[Editor's note: Hilko submitted this article in mid-May 2017, and somehow I have neglected to publish it until now. My apologies to him — and you — for the delay! —WEM]
The third "Geek Out!" Festival was celebrated in Buenos Aires in early May 2017, and from what I read, it seems to have been great. Anyone who has ever organized a con like this will probably know that 2,400 people the third time around is a huge success, especially when they are the first in their country trying something like this. I assume that many people who were there are looking forward to the 2018 event already.
A candidate for next year's award scheduled for release in July is Magos & Tabernas ("Mages & Taverns") by Adrián Novell. Three thirsty mages enter a pub which has only one beer left. Unsurprisingly, fireballs start flying. Players are working their way towards said beer by removing obstacles in the way. Why can't there be a good brewing spell instead?
Brazil seems to have the largest gaming and publishing scene in Latin America by far – that's not too surprising, I guess. I have a feeling that I am still just scratching at the surface, but I am planning to explore more of it and am always happy to discover new things.
Still rather new on the board game scene is publisher Redbox from Rio de Janeiro. After a couple of fairly successful RPG publications, they started localizing foreign publications and are publishing four Brazilian games in 2017:
In the short economic card game Tsukiji by Leandro Pires, you are a fish trader and try to manipulate the Tokyo fish market prices in a way that lets you earn more money than the other traders.
Labyrinx by Daniel Braga and Thiago Matos just completed its crowdfunding campaign. As the name suggests, you move through a labyrinth. The labyrinth is created from cards during the game, and you have to make sure to remember your way home as there is a "fog of war" mechanism that obscures most of the labyrinth. While you are trying to remember which way was out, you collect treasure, dodge traps, and mess with the other players.
Micropolis by Rodrigo Rego is a tile-laying game with rhombic tiles. All players try to expand a city by adding houses, parks, factories, and so on. When placing certain special buildings into the city, you can add influence markers on them. The goal is to be the first player to place all your influence in the city.
Copacabana is also by Rodrigo Rego. At the beginning of the 20th century, players transform the sleepy beach into the mixture of glamour and chaos it is known as today. Achieve this by placing tiles and getting into the most valuable streets to build the most valuable buildings.
In April 2017 I had mentioned Space Cantina by Fel Barros and Warny Marçano. Fel Barros now works for CMON Limited, which in the first half of 2017 released a new edition of Gekido: Bot Battles, a game that he designed together with Romulo Marques and that was first published in 2014. With the new edition, this should become a lot more available outside Brazil. Gekido is a dice roller in which robots smash each other in an arena.
Pablo by Marcos Mayora is one of those rather unusual games, it seems. There are 140 cards with words and categories (in various difficulty levels). Some you hold in your hand, some are on the table. One player starts to sing any song and tries to insert as many words or categories from their cards as possible, for which they get points according to the difficulty. When someone else has a card which might fit the current song, they can start to sing along and push in their own words. You can also throw tomatoes (in the form of cardboard counters) if someone sings wrongly. For an impression of how such a game works, you can see it in Portuguese below. (Jump to 6:17 for the Pablo demonstration):
Pablo is published by Mandala Jogos, and there are promo packs for different musical styles. It was named after a Brazilian music show of the 1980s and sounds like one of those games that gets you kicked out of your apartment if you play it too often.
Colombian publisher Azahar Juegos released the well-noticed game Xanadú in 2012, with Quined Games re-releasing it three years later. Now there are two new games by Azahar:
FocusX by Guillermo Solano is a card game in which you try to find matching characteristics between three cards. (There are animal categories, numbers and colors.) You can play it by speed or more quietly, and according to the publisher, it is suitable for players aged five and up.
Hot-Pota-toH! is from Xanadú designer Javier Velásquez. A stack of cards makes the rounds, and you either have to draw a card from this stack or play a card. While doing this, you try to get certain cards and avoid drawing the exploding potato. While this description might sound similar to Exploding Kittens, Hot-Pota-toH! has no player elimination; instead a round ends when someone explodes and everyone else then counts their points. Therefore there is a motivation to either take a risk and draw cards, or sacrifice expensive cards to avoid losing everything.