W. Eric Martin
Tokyo Game Market runs May 25-26, and if you plan to attend, you're probably already in Japan or on an airplane traveling there.
While BGG is missing out on TGM this time due to us hosting our own event — BGG.Spring, which opens the same day — I've been opening dozens of tabs with new games that will be featured at that show and sending myself link after link after link of new games to check out. It's overwhelming, especially since each page I open typically leads to still more pages as I discover a JP version of an existing game and want to create a version listing for that, then yet another new game that has a co-publisher which also needs a new page, etc.
All that said, here's a tiny sampling of what will be at TGM, much of it courtesy of Jon Power, who helps encourage submissions to the BGG database by JP game designers and publishers and whose initials are (coincidentally?) JP:
• なつめも (Natsumemo) is a roll-and-write game for 2-6 players from 宮野 華也 (Kaya Miyano) and cosaic that has the most delightful setting ever:
"なつめも" (pronounced "natsumemo") means "summer memo", and it's the practice of children keeping a summer holiday diary.
Natsumemo is a flip & write game with a summer vacation theme. Each player receives a special calendar sheet and a hidden sheet, pencils and dice. Each round, the active player flips the card of the week and declares the day on which the event will occur. All players choose to join or not join the event all at once, and if they join, write them on their calendars. Of course, you cannot take part in the events of the day if you already filled that date on your calendar.
The biggest feature is the special bond that grows between the characters who participated in the same event. Players plan the events in order to develop friendships and score more points. "Oh, only Hana and Vivian and I are free on Tuesday, so if I suggest going to swim in the sea on Tuesdays and Wednesday, maybe only I can deepen the bonds with the two girls ...!" This is how boys and girls develop serious feelings and judgments are born one after another. Furthermore, "I was the only one who went to the sea when I tried to open the lid!" These goofy developments, the emotions that come from them are the most enjoyable!
Another feature is homework. Players must balance having fun with friends, and getting their summer homework done, too. If you do not reach a certain number of pages by the end of the holidays, you get deducted points. You will end up cramming all alone the last week, instead of deepening your new friendships. This reality is unbearable.
Saigo, who translates Game Market reports for BGG and who tweets about JP games, notes that a Chinese-language edition of the game is likely in the works, so perhaps someone will sign on for an English-language edition as well. We'll see!
• エレガンツ (Elegantu) is a Mao-like card game from Osamu Iijima and ボボン・ボン・ボジワーイ連邦 (The Bobon Bon Bojiwaai Union) in which players attempt to play cards and gain points, but they don't know the "rules for etiquette" that are in effect this game. They'll discover these rules only during play when someone stops them (based on a rules card in their hand) and penalizes the player for doing something wrong. You must remember and follow all of the rules in order to play well!
Elegantu is a second edition of the game, with some English on the cards, whereas the first edition in 2018 had only Japanese text.
• Leiden 1593: ライデン-チューリップ栽培の始まり- (Leiden 1593: The Beginning of Tulip Cultivation) is a speculation game from designer ハイライフ (high-life) and publisher Spieldisorder, which released the David Bowie-themed Across the Universe in 2017. Here's a summary of the gameplay:
As tulip merchants, players reclaim the garden, raise tulips, and ship them out. With the help of hired artisans, they aim to be the wealthiest merchant.
At the beginning of the game, several cards are laid on the table to form the tulip garden. Each card represents 2x3 squares of garden, which is single-colored or double-colored to represent species of tulip. Each turn, you may place a garden card, build your hut, or upgrade your hut into a house:
—When you place a garden card, you must partially overlay it on existing garden; the overlaid color of tulip becomes rare, so therefore its market value is raised.
—When you build a hut or a house, you discard several cards and place the building on the garden. You may hire an artisan when you have built a house. Each artisan has a special ability.
At the end of the game, for each color, you score victory points equal to the market value of that color multiplied by the number of squares your buildings occupy on that color. Then add some bonus depending on your buildings' location. The highest scorer wins.
• Moon Base is a two-player game from Naotaka Shimamoto and itten, with players placing ownership rings on the craters of the moon. Each crater you place eliminates the possible placement of other craters, although as you build up craters, you can place other ones on top of them in a second or third layer. You're trying to place residential zones and resource facilities to score points.
• At TGM in May 2019, itten will also release Tokyo Highway: Cars & Buildings, an expansion for either Tokyo Highway base game that allows you to add four new building obstacles to the playing area, while giving each player a set of ten vehicles that range from the tiny cars of the original game to buses and tractor trailers.
• Finally, for this post at least, is a game that seems tailor-made for my tastes: συνομιλία, a.k.a. シノミリア, a.k.a. Sinomilia by designer Kengo Ōtsuka and シノミリアプロジェクト (Shinomiria Project). "Sinomilia" is the Greek word for "conversation", and this two-player game exists as a conversation of sorts carried out via gameplay. Here's a summary of how it works:
Each player receives a set of cards numbered 0-9 and fifteen chips. At the start of a round, each player places one of their cards face down to predict how many chips will be played that round. Players then take turns, and on a turn you can either place a chip in the playing area or pass. Do you add chips to get closer to your prediction at the risk of losing more of your chips, or will you pass and let your opponent control the conversation?
Once either both players have passed or a total of nine chips have been played, the round ends and players reveal their cards. If your card is closer than your opponent's to the total number of chips played, you win and collect all the chips played, plus two additional chips from your opponent. If the two cards are equally close to the total, whoever last took an action loses and whoever passed first wins. Play multiple rounds to determine the winner.
From the description, Sinomilia sounds as minimalist as The Mind, sounds like something that shouldn't work — yet I can already imagine how a round might play out, with subsequent rounds building on what's already happened. I need the full rules to know for sure what's going on and how the rounds relate to one another and how someone wins, but I'm already in. Now I just need to figure out how to get a copy...