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.
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]).
Editor's note: Game Market took place in Tokyo on November 24-25, 2018, 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
Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn took place at Tokyo Big Sight (West Halls 3 and 4) for two days starting on November 24, 2018. Here is my report on its first day.
Approximately three thousand people were queuing before the opening of the show at 10:00 a.m. (according to Rael-san's report). The total attendance over the two days is expected to be 22,000 by the Game Market Management Office and approximately 23,000 by Rael-san.
Shortly after the opening, a greater number of booths than normal had many people queuing in front of them. This is likely due to an increase in the number of both participants and attendees. As a result, the aisles were congested here and there, requiring more time to move in the venue.
At the BakaFire Party booth, in addition to the people queuing to buy the games, fans crowded around the stage.
The Little Future booth also had many people queuing for the second edition of Tokyo Sidekick and its expansion. Different cosplay characters appeared there each day.
Antoine Bauza, who now visits Tokyo Game Market quite regularly, was seen visiting booths and actively trying out games. Furthermore, his autograph session took place to celebrate the release of the Japanese edition of Attack on Titan: The Last Stand. [Editor's note: Cocktail Games' Matthieu d'Epenoux is seen at right. —WEM]
Here are some games that attracted people's attention:
SINGULARITY is a tower defense and worker placement game from Head Quarter Simulation Game Club, whose previous game Improvement of POLIS released last autumn, is one of the finalists for the Game Market Award. It sold out quickly.
Duetti Pantiino (from UNiCORN) is a card game about placing one's ideal panties in line according to the player's fetish. It sold out quickly.
Mamey (from Hoy Games) is a card game about collecting cards from bean fields and selling them in sets to the market. There are three fields where cards accumulate if they are not selected. There is an upper limit to the number of cards you can keep in your hand, requiring tactical handling.
TOKYO✖CROSSING, released on trial from Hanayama, is a game about making your way through the busy pedestrian scramble of Shibuya, Tokyo. The character pieces move differently according to their types: ninja, otaku, and high school girl.
Jelly Jelly Games released the Japanese edition of Shifty Eyed Spies, in which you wink at the player indicated on the card and try to determine the location on the table where that player is casting their glance. Meanwhile, you can challenge other players if you catch them winking.
Nage×Nage Portside YOKOHAMA (from KenBill) is a game in which you take turns playing cards. As soon as the icons on the cards played meet the criteria, throw your record disc into the turntable box in the center of the table. You need to throw in your record disc quickly without missing the box.
Psychic Pizza Deliverers Go to the Ghost Town (from One Draw) is a game that involves taking notes to deduce the positions of the pawns moved behind the screen by the game master.
Masala Magic (from natriumlamp games) uses scents of various spices for the gameplay. Nice scents were wafting around their table.
Saashi & Saashi had arranged with the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau to produce and release the Kyoto City Bus 90th Anniversary Edition of Let's Make a Bus Route. This edition has been sold at various stores in Kyoto, such as Yellow Submarine, Tokyu Hands, and Bricks, as well as at the Kyoto City Train and Bus Fan Fair.
I see more and more board game accessories at recent Game Markets. Here are some notable new items on display. They are reasonably priced and quite alluring.
Rasen Works brought a rich variety of dice trays of diverse sizes and patterns.
Colon Yuran's accessories and card cases included meeples lying in the field.
Nicobodo had a magnet label saying "Board Gamer in Car" and a 2019 calendar with beautiful photos of board games.
In this board game workbook from Dilettante, you can keep a log of the board games you have played.
Itayama Shoukai had a variety of wooden pieces.
BakaFire Party was not the only one to hold lively events in their block booth.
Sugorokuya invited guests to hold a participatory event to play pen-and-paper games and the giant-sized edition of Rhino Hero.
Masashi Kawaguchi of DEAR SPIELE, Azumi Date of Asobi Cafe, and Sho Shirasaka of Jelly Jelly Cafe speak during the board game café owner panel session hosted by Jelly Jelly Cafe.
Kengo Otsuka, Yoshihiko Koriyama, and Kazunari Yoshimitsu talk at the board game designer panel session hosted by Jelly Jelly Cafe.
I am looking forward to seeing many more events tomorrow.
Here is my report on the second day of Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn. The number of people queuing before the opening amounted to 1,700, almost half of that from yesterday (according to Rael-san's report), but the board game flea market, which opened one hour later, was much more crowded.
More than 1,300 items were brought to this flea market managed by the Asakusa Board Game Flea Market Management Office, and the congestion was handled by issuing numbered tickets to the visitors.
On the second day, I had to check only the new games not present on the previous day, so I had relatively more time to spare, which I spent visiting demo tables and chatting with people. Such time to spare reminds me of the earlier days of Game Market when it was held in Asakusa. As the booths grew in number, our time to spare decreased and that led to the demand to expand Tokyo Game Market to a two-day event. Among the people I met, there were people I met for the first time, friends of friends, friends to meet after a long time, friends from my local region... It is always fun to meet and chat with such people at the Game Market.
It is worth noting that at this Game Market, there were more block booths where they held panel sessions and mini-game events on both days. Along with this, I witnessed many people watching not only such events but also many demo tables without playing the games. Thus, starting from an event to buy games, Game Market has expanded to new dimensions, to an event to play games and further to an event also to watch games.
At the Jelly Jelly Cafe booth, rakugo storyteller Sanyutei Rakuten performed his TRPG-themed rakugo story titled "Innsmouth Nagaya" ("Innsmouth Tenement House") in front of an audience of more than one hundred people, who enjoyed the performance with laughter.
At 1:00 p.m., the ceremony for the Game Market Award took place for the designers of the five finalists (and winners of the Award of Excellence), namely Improvement of the POLIS, Instant Propose, Tenka Meidou, Tokyo Sidekick, and Tricks and the Phantom. The award ceremony was held in front of a large audience.
The designers of the five games that won the Award of Excellence stand in line
First, the Expert Game of the Year, which was won by The Founders of ENDE in 2017, was won this year by Improvement of the POLIS (from Head Quarter Simulation Game Club). Improvement of the POLIS is a gamer's game in which you develop the city-states of ancient Greece by utilizing the characteristics of each city-state. It is presently out of stock, but it has been announced that this game will be published and distributed widely.
Improvement of the POLIS (from Head Quarter Simulation Game Club)
After it was announced that there was no game to receive this year's Kids' Game of the Year, the Best Game of the Year was announced. With the sound of a drum roll, a decorated paper ball was broke in a traditional style to reveal the name of the winner, which was Tenka Meidou (from 77spiele). Tenka Meidou (which means "World Rumbling") is themed on the battles during the Sengoku period (the period of warring states). The chief juror Jun Kusaba commented that the game's flow to conquer small castles, then send reinforcement to larger castles reminded him of the famous warlord Oda Nobunaga, while the system to choose the areas to move one's troops by combining three dice rolls has a beauty like that of Reiner Knizia's games. There was also a comment mentioning that this third game from 77spiele is made with minimal components, such as the board being printed in black and white while the pieces were bought from 100-yen shops, demonstrating that the game's appeal can come through even without a fascinating appearance.
The game designer Shinichi Yogi, upon receiving the award, commented that he adores the works of Sid Sackson and Reiner Knizia and was very pleased that such designer's name was mentioned by the chief juror Jun Kusaba. He has not released any game after this third game, but I hope that receiving the award will prompt him to design more new games.
Tenka Meidou (from 77spiele) [Editor's note: This article's author, Takuya Ono, stands at right. —WEM]
The award ceremony venue was then transformed into an area to demo and try out the award winners: Improvement of the POLIS and Tenka Meidou. I noticed some staff members there teaching with remarkable skills how to play the games. I became curious and asked about them, and found out they were members of an organization called Analog Game Eventers, who were there by the request of the Game Market Management Office to teach how to play a number of board games as well as to work as game masters of some TRPG. In addition to their love for the games, they had studied in advance the rules of the games they were to teach in addition to making other efforts to prepare, such as devising short-game variants to demo long games. Game Market is being supported by such labor in the background.
Here are some board games I played and some that gathered attention on the second day:
A new edition of Tricks and the Phantom, which received the Game Market Award of Excellence, was published from Oink Games with renewed artwork for wide distribution.
5×5 City (from OKAZU Brand) is a tile-placement game to develop your city in accordance with the effects of building and blocks.
Candiabury (from Northgame) is a game to determine the whereabouts of the candy marbles dropped from the top of the board (which represents the night sky). Players choose one of the pockets to collect their marbles. Northgame has consistently released games with beautiful hand-made components in a small number of copies.
Noblesse Wallet (from ChagaChaga Games) is a game in which you draw coins from a bag and use them to shop, whereby you can increase usable special effects and the source of scoring. The players all share one bag, and this makes the game quite interactive and lively, prompting the players to shout things like, "Try to go for one more coin!" on another's turn.
No Hand (from 758 Board Game Circle) has the subtitle "trick-taker without cards in your hand". After partly sharing the available information about the trump, how to follow suit, and ranks, some cards are placed in line and the players bid for the card they wish to play. Later, the players' applied rules are disclosed, then they check which color has won the trick.
I Don't Wanna Leave Kotatsu (from Shime Shime Games) is a game about choosing whether or not to stay under the warm kotatsu-blanketed table on a cold day. The players secretly check their household chore cards and place orange tokens on the kotatsu table. Then they simultaneously choose to stay in the kotatsu or to move out of it to do their chore. Lastly, the oranges are divided among the people in the applicable groups according to the choices they made.
Donou no Kai, which specializes in two-player abstract strategy games, was joined by the president of the publisher nestorgames (as shown) from Spain. They sold 33 games at their booth. Ken Shoda, who usually accompanies some guests as their interpreter/guide at Game Market, was also at the Donou no Kai booth as one of nestorgames' game designers.
Game Market Management Office has started the questionnaire surveys on the show and newly-released games. Your responses will be appreciated.
The upcoming events are Osaka Game Market 2019, which will be held on March 10 (Sun) at Intex Osaka, Tokyo Game Market 2019 Spring in May 25 (Sat) and 26 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight (Aumi), and Tokyo Game Market 2019 Autumn in November 23 (Sat) and 24 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight (Aumi). The maximum capacity of the Tokyo Big Sight Aumi Hall is twice as large as the present West Halls 3 and 4, so it is expected to sufficiently accommodate the increasing number of participants.
Follow-up article: Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn: Attendance of 22,000 over Two Days (original post)
Game Market Management Office has announced that a total of 20,000 people attended Tokyo Game Market 2018 Autumn, Japan's largest analog game event, which was held on November 24 (Sat) and 25 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight. The attendance was 12,000 on the first day and 10,000 on the second day. In total, it was 2,000 people more and 10% larger than that of Tokyo Game Market 2018 Spring (May 2018).
Since Game Market expanded to a two-day event, the attendance has steadily increased from 18,500 to 20,000 to 22,000. Over the past three Game Markets, the number of exhibitors has changed from 730 to 692 to 779 and the number of newly-released games from Japan has changed from 495 to 301 to 564. Thus, both of them have reached the highest number at this Game Market.
The questionnaire survey on newly-released games, including original games, imported games, Japanese editions, TRPG and SLG, has started. An autocomplete widget, which displays the applicable game names after you enter the first few characters, has been newly adopted for higher ease of rating. If you have played any of these games, please submit your rating on them.
Editor's note: Game Market took place in Tokyo on May 5-6, 2018, and Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated his reports about the event (day one and day two) from 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 Children's Day on May 5, the first day of Tokyo Game Market 2018 Spring was held at Tokyo Big Sight. The number of visitors has not been announced yet. However, according to an announcement by the Game Market Management Office, attendance reached over 10,000 people by the afternoon, so it seems certain that this show topped the attendance of the first day of Game Market 2017 Autumn.
Approximately 2,700 people were queuing before the opening at 10:00 a.m. (according to Rael-san's report). And they dispersed each to the booths of their destination as the show opened. The venue, joining two halls, was L-shaped and had many blind spots, so it is difficult to determine which booths had especially long queues in front of them.
After waiting for four hours, people tend to walk hurriedly.
Still, the overwhelmingly number of people queuing to buy the new Sakura Arms game from BakaFire Party was quite remarkable. BakaFire Party had a block booth with a large stage in their area to hold a talk show to which the people who bought their games were preferentially invited.
BakaFire Party talk show
There were eight block booths of varied colors, such as the blue Oink Games, red GP Games, orange Sugorokuya, and black DEAR SPIELE booths. Such block booths each covering an abundant space with many demo tables reminded me of the atmosphere of SPIEL in Essen.
Blue Oink Games
Giant Ubongo 3-D at the GP Games booth
Enter the gate into the Sugorokuya booth
Perhaps DEAR SPIELE's wall-covered Privacy demo room suggested a dazzling world awaiting the visitors as they walked through the split curtain with the R-18 icon on it?
I felt a SPIEL-like atmosphere not only from the use of the space. With an increase of participation and attendance from overseas, I frequently heard foreign languages, such as English and Chinese, at the venue. The number of exhibitors from Korea and Taiwan have also increased. Antoine Bauza, the designer of Hanabi and 7 Wonders, was playing Taiwanese board games with his friends. (An exhibitor's ability to teach how to play their games in English is very useful, especially for demoing their games to visitors from overseas.) BoardGameGeek, the world's largest board game database website, also had a booth at a corner of the venue to interview people and film their games.
Antoine Bauza at a demo table
BGG interviews and filming assisted by Ken Shoda as an interpreter
My Japanese translation of the book "Leitfaden fur Spieleerfinder und solche, die es werden wollen. Ein praktischer Ratgeber" (by Tom Werneck) was released at the show before its official publication. Titled "ボードゲームデザイナーガイドブック" (which would translate as "Board Game Designer's Guide Book: A Practical Guide to Those Who Aim to Become One") (from Small Light), this pre-sale of 250 copies was well-received and sold out. I heard that many of those who bought the book had exhibitor tags on them. I hope that the book will be useful for their game production in the future.
Board Game Designer's Guide Book
The first issue of the analog game magazine "ALL Gamers!" was released. It includes many notable articles, such as the talk between Ginichiro Suzuki and his son Kazunari Suzuki, as well as a report on the Board Game Café Award to select the best games through the voting by board game cafés and shops.
After checking the newly released games at the venue in about four hours, I managed to try some games and talk to some people. Let me report the games I tried along with those that gathered attention.
In From Batavia (from COLON ARC), the players collect spice cards and load them on their ships. Depending on the spice cards, you can trigger special effects to improve the efficiency. The rule to hand the cards used for paying the cost to the player on the left leads to interesting gameplay.
Patisserie Trickcake (from KogeKogeDo) is a trick-taking game in which you must follow suit and supply tasty cakes to your customers. Even if you cannot win the trick, you can still keep your used cards as items on sale and play them collectively, so it is also possible to lose deliberately to save up such cards as a strategy.
Moneybags (from Oink Games) is a bluffing game to take coins from others' bags "to make them even" while trying to gain more money unnoticed. The sound produced when shaking each bag provides the clue.
Trap of Love (from TUKAPON) is a card game to form melds by your hand and use them to gamble. Some cards revealed from other players' hands provide clues for gambling, but they might turn out to be bluffing.
In Alpenzian (from Fukuroudou), the players each build their village by choosing dice rolls and drawing pictures on their player sheet.
In Savannah Smile (from Bodogeimu), the players try to assess the animals' movement in order to place their smartphones in the spots to take the best shots.
In Renkin (Alchemy) (from ruri ruri games), the players use beads to connect high-scoring materials. This group has constantly produced games with gorgeous components and few copies.
Tsumigei Quiz ("Quiz on Unplayed Games on Your Shelf") (from Saikikaku) is a quiz game to present the names of games from their first and last letters.
Tokyo Sidekick (from Little Future) is a cooperative game in which superheroes and their sidekicks work together to fight against villains.
Here is my report on the second day of Tokyo Game Market 2018 Spring, which was held at Tokyo Big Sight. The number of people queuing before the opening amounted to approximately 40% of the number from yesterday (according to Rael-san's report). Lower attendance may have been tough for some exhibitors with regard to their sales (some exhibitors had wished to participate on Saturday but ended up on Sunday by lottery), but the visitors on the other hand could take seats at demo tables as well as engage in conversation with the exhibitors more easily.
I noticed some people visiting the Game Market after other shows at Tokyo Big Sight. Regarding the changes to the kind of people visiting Game Market, increases in female visitors, couples, and families has long been mentioned. Furthermore, an increase in overseas visitors and specific game players was remarkable.
It has been a while since we began seeing visitors from overseas publishers, such as AEG, Cocktail Games, Asmodee, and Hans im Gluck, coming to Tokyo Game Market in search of games to scout, but I also felt a strong presence of exhibitors from overseas at the current show. Furthermore, a BoardGameGeek crew was filming interviews and videos to introduce many games. Some overseas visitors were negotiating at the Oink Games booth to buy games in bulk. French game designer Antoine Bauza was visiting the show with his friends. I heard many people talking in foreign languages at this Game Market. If this trend goes on, the exhibitors might as well consider getting staff members who can explain their games' rules in English just like at SPIEL.
By the term "specific game players", I am referring to people such as the players of Sakura Arms and Magic: The Gathering, people who mostly play TRPG and live-action role-playing games (LARP) as well as Escape Room game players. They tend to visit only a single section of the venue without walking around to check various booths. While the attendance has been rising, we might as well question the proportion of people visiting the show to see doujin (indie) board games. Besides, such board games at the show have become quite diverse, ranging from light party games to heavy ones, making it difficult to report about them all together.
Tokyo Game Market shortly after its opening
After checking newly released board games, I tried some games just like I did on the previous day. I limited the games that I'd buy only to those with original themes or systems, those with some degree of reliability on the designers' skills (according to their previous works and game description), and those I could not try at the venue. I did not reserve any game. Instead, I saw the games while visiting booths to check newly-released games and chose which ones to buy after hearing the game descriptions. I managed to visit all the booths before noon on both Saturday and Sunday, and I bought most of the games I chose before they became sold out.
In our board game community, there is a wise saying: "It is better to regret buying a game than it is to regret not buying it." I agree with this, but if I bought a game and left it unplayed, I would feel sorry for the people who produced it. Thus, I bought only enough games to play in one month after the show.
Under the circumstances, it was easier to buy books than board games at the show. I bought the first issue of "ALL Gamers!" (from AHC), Spiel Stern 2018 (from COLON ARC), Board Game Quiz Extended (from Banjiro), Gamer Tsuma no Yuutsu ("The Melancholy of a Gamer's Wife") (from Horiba Koubou), and Board Game Café Path (from Bodotte Iitomo!) and read some of them during the trip.
Board Game Café Path sold out. Its second issue is scheduled to be released in Autumn. I also had some time to spend outside the venue, so I had lunch at the kitchen car area. I tried the food tasting of yogurt and pudding supplied by Pal System food home delivery service, then ate a plate of kebab. It was windy but the weather was fine and felt good. The sunshine was so dazzling.
Kitchen cars, all looking nice
The next Game Market will be held on November 24 (Sat) and 25 (Sun) at Tokyo Big Sight. Due to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, it will be difficult to reserve a venue in the Tokyo Metropolitan area starting in 2019, but I hear that the Game Market Management Office is presently on the move to secure one.
Here are some games that I tried and some that caught my eye at the venue.
Suzume-Jong (from Sugorokuya), a mahjong game with minimized mahjong tiles, sold a lot at the show. There was also a section to try mahjong along with many books on mahjong. The booths exhibiting Goita-related products were also popular, indicating the power of such traditional games.
Stock hold'em (from OKAZU Brand) is a stock trading game in which the players place their cards face down and the stock prices are eventually determined according to poker hands. Hot stocks have high prices, so you would hope to buy stocks when they are low-priced and sell them as their prices rise. However, if you keep buying the same stock, other players would hinder you. According to OKAZU Brand, their sales (at a single event) was an all-time high.
SMART 500 Games released four titles, namely Stray Cat, Negotiator, Starry Swear, and Stationeries. They have firmly revived the 500-yen game project, which has long continued in some way or other as a kind of tradition at Game Market. Their games, sharing the same box art, stimulates one's desire to completely collect such games.
In Kokikoki Station (from EVIL Team), the players put the cargo pieces in their hands onto containers. The objective is to have the fewest cargo pieces in your hand when all the containers are filled, but you drop out if you run out of your cargo pieces before that.
The tricktaking game Ubergang des Barocks ("Transition of Baroque") and trivia game BodoCa (from Colorful Spiele) were both designed by Aya Matsunaga, an administrator of the board game data base ボドゲーマ (Boardgamer).
Kani no Koushin ("Marching of Crabs") (from Azb.Studio) is a cooperative game to guide and help crabs. Its Styrofoam box contains gorgeous components.
In Morse Karuta (from GIFT10INDUSTRY), the players try to identify a card according to the Morse code tapping produced with the game app downloaded to a smartphone. Various audio versions of the Morse code are available.
Yuusha ga Ichigeki de Yarareta! ("Our Hero Was Defeated at a Single Blow!") is a one-against-many game in which the warrior, wizard, and priest try to escape from Satan in its castle. With a point system, you might also get to survive by sacrificing others.
The questionnaire survey on newly-released games will soon begin. Even after buying games at the venue, until you have shared your comments on such games with others and answered the survey, Game Market 2018 Spring will still continue...
Editor's note: Game Market took place in Osaka on April 1, 2018, and Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated this report about the event from 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 for translating this! —WEM
On April 1, as cherry blossoms were in full bloom, Osaka Game Market 2018 was held at Intex Osaka in Suminoe Ward, Osaka City. After holding Game Markets in Kobe for two years, the Game Market in the Kansai region returned to Osaka this year, and the attendance has grown from 4,700 at 2017's Kobe Game Market to 6,000 (according to the announcement by the Game Market Management Office).
Although I did not notice many games becoming a topic of conversation on Twitter before the show, there was the usual long line of people waiting before the opening. As the show opened at 10:00 a.m., they rushed into the venue. Many people queued to buy games, such as GANGSTER PARADISE Requiem (from Kaishin Games), which had drawn attention through crowdfunding, and Liqueur the GAME (from B-CAFE and Butagoya).
Oink Games released its new game Zogen, which was designed by Anja Wrede and Christoph Cantzler, who have produced games such as Shark Alarm!!! They had brought the game idea to the Oink Games booth at the 2018 Spielwarenmesse Toy Fair in Nürnberg, Germany in February and it was quickly made into a product. While the game title comes from the Japanese word "zogen" (ゾーゲン), which means "increase and decrease", it also sounds a little German. The Oink Games booth was also selling the Deep Sea Adventure T-shirt.
Zogen is a real-time pattern recognition game in which each player tries to play the cards from their hand to the center of the table and race to get rid of them until a player has only three cards in hand. Try to find a card that differs from the previously-placed card by exactly one pattern (micro-organism) and lay down that card while saying the pattern's name.
Meanwhile, other players can challenge your judgment by calling out "Zogen!" and if your judgment turns out to be wrong, you must receive the cards laid down on the table until that point. The game continues unless anyone calls out "Zogen!", and the players are all busy checking the cards in their hands, so even sloppy judgments may go unnoticed. Thus, even players with sharp judgment do not necessarily win the game.
Tricks and the Phantom (from Brain Brain Games) is a minimal deduction game that provides incredibly strategic gameplay with very few cards. It was initially released with English and Japanese text, and now a Korean edition has been released after a South Korean board game café showed an interest in the game. At Osaka Game Market, this game's variant rules for different number of players were distributed for free.
I encountered a meeple cosplayer with a haiku-like phrase on its body that reads:
Though we have proclaimed It's tough to proceed with / The way of board games Our long road ahead / May extend to infinity
However, the venue was too crowded for him to walk around, so he stayed at the entrance/exit to see people off. The meeple costume can be put on like a stand-in cutout.
At 3:00 p.m., there was a talk show with the French board game designer Bruno Faidutti along with Seiji Kanai (Kanai Factory) and Hisashi Hayashi (OKAZU Brand). The show was hosted by Nobuaki Takerube. Izobretenik provided help as the interpreter. In response to Seiji Kanai's question on good games that have been played, Bruno Faidutti referred to the timing of their publication, commenting that Citadels would not have sold this much if it was published recently.
At this Game Market, board game accessories were quite prominent. The groups selling such products were located in D row, where various creative accessories were on display. Here are some dice towers and card stands produced by Cygnus.
Mr. and Mrs. Takahashi, who run the second-hand board game shop Schatzi in Amagasaki, had a booth under the name "MeepRing!!" where they sold meeple-patterned microfiber cloths. There could be a high demand for such a cloth among us board gamers with a relatively high proportion of people wearing glasses.
Koma no Toki had necklaces using Agricola pieces at their booth. Furthermore, there were many other charming items, such as meeple buttons (from Taka-Meeple), Darekara dice (from Hako no Soto), and tote bags (from Northgame).
Among the Kansai region's local game designers, Toryo Hojo of Loser Dogs released his new satirical game Heisei Shuuryou no Oshirase (Announcing the End of Heisei Era). It is a word game to nominate new names for the upcoming era by combining kanji characters. As a satirical game valuing the news, the game also comes with the data showing how often each kanji character has been used in the names of previous eras.
OKAZU Brand released its latest game MetroX. In this game, using the numbers revealed by drawing cards, all players fill up their subway map with ◯s in the station spaces to create subway networks. It is another paper-and-pencil game by OKAZU Brand following Rolling Japan. The rules whereby the players can fill up only adjoining stations with ◯s combined with the subway's interwoven system create a nice and tough dilemma for the players. With the maps for the Osaka Municipal Subway, which was renamed to "Osaka Metro" on April 1, and that for Tokyo Metro, this game is also good for studying subways.
I also managed to try out Tribes, a trick-taking game created by Beginners, a first-time exhibitor from Osaka. The game is comprised of three phases, whereby the players first play a card from their hand (you may follow suit), take one of the cards laid out and use it to gain their resource, then use the resource in combinations to earn victory points. Even if you play a card to gain a certain resource, it may be taken by another player, thus requiring a tactical gameplay.
Rezest, a social network game production company from Kansai, created a board game based on their browser game and released it with the title JOLLYROGER 〜大海の覇権〜 (Jolly Roger: Ocean Supremacy). Digital game companies moving into the board game market is also a recent trend.
In Game Markets in Kansai, the cosplay by Chim, the store manager of BOARDGAME.Lab！DDT, has also become a well-known practice.
Lastly, here is another cosplay to promote the game Rule of Magic (from River Games).
So that is my leisurely report provided along with photos. While both the venue and attendance have grown larger, Osaka Game Market is still relatively small compared to Tokyo Game Market and I consequently had ample time to enjoy the show. In Tokyo, on the other hand, I would be too busy checking newly released games. In Osaka, it was good to meet, talk, and have a relaxing time with many people, such as the people who participated in the Adult Board Game Festival on the day before the Game Market, the people I had previously known only over the Internet, and the people I met again after a long while. I hope to see you people again next year!
Editor's note: I missed out on Tokyo Game Market in December 2017, but Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English (hire him!) and who tweets about new JP games — has translated reports about the event from Takuya Ono, who runs the Table Games in the World blog. Mr. Ono has given permission to reprint the photos from his posts, and I've linked to each post in the section title. Many thanks to Saigo for translating these reports! —WEM
On December 2, the first day of the Autumn 2017 Tokyo Game Market took place at Tokyo Big Sight. Game Market was initially launched in 2000, and the 34th Game Market has expanded to a two-day show for the first time because one-day events are no longer sufficient to serve the increasing number of participants and attendees by merely expanding the size of the venue. As a result of shifting to a two-day show, the number of participating exhibitors (when compared to the Autumn 2016 Game Market) increased by 35% to 730 groups, and the number of new games released at this event increased by 35% to 466 titles (provisional figure).
From the entrance, Catan's red and Oink Game's blue colors look prominent
When the event opened at 10:00 a.m., the people who had been queuing since before 6:00 a.m. rushed in at once. The venue, which covers an area of 11,680 square meters, did not feel overcrowded, but people formed long queues in front of some booths to buy limited items and expansion sets of popular games. A reported four hundred people queued in front of the BakaFire Party booth to buy the latest expansion set for Sakura Arms. There was a line of almost two thousand people waiting before Game Market opened (according to Rael-san's report), so one in five people among them are estimated to have queued for Sakura Arms.
After the crowd rushed in at the opening, I walked around to visit each booth and check the newly-released games. The Game Market management office has gathered information on newly-released games through its questionnaire survey, but the information gathered so far is still not complete, which might affect choices in the Game Market Award selection, so I decided to visit each booth to view everything first-hand.
It took me almost all day until closing time, but eventually I managed to visit and check all the booths, except for some that left early. Quite a few people may have noticed me walking around with a laptop in one hand. It was a hard work, but it allowed me to talk with many people and also make some lucky finds, so I think it was worth it.
At this Game Market, I heard some people mention the presence of many overseas visitors and couples. Many of the people from overseas were apparently Chinese. I asked Game Market participants from China about this, and they said that such visitors probably included many people studying in Japan as well as board gamers who came all the way from China, Taiwan, etc. Many people from Western countries were also seen in the venue.
The attendance on the first day is estimated to be approximately 11,000 people. With some booths having sold out their stock for this day, I have high hopes also for the attendance on the second day.
I managed to try out two games this day.
In Laurel Crown, designed by Seiji Kanai, the players collect fighters through drafting and battle in tournaments. The fighter cards, whose ranks range from from C (lowest) to S (highest), each have a different ability. These fighter cards are lined up, and the players take them one by one.
Five tournaments then take place according to various regulations (such as battles between S-rank fighters and those between male fighters). The players send fighter cards from their hand to the battle and reveal them at the same time. The fighters' powers are determined by dice rolls combined with special powers. The players, in descending power order, gain honor points, then move on to the next tournament. In this way, the player with the most honor points wins. The fighters' powers are hugely influenced by dice rolls. I also enjoyed the occasional surprises, such as a C-rank fighter defeating an S-rank fighter. (2-4 players / 14+ / 20-40 min.)
Troika from Oink Games is a tile-flipping game to gather jewels and fuel from a planet and return to the home planet. Tiles numbered 1 to 15 are placed face down in the play area. On your turn, flip a tile and choose to take a tile (whether face-up or face-down) or return an unwanted tile to the play area. The tiles transform into a gem when you assemble a straight of three tiles and serve as fuel when you assemble a three-of- a-kind; you lose points based on the remaining tiles not used.
Each round ends when all the tiles have been flipped, and among those who have fuel, the players with more valuable jewels gain more points. After three rounds, the player with the most overall points wins. The quantity of each numbered tile is open information, so you can assess which tiles to take according to other players' acquired tiles. There are relatively many 7s that are useful for both scoring and forming the fuel, which increases the competition for them. This is a fairly light game with a clever twist. (2-5 players / 7+ / 20 min.)
Continuing from yesterday, here is my report on the second day of the Autumn 2017 Tokyo Game Market. The turnout is slow compared to the first day, with approximately 1,200 to 1,300 people queuing before the opening (according to the Rael-san's report). Nonetheless, there was much attendance after the opening, and it was a lively event until the end.
Who will win the Best Game of the Year?
After checking the booths exhibiting only on the second day (Sunday), I participated in the awarding ceremony for the Game Market Award. The ceremony was held at the farthest corner of the venue, but nearly eighty people gathered at the ceremony, perhaps partly due to it being the only special event held in the venue at this Game Market. The ceremony was hosted by Tetsuya Ikeda, who was assisted by Rameru Suzuno (from Spiel Yuenchi).
First, the Awards of Excellence, which had been announced on November 4, were given to the people who had produced these five games. Following that were announcements for Kids' Game of the Year, Expert Game of the Year, Special Award, and Best Game of the Year.
Jun Kusaba, chairman of the awards committee, hands the award certificate and shield to Tori Hasegawa, illustrator of 8bit MockUp, which won the Best Game of the Year
Toshiki Sato, who designed 8bit MockUp, could not attend the ceremony and was apparently on his way to Hokkaido. Mr. Hasegawa commented, "Neither of us can drink, but I would like to go for a drink to celebrate this with Mr. Sato and the people who helped us", to which the host Mr. Ikeda replied, "Then you can celebrate with milk or something."
Since we couldn't hear from him at Game Market, I interviewed Mr. Sato by email. I heard that, from the game design idea of using oblique lines on the tiles, Mr. Hasegawa came up with the idea of applying 8-bit game artwork, seeking a feel of video games such as Populous, Dragon Quest, and Xevious.
TGiW: Please tell us about the process of this game's creation.
Sato: After building the game system in the winter of 2016, we worked on deciding the theme and adjusting some details. Actually, I was hesitating whether to actually release such a game. Its mechanisms are similar to Carcassonne and Karuba, so I was not sure if it was worth releasing a game without much innovation. When I first talked to Mr. Hasegawa about it, he said, "How about an 8-bit game?" and that inspired me. The production of this game owes much to our desire to create an 8-bit world, regardless of it being innovative or not.
TGiW: What point did you think and work out the most?
Sato: We had its rulebook proofread and refined quite a lot. Around the time of the Autumn 2016 Tokyo Game Market, there was much discussion about doujin game rulebooks, so we worked on this game's rulebook carefully, hoping that it could be a good example.
TGiW: Please comment on receiving the award.
Sato: I am truly grateful for this fortune whereby we can create games with so many people's help. Please keep watching us as we will keep creating new games.
TGiW: What are your future plans?
Sato: We have sold out the second edition of 8bit MockUp at this Game Market, so please wait for a while before we print more copies. We are planning to release a new game at the Spring 2018 Tokyo Game Market, so please try it when it comes out.
Five people receiving the awards. Congratulations!
I met and talked with G. Benassar, the Licensing & New Business Director of Asmodee (France), at the venue. Here is my summary of his comments. He said that after encountering the board games that initially debuted at Game Market and were later introduced to Western countries — games such as Machi Koro and Love Letter — he began visiting Game Market starting in May 2017. Mr. Benassar said that at Game Market, he was impressed by the amount of passion put into the games as well as the unique graphics and fresh ideas. Hoping to extend such ideas more professionally, he said that they were considering the distribution of some titles.
In addition to its office in France, Asmodee has offices in countries such as Germany, USA, and China, and it sold 34 million copies of analog games globally in 2016. It distributes games through labels such as Fantasy Flight Games, Days of Wonder, What's Your Game?, and Pearl Games. If the games that initially debuted at Game Market were to be distributed from Asmodee, Mr. Benassar said that the game circles' names would be kept likewise as labels, so it seems that the names of more doujin circles will be known globally sooner or later.
I managed to play three games on this day.
Rattaneer from OKAZU Brand is a middleweight game with a playing time of less than one hour. From ten area tiles arranged in a row, each player chooses two tiles as their destinations, then all the players reveal their choices simultaneously. You can earn money, hire pirates, loot boats, then convert that loot to victory points according to your chosen areas. Starting from Area 1, check whether there are any empty (unconnected) area tiles. The actions stated on the areas after the empty area do not take effect. Aiming for a destination that's farther away brings you a higher risk of having your chosen action negated paired with the outside chance of monopolizing an area and gaining more reward. I enjoyed the gameplay whereby you try to lead and predict other players' actions to have their tokens placed up to your destinations. (2-5 players / 10+ / 30-45 min.)
Sly Knight Seekers from COLON ARC is a card game in which the players seek a robber by team play. Play your card to identify and take a card at an end of the hand of your opponent, who is holding their cards in ascending order. Using the cards you have exchanged with your teammate and what you have heard as clues, try to guess the whereabouts of each card by counting. It is also possible to take a chance on simultaneous investigation to take many cards at once, so you had better stay on your guard at all time. (2-5 players / 10+ / 30 min.)
The Queen of the Hansa from Yuruart is a board game in which the players, as Hanseatic traders, compete for trade supremacy. On your turn, play one card from your hand of two cards, then replenish your hand with a card from the area of the matching color. Settle accounts regularly after playing five cards. The players who have played cards with more trade goods per each color gain more points. The points gained from each area fluctuates.
Along with the set collection of important figures and competition for majority in Lubeck City (with cards being played face down and revealed at the end), this game requires thoughtful decisions despite the simple choice between two options on each turn. (2-4 players / 10+ / 30-45 min.)
Fumie no Tame ni, meaning "For Fumie", is a two-player deduction game designed by Seiji Kanai and published by One Draw that also gathered attention. I could not play it at the venue, but it is worth mentioning.
The game takes place in a world where a high school girl named Fumie met a mysterious death. The players travel back in time to a few days before her death and try to save her. Fumie no Tame ni contains a secret whereby some cards' effects are gradually revealed during the gameplay. Demoing by playing the game was not available at the venue, but it is not a game with a legacy system. You can play it to the end and play it again. I also heard that its illustration by Noboru Sugiura, who did the artwork of the initial Love Letter, also drew attention, and many of the people who bought this game were female visitors. According to Hayato Kisaragi, who runs One Draw, Fumie no Tame ni is a very unique game and the people's opinions on it would be divided. I could not play it, so instead, here is a photo of Hayato Kisaragi and Seiji Kanai.
According to Keiji Kariya, general manager of the Game Market Management Office, there were slightly more exhibitors on Saturday and the advance tickets for Saturday sold more. However, many people attended the event on Sunday with a day ticket and Mr. Kariya guesses that many of them were families who came by casually. With regard to that, opening the kids' game section on Sunday worked out well.
Among the 730 groups who participated in exhibiting, 42% of them exhibited on both days, 33% did only on Saturday, and 25% did only on Sunday. Mr. Kariya said that he had not expected that the Saturday and Sunday shows would be so well-balanced.
The Game Market Management Office has announced that a total of 18,500 people attended the Autumn 2017 Tokyo Game Market, Japan's largest analog game event. The attendance was 10,000 on the first day and 8,500 on the second day. In total, this number was 5,500 people and 42% higher than the 13,000 attendance figure for the Spring 2017 Tokyo Game Market in May.
In recent years, the attendance at Tokyo Game Market, which is held semiannually, has increased by approximately one thousand people at each show: 5000→6500→7200→8500→9500→11000→12000→13000. At this pace, the current Game Market would have had an attendance of approximately 14,000, but even more attendance was expected by expanding to a two-day event for the first time. The attendance did not double from the previous one, but it nonetheless increased significantly.
The dispersing of attendees over two days reduced congestion and also brought some advantages, such as ease of moving in the venue and joining demo tables. On Sunday, I noticed people who had participated on the previous day as exhibitors were now visiting other booths, and I saw an aspect of this event where people can enjoy and communicate interactively as both exhibitors and visitors.
The upcoming events are the 2018 Osaka Game Market, which will be held on Sunday, April 1 at Intex Osaka; the Spring 2018 Tokyo Game Market, which will be held on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6 at Tokyo Big Sight; and the Autumn 2018 Tokyo Game Market in November, which will also be a two-day event.
To follow up the translation of Nicobodo's report on the 2017 Kobe Game Market, Saigo — who frequently translates game rules from Japanese to English and who tweets a lot about new JP games — has translated several reports from Takuya Ono, who runs the excellent Table Games in the World blog. Mr. Ono has also given permission to reprint the photos from his posts, and I've linked to each post in the section title. My great thanks to Saigo for the effort involved in getting permission and translating these reports! —WEM
The event took place in the same venue (Building No. 3) as in 2016;
the booth layout was not narrow, but it was quite congested in many areas
On Sunday, March 12, 2017, Kobe Game Market 2017 took place at Kobe International Exhibition Hall (Chuo Ward, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture). This was the sixth Game Market in the Kansai region and the second Game Market after the event moved from Osaka to Kobe. The 198 groups of participants — including board game publishers, board game stores, and doujin game circles — sold and displayed doujin board games (including 84 new titles), imported games, used games, books, and other board-game-related items; the attendance was later announced at 4,700 people.
A line of people waiting under the Port Liner railway viaduct before the opening,
with a passion for board games to beat the cold!
Over one thousand people waited in line before the opening for the limited number of items sold at the event. This year's Kobe Game Market was held approximately one month later than in 2016, with the weather showing some signs of spring. Still, it was below 10º Celsius in the morning. When the venue opened at 10:00 a.m., many people rushed to board game stores DDT and Trickplay. Both of these stores sell unique games imported through their original routes. Many attendees rush to imported games before doujin games. This may be a notable characteristic of the Game Market in the Kansai region.
Chim, the store manager of BOARDGAME.Lab！DDT, cosplaying as a phantom thief;
On the other hand, doujin games are gathering attention as well. Many booths were constantly crowded until late afternoon with many games becoming sold out. With people crowding in front of booths, it's become vital to plan in advance to visit some booths. Otherwise, it would be difficult to simply wander around and casually seek games that may interest you.
Still, with fewer participants compared to Tokyo Game Market, I had relatively ample time to have a look at the games. The venue was open for seven hours, the same as at Tokyo Game Market — but compared to TGM in late 2016 in which 539 groups participated, I could, at a rough estimate, spend more than twice the time at each booth. I heard both participants and attendees saying, "This is just the right size." At the venue, I tried out quite a few games, nine titles in total. I hope to report about them separately.
At TGM in late 2016, Oink Games set up a large booth like those seen at the SPIEL game fair in Essen, Germany. They recently established a German branch — Oink Games GmbH — to spread their games farther in Europe. I heard that the female German staff member who helped the Oink Games booth at SPIEL will be the branch manager to market their games. I was also told that Oink Games is considering participation next year in fairs like Gen Con (USA) and the Cannes International Games Festival (France). Such activities would open up a new field for Japanese board games, which so far have been introduced overseas through license contracts with overseas publishers.
their recent release The Pyramid's Deadline is also getting off to a good start, already having sold 3,000 copies
At the venue, some news was also announced, such as that of the Osaka-based Kiwi Games board game store opening their second store in late April near Shin-Osaka Station and Kobe-based Group SNE planning to start publishing an analog game magazine, Game Mastery, in August. Let me also note that Toryo Hojo, a Kansai-based satirical game designer, released two new games, namely Oden no Shukusai (A Feel for Oden) and a free-distributed game Trump Wall.
As I did in 2016, in Kobe I attended a gathering on the previous day of the Game Market as well as a gathering held right after the Game Market. There, I met and talked with the people sharing the hobby, both local people of the Kansai region and people from distant regions, such as Kyushu. On both days, after the gatherings, I visited Trickplay where I had long talks until 11:00 p.m., some of which were recorded for the board game podcast "Buta no Nakigoe". With the attendance to the Game Market having increased by one thousand from last year, it's difficult to stay at "the right size". Meanwhile, it was still a cozy event with a feel of "knowing each other's face", a feel that we may be losing rapidly at Tokyo Game Market.
Arclight, the organizer of Kobe Game Market 2017, held at Kobe International Exhibition Hall on March 12, 2017, announced that 4,700 people attended the event. From Kobe Game Market 2016 (with 3,700 attendees), attendance increased by 1,000 people, approximately 30%.
In 2017, the number of participants was 198 groups, five groups fewer than last year. (The second-round application was not launched so as to keep some space in the venue.) The number of new games released at this event was 84 titles, which is 17 titles more than last year. Along with them, many previously-released games, imported games, used games, accessories, and self-published books were displayed for sale.
Tokyo Game Market 2017 Spring will be held two months later in Sunday, May 14 at Tokyo Big Sight. The attendance at Tokyo Game Market has constantly increased by approximately 1,000 people at each event, having reached 12,000 attendees at Tokyo Game Market 2016 Autumn [in December]. It seems that the attendance in the Kansai region is increasing at the same pace.
Kobe Game Market 2017 Game Report: Mask of Moai, Bon Voyage: Weather vs Navigator, Garimpeiro(original post)
At a Game Market venue, I try to play as many games as possible without spending too much time on buying games or talking. It's partly for gathering information for the Game Market Award and personally due to the fact that buying the games tends to result in leaving them unplayed while many other new games are released almost daily these days. Furthermore, after hearing a request from overseas asking for information on new games, this time I played games at the venue more actively. Most of the booths have only one demo table, so you often wait until the previous group is over. On the other hand, it was a lot of fun to play the games with the playful gamers of Kansai. I'd like to thank the staff who explained the rules and the people who played the games with me.
Following Mask of Anubis, Mask of Moai also uses the smartphone for a cooperative game incorporating virtual reality (VR). First, attach a smartphone with the supplied application installed into the paper VR goggles. Then describe what you see to your team members, who try to create a map of a temple by arranging tiles and pieces based on your information. The goggle-wearing player's position in the temple changes each time the players change their turn. Combine the information from each player to create a large map.
Certified by Mu, a magazine about paranormal phenomena, the game is set in a unique world with a moai statue at the bottom of the sea. Using clay to create the shape of extraterrestrial strange creatures named Rapa Rapas, the players win by helping the Rapa Rapas reach the landing place of their spaceship.
The map and the shape of Rapa Rapas are automatically generated at each game with approximately one million variations. Exploring the fun factors of a board game, there is also a variant with additional puzzle elements along with communication restrictions using yes-no questions and onomatopoeia.
First, describe the landscape above the water, then dive into the water and describe what you see inside the submarine temple. Your communication skills are challenged by a time limit. Furthermore, if you encounter a Rapa Rapa, remember its shape so as to reproduce it with clay after removing the goggles. Getting totally absorbed in the game made me feel somewhat like wandering into the submarine temple.
Mask of Moai Designer: Takashi Hamada Artist: Haruka Kajikawa, Toshi Murase, Masashi Sato Publisher: GIFT10INDUSTRY (2017) 2-6 Players / 10+ / 30-60 Min / 4,600¥
Bon Voyage: Weather vs Navigator (Publisher: COLON ARC)
This voyage card game is a remake of Koukai no Hibi (Days of Voyage), which was released by Jiyu Rakka as a 500-yen game at Tokyo Game Market 2012 Spring. It's a light game from COLON ARC, following To Unlimited, and Beyond and Sly Knight Robbery.
The players hold their crew chips in their hands and disclose them at once. After that, flip the current event card and pay or receive chips in order from the first place. Mostly, being first is advantageous with less payment, but it may occasionally lead to a loss depending on the event, thus making you wonder how much you should hold in your hand.
You keep flipping the event cards until the "Touching Land" card is flipped. This provides some ideas to assess the cards that haven't been flipped with some elements of counting. The game ends when the crew chips of one of the players are used up, and the player with the most crew chips wins.
There is also an additional set of rules to use special event cards with drastic effects for a more dynamic game. The variety of events, some of which imposing a penalty for holding too few crew chips, also led to lively conversation, like "That card would come out soon", "No, no, it's still early".
In this board game, the players compete in gold mining at the Amazon river. A game which received an honorable mention at the first Group SNE Board/Card Game Contest was developed into this game. With this, all the games which won prizes at the said contest have been made into products: two games which won the awards, namely Space Ninja and Gambler × Gamble!, and three games which received the honorable mention, namely Animal Mind, Demon Worker, and Garimpeiro.
In this game, the players first put out planning cards all at once, disclose their cards one by one in order, then replenish their hand with money or workers along with raising their workers' status. Since you cannot choose the same item as the player before you, select your planning card while considering what other players are likely to play.
After replenishing your hand, place workers in descending order of their status and take action. To perform an action already chosen by another player, more workers are required.
While various actions, such as buying victory point cards to gain special abilities and carrying over your money to the next year, are available, the main action lies in what to do with the gold mine. In this phase, you draw special dice from the bag according to the number of workers you've placed and roll these dice. You gain points according to the number of gold nuggets on the dice roll. The special dice vary in probability, ranging from the white die to get gold with a one-sixth chance to the purple die to get gold with a half chance. It was exciting to both draw and roll such dice.
In the long run, you cannot win by the simple gambling of sending more workers to the gold mine. The special abilities of the victory point cards also become increasingly effective. This is a gamer's game designed precisely down to details.
Kobe Game Market 2017 Game Report: Wild Gold, Putzroboter, Across the Universe (original post)
Here is my second report of the games that I played at Kobe Game Market 2017 on March 12.
Wild Gold (Publisher: 6jizo [Rokujizo])
In this card game, the players create tools from cards and use them to dig a gold mine. It's the first time for this circle to participate in a Game Market. The name of the circle 6jizo (Rokujizo) comes from Rokujizo Station in Kyoto. This game was quickly sold out at the venue and its reissue is to be waited.
At the start, each player has a "small axe" made of one stone card and one wood card. Using the small axe, you can draw one card from the play area. In the play area, there are item cards — wood, stone, iron, and fire — and treasure cards. As you collect item cards in your hand, you can assemble various tools, such as a "big axe", "small pickaxe", "spear", and "wood bomb".
I found it interesting to assemble each tool by placing the item cards in the shape of the tool. By this rule, it's easily recognizable what you can do in your turn. With the "small axe", you can draw one card from the play area. With the "big axe", you can draw two cards. With the "small pickaxe", you can choose and take one card from the discard pile. With the "spear", you can draw one card from another player's hand and snatch it if it's a treasure card. With the powerful "wood bomb", you can choose to draw four cards from the play area or draw one card from each player's hand and snatch the cards if they're treasure cards. The tools' effects vary, but their easily recognizable shapes were helpful to play the game.
Initially, I thought it would be advantageous for the start player to make more tools than others, but such an advantage is nullified by the rule to "check the upper limit". According to this rule, the active player can have only up to seven items in total of the cards in their hand and their tools. Because of this, the player may have to discard some tools or treasure cards in their hand. You can win the moment you gain 10 points through treasure cards, but because of the upper limit, we often encountered cases where you stop at 9 points and have your cards snatched from other players before your next turn, resulting in a seesaw battle.
I managed to win narrowly by making two "swords", each of which allows you to announce a type of card in another player's hand and snatch it if it's there; I snatched gold (2 points) cards from other players. It's a game with depth in which you need to change your tools flexibly according to the situation.
In this game, you slide the robot vacuum cleaner "Putzroboter" to collect only the paper clips of your color. It was designed by Mr. Otsubo, a.k.a. "Attack". Mr. Otsubo is the manager of B-CAFE, a board game cafe in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture. Putzroboter's robotic movement is fun.
First, spread all the players' paper clips, then launch Putzroboter from a distance. Putzroboter is a simple structure made of a bowl covering a magnet ball. If you launch it while spinning, it makes a sharp turn. Then remove the paper clips that are pulled to Putzroboter by the magnetic force. The first player to have Putzroboter remove all the paper clips of their color wins.
Since the paper clips of all the players are mixed, it's difficult to remove only the clips of your color, as in Bellz! Along with the luck factor, this game would also require dexterity skills, especially near the end, when only a few paper clips remain, to move Putzroboter to the clips of your color.
This game was made as a homage to the British musician David Bowie, who died in 2016. In the first new game from Spieldisorder in two years (its prototype was demoed at Game Markets in 2016), the players collect stars through bidding and link them to help "the man who fell to Earth" return to his home planet.
In each round, the star cards are placed in a row of four seasons. The players plot their cards face down to bid on each of the star cards in spring, summer, fall, and winter. After all the players have placed their cards, they bid four times, starting with the star card in spring.
The player who bid by the card of the highest number receives the star card (with points) in each season and discards the card played. Meanwhile, other players, in turn, choose what to do with their card played, from among the following actions:
(1) Carry it over to the next bidding, (2) Return it to their hand, or (3) Add it to the card pool in front of them.
If you carry over your played card to the next bidding, you can add its value to the next card you play for bidding.
Adding the played card to your card pool is an important action in this game because at the end of the game you can score only up to the total points of the cards in your pool. If the total points of the star cards you've gained through bidding is higher than that of the cards in your pool, you must discard the star cards until their total points fall below that of the cards in your pool. Furthermore, the number of cards in your hand is less than the number of auctions, so you're required to lose some biddings, to add some cards to your pool, and to return some cards to your hand. It's very tactical to carry out this adjustment along with simultaneous bidding.
The star cards also have various marks on them as bonus set-collection and majority points. It's interesting also to take such factors into consideration when you assess the value to bid for the star cards.
Across the Universe Designer: hi-life Publisher: Spieldisorder (2017) 3-4 players / +10 / 38 min
Kobe Game Market 2017 Game Report: Long Long Line in HELL, Kikka-Sai, Startups (original post)
Here is my third report of the games that I played at Kobe Game Market 2017 on March 12.
In Long Long Line in HELL, ogres queue at supply stations for beautiful gems. It's another dice game from March Hare Games following the fishing-themed dice game Lord of the Die-Angler (2016).
First, each player rolls their 15 ogre dice. There are big and small ogre dice. At the start, you can only use big ogre dice. Small ogre dice are placed on each player's sleep card. To use them, you need to wake them up by rolling big ogre dice.
In your turn, as in Las Vegas, roll your dice and place all dice of one number on one of the three supply stations. Each supply station has a capacity, and when it becomes full, gems are distributed in ascending order of the rank of players who placed dice on it. The ranking is determined according to the number, size, and roll results of each player's dice placed on the supply station. There are not many big ogre dice, so you need to promptly wake up small ogre dice as reinforcements.
You can wake up small ogre dice only by rolling one big ogre die and achieving the dice roll matching that of some small ogre dice. You can re-roll the die, but one big ogre die is consumed for that, too. Used big ogre dice rest for one turn, after which they can be used again.
When a supply station is nearly full, you can choose in your turn whether to place a die in order to rise in the ranking, or instead increase the number of your dice so as to gamble more on your next turn. Even if you choose to increase the number of your dice, your dice rolls are still uncertain, leading to dramatic outcomes.
The game ends when two of the supply stations become full. Calculate your score according to the gems you've collected. You can score more by collecting the same type of gems. Thus, the players collect the gems tactically, like "I don't need this very much, but I can't allow that player to take this." With the dice rolls' unpredictability and careful calculation for the area control, this game is rich in variety.
Long Long Line in HELL Designer: Satoru Nakamura Artist: Mamiko Taguchi Publisher: March Hare Games (2017) 3-4 players / 12+ /30-40 min
Kikka-Sai is a two-player game in which you try to meld three chrysanthemum dice to win at a chrysanthemum show. It's the latest game by Shinojo, which has published simplified mahjong card games ALL GREEN and Yaochu! This game, also called "a two-player dice mahjong game", has a flavor of mahjong, but it's a quite distinctive game along with the theme of a chrysanthemum show. At the Game Market venue, its demo booth was constantly busy with people such as couples and pairs of female visitors playing the game.
There are three types of chrysanthemum dice, namely white, yellow, and orange. You're required to collect three dice, a sequence or triplet, of the same color or all different colors. The game starts with each player drawing two dice from the bag and rolling them behind their screen.
On your turn, draw a die from the bag and choose to swap it with one of the dice behind your screen, discard it, or add it to your two other dice to win a hand (tsumo). You can also win by claiming a discard (ron). After one of the players wins, calculate the score. There is a predetermined dice roll in trend (dora). If you win by its matching color or value, you gain an additional score.
According to your score, your opponent's "point die" value (starting with 6) is reduced. If it falls down to 0 or below, you win.
I played a game with Mr. Ikeda, the manager of the Foyer Pikkorino board game café in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture. Right from the start, Mr. Ikeda melded chrysanthemum dice in trend to achieve a high score. Aiming for a come-from-behind victory, I tried to collect the dice roll in trend, but he melded again while I was still struggling. The scoring points varies depending on whether or not you have the dice roll in trend, leading to an enjoyable dynamic play.
In this card game, the players invest in six companies to make profits as top shareholders. This reimplementation of Rights (2015), supporting more players along with a Knizia-esque dilemma and tasteful company logos, is quite intriguing.
On your turn, all you do is draw a card and play a card from your hand. Basically, you play cards in front of you. At the end of the game, the player who has played the highest number of cards of each company (i.e., invested in it) receives payment from other players who invested in the same company.
Naturally, you don't wish to play the cards with which you're unlikely to become the top shareholder. In this case, in Rights you pass such a card to the player to your left; in Startups, you place such a card in the play area ("market") in the center of the table. The next player can choose whether to take that card from the play area or draw a card from the draw pile. When drawing a card from the draw pile, the player must pay money and place it on the card in the play area. The player who takes the card in the play area also takes the money on it. If taking the card can make you a top shareholder, it's a timely offer, though it could be a trap.
Furthermore, the antimonopoly chips make the game even more exciting. These chips are initially given to the first player to take each company's card, then move to the current top shareholders during the game. Having these chips makes it difficult to take cards from the play area, thus preventing the current top shareholder from taking a strong lead. It might be wise to stay in second place and achieve a come-from-behind victory at the end, but can you really do that?
In the end, the players also reveal their hand, so you won't really know who'll eventually become the top shareholder. The top shareholder receives money from other shareholders according to the number of cards each shareholder invested in each company, and the player who has earned the most money wins. During the payment, each one money paid is flipped and becomes three money when received. Thus, it would be wise not to give up early and instead extend your investments for a chance.
At the demo table, I enjoyed an exciting game of five players in which the winner was unpredictable until the very end. Compared to Rights, which supports up to five players, Startups can be played with up to seven players. The gameplay would also vary according to the number of players.
Startups Designer & Artist: Jun Sasaki Publisher: Oink Games (2017) 3-7 players /10+ / 20 min
In an attempt to bring BGG users coverage of the 2017 Kobe Game Market, which took place March 12 at the Kobe International Exhibition Hall, Saigo — who frequently translates game rules from Japanese to English and who tweets a lot about new JP games — has translated a report from JP board game journalist Nico, who runs Nicobodo. With Nico's permission, here is Saigo's translation of Nico's report from the 2017 Kobe Game Market. —WEM
Here is my brief report of my visit to the 2017 Kobe Game Market.
About the Venue
The venue for this event was the same as in 2016, the Kobe International Exhibition Hall, which is a few minutes' walk from the Shimin Hiroba (Convention Center) Station on the Port Liner.
Approximately 300 people were waiting in line by 8:00 in the morning — two hours before the fair's opening time — under the Port Liner railway viaduct.
Next to the Japan Boardgame Prize table was a kids' game section, where many families were playing games.
The board game "Kami no Kiseki" (Miracle) originated from the TV program "Derugeetsu" from the Hiroshima Home Television Co. The TV staff was filming the booth and table for a long time from the start. The details are expected to be aired.
The congestion peaked just before noon. The venue was just the right size, allowing one to view the entire venue.
A food court of about four stalls had many customers since there aren't many shops or restaurants nearby. Approximately fifty people lined up to wait before the kebab stall.
The gate at this section of the Exhibition Hall was left open so that people could move in and out of the hall, and the exhibitors at C booths near the gate looked cold. The exhibitor Puninokai told me to write on this blog that it was really cold, so let me emphasize that!
Lastly, let me report on the Joynt Game Factory booth. Taking advantage of their location at a corner, they used a large board to present a steampunk-ish decoding game. I was impressed by this idea, which constantly brought crowds around their booth.
What I Bought
Since my chances to play games have been declining, I bought more books than games. Still, I hope to play them soon.
So that's my brief report on the 2017 Kobe Game Market. I hope that the atmosphere of the show somewhat comes across though this.
This year, I visited board game shops and other places on the previous day. Having enjoyed board gaming for two days, it was a very satisfying trip.
Thanks to those of you I met during this trip to the Kansai region! I hope to make a visit next year again.
For more news and reviews on boardgames in Japan, you can visit the Nicobodo website.