Another day at Origins Game Fair 2019, another preview of a Gen Con 2019 release SPIEL '19 release that will be demoed at Gen Con 2019, with the game in question being Copenhagen: Roll and Write from Asger Harding Granerud, Daniel Skjold Pedersen, and Queen Games, the trio responsible for the Copenhagen board game released earlier in 2019. (The images shown below aren't final, and the name of this game might differ upon publication, but the description below should match the gameplay you'll find in the box.)
Copenhagen: Roll and Write features gameplay similar to Copenhagen, but with players now finishing the façade of their individual building through colors shown on rolled dice, not through drafted and played cards.
In the game, each player has a paper scoresheet that shows a building and five colored lines of boxes. A sheet in the center of the playing area shows various polyomino tiles in those same five colors, with tiles of two and three spaces on one side of a central divider and tiles of four and five spaces on the other side. The game includes five six-sided dice that feature the above mentioned five colors on five of their sides as well as a sixth color that serves as a joker. Each player starts with two red stars on their scoresheet; you can spend one or more of these stars on your turn to re-roll as many dice as you wish.
On a turn, you roll the five dice. If you have re-rolls in reserve, you can use them if you wish. You then choose a group of dice in a single color, then you see the shape of the polyomino that corresponds to this choice, then you draw that polyomino on the façade of the building, with the polyomino needing to "rest" on the bottom of the building area. One space in this polyomino is brick (represented by an "X") while the other spaces are all windows (represented by an "O"). If you created a polyomino of four or five spaces, you cross it off the central sheet of paper as each tile shown on the right side of the sheet can be used only once.
After the first few turns (components are non-final)
Each other player then gets to choose one of the dice that you didn't use to claim that polyomino, then fill in the leftmost empty box of that color on their scoresheet. (In a two-player game, the non-active player chooses two unused dice, assuming that at least two dice weren't used.) These boxes might have a symbol underneath them. If the box has a + under it, then this player can cross off the + on a future turn to add one "phantom" die showing this color to whatever they rolled that round, e.g., if you cross off a blue +, you effectively rolled three blue dice that turn instead of two. If a box has a star under it, then you can cross out that star on a future turn to use the power of that color:
• Red lets you reroll as many dice as you want. • Blue lets you change one brick space to a window space when you're drawing something into your façade. • Purple lets you draw one brick space in an empty space of your choice (as long as this space isn't floating in air). • Green lets you change all dice of one color to another color of your choice. • Yellow lets you use a polyomino shape that was crossed out on a previous turn.
You can use as many stars as you wish on your turn, say using a red star to re-roll dice to get three blue, one yellow, and one joker, then using a green star to turn all the blue dice yellow, then using a yellow star to let you re-use the yellow five-space polyomino that had been crossed out earlier.
When you fill in a horizontal row in the façade of your building, you score 2 points if all the spaces are filled with windows and 1 point if at least one space holds brick; when you fill in a vertical column, you score 4 points and 2 points under the same conditions (all windows vs. at least one brick). When you fill in predesignated rows and columns, you receive an immediate bonus — either drawing one window in an empty space or crossing off two boxes in one or two color lines on your scoresheet. If you cross out the final space in a color line, you score 2 points.
Gameplay continues until someone has scored 12 or more points. Complete the round so that each player has had the same number of turns, then whoever has the most points wins!
Final holdings in a four-player game, losing to someone who scored 15 points
I played Copenhagen: Roll and Write twice, once with two players and once with four. With more players in the game, more polyominoes get crossed out by opponents, so yellow stars would seem more important, and I pushed for them when choosing what to X off on an opponent's turn — but then I never had a chance to yellow star something as the dice didn't turn up as I wished they did, despite me re-rolling three times. Boo.
The game feels super-combo-y, with you trying to set up the bricks just so, then kick everything off at once by dropping in a polyomino that completes a line or two, ideally giving you one of the bonus "cross off" actions at the same time so that you can complete another line and race to the 12-point threshold before someone else can do so. Things don't always come together for you, but this can be as much a result of incompetent special power usage as unlucky die rolls.
Queen Games is still working on the final graphics and components of this design, so don't expect it to appear exactly this upon publication.
Thanks to a larger BGG staff presence at Origins Game Fair 2019, I've been able to get out of the booth more than I usually do at such events in order to talk with publishers about future releases. Sometimes I've even played a game!
I played only a half-dozen turns of Ishtar due to time restrictions, so at this point I can cover only the gross mechanisms of the game without anything in the way of how it feels.
On a board of 4-6 hexagons for a game with 2-4 players, you are trying to transform a gem-filled desert into the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Each hexagon has a fountain on it, with some spaces on that hexagon being sacred and off limits. On a turn, you take the next landscape tile on the tile display — shown in the upper left of the image below, with tiles coming in one of three shapes —or you pay a gem to take any tile that you want, then you place that tile next to a fountain or next to an existing tile. If you cover any gems with this tile, you collect them and place them on your personal game board.
Tiles have a combination of grass and garden spaces, and they sometimes bear an icon that allows you to place an assistant on a garden space (with each player starting with two assistants) or use collected gems to activate a space on your personal board. The first row of spaces on your board all have one-shot actions, such as placing a two-space flower tile over grass tiles in order to enlarge or reserving a tile for future use; the second row of spaces has scoring bonuses that will take place for you at the end of the game if you activate them — but you have to activate the space ahead of the scoring bonus in the first row before you can activate the scoring bonus.
You use assistants to claim garden areas for yourself that will score points for you at the end of a game. You want to enlarge the gardens, but along the lines of Through the Desert, you can't place a tile that would combine two gardens that each bear an assistant into a single garden. Thus, you need to ensure that you have room to grow, but of course if you enlarge a garden too much before claiming it, someone else might grab it out from under you.
Aside from activating spaces on your board, collected gems can be used to acquire tree cards that earn points at game's end. You then place a tree on the board next to a garden, with trees adjacent to gardens being another way to earn points as long as you've activated that bonus scoring space. Alternatively, you might activate the space to score points for gems still on hand at game's end, which would mean you don't want to spend them for trees.
The game ends when a certain number of stacks of tiles have been placed, with players scoring the garden of each placed assistant as well as any bonus point spaces they've activated.
As Huber suggests in his designer diary for Caravan, the design feels like a member of the "German games in the mid-1990s when the focus was on simple rules with depth of play". I've played only once, so I can't vouch for the "depth of play", but Caravan strikes me as being akin to a classic Leo Colovini game as the rules are so short as to be almost non-existent and the players interact in a relatively tiny shared space, with each player's actions affecting what everyone else can do.
To set up the game on the 7x7 board, place one goods cube in eight specified locations. Players take up to four actions on their turn (after the first three turns in which players take one, two, then three actions), with actions being to place or move one of your camels without a goods cube in an empty space, pick up a goods cube in your place, pass a goods cube along an orthogonal chain of your camels, steal a good from a camel in the same space as one of yours, or place or move one of your camels without a goods cube in a space that contains one or more camels, with this latter action costing two actions instead of one. Simple, simple, simple.
Gamer Shawn and Rio Grande Games production manager Ken Hill
As soon as you move a goods cube to the destination space matching its color, you remove it from the board and place it on your player board. Cubes going to the edges of the board are worth 6 points, while the other cubes are worth 3 points. Goods in the far corners start with a demand token, and when you collect a good, you collect any tokens in the same space as that good. When only four goods remain on the board (regardless of how many goods rest on the backs of camels), you pause the game, place a demand token on the spaces where goods remain, then refill the empty numbered spaces.
As soon as the last goods have been placed on the board, the next delivered cube signals the end of gameplay, and whoever has scored the most points wins.
We played the beginner game in which each player has six camels and not all of the goods are used. Even so, I managed to strand one of my camels in the upper-right of the game board (as shown in the image above), as I placed it there to pick up three demand tokens along with the white cube, but I had neglected to think through Ken's explanation of the game. Nowhere in his presentation had he mentioned that you could dump a cube, yet somehow I had assumed that I could do that. Not so. Once a camel picks up a cube, that cube remains in place until you move it along a chain of your camels until it stops on another camel or is delivered to the target space. I had unwittingly started playing the game on hard mode...
Eventually I cleared out all the cubes in the southeast portion of the board, then moved north to rescue my unfortunate ungulate. Caravan is an odd take on the pick-up-and-deliver genre in that the camels can't move once they pick something up. You need to build camel chains, move goods, shift links in that chain, and disrupt other players' chains as best as you can.
We didn't mess with one another too much, possibly because Shawn and I were playing for the first time and just trying to figure out how to make goods go. When you steal a good, you place the good underneath the camel's legs, and that good can't be stolen away from you until you move it. What's more, when you steal a good, you have to give that player a theft marker, with everyone starting with one such marker. No theft marker = no theft by you. I can imagine theft playing a larger role once you gain more experience in the game and are thinking of how each camel can serve several roles at once, but as mentioned before, you can't move a camel with a good on it, so don't steal unless you have a plan to get rid of the goods.
In the end, I beat Shawn by one point, with Ken being only two points behind Shawn. I had concentrated on demand tokens far more than the other two players, and those twelve tokens made up for my relative lack of goods cubes. Looking forward to trying Caravan again, especially with four players, and Ishtar also seems to have a similar minimalist appeal, with players fighting in that shared space to grab good gardens and elbow others out of the way.
Editor's note: Game Market took place in Tokyo on May 25-26, 2019, and Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated reports about this event (day one and day two) that were 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
Game Market 2019 Spring, Japan's largest tabletop game event, was held on May 25, when the temperature rose above 30°C for the first time this year.
Tokyo Big Sight, which was used as the venue up to the last Tokyo Game Market, is currently under construction to be used as the International Broadcasting Center and Main Press Center for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Under the circumstances, the Tokyo Game Market took place for the first time at the Tokyo Big Sight Aumi temporary exhibition halls. Comprised of two halls, the building has the total capacity of 23,240m², which is approximately double the size of the venue used for Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn. In addition to being large, the air conditioning was sufficient to keep the venue fairly cool.
There was a line of approximately four thousand people waiting before the opening (according to Rael-san's report). An area for the visitors to wait in line before the opening was provided at the corner of the hall, but the queue still extended to outside. Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn had an attendance of 22,000 over two days, but this Game Market had even more attendance. Tabletop gamers formed an orderly queue to buy the items they were eyeing.
After the opening at 10:00 a.m., the crowds spread into the two halls. Still, with the wide aisles, the standard booth area did not feel confined. On the other hand, there were long queues of people for a long time in front of some block booths, such as those of BakaFire Party (of Sakura Arms), MAGI (of Magical Patisserie) and Domina Games (of Blade Rondo).
The area provided for the visitors to wait in line was later used as a food court with kitchen cars. Since there are not many eateries near the Aumi exhibition hall, people lined up and the dishes from the kitchen cars became sold out one after another. Some people who did not have much time to spare brought snacks they had bought elsewhere such as at a convenience store.
At this Game Market, talk shows, tournaments and many other mini-events were organized. There were so many of them that I almost missed the time to check the new games.
At the Sugorokuya booth, to celebrate the board game manga Houkago Saikoro Club (Afterschool Dice Club) being made into an anime, its author Hiroo Nakamichi had a talk show with some voice actors, who would voice the main characters in the anime, namely Marika Kouno (who would voice the character Aya), Saki Miyashita (Miki), and Miyu Tomita (Midori).
After showing the program's teaser for the first time, they talked about their recommended board games and the appeal of board games. Miyashita from Nara Prefecture and Tomita from Saitama Prefecture both mentioned the difficulty in expressing the nuances of the Kyoto dialect used by their characters. It has been announced that the board game store manager, another main character, will be voiced by Takaya Kuroda.
At the Arclight booth, they announced the production of a new series of board games: KAIJU ON THE EARTH. In this project, multiple game designers will design middle- to heavyweight board games all themed on Kaiju, a globally popular content that had originated from Japan. These games will be produced with an eye on both domestic and international markets.
According to the plan, the first game, designed by Masato Uesugi (of I Was Game) will be released this autumn. This will be followed by the release of the second game by Yuji Kaneko (of Kaboheru) in the spring of 2020 and the third game by Hisashi Hayashi (of OKAZU Brand) in the autumn of 2020. Many notable people will be involved in the production, such as Drosselmeyer & Co. Ltd. in charge of the general direction, Koji Nakakita on the Kaiju design, Yuji Sekita on the image visual, Eiko Usami on the graphic design, and Giant Hobby on the figure modeling.
At Training Game Lab, Mahito Mukai (of Puninokai), a Zen temple deputy chief priest, who has also designed a number of temple-themed board games, delivered a "board game sermon". By referring to the Four Dharma Seals, which form the foundation ideology of Buddhism, he preached the "board game training" to respect both the games and the people with whom you play.
At the Jelly Jelly Cafe booth, the podcast "Horabodo!" hosted a public recording event. In this talk show, the game designers, who had their doujin games published for general distribution from Jelly Jelly Cafe, talked on the stage on the topic "a step from self-produced games to general distribution". These talks can later be heard on the podcast.
While I think that the style to personally produce and sell some copies not only puts a lot of burdens on the individuals but also runs the risk of delivering underdeveloped games to the users, there is also the merit of creating diverse games with fresh ideas. Meanwhile, there is a growing trend whereby printing offices and board game cafés support such creative activities to produce works that could be played widely around the world.
At the joint booth of Ten Days Games and Mobius Games, the two hosts of the podcast "Board Game Oppai" organized a mini-event they called "Real Life Unusual Suspects", whereby they invited six people from the audience as "suspects" and narrowed down the "suspect" to one of them though interrogations. The changing expressions of the participants, compared to the illustrated faces in the original game, provided a different kind of fun, and the audience had good laughs at the hosts' witty talks.
On May 25 and 26, Tokyo Game Market 2019 Spring was held at Tokyo Big Sight Aumi Exhibition Hall. The number of new board games from Japan released at this event amounts to 525 titles (provisional count as of this date). This figure is higher that of Tokyo Game Market 2018 Spring by 80%, and with this figure, the potential nominees for this year's Game Market Award (selected from those released at Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn, Osaka Game Market 2019 and Tokyo Game Market 2019 Spring) has reached 1,250 titles, the first time this total has exceeded 1,000 titles. If you add to this figure the new games from overseas, TRPG, TCG, and SLG, the number of new games amounts to more than the 1,400 titles released at SPIEL '18.
Meanwhile, many of these newly-released games are so-called doujin games, which are produced with one hundred copies or so by individuals and their friends and sold on the tables each covering the footprint of less than 1m². Some of them are produced with fewer than ten copies, and many of them can be bought only at the Game Market. Since they are released without being developed by publishers, they may be unrefined, but they can fascinate you by directly putting into practice the fresh ideas of the people who produced them.
I have noticed quite a few overseas publishers regularly visiting the show in search of interesting games. To them, the Game Market may seem like a treasure trove of new ideas. There is the Japon Brand project to recruit applicants and sell their games at a collectively-established booth at SPIEL, but some overseas publishers wish to seek even more and thus visit the Game Market. Many doujin games have been picked up and released in such a way by overseas publishers, with some of them being imported "back" to Japan. In this report, I would like to introduce some of these 525 titles that received attention.
Across the United States (from OKAZU Brand) is a railway game set in the 19th century USA. The players extend the railway lines, connect routes, transport commodities, and collect stocks and gold bullion to gain wealth and become millionaires. The playing time is 60 minutes. The station types vary from game to game according to the tile placement.
Traders (from 4tousei) is an engine-building game to move around on action spaces and efficiently trade copper and silver. You can acquire powerful cards on the way, but you have to circle the "rondel" before you can have the cards you have played return to your hand. As you raise your parameters, such as your contributions to the Queen, King and Bishop and your technical strength, you can take more actions and develop strategies. The playing time is 40 to 60 minutes.
HYAKKATEN (from NSG Create) is a game of inviting tenants on each floor of a department store and entice customers shop a lot. The playing time is 60 to 90 minutes.
"Shobai" All Right (from OKAZU Brand) is a resource management game to expand your stores and business in the fictitious commercial city of Zoosaka. Trade the cards from your hand to gain more powerful allies, produce and deliver items to your clients to meet their requests, and gain power by making offerings to the emperor, with the overall objective of competing for fame. This is a middleweight game with the playing time of 30 to 45 minutes.
Epic of Hegemonia (from Studium Mundi) is an area majority game to lead five unique tribes in order to collect resources and build strongholds. Each tribe has their characteristics, such as the all-round Human, powerful but few Dragon, and Slime that grows stronger when they are combined with each other. Try to make use of such characteristics to your advantage. This is a middleweight game with the playing time of 30 to 45 minutes.
Mitsuhama (from Tarte Games) is an auction game set in the port town of Mitsuhama in Ehime Prefecture. The players, as fish wholesalers, bid on fresh fish, including the Sea Perch, Filefish, Swordfish and Sea Bream, at the fish market and supply them to local restaurants. While the fish catches are determined by dice rolls, there are limitations to the amount that can be auctioned, and you need to have a warehouse keeper to buy the fish. The playing time is 30 to 40 minutes.
Moon Base (from itten) is a two-player abstract game to place ring modules on moon craters and thereupon build the moon base. Some craters overlap on each other, and this naturally leads to a competitive game play whereby the players try to stack the rings in a way that their colors will gain the upper hand.
In Front of the Elevators (from Saashi & Saashi) is a card game in which you compete to get more of the family members of your color in the front of the elevator line at the department store so that they can get onto the next elevator. Using the "Cut In Line" and "Lost Child" abilities along with the café rule whereby three friends meeting each other all head to the café, help your family members somehow squeeze into the elevator.
Dungeon Market (from spiel.jp) is a card game of flipping cards from the deck to venture into the dungeon, then sell the arms and protectors you have discovered to other players by offering the prices. Since the items to collect vary between the players, you may take advantage of other players when offering the prices.
Photome's (from Dear Spiele and Bodogeema) won the grand prize in Board Game Grand Prix, a contest to design board games themed on housing. It is a co-operative game whereby the players each place 3D building tiles while making sure that the animals specified on the topic card remain visible from the current player's view and the mole is concealed from the views of all the players.
Zimbabweee Trick (from Kentaiki) is a trick-taking game in which bills of increasing denominations are formed like what once happened to Zimbabwean dollars in the time of hyperinflation. The number of figures increase as the cards played are placed on top of one another, eventually forming bills with 12-digit numbers, which amount to hundreds of billions of dollars.
Nine Tiles Panic (from Oink Games) is a sequel to Nine Tiles and was again designed by Jean-Claude Pellin (from Luxembourg) and Jens Merkl (from Germany). According to the criteria specified on the revealed scoring cards, race to flip and arrange your set of nine double-side tiles so as to form a 3×3 town visited by hamburger-loving aliens.
Bungaku Game Zenshu (meaning "the collections of games based on classical literature") is a series of tabletop games themed on classical literature. A total of fifteen titles was released at this Game Market. Among them, Hashiru Melos Tachi (meaning "Running Meloses"), a road race trick-taking game designed by Kazunari Yonemitsu and themed on the short story "Run, Melos!" written by Osamu Dazai, received much attention. In addition to the games themed on Japanese literary works, there are also games themed on the works by great writers of overseas, such as Victor Hugo and William Shakespeare.
UNKO! (from IndiesCrown) is a card game to supply the appropriate amount of food to the customers in order to help them discharge the perfect poop. Try to guess from the face-down cards the appropriate amount of food to supply. Be careful not to supply too much food and upset the customer's stomach.
Omokaji Ippai! (meaning "Steer household chores!") (from Karakuri Cube) is a light card game, with the playing time of 10 minutes or so, to pass troublesome household chores on to other players.
Nai Hazu no Kioku (meaning "memoirs of non-existing events") (from Daienjo Seisaku Iinkai) is a game in which you draw topic cards and, according to them, create new episodes about a deceased person who is known to all the players. Then compare the episodes and choose which one of them sounds most befitting to the deceased person. The players can reminisce in the good memories of the deceased. There is also the expansion pack Moshimo Watashi ga Shinda Nara (meaning "If I die").
Our Records (from Surume Days) is a game in which you write your memorial event on a piece of paper and put it in a capsule toy vending machine, which was located in front of the Surume Days booth at the Game Market. In return, you get to use the vending machine and draw a capsule toy containing a piece of paper from another player. Then the players were instructed to tweet on June 1 about what was written on the piece of paper they received. Its author Nilgiri will hold the special exhibition IS THIS A GAME? Vol.2 in December 2019.
Mitsudan (meaning "confidential talk") (from Under Heart Look Look) is a game to plot how to approach the girl you like by arranging cards and trying to guess the cards plotted by other players along with the order they were plotted. This game was first released at Osaka Game Market 2019.
Small Light released the Japanese edition of New Tactical Games with Dice and Cards written by Reiner Knizia. This book was originally published in German in 1990, and the publication of its Japanese edition has followed that of Dice Games Properly Explained, another book written by Reiner Knizia.
In addition to the games, I also encountered many accessories at the venue. The accessory studio Colon, Yuran released "meeples floating in the sea", following the "meeples drifting in the sky" and "meeples lying in the field", which they released last autumn.
Majo no Jikkenshitsu sold meeple accessories made with resin containing garden flowers. The production of these accessories takes substantial time and trouble, so it is uncertain if they might be available again.
The Game Market Management Office will soon start the questionnaire survey on the newly-released games, and the results will be updated in real time. The winners of the Game Market Award will be announced at Tokyo Game Market 2019 Autumn, which will be held on November 23 and 24. In the selection process, the nominees will also be announced. I hope that this will provide a good opportunity for many people to encounter some board games they like.
Postscript: Tokyo Game Market 2019 Spring: Attendance of 25,000 (original article)
The Game Market Management Office has announced that a total of 25,000 people attended Tokyo Game Market 2019 Spring, which was held on May 25 (Sat) and 26 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight Aumi Exhibition Hall. It was 14% higher than the attendance of 22,000 at Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn.
On the first day, 641 groups participated, with an estimated 4,000 people lined up before the opening, and the attendance was 14,000. On the second day, the number of participants was fewer, namely 536 groups and the number of people queueing before the opening declined by half to 1,900 people (according to Rael-san's report), but the overall attendance was 11,000.
Since Tokyo Game Market was first expanded to a two-day event starting with Tokyo Game Market 2017 Autumn, the attendance has steadily increased by approximately 10% from 18,500 to 20,000 to 22,000 to 25,000. If the attendance will keep increasing at this pace, it is expected to exceed 30,000 at the Tokyo Game Market that will be held after the next one.
The Game Market Management Office is carrying out an online questionnaire survey on the show. The questionnaire survey on newly-released games is also scheduled to start soon. Among the upcoming events, Tokyo Game Market 2019 Autumn on November 23 and 24, Tokyo Game Market 2020 Spring on April 25 and 26, and Tokyo Game Market 2020 Autumn on November 14 and 15 will all be held on Saturdays and Sundays at Tokyo Big Sight Aumi Exhibition Hall. Osaka Game Market 2020 is scheduled to be held on March 8 (Sun) at Intex Osaka. The call for participants will start later.
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!
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.
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.
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]).
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.
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.
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...
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.
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...