So this is the third installment to look at some games from lesser known publishers.
I am grouping together some game publishers from Japan here and a a special shout out to the BGGer's in Japan currently-I hope the situations improves and that they are all ok!
The first Japanese game I picked up was Mermaid Rain. The game rules even come with it's own manga. In Mermaid Rain, everyone gets to be a mermaid looking for the long lost prince who has been captured by the evil sea witch. Gotta love the theme! The game mechanics involved forming melds with cards and poker-like scoring to gain some special pawn movement and determine player order. You must also use cards to surf the waves or move move across the board. You pick up treasures on the islands to pay tribute to the sea witch and free the prince. This game was finally picked up for republication by Z Man and will be reprinted this year.
The next year I picked up Fairy Tale released together with other small games from Japon Brand at Essen. As a former MtG player I was intrigued by the card art and the drafting mechanic. This is a great filler and our group still plays it pretty regularly as such.
Traders of Osaka I picked up a few years later and this is still one of my all time favorites. It's a nice compact game where the cards have multiple uses as currency, goods, and VP. The mechanics are pretty simple but getting the timing right is the hard part.
R-Eco saw a Japanese reprint around this time and so I got this one as well. This game is a bit more on the chaotic side but still pretty interesting to play.
Tekeli-li is a Cthulu themed trick-taking game in which you try and avoid the most insanity points of course! Here's an old session report of mine on Tekeli-li Mountain Madness. Japon Brand has released
several other small games since then but these have been the most popular in my game group.
This past year they had the unique String Railway which I really admire for its innovation. Train game with string, who would have thought? The game is pretty easy. You draw a station card and use your string as track to connect stations.
RRR is a nifty little 2 player filler where each player plays tiles with different abilities in trying to get majority of the tiles on the board
Takamagahara has released some great games. Kaigan, or Inotaizu, is my favorite game from this publisher and designer, Kenichi Tanabe. I was really impressed by the card play in this game. People have compared it a bit to Coloretto in that you play a card and may choose a set of cards. The difference here is that you are choosing a set of cards to use to perform a set of actions trying to complete a survey of the Japanese coast. It makes the decisions much tougher! This game is the lynch pin of a new US company Ascora Games.
In addition I have enjoyed The major four of Heizei a nice card game with set collecting and kind of a stock market mechanism.
Deeku has a more unusual theme of castle building in Japan. It has a very Euro feel to it but not quite as fresh as the other games.
Make You Gunfighters by Bouken is a silly light hearted game. It's the game that replaced BANG! quite readily.
I have picked up a few games from Korea as well. They have had a pretty big presence at Essen the last few years. Lectio which has nice mahjong like tiles is a climbing trick taking game.
Gemblo is a puzzle type game which will take up to 6 players.
Just recently I tried Cat & Fish a cute collecting game. I am going to get some Hello Kitty bits to spruce it up!