame News Iranian publisher Houpaa Games will be bringing Dej, the Persian edition of the classic Citadels, to Essen SPIEL.

This game will be exclusively available at our booth 4-E103 and if you want to make sure that you get a copy you can fill in the reservation form we have created. On Friday and Sunday at 1 PM there will be also the author Bruno Faidutti at our booth to sign the game.

We will also be bringing the whole Li He x Facio lineup to Essen. If you make a reservation here, we can add those sweet cat dice bags!

And that’s it for this edition of Global Boardgame News. If you are in Essen make sure to visit us. We will bring the whole Nice Game Shop. If you don’t come to Essen and like the look of the games here, then don’t worry as we will have all of them in the online shop after Essen.

Global Boardgame News (August 4)

We were at BerlinCon last month, which is on it’s way becoming one of the biggest board game events in Germany. Partly due to the fact that it is held the weekend before the Spiel des Jahres award ceremony, which traditionally takes place in Berlin and means that many publishers are in the city anyways. But also because the hosts of Hunter & Cron do an excellent job of making an enjoyable show for exhibitors and visitors alike. In fact, we were debuting our game Das Geheimnis Der Tempel and people liked it quite a bit. If you enjoy quick playing strategy games with gorgeous illustrations, it will be available at NiceGameShop soon 😉

We were busy demoing our games the whole weekend. Nevertheless we got around picking up a copy of Trick’n’Trouble by Frosted Games, which is the new edition of Fukudourou’s cooperative card game for exactly 3 players Familiar’s Trouble, and also get a sneak peek at A Pleasant Journey to Neko. This dice strategy design by Citie Lo and Wood Games will be coming out at Essen this year.

Of course there is Gen Con happening right now and this comes with many interesting game releases. You can read about the games we are most interested about in our last Global Boardgame News. There is however one game we did not talk about back then…

We’re making Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage, By Babis Giannios, in cooperation with the nice people at White Wolf Publishing!

It’s quite different from the games that we usually make or cover in these news but there is a thin thread connecting it to everything else we are doing: We first saw the original (unthemed) game by Babis Giannios when he submitted it to the Korea Boardgames Design Contest in 2014!

The elevator pitch is that it’s a quick-playing legacy game about vampires and history with an epic campaign and an innovative vampire turning mechanism. If that sounds like your cup of tea, find out more/subscribe to the newsletter at: vampire-heritage.com

Also at Gen Con you can buy two new titles by Oink Games, which were just announced last month: the trick taker Flotsam Fight (which is actually a new edition of Bye Bye Lemming) and the tongue-twisting party game TomaTomato. The velocity with which Oink is releasing new games is mind boggling. At this rate they will have a new game at Essen and then another one at the Game Market in November, if they want to release a game at every show they are attending.

Speaking of Essen SPIEL there are already some news coming in regarding that show.

Swan PanAsia showed some of the games they are planning or have already released until Essen on Facebook. Kittys and Talk’n Guess are new editions of games from Japanese publisher Little Future, but Island Project is an original design.

Due to global warming the world as we knew it was flooded. Scientist use underwater volcanos to create new land, but better don’t stand on the tile where the volcano errupts! In Island Project 2-4 players create new land and race to the highest peak to score points. The illustrations are by veteran artist Cyril Bouquet who did also the artwork for games like Kindomino and Okiya.

On their website they are also mentioning Xuanwu Gate Accident 2, but our understanding is that this is only a new edition of the older game with the same name.

The game agency Japon Brand just announced their lineup for Essen and will be bringing 17 titles to that show. Some of them are already available at NiceGameShop, like Monster Empire or Richest Rascal, which is the new edition’s name of Strongest Bully. Others are brand new releases debuting in Essen like analog lunchbox’s new Airship City and 2 new titles by Manifest Destiny. All around it is a good overview of Japanese designs of the last year and we are excited to have them at NiceGameShop and see if a publisher is picking them up for wider distribution in the West.

Two games for which that recently happened are passtally and King of Frontier.

passtally was released by analog lunchbox at the Tokyo Game Market in May this year and it was just announced that Pandasaurus will distribute this title next year in the US. It looks like theme, graphics and gameplay will stay the same from the rulebook which was uploaded.

King of Frontier on the other hand was changed drastically – at least judging by these graphics- and is more of a reimplementation now. The new game is called Skylands and Queen Games will be bringing it to Kickstarter on August 24th and then release the game at Essen SPIEL. Campaign mode certainly sounds interesting and the inevitable Queenies could give this title a lot of replayability in the years to come.

But there are games even further off than Essen and these are the new games for the Tokyo Game Market in November. Publishers are starting to announce their lineup for the show and posting pictures of prototypes on social media.

This is the list of new titles by Manifest Destiny at Game Market. Two of them (Forwarder of Xanadu and ハロウィンパーティー!(Halloween Party)) will already be shown at Essen and two more are reprints of older games (SimNovel and Alicematic). That still means that  there will be 5 new games at Game Market! It is interesting that there will be reprints of older titles, something that did not happen before with Manifest Destiny titles as far as we know. If a title was not picked up by a Western publisher, a sold out game was gone. Maybe that means that we will see other games getting reprinted in the future? Garden of Minions anyone?

This is one of two new games Okazu Brand will be selling at the next Game Market. This game has no name yet and is tile placement game in which the players build their cities simultaneously.

Crowdfunding links:

  • We are interested in boardgaming scenes from all over the world and that is why we are very interested in the crowdfunding project by Kenechukwu Ogbuagu at Indiegogo about opening the first board game café in Nigeria. It is amazing to see a board game scene develop from the ground up and that we all can contribute. The campaign is not merely a donation, instead as a reward you can choose from 14 different games designed in Nigeria. If you are at all interested in obscure board games you should take a look at the Indiegogo page.

 

  • Nunami is an interesting looking 2-player game which takes around 15 minutes and it is the first Inuit designed boardgame. Please check out Hilko’s article (link is in German), which has additional information on the game. It is still a bit off to the funding goal, but we hope that this will suceed. We are oddly drawn to the expensive “Visit the beautiful Ivujivik” pledge level. But with a price tag of 13000 CAD (+ travel to Canada) it is just a dream.

  • The Tales of Ki-Pataw or the (Google) translation of Chinese “Want to have a Capybara? Formosa Romance Tan: Fuxin Beitou” is a game by Soso Studio currently looking for funding at Taiwanese platform zeczec. It is a Gateway style strategy game for 2-4 players, taking 30-60 minutes to play. The real stars here are however the capybaras and the hot springs.  The player will play one of the characters, including a capybara, going to the 1937 New Beitou Hot Spring Township (which is a part of Taipei), while roaming, collecting energy materials and completing task. The game comes with English and Chinese rules and can be shipped overseas. The publisher told me that the game will be demoed at Essen.

That’s all for today. Please note that the Nice Game team will be on vacation until the end of the month, so please be patient with us if you place any orders at NiceGameShop or send any messages our way, as it might take longer than usual.

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!