W. Eric Martin
• Zev Shlasinger at WizKids was one of the first people in the U.S. to release games from Japanese designers, with Fairy Tale having a Z-Man Games edition in 2004. Thanks to his continuing editorial efforts, in September 2019 we'll see a new English-language edition of Go Ejin's Hako Onna appear from WizKids. Hako Onna debuted in 2016 from Ejin 研究所, and this will be an English edition of the game's fourth edition, with each edition having had minor adjustments from the previous ones. Here's an overview of this 3-5 player game that carries a $30 MSRP:
Hako Onna (ハコオンナ) is a board game with a theme of Japanese horror. One player takes the role of Hako Onna, a ghost girl who lurks in a box in the mansion, and the others are visitors of the mansion. ("Hako Onna" in English would be "lurking girl" or '"woman in a box"). Visitors win the game if one of the three victory conditions are met. However, to fulfill any of them, you must open boxes scattered in the mansion to obtain key items, and when they see her in a box, they are turned into a servant and have to work for her.
The game is a reverse hide-and-seek, one-against-all exploration game. During most of Hako Onna's turn, the human players must keep their eyes closed so they cannot see where she moves to or what action she has done. There is also a dexterity element to the game play. Before a human player can take their turn, each human player needs to stack a small disc on top the previous ones; if the tower collapses, they've made noise and it instantly becomes Hako Onna's turn.
Hako Onna can win the game in two ways: If all visitors are turned into servants, or if she collects all her power. The human players can win in one of three ways: If they manage to kill Hako Onna after finding her only weakness, if they find the secret exit, have the key ring hidden inside the safe, and successfully guess the combination to open it, or if they can bring peace to Hako Onna by bringing the remains of her body next to her precious doll Mary.
• To continue with gaming horror, Russian publisher Hobby World will have a booth at Gen Con 2019, marking its first official appearance at that show, and aside from new titles such as Cassiopeia, Artline: Hermitage, and Think It Up! Pictures — all of which we recorded preview videos of while at Spielwarenmesse 2019 — Hobby World will debut a new title called Deranged which is "an ominous American-style adventure survival game" in which you fight rivals, horrific monsters, and your own inner demons.
• Haakon Gaarder's Villagers, which collected nearly £500,000 on Kickstarter in mid-2018, has been licensed by Gigamic in French, KOSMOS in German, and CMON Limited in Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Korean. The English-language version from originating publisher Sinister Fish Games is currently due to reach backers in May/June 2019.
• I recently brought 10 Days in the USA to the board game club that I run at my son's school, this being a game that I haven't played in years yet one that seems ideal for players aged 8-9. The kids caught on right away, yet I trounced them twice anyway — then I started wondering why this game wasn't still in print. Sure, the original publisher (Out of the Box) went out of business in 2015, but this game and the entire 10 Days... series is such a great example of modern and mainstream-friendly game design that I was surprised it was unavailable.
For those not familiar with the game, you're essentially playing Rack-O with states (or countries in the non-USA titles). Each player has a rack that holds ten tiles. You each initially file the racks somewhat at random, then you take turns drawing a tile from the deck or one of the three discard piles and swapping that tile for one currently in your rack in order to (eventually) complete a ten-day trip. A trip must begin and end in a state or country. If you have adjacent states (countries) on your rack, then they must also be adjacent in real life for the connection to be valid. You can use a car tile between two state tiles to represent a third state that touches both of the other two. States (mostly) come in five colors, and you can use a colored airplane to connect two states of the same color. Other 10 Days... titles include railroads or ships to serve as connections between locations.
Following my tweet about the game, Kevin Kim at Mandoo Games let me know that a new edition of the series is in the works. Hong Kong publisher Broadway Toys currently holds the rights, and it's working with Mandoo to refresh the series, for which Jacqui Davis has created all new art and Vincent Dutrait has overseen new graphics. The gameplay in this design is identical to the original, but each state card now features a landmark or icon from that state and a tiny U.S. map on the card indicates where the state is located.
Chinese and Korean editions are due out in May 2019, whereas a U.S. edition has not put on the release calendar as of yet. Even so, Kim says that Jacqui Davis is already working on the new version of 10 Days in Europe, which should debut in August 2019.