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GAMA Trade Show 2019 Overview Videos: Pipeline, Sorcerer, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, and Dozens More

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Today I've been focusing on publishing game overview videos that we recorded during our GAMA Trade Show 2019 livestream.

We recorded continually for 2.5 days, and now we've chopped those streams into bite-sized pieces focusing on specific titles or groups of related games from a publisher. I published forty(!) new overview videos today on our BGG Express YouTube channel, and while I could include all forty clips below, I'll instead highlight only a handful of them, focusing on larger titles that will be released in mid-2019. GTS serves as a preview showcase for such games, putting them in front of retailer eyes since those individuals will be placing orders for them in the near future.

Here's some of what they (and we) saw:



























We now have more than seventy videos in our GTS 2019 playlist, with more than forty videos still to be published. I aim to get all of those out by the end of March 2019, the earliest that we will ever have published all the videos from GAMA Trade Show, FIJ in Cannes, and Spielwarenmesse in Nürnberg. Splitting all of the convention coverage videos into their own BGG Express channel has proven to be a great way to consolidate that material and get it live on both YouTube and BGG faster, so kudos to Scott and Lincoln for making it happen!
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Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:38 pm
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Osaka Game Market 2019: Report from Table Games in the World

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Editor's note: Game Market took place in Osaka on March 10, 2019, and Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated a report about this event that was written by Takuya Ono, who runs the Table Games in the World blog. Mr. Ono has given permission to reprint the photos from his post. Many thanks to Saigo! —WEM

On March 10 (Sun), Osaka Game Market 2019 was held at Intex Osaka in cold rainy weather. It was the eighth Game Market in the Kansai region since it started taking place there in 2012. With steady growth of the show, 395 booths exhibited in the hall covering an area of 6729 m², and the attendance was 6,900 according to the official announcement by the Game Market Management Office.




While the venue has become larger by 30%, long queues and congestion were still witnessed in front of popular booths.

Osaka's daytime temperature was approximately 14° C on this day. At Intex Osaka, the facilities other than the halls are located outside, so the outside air kept flowing in and brought chilliness into the hall. This chilliness must have been felt quite severely especially by the people who began queuing two hours before the opening to buy the limited copies of some board games. Nonetheless, as the crowd of people queuing surged in at the opening, I felt as if the temperature in the venue rose by 1-2° C.


I encountered a meeple cosplayer again this year


Mattel, a company that sells games such as Blokus and UNO throughout Japan, had their booth. It was their first time participating as an exhibitor in a Game Market, including both Tokyo and Osaka. Their main target is the mass market. A move by such a company to participate in Game Market suggests the growth of this event. Mattel says that their person in charge decided to participate after seeing a Tokyo Game Market in 2018. Many people stopped by their booth, and their games sold well.


Mattel booth


A sample of the Mobile Suit Gundam co-operative game, which has gathered many fans' attention, was on display prior to its release at the end of March 2019. The growth of the market opens the way to the release of licensed board games, which used to be quite difficult in the past.


Mobile Suit Gundam co-operative game


I would never have thought I could play a prototype of a game from overseas at Game Market, but even before the launching of the Kickstarter project to release Glen More II: Chronicles, its prototype was being displayed and demoed by Engames. Visitors could play the prototype with how-to-play instructions. Engames plans to release its Japanese edition jointly with the original publisher near the end of 2019.


Prototype of Glen More II: Chronicles


The number of newly-released board games from Japan at this year's Osaka Game Market was approximately 164 titles. If you add to this the number of board games from overseas, TRPG, TCG, escape game books, traditional games, and puzzle games, the number would easily exceed 200 titles.

Pentaland is a medium-weight board game produced by Neugier, a student group from Kyoto University. Select a cell from the pentagonal action space and perform the action using the workers indicated there. While you are required to collect resources and construct buildings, the limited workers and spaces to place the resources call for management skills. The effects of some buildings may help your management, while some may impose restrictions in exchange for high scoring points.


Pentagonal Pentaland


KOBE (from luck movies) is a game about making profits by loading various trading items onto your ships. You can make higher profits by collecting fewer types of items, so try to minimize the types of items you have through means such as adjusting your hand and buying items from other players. The rule that allows you to buy items from other players facilitates a tactical gameplay.


Language-independent KOBE with beautiful illustration


Fuji 99 (from sangenya) is a race game to descend to the 99th basement floor of Mt. Fuji by drawing cubes from your bag and advancing your player pieces. Depending on the color of the cubes you have drawn, you may use some cards' special abilities or you may end up overdrawing. The game comes with story books (with multiple endings), and only the winner can read a backstory explaining why they were heading to the basement floor of Mt. Fuji.


Fuji 99 with a bizarre mystery


Colorful Pyramid (from Kocchiya) is a card placement game to tap the stones forming your pyramid in order to acquire more stones and stack them by placing those with matching colors and values on top of each other. You may also use divine special abilities to handle trouble.


A placed stone must match the color or value of the two stones directly below


Mr. Face is a new game from Oink Games, which has regularly participated in Game Market with a block booth. It is a game of conveying the situation stated on the chosen card to other players by placing and arranging facial parts on a blank face, like Fukuwarai (or "Lucky Laugh", a traditional Japanese game played around the Lunar New Year).


Surprisingly expressive with so few parts


"TAGPLAN" is a tool to facilitate the counting of children's activities, such as homework and household chores, by weekly calendar and sticky notes.




Just before this Game Market, nine board game cafés in the local Kansai region announced the "Board Game Selection". New and recently-released games sent for the selection were played at these cafes, and the most recommendable and best games were announced.

The selected games, such as Era of Hunting, which received the Best Game Award, were on display along with the trophy and leaflets at the venue. I hope that this event will be held again next year.




Lastly, I would like to mention some notable accessories. Pieces that may be used for TRPG and board games (from Suekichi Koubou) were being displayed on the Agricola board.




These wood-burned tags have messages such as "I'm off to the loo", "You're welcome at this table", and "Help me reduce my unplayed games", and they would be useful for situations frequented at board game gatherings.




The next events will be Game Market 2019 Spring (May 25 [Sat] - 26 [Sun]), Game Market 2019 Autumn (November 23 [Sat] - 24 [Sun]), and Osaka Game Market 2020 (March 8 [Sun]).
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Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:39 pm
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FIJ 2019 II: Highlights from Cannes — Antoine Bauza, Tom Lehmann, Julien Delval, Claude Leroy, Namiji, Last Hope, Res Arcana, and Turbulences

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On our new BGG Express YouTube channel, a channel devoted to publication of lightly edited convention coverage videos, I pushed out thirty game overview videos yesterday, with nearly all of those videos highlighting a new or upcoming game that we saw at the Festival International des Jeux in Cannes in February 2019. So many videos!

We used to worry about flooding the regular BGG YouTube channel with these videos, overwhelming subscribers with dozens of links all at once, but that led to me spreading out their publication to such a degree that I'd still be publishing SPIEL videos in January of the following year. Now our goal is to publish quickly, link all of the videos to their respective game/designer/publisher page, then let people discover things as they will. You might not even be aware that such-and-such a game is due out in September 2019, but ideally once it does interest you, you'll find an overview video waiting for you.

That said, I will highlight a few of the new videos now residing in the FIJ 2019 playlist — which has 88 videos so far, with 22 more to go — starting with the recently announced Namiji from Antoine Bauza and Funforge.

Namiji features gameplay familiar to that in Tokaido: Players are traveling along a path that gives them the opportunity to stop and do something, and whoever is at the back of the pack takes the next turn. In that overarching description, the two games are identical. The details are what differ, though, and that's what Claude lays out in this overview video.

I'm sure that some people will say that they don't need more of the same, yet that's not usually an argument people make against something like Dominion, possibly because all of the sets have components that can be mixed together, making the boxed sets feel like one game sold in multiple packages, whereas this will be two separate games (similar to Ganz schön clever and Doppelt so clever, not to mention many Carcassonne titles).





• Bauza visited the BGG booth separately to talk a bit about Last Hope, the working title for a new edition of Ghost Stories coming from him and Repos Production. The prototype for this game was in about as basic a form as you could get — text on black and white cards — and Repos didn't want to show the game on camera, but the designer could talk about what's changing in the game, so he did. The game will have a medieval fantasy setting to differentiate it from the world of Ghost Stories, and the rules have been streamlined to remove multiple pages of details and exceptions that would trip up new players, ideally allowing you to focus solely on your impending defeat.





Tom Lehmann's Res Arcana from Sand Castle Games debuted at FIJ 2019 and has now been released in retail outlets in France, while the U.S. release should take place in March 2019. At FIJ 2019, Lehmann and publisher Cyrille Daujean played two rounds of the game with me on camera to highlight how it plays and emphasize how I will never defeat them in this game.

I had played Res Arcana twice in pre-production form at BGG.CON 2018, previewing the game afterward, so I had already encountered what it feels like to be thrashed by experienced players. Daujean repeated the experience on camera at FIJ, setting up a combo from the first turn while I was still trying to figure out what my cards did. We'll all get more experience with this game soon enough, though, so perhaps some day I'll be able to come in third...





• At FIJ, we had a somewhat more open schedule than we do at shows like GAMA Trade Show, Gen Con, and SPIEL. I had scheduled more time per game to account for language issues (more on that later), and even doing that I had filled only half the schedule prior to the fair opening. Thus, I spent a lot of my time off camera visiting publisher booths to see who was interested in showing off games that we hadn't previously seen, which led to us showing dozens of prototypes of designs that won't appear in print until SPIEL '19 or even FIJ 2020. Apparently French designers and publishers love to publicly playtest games for months and months, and we got to benefit from that, although it's also caused me to create janky BGG game pages that have next to no info so that I can link the videos to them.

Anyway, one of the benefits of having so much open time is that we didn't have to focus solely on gameplay presentation. Thus, I scheduled time with artist Julien Delval to highlight the art that he created for Res Arcana, while also talking about some of the other work he's done over the past twenty years. In retrospect, I should have been better prepared and lined up questions in advance, but that's a lesson for the next time that I have such an opportunity.





Thomas Planete's pick-up-and-deliver game Turbulences, co-designed with Samy Maronnier, was something I spotted while walking the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, and given the elaborate nature of the prototype, I knew we wanted to put it on camera as a still photo wouldn't do it justice. Planete creates many interesting dice as well as other all-wood gaming bits, and I was glad to feature a look at this unusual game that will be heading to Kickstarter sometime in 2019.





• One of the highlights of FIJ 2019 for me was getting to host designer Claude Leroy, creator of the fantastic abstract strategy game Gygès, to talk about the new Cosmoludo publishing line that is re-releasing some of his older titles while also bringing new games to market — or perhaps all of the titles have been previously released and we just don't have all of them in the BGG database as French-only abstract strategy games possibly don't have a huge fanbase on this site. We recorded overviews of three specific Cosmoludo titles as well, and those are among the 22 FIJ 2019 videos that remain to be published on BGG Express.

I greatly appreciate Leroy coming on the BGG livestream to demonstrate the games. Every time we post videos that feature non-native English speakers, we see a few comments from folks offended that the companies didn't have someone "competent" in English on hand to present their game, but I am incredibly thankful for all the effort that designers and publishers make to present their games on camera. They're passionate about what they do, and often they want to be the ones who present the games. I'm happy to trade some amount of fluency for passion because while you can generally find fluency anywhere, it's hard to replicate the passion that creators have for their work, and I'm glad that we can showcase it in the convention coverage that we do.

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Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:06 pm
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Relive GAMA Trade Show 2019; Watch Bonus BGG Show Wrap-Up

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GAMA Trade Show 2019 ran from March 11-15. For those who don't know, GTS is a trade-only event in which game retailers attend seminars for business advice and news of upcoming game releases, while also getting a hands-on look at what's being released thanks to an exhibit hall filled with publisher and distributor booths and multiple game nights in which they actually play things. One of the best ways for a publisher's game to find an audience is for retailers to champion that game to their customers, and GTS aims to make that happen by exposing retailers to hundreds of new and upcoming games.

BoardGameGeek was at GTS 2019, and we did our part to expose those new and upcoming games to players by livestreaming demonstrations for about twenty hours over three days. Videos of those demonstrations are included below, and you can see an approximate rundown of who presented which games at which time in this broadcast schedule that I posted ahead of GTS 2019. (We added in other publishers when we got ahead of schedule, and some folks showed up early as their phones autoshifted appointments due to time zone changes.)

In the weeks to come, we will chop these videos into individual segments and post them on the respective game and publisher pages in the BGG database as well as on our BGG Express YouTube channel, our new home for all the convention coverage we do.

I missed out on day three of our coverage as a virus hit me hard, leaving me driving the porcelain bus for hours until I pretty much collapsed due to weakness and dehydration, which led to a trip to the emergency room courtesy of Jon Cox. Many thanks to all for covering in my absence, and I'm almost back to normal as that virus stuck around just long enough to make Thursday, March 14, 2019 the worst Thursday that I've encountered in my life. Fingers crossed that record will stand until my death...










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Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:22 pm
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FIJ 2019 I: Highlights from Cannes — Clash of Rage, Dice Quest, One Key, Dice Forge: Rebellion, and Heroes of Normandie: The Tactical Card Game

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Thanks to all the folks behind the scenes who are processing videos from the many conventions we've attended, I've already published 34 game overview videos from the 2019 Festival International des Jeux on the new BGG Express YouTube channel.

Here are a few of those videos you might have missed, starting with three from Libellud, with Dice Forge: Rebellion having debuted at FIJ 2019, with the co-operative deduction game One Key coming in the middle of 2019, and with Obscurio due out at the end of the year.










FIJ is an unusual show as it highlights the nature of French designers and publishers to demo unpublished game designs in public long before they'll be available in a published form. Designer Cédrick Chaboussit presented Dice Quest, for example, even though the game won't be released by Bombyx until FIJ 2020. As another publisher told me, they typically test and promote prototypes in public for a year to ensure that the game is both well-known and developed as thoroughly as possible.





As an example of that practice, here's an overview of Clash of Rage, a giant game from Frédéric Guérard and Le Boite de Jeu, with my first video of this game having been recorded at FIJ 2017.





Devil Pig Games dropped by our booth to show off the finished version of Heroes of Normandie: The Tactical Card Game, which had been Kickstarted in October 2016. Finally landing on shores now!

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Tue Mar 12, 2019 1:00 pm
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NY Toy Fair 2019 IV: Quirky Circuits, TEAM3, Wordsmith, and Cute Games from France

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After yesterday's Hasbro extravaganza, is there anything else to talk about regarding NY Toy Fair 2019? Yes, oh my goodness, so much more, starting with this delightful title:



I first got a look at Quirky Circuits during Spielwarenmesse 2019 at a press event, and I was smitten from the word "go". Bryan Bornmueller from Asmodee North America, who was showing the game at NY Toy Fair, describes Quirky Circuits as the lovechild of Robo Rally and The Mind, so you can possibly imagine why I was so taken with the game.

The gist of the game is that you need to clean house. Dust bunnies are everywhere! Remove them! Thankfully you have a cat, Gizmo, riding an automated vacuum device to guide around the room and suck everything up. The problem, though, is that every player is controlling this device at the same time, and you don't know what they're doing when.

In game terms, everyone has a hand of cards, and these cards show directions or speeds: turn left, turn right, go ahead 1-3 spaces, reverse 1 space, etc. Gizmo starts in one corner of the room, and at the start of a round players start playing cards face down in a row without saying which cards they played. Once you've played at least five cards — with each player contributing at least one card if I remember correctly — you can decide to stop playing cards, reveal them, then move Gizmo. Turn, move, turn, move, move! If Gizmo hits a wall, it automatically turns left. Sometimes you want this to happen since you don't have a turn card in hand; sometimes you guess that someone turned instead of moving and you guess wrong, so Gizmo heads off in an unexpected direction. At the end of the movement, you drop the battery one level, refill your hand, then play another round. If you suck up all the dust bunnies before the battery goes dead, you win.

In later rounds, you start adding complications, such as small vases on tables. Hit the table, and the vase falls on the floor and breaks, giving you more to clean up in order to claim victory. You have different room layouts to contend with, special movement cards that must be the first card you play in a round, and different cleaning robots with varied abilities, such as this guy who can hold things in its claw:




Quirky Circuits has the spiral-bound storybook format of Stuffed Fables, with the new room layouts on different pages and rules specific to those rooms on the opposite pages. This Nikki Valens and Plaid Hat Games release should be available at retailers in May 2019.




These components are adorable, and it's amazing to realize that I don't think I'd even heard of Djeco a year ago, while it started more than sixty years ago (albeit with some fallow time between then and now). HABA has always been the first company to come to mind when I thin kof quality children's games, yet Djeco's are just as pleasing to look at and touch as those of HABA. Check out Chop! Chop!, for example:




The cat and mice figures are great — if not quite as cute as the little piggie head sticking out of the pot in Woolfy — and what's really amazing is that the wooden legs screw into the table. That's the highest quality miniature table you'll likely ever see!




Asmodee NA isn't bringing in the entire Djeco game line at once as it's vast. No, ANA is bringing in "only" about twenty titles to start with, then it will re-assess and see where to go from there. By chance, we recorded overviews of Niwa and Cubissimo (see on the top shelf) during our livestream from the FIJ game fair in Cannes, France, so you can find out more about those items soon.




Wordsmith from Bill Eberle, Peter Olotka, and Greg Olotka is effectively a new version of Runes from their Eon days, with players trying to build words from letters — but first they have to build letters from the four types of bits available to them. Here's an overview of the game that BGG recorded with publisher HeidelBÄR Games at Spielwarenmesse 2019:






My interaction with publisher Brain Games covers my February as a whole. We saw Brain Games at the Spielwarenmesse 2019 fair at the start of the month, but their new games were stuck in customs, so they had nothing to show. Two weeks later, I took pics of these upcoming 2019 games at NY Toy Fair 2019, such as Urtis Šulinskas' Pigasus in which you're given an animal hybrid such as a crocoilla and must quickly spot the goridile. Just a few days after that show, we recorded an overview of Pigasus at the FIJ game fair in Cannes, France. Busy days...






The gameplay of Snowman Dice might be clear from the pic and description above, but a video would really make the gameplay evident. I recorded short videos (10-15 seconds) of a couple of games at NY Toy Fair, then tweeted those videos, and I need to do more of that in the future as those videos convey the impact or nature of a game far more quickly than anything else — at least for some games, this being one of them.

We did record an overview of Snowman Dice at FIJ 2019, and we did so thanks to me bringing the sole copy with production-quality dice from NY Toy Fair to FIJ. Publishers ask weird favors sometimes, but I could fit the game in my carryon, so it made the trip with me.




While at FIJ 2019, we also recorded overviews of Brain Games' co-operative memory game Farm Rescue, a design for ages 4+ from Harris Tsagas, and TEAM3, a sort of co-operative game from Alex Cutler and Matt Fantastic in which players build in teams of three, with one person (the monkey who can't speak) miming directions to another person who interprets those motions and explains to a third person (the monkey who can't see) who assembles components into a structure to match a target card. You can do all this against a timer or against another team who's trying to do the same thing with a separate set of components. The video shows off this activity more clearly than anything else.





Whoa, all my recent conventions are mixing together in this one post! Let me end it here for now and wrap up NY Toy Fair 2019 in one final post tomorrow...
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NY Toy Fair 2019 III: Tiny Pong, Porcupine Pop, The Slow-Motion Race Game, and Dungeon & Dragons: Stranger Things

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While the momentum is still with me, let's continue rolling through pics and notes from NY Toy Fair 2019, which took place Feb. 16-19.

That's just over two weeks ago as I write this, yet it feels like forever. My perspective is an odd one sometimes as I start to feel that all this stuff in my notebook and image files is old news, whereas most of it hasn't been seen by anyone who wasn't also at NY Toy Fair. Given that this post features games coming from Hasbro — that is, titles that might not appeal to much of the BGG audience — you might wish that I had forgotten to write about them, but I find it instructive to cover Hasbro for two reasons:

1. Hasbro sells a lot of games. If you are a designer and aspire to have a game in hundreds of thousands of homes, you should be aware of what Hasbro releases. You won't have the marketing funds to achieve that level of success on your own, but maybe you can place something with an agent and things will roll on from there. If nothing else, you can be aware that these games exist and represent probably the largest segment of the game-buying audience.

2. For the most part, Hasbro releases games that are so minimalistic, each of them can be described with a single sentence. I don't mean to suggest that such minimalism should always be a designer's goal, but I appreciate the aesthetic purity of the game and game-like experiences Hasbro is putting onto the market. The games essentially package a concept — a way for people to interact with one another — and that's what you're buying. You'll bring one of these designs out at a family event, and possibly without even realizing it, other people will suddenly find themselves in a game, similar to how some people will sit around a table after dinner and spontaneously create a dexterity game with the remaining food stuff. To quote the Seinfeld episode "The Pitch":

Quote:
GEORGE: What'd you do today?
RUSSELL: I got up and came to work.
GEORGE: There's a show. That's a show.

The games seemingly arise out of nothing — and of course for many people they consist of nothing as well, but that's a matter of taste, not a question of whether or not something is a game. Some people want games to mimic an interactive stage play experience — an improvisatory show in which you're the star and the playing is akin to performing — and many of these designs deliver just that.

Let's move on to a few examples of what I'm talking about, leading off with Porcupine Pop:





In this Pie Face-like game, players take turns rolling the die, then pressing the porcupine's nose a number of times equal to the number rolled, hoping that its Nerf dart quills aren't shot into their face while doing so.





In the vein of Don't Wake Daddy, Plumber Pants challenges players to hang stuff on the plumber's belt without joggling him too much and causing his head to shoot up through the sink to yell at them.




Reach into the bowl in Blowfish Blowup and try to grab stuff out of the bowl without touching the blowfish and having it blow up.




Connect 4: Shots was a hit, so let's try Battleship Shots, which has you bouncing "missile" balls over a barrier to attempt to sink the opponent's ships. (Name and component design not final.)




Star Wars: Escape From Death Star Game! Man, did my brother and I play that a ton in our youth! Not sure I'd want to play it today, though, even with the exclusive Grand Moff Tarkin figure. What am I going to do with that? Seat him at the game table and pretend that he's playing against me?

Bop It! Chewie seems like the logical next step from Bop It! R2-D2. Each of those figures seems to be somewhat divorced from the Star Wars canon these days and more product than anything else — as with Loopin' Chewie, for example — but maybe that's my cynical adult self talking.





I don't have much more to say about Tiny Pong than what I wrote above, and I'm not even sure it qualifies for a listing on BGG at this point. Depends on the scoring system, I think, as that's what would make it a game rather than an activity — as meaningless as that difference is at times...




"Headbands buzz when you go too fast!" You don't even need a description for The Slow-Motion Race Game as the caption on the box gives it all away. Not stated: Create an experience that others will film and share on social media to advertise this game.





The Lie Detector Game falls into the "embarrass yourself for the amusement of others" genre seen in other recent adult party games from Hasbro. Many of the questions have blanks that you fill in, which allows you to increase or decrease the level of embarrassment suffered by all. If you answer a question truthfully — and they all have a yes/no format — you claim the card, and whoever first collects ten cards wins a trip to therapy.




Raising Hell, due out Q2 2019, plays like What Do You Meme?, but with players playing images that relate to kids and parenthood and captions that relate to same in order to create humorous combinations of the two and score points.





Monopoly: Cats vs. Dogs is one of many Monopoly titles coming out in 2019, with this one hitting the market on August 1. The hook of this 2-6 player game is that players will split into opposing teams, with one of those teams winning at the end of the game, so presumably you'll want to trade solely with teammates in order to maximize the benefits of that trade.





Even more Monopoly is coming in 2019, as if you had any doubt. Monopoly Gamer: Overwatch follows Monopoly Gamer in 2017 and Monopoly Gamer: Mario Kart in 2018, and like those two titles, I'm sure that multiple Power Packs will be available so that people can collect all the characters and line them up on a windowsill in their office.

The new version of Monopoly: Fortnite includes 27 new characters as collecting skins is one of the attractions of that online game.




Monopoly: L.O.L. Surprise! introduced me to the world of L.O.L. Surprise!, which seems to have a toy line, clothing line, a home furnishing line, and much more. The toy line features wide-eyed Keane girl figures from the Betty Boop school of design (oversized head that can be seen solely from the front), and the tokens in Monopoly: L.O.L. Surprise! are accessories for these toys, with those accessories being in a blind box so that you don't know what you're getting when you buy the game. Collectible toyetic play discovery — so synergistic!




Monopoly: Game of Thrones has a player count of 2-6, which seems wrong from the get-go. You need to go to seven, yes? Also, the selling point for this edition is the "Iron Throne card holder that plays the iconic theme song throughout gameplay, the first time that a music component has been incorporated into a Monopoly board", but as much as I love the Game of Thrones intro music, I don't think I'd want to hear it for every minute of an episode. The first bite is always the best, yes, with each subsequent one diluting your enjoyment.





We close our tour of Hasbro's NY Toy Fair 2019 game wing with three Stranger Things-related items, one of those being a Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set that includes the campaign created by series character Mike Wheeler, along with two demogorgon figures. This marketing tie-in is an ideal way to attract potential new players: You've seen the show, now play the game! You too can become encased in a portal to another dimension!





Trivial Pursuit: Back to the 80's asks how well I know the 1980s. I lived through that decade, so I have some recollection of things, but I don't recall this "Upside Down" at all. I think it's made up.




Finally, we have a tiny mock arcade that includes four classic arcade games from the 1980s, along with sixteen mock arcade games from that same time period. Mash those buttons, using only your mind...




Hasbro didn't have any swag to take home, but on my walk from its media center back to the Javits Center, I did run across this upright piano on the street free for the taking. Fitting it in my carry-on was a struggle, but you don't turn down free stuff, right?
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NY Toy Fair 2019 II: Lost Cities, Jaws, SHŌBU, and Cloud Stacking with Unicorn Glitterluck

W. Eric Martin
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I recently started summarizing my NY Toy Fair 2019 experience in this space, but I managed to get through only 2.3 booths before I had flooded the post with images. Let's dip into a few more booths today:




• Thames & Kosmos, which releases games from KOSMOS in English in the U.S., will have the new edition of Reiner Knizia's Lost Cities on the market in April 2019. This version incorporates the sixth expedition expansion that debuted in 2016, and now you can play ye olde Lost Cities with five expeditions on one side of the game board as grandpappy used to play it and the new six-expedition version on the other side of the game board.




Ubongo Extreme: Fun-Size Edition, which debuted in Germany in 2008, finally has an English-language edition, with this title hitting retail in March 2019.




Other titles coming from Thames & Kosmos include Imhotep: The Duel in July 2019, the Brainwaves series — The Astute Goose, The Brilliant Boar, and The Wise Whale — in August 2019, and the Adventure Games series from Matthew Dunstan and Phil Walker-Harding — The Dungeon and Monochrome Inc. — in October 2019.

Brainwaves is a trilogy of tiny games developed by game designers and neuroscientists in which players challenge their episodic memory. In Reiner Knizia's The Astute Goose, for example, you look at six cards that show a man wearing one of five types of clothing in one of five colors with one of five animals on his shoulders, then you lay those cards face down. On a turn, the active player rolls two dice to determine what they must name (color/clothing/animal) on which card. If they name this item correctly, they claim the card and replace it with a new one; otherwise, they return it. Whoever collects the most cards wins.



• At the Ravensburger booth, I received confirmation that Las Vegas Royale and the new edition of The Castles of Burgundy — both covered in this preview video from Spielwarenmesse 2019 — are scheduled to debut in the U.S. at Gen Con 2019 in August. Carlo A. Rossi's co-operative game Red Peak — previewed here — is due out in the U.S. in October 2019. Ravensburger's English-language edition of the trivia game kNOW! will not come packaged with Google Assistant, something that was an option with the German edition. Apparently market penetration for Google Assistant is much higher in the U.S., so Ravensburger can assume buyers will have it already and sell this version for less.



• In addition to the title shown above, the U.S. branch of HABA is bringing in Snail Sprint!, a Marie and Wilfried Fort that comes across like a combination of Camel Up and Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise. At the start of play, each player receives a goal card that shows the colors of snails that they'll score points for at the end of the game should those snails finish first, second, or third.




On a turn, you roll the two color dice. Let's say you roll yellow and blue. You then move the yellow snail to the next blue space on the path or the blue snail to the next yellow space. A snail on the path counts as a space of that color, so if the blue snail is in front of the yellow snail, you would move the yellow snail on top of the blue one, which will then keep the blue one from moving until the yellow one advances. A stack can be only two snails high, and stacking isn't possible when the magnet-bottomed snails are crawling up and down the sides of the metal box, which is part of the path. Seems super cute, with just enough going on that adults would be fine playing as well.

Dude Games distributes titles from Belgian publisher Sit Down! in North America, and it expects to have both Bad Bones (preview video) and Gravity Superstar (preview) available to retailers in July 2019.



SHŌBU from Manolis Vranas and Jamie Sajdak is one of three titles Smirk & Laughter Games demoed at NY Toy Fair, and I loved the small taste that I got of it there. Ideally I'll describe it accurately here.

Each turn consists of two parts. First, you take a passive move on one of the boards on your side of the rope, moving one of your pieces up to two spaces in any direction. You can't pass through or attack the opponent with this move (which is why it's called "passive"). Second, you take an aggressive move on an opposite colored board with one of your pieces that mirrors your passive move in direction and distance; with this move, you can push an opponent off the board, and if you remove all of the opponents' pieces from one board, you win. I dig abstract strategy games, and this one seemed like a novel combination, akin to you making a small move in person, then having it replicated by a giant robot that will destroy your enemy.




Woolly Mammoth is due from Smirk & Laughter in June 2019, and in this game you're trying to be the first to collect six meat or to be the last player standing. Each round, all players play a card simultaneously, trying to collectively push a mammoth off a cliff while also trying to be closest to that cliff so that you can claim the meat. Mammoths can charge, though, and that's not going to be a good thing for people standing in the way.




In the party game We Need to Talk from Bryan Merlonghi, Michael Dunsmore, and Jordan Nichols, one player each round is suffering from an unusual condition and the other players give clues about this condition that might lead that player to guess what it is. The afflicted wants to guess the condition as quickly as possible, while the cluegivers want the answer given in later rounds in order to score more points.
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Sat Mar 9, 2019 1:00 pm
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NY Toy Fair 2019 I: Tentacle Town, Three-Dragon Ante, Spyfall: Time Travel, and More Rick and Morty

W. Eric Martin
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I'm still decompressing from having attended three conventions in February 2019, with lots of pics and tweets posted of what I saw during that time, but much more is likely still waiting to be seen on my phone and in my notebook. With that in mind, here's a sampling of my NY Toy Fair 2019 experience, all thirteen hours of it spread over two days:



Monster Fight Club is a new publisher co-founded by John Kovaleski, and its presence at NY Toy Fair 2019 consisted of this game on a table in the Alliance Game Distributors booth. I didn't see anyone around, so I took pics, then moved on. Here's an overview of Tentacle Town from the BGG page, which went live the week after NYTF:

Quote:
In Tentacle Town, each player is an adventurer who's arrived on unsettled land to found a new town — but the waters surrounding your new home are infested with giant tentacles!

The goal of the game is to become the new town's most famous resident and appointed as its first mayor. Players earn fame by recruiting the town's citizens to complete tasks, construct new buildings, and hunt tentacles!

You and the other players take turns recruiting citizens to build the town, all while defending your new home from the tentacle threat. New citizens can complete a task or build a building for you. The more buildings you have in a district, the more profitable some tasks become — AND the player with the most buildings in each district earns extra fame when the game ends.

Tentacle Town is divided into three districts: the market, the foundry, and the docks. Each district has its own tasks to be completed, from forging harpoons in the foundry to butchering food at the docks. The rewards for some tasks get better when there are more citizens are in the district, which means the new citizen you just recruited will benefit the other players, too! Likewise, the rewards for some tasks improve when there are more buildings to the district — but for these tasks, only you benefit from your own buildings. You may also pay the citizens of Tentacle Town overtime to complete additional tasks, assuming you have coins to spend.

At the end of a player's turn, they roll the danger die to see if the tentacles attack, stay quiet, or if more tentacles emerge from the depths. The more citizens in a district, the more likely the tentacles are to attack! When tentacles attack, they may destroy buildings, kill citizens, or cause the workers to flee to a safer district! This is your chance to be a hero and defend the district, provided you have some harpoons handy! Defeat a tentacle, and you'll not only earn a bit of fame and haul in some fresh calamari, too!

When the influx of new citizens runs out, the game is over and the person with the most fame becomes the mayor of Tentacle Town and wins the game!


Look, ma, tentacles!




As is its custom, Cryptozoic Entertainment — nestled in the "action figures / pop stop" aisles — showed off its range of collectible figures (of which I didn't take pics) along with a few upcoming IP-related games, such as DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth, which it first showed at NY Toy Fair 2018. This game uses the standard deck-building elements of its other DC deck-building games, except that each player takes control of a specific character and moves cards between five locations over eight connected scenarios, with the characters progressing over the course of this campaign. The game includes a scenario #0 as well so that players can get a handle on things before they dive into the campaign itself.

Rebirth is due out in Q3 2019, along with...



...the latest entry in the Epic Spell Wars universe, which is (deep breath) Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: ANNIHILAGEDDON! – The Deck-Building Game. Each player represents a wizard and goes to battle against one another to bash their hit points. Says Cryptozoic's Adam Sblendorio, "You'll probably die 2-4 times during the game." As Nick Cave sang, "Just remember that death is not the end."




DC Deck-Building Game Crossover Pack 8: Batman Ninja now bears a release date of Q4 2019.




Rick and Morty: Tales from the Citadel Deck-Building Game, due out Q4 2019, is another standalone deck-building game that can be integrated with earlier Rick and Morty DBG titles. Stick with your strengths, yes?




Spyfall: Time Travel, which we previewed with originating publisher Hobby World at Gen Con 2018, will see a Q3 2019 release in the U.S. from Cryptozoic. Thanks to your newfound ability to travel through time, the locations you and your fellow spies can find yourself at has much more variability than in earlier sets.




WizKids, down the aisle from Cryptozoic, showed off a few upcoming titles in addition to lots of licensed products from its NECA parent, but it didn't have much information for what was being shown aside from the price and release date info shown above. So I can show a few discs from Mike Elliott's Star Trek: Conflick in the Neutral Zone, due out in July 2019, but aside from that I suppose we'll need to wait until GAMA Trade Show 2019 or later for more details. (GTS 2019 is next week, though. Time is rushing by!)




Rob Heinsoo's Three-Dragon Ante is coming back in a new edition from WizKids, but I'm not sure how this "Legendary Edition" relates to the original game from 2005 or the Emperor's Gambit edition from 2010. More details to come...




I'm always jazzed to see these new Dice Masters sets, such as this Marvel Dice Masters: X-Men Forever Campaign Box due out in March 2019, then I remember that my son loves only manga and anime, not U.S. comics, so I'd never be able to play this. X-Men for-never.




WizKids also showed off a few cards and dice coming in the Warhammer 40,000 Dice Masters: Fracture of Biel-Tan Campaign Box, which is due out June 2019.
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Fri Mar 8, 2019 1:00 pm
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Previews from Spielwarenmesse 2019 III: Alea, Mini Garden, Monkey Duel, Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal, and Herb Witches in Quedlinburg

W. Eric Martin
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• Okay, two more conventions are in the books — NY Toy Fair 2019 and Festival International des Jeux 2019 in Cannes — which means it's time to get back to all of the overview videos that we recorded at Spielwarenmesse 2019. It's hard to keep up with all of these, but I've now published on our new BGG Express YouTube channel two-thirds of the videos that we recorded in Nürnberg.

Here are a few highlights from these videos, starting with an overview of alea's plans for its twentieth anniversary, which begins with Rüdiger Dorn's Las Vegas Royale and an expansion-filled version of Stefan Feld's The Castles of Burgundy:





Mini Garden from MOZI Game is a real-time puzzle-solving game in which you rearrange your garden cards as quickly as possible — flipping them, overlapping them, etc. — to have your garden match the roll of the dice. Mostly I'm charmed by how brazenly Livia demonstrated victory by cheating....





Wolfgang Warsch and Schmidt Spiele had a hit in 2018 with The Quacks of Quedlinburg, and for the first half of 2019 they have a new big box game: Die Tavernen im Tiefen Thal, a.k.a. The Tavern of the Deep Valley, which has deck-building elements and dice drafting as each player builds up their own tavern.





• Speaking of Quacks, we got a peek at the Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg: Die Kräuterhexen expansion for that game, which adds new spells and components for a fifth player, introduces a new herb, and welcomes herbal witches. A representative for North Star Games, which released an English-language edition of Quacks in the U.S., told me at NY Toy Fair that it aims to release this expansion in English at Gen Con 2019.





• The weirdest marketing of a game at Spielwarenmesse 2019 might have come from Canadian publisher MJ Games for Alex Weldon's Monkey Duel.

This two-player game features backgammon-like gameplay in which players roll dice to enter their monkeys in the bamboo forest or move through the forest. You can move up bamboo to get higher, and that's good since the higher you are when you reach the opposite side of the game board, the more points you score — and players are racing to score twelve points first to win. When you move sideways across the board, though, you slide down the bamboo, so you need to rise and fall repeatedly, while also watching out for coconuts. Each player has a coconut die, and this die shows the exact distance which you can throw a coconut to knock an opponent off its bamboo. Knock someone off the bottom of the board, and you score a point while that monkey must start from the opposite side of the board once again.

The gameplay is all straightforward; the weird part comes from the packaging of this game with a Donald Trump vs. Kim Jong-un image, along with the marketing of "Make Jungle Great Again" caps on its Kickstarter campaign (link). The teaser video for the game is equally bizarre.

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Sat Mar 2, 2019 4:01 pm
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