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News from Italy: Best of Show from Lucca, and a Spiel 2012 recap

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Here's my November news about what's going on in Italy. Lucca Comics & Games – an annual comic book and gaming convention in Lucca, Italy – is over, and gamers and publishers are already looking ahead to PLAY: The Games Festival, the next great Italian gaming fair.

Best of Show

The following games were named "Best of Show" at Lucca, with this being our country's greatest award. Emanuele Vietina of Lucca Games announced that great things are planned for the next edition of the awards in 2013, hopefully going in the direction of a real "Game of the Year" award. For 2012 the winners are:

Family Games Category
Sheepland, by Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini (Cranio Creations)

The other nominees were Legends of Andor, by Michael Menzel (Giochi Uniti) and Pinguin Pescatore (a.k.a. Hey! That's My Fish!), by Alvydas Jakeliunas and Günter Cornett (Giochi Uniti). I think Sheepland is a good choice and another good hit for Cranio Creations as it's a real little jewel with simple rules but deeply strategic. I reviewed the game in July 2012 if you want more details about it.

Board Game: Trajan
Board Game: Sheepland
Expert Games Category
Trajan, by Stefan Feld (Asterion Press)

The other nominees were 1969, by Andrea Crespi, Lorenzo Silva, Lorenzo Tucci Sorrentino and Aureliano Buonfino (Cranio Creations) and Village: La vita è un gioco, by Inka and Markus Brand ( edizioni). Trajan, which was also the IGA 2012 multi-player winner, is another great choice by the committee members.

Best Card Game
Fotosafari, by Tranja Timineck (Red Glove)

With the other nominees being two titles aimed at older players – Libertalia, by Paolo Mori (Asterion Press) and LIKE: The Social Game, by Marco Almini and Michele Pierangeli (Cranio Creations) – this award for a nice kids card game was a great surprise for Red Glove.

And the list of side awards at Lucca:

Board Game: Seasons
Board Game: Legends of Andor
Side Award for the Best Artistic Profile
Seasons, by Régis Bonnessée (Asterion Press)

Side Award for the Best Project
Le Leggende di Andor (a.k.a. Legends of Andor, by Michael Menzel (Giochi Uniti)

Side Award for the Best Mechanism
• The role-playing game L'Amore al Tempo della Guerra, by Mario Bolzoni and Luca Veluttini (Coyote Press)

Gioconomicon, Italy's greatest game news site, did an excellent job reporting on everything that was happening at Lucca, and you can check out the site's Lucca 2012 photo gallery for a huge hit of pictures from the show.

Italian Games at Spiel and Lucca

Here's an overview of all the titles from Italian publishers that I was able to check out at either Spiel 2012, Lucca 2012 (held two weeks after Spiel), or both. The other main date for Italian game releases aside from Spiel is PLAY: The Games Festival, which next takes place April 6-7, 2013. I've previewed a number of these titles on Opinionated Gamers (OG) – preview #1 and preview #2 – when I've received copies or rules in advance of their general release. I've noted individual previews and reviews in the list below, as well as titles released at other times:

Board Game: Ark & Noah
Board Game: Asgard
1969Cranio Creationsreview on OG
Ark & NoahPlacentia Games
AstroNutsMücke Spiele
Al RashidYemaia
AsgardWhat's Your Game?
AztlánAres Games
Bang! 10th AnniversarydV Giochi
Beer & VikingsAlbe Pavo
BookmakerGiochi Uniti
Collapsible D: The Final Minutes of the TitanicSir Chester Cobblepot – released during PLAY: The Games Festival 2012
Fairy LandLo Scarabeorules preview on OG
GladiatoriGiocix.itrules preview on OG
Jungle BrunchGiochi Uniti
La LoireMind the Movevideo explanation from the designer and preview on OG
Legend: History of the 1000 MigliaWBS Games
Board Game: Movie Trailer
Board Game: Winter Tales
Legend: The 1000 Miglia Action GameWBS Games
LibertaliaAsterion Press
Like: The Social GameCranio Creations
LumacorsaRed Glove – released early in 2012 with the international edition at Spiel
Lupin the 3rd: The Expansion #1Ghenos Games
Movie TrailerOliphante
OddVilleWhat's Your Game?
Out of GearsRed Glove
Samurai SworddV Giochi
SheeplandCranio Creationsreview on OG
SwordfishGhenos Gamesfirst impression on OG
The Doge
War of the Ring: Lords of Middle-earthAres Games
Wild OltrenaturaGhenos Games] - released in 2012 with the international edition at Spiel
Wings of Glory: WWI Rules and Accessories PackAres Gamesfirst impression on OG
Winter TalesAlbe Pavo
YummellDas Production

And now a few "two cent" remarks about the titles on this list and the Italian market in general:

Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
Board Game: Urbania
• Simone Luciani had three different games released in 2012 from three different publishers: Sheepland, Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar and Urbania, with Daniele Tascini being co-author of the first two titles. He also took first and second place in the 2012 Archimede Prize for best unpublished games. Perhaps we're looking at the rise of a new star?

• Spiel 2012 marked the first time that Angelo Porazzi Games has missed going to Essen in the last nine years, but it also marked the re-emergence of Emanuele Ornella under his Mind the Move label.

• Italian publishers such as Giochi Uniti, Ghenos Games and Cranio Creations are now both producing their own games and making localizations.

Libertalia, which Asmodee debuted at Gen Con 2012 in the U.S., is the first game developed by Asterion Press, a great new Italian publisher.

• Cranio Creations will release three new games in 2012 and only one will be a party game!

Bang! marks its tenth anniversary in 2012, and designer Emiliano Sciarra celebrates the birthday of his "kid" with a new game: Samurai Sword.

• In 2012, for the first time in many years, Ghenos Games will not release a sports-based game – unless, of course, you consider swordfish fishing a sport!

• Small companies, floating close to self-publishing, are still there with great new titles from Albe Pavo and Placentia Games.

• Some Italian companies – such as Ares Games, Yemaia, What's Your Game? and Mind the Move – are actually more international than Italian and sometimes they don't include Italian rules in their games!

• Some titles first released in Italy are now going international, a reverse of the usual pattern. What does it mean?

• Many Italian publishers nowadays are releasing games in partnership with other publishers.

Good play,
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