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Latin American New Game Round-up: Tossing Dice, Seeds, and Hearts

Hilko Drude
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It's been a while since I last gave an overview of new games from Latin America, but more and more interesting releases are coming from that part of the world. Here is another small collection of games that have caught my attention.

Brazil

Die die DIE from Carlos Couto and Romulo Marques just finished a successful crowdfunding campaign with publishers Ace Studios and Redbox. It's a dice-flicking area-control game. From the elevated edges of the arena, you flick your dice onto a map, trying to gain control over individual areas. The campaign and the game are only in Portuguese so far, but one particularly convincing part of the campaign video can be understood by everyone.




Chile

Niebla Games is a company that publishes both computer games and table games, both set in a fantasy world named Causa. I had mentioned their first game Careta in an earlier round-up (and have played it since — it's a clever bluffing game). For 2018, Niebla has announced a larger card game named Hegemony: Shadows of Power in which players form shifting alliances and try to be on the winning side as often as possible. It was designed by Nico Valdivia Hennig, the same designer as for Careta. Victory points are called "Cause" points after their world, and the game's illustrations are in line with the upcoming computer game (while Careta was less obviously connected to the common theme). Separate Spanish and English versions are in the making.




Colombia

A very friendly geek brought a whole bag of Colombian games to SPIEL '17 at my request, and I have rarely seen so many unusual game boxes at once. Three of these games came from publisher Creo mi Juego, with Pesadilla en R'Lyeh ("Nightmare in R'Lyeh") by Maikol Homero Bello and Juan Pablo Alzate-Granados being probably my first game in a pentagonal box. What seems impractical at first — how can you possibly stack this? — turns out to be a clever design when you see the box bottom unfold into a game board. Innovative for sure.

In the game, you try to get rid of your nightmare cards first. To achieve that, you roll a die and place a card to a corresponding field on the board, or in some cases, take what's there. To avoid the latter case, there are cards with which you can force mischief on other players instead.





The same designers created a game with a more family-friendly theme: watermelon seeds. SandiaMix comes in a tin box, but is innovative in another field. Players place cards with watermelon seeds on the table in a seemingly random array, but they have to make sure that with each new card, the number of seeds visible on the table changes. If the number of seeds on the table matches the number of seeds in anybody's hand, those players score a point. The underlying math is rather simple, but I've played the game three times now and found it more mesmerizing than expected, due to the unusual layout of the cards. The game can be turned into a speed math game by downloading a 30-second timer app.




Also in a tin box is Carlos Reyes' Pyramidice, in which — you guessed it — dice need to be stacked to form pyramids. The goal is to gain control over two pyramids, meaning having more dice of your color in them than other players do. (There is always one more pyramid than players.) Dice are taken from a pool in the middle, and a pyramid always has to be started with a 6 and topped off with a 1. When the dice in the middle aren't to your liking, you can invest cards or sacrifice one of your own dice from a pyramid to reroll some or all of the dice in the pool.




Eco-Marketing by Mariacaro Aldana isn't even in a box at all, but in a pouch with a button and a zipper. Another way of packing up a game that you don't see often. It's an educative game in which children (and adults) can learn about recycling possibilities. Players trade with trash, from egg shells to tires, and score points if they can turn the waste material into recycling products. The rules are available only in Spanish at this point, but the game aims at being an inspiration in other countries as well.




When it comes to unusual game boxes, Victor J. Duarte's Sacrificio clearly takes the cake. I'm sure I have never seen a box in the shape of a step pyramid, and the impression is enhanced by the colorful artwork. The box might not be terribly stable, but it certainly gives a great first impression that belies the grim theme of the game. Priests are competing to get most sacrificed hearts. It might not be something I want to play with my kids, but I can't wait to try it. (English rules are coming soon, according to Duarte.)





Costa Rica

iN'sanity Games has launched Animator vs Animation on Kickstarter (KS link), reaching its (modest) funding goal in just over 24 hours. The game is based on Alan Becker's series of videos (see here for an example), and you can play a stick figure and massacre other stick figures with fancy weapons unless they have fancy protection. A stretch goal promises cute fighting meeples.




Ecuador

Every once in a while I hear there is a country completely devoid of a gaming scene, but there always seem to be some determined people working on changing that. Ecuador is such an example, where two guys created a publishing company named Juegos Misi a little while back and have now released their second game, SOS Galápagos by Carlos Soto Power. It's a set collection game with a dice-placement element in which you try to protect endangered species on the famous archipelago.

The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador, so it seems to be a fitting theme to boost the industry in the country. Designer Carlos Soto Power has written something about the game and wants to release print-and-play files so that people abroad can get a taste of the game without going broke on shipping costs. He'd like to get feedback, so you're welcome to head over to that thread. The video about their first game ends with the question "Who says that when you want an excellent board game you have to import it from Europe?" Good question — who says that?




Mexico

Kickstarter hasn't been active for all that long in Mexico, but of course some people have used it for their games projects already. The first successfully funded Mexican game was Tricksters, published by Aether Tower. This company has now completed a second successful project which is scheduled for delivery in early 2018 (and can still be ordered). Cooking Rumble by Emilio Gerardo Estrada Lucero is a short bluffing game for two players. In front of each player are three dishes, each requiring several ingredients that have to be added in a certain order. One player places an ingredient card face-down and the other player must guess which ingredient it is: if correct, the move is forfeited, and if wrong, the active player can add the ingredient to the dish. The first player to finish six dishes wins.




If you have information about new Latin American games to share, you are welcome to contact me at gamenews /at /lidude.net. Thanks!
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