I wasn’t sure I would get it done this time around, as a vacation and some time at the Gathering of Friends butted up against the time I do my Game Market research, but, things worked out. Here we are.
Below is a preview of games that will be released in a few hours at the Spring Tokyo Game Market (TGM). I talk about some titles I’m excited to play, some I just think are notable, and others that please me simply because they exist. (The images used below are promotional images from the designer/publisher’s Twitter accounts, website, Game Market website, etc., unless otherwise noted.)
I am not in Japan. While the government has not yet re-opened to tourism, travel to Japan has resumed for certain situations, such as students/education, some family situations, and business travel. I think I would have qualified for the business travel visa, but was not able to align things in time. So my long expectant trip to visit Game Market myself will need to wait until November, and we’ll re-assess. For now, let’s get to the games.
Connect 37 (ケ12)
Designer: Susumu Kawasaki
Publisher: Kawasaki Factory
It’s somewhat of a given for me that I’ll buy any new Kawasaki game, and the brightly colored and number-centric Connect 37 had me at other levels as well. Roughly, players are placing tiles onto a central board, and can place one of their chips on a tile, with a player being rewarded if that tile is eventually in an adjacent grouping of 4 consecutive numbers. There are a few other wrinkles, such as players having a hand of 3 tiles, and something about combining tiles which I haven’t quite figured out. The early comments from friends that have played it have been quite positive.
アニマルビンゴ (Animal Bingo) (ア04)
Publisher: Power 9 Games
I enjoy twists on bingo, like Lum Lum Party, and there seem to be a few riffs on the idea at each Game Market. I don’t have the full details on the rules, but this box-less game, comes with the 36 colorful animals you see below, and choosing one to draw from the bag by feel is part of the mechanism. Unfortunately for my weekly group, I’ve sworn off “pull things by feel from a bag” games, so I’m not picking this one up, but it’s too cute to not share with you.
いやどす (Iyadosu) (ソ09)
Designer: ましかまる (Mashika Maru)
Trick-taking games have a lot of levers for designers and players to work with. Points from winning tricks vs. the contents of tricks; bidding; who leads to the next trick; may follow vs. must follow; etc. Sometimes a game highlights something from a genre that you think you know well, but you hadn’t pondered, and that’s what Iyadosu does. Specifically, Iyadosu is a combination of must and may follow, but rather than in a typically must follow game, where you have limited choice of what to follow with at the start of a hand, and more later, Iyadosu gives you many choices at the beginning, and less as the hand goes on.
Iyadosu has players pick up their hands, without rearranging, and insert a divider card. The cards on the left are the “normal” cards, which are can be used to lead, follow suit, or when you can’t follow. The cards on the right are your “refuse” cards – for when you want to refuse following suit. Oh, and the number of “refuse” cards is your bid for how many tricks you’ll win.
I’m very much looking forward to this one.
王宮の飾り絵師 (Royal Palace Decorative Painter) (ツ08)
I want to thank The Drowning Pawn for this next one. It had crossed my radar and then slipped out again, but they included it in their TGM preview video, and I was grateful for the reminder.
Royal Palace Decorative Painter is a coloring game, not a drawing game, that also has “batting” (that’s the Hol’s der Geier tie-break rule where players that do the same thing get nothing.) Players roll dice for the color they’ll fill in and how many sections, of pre-outlined paintings. Mission cards give you some direction on your priorities. It comes with colored pencils and a pencil sharpener!
Bungu Games (コ02)
There are no specific games form Bungu that I wanted to highlight, but let’s talk about what they’re doing. Bungu is collaborating with other designers to create games that can be played with office and art supplies you may have around the house. It looks like they are planning a proper launch in the fall, but for the Spring, there are limited quantities of a work with the SoLuner Guild being given away. The first one is a single sheet of paper and involves dropping an eraser (which you’ll need to provide) onto a printout of an octopus.
ロドレブ！(Girls High School Rord Race Club!) (エ16)
From a first time publisher, ロドレブ！is a bicycle racing game (with “batting”), where strategically you may want to arrange some of your cyclists on their own and others in a pack; mechanically, opponents’ riders may be drafting behind yours and advance when yours advance. Racers in the lead have limited movement, and each player’s cyclists have some special powers.
MORFINS is a 4-player only game where players are trying to collect cards that form a picture, and preferably in the best poker hand (e.g. a set of four “of a kind” will beat three of a kind, etc.). The game play is simple, with players having a hand of 4 cards, and 2 being face down on the table. On a turn, a player can initiate a round of passing cards, swap a card with the middle, or exit the round. Exits trigger a limited number of additional rounds for the other players.
Games with these minimal rules, assembled with care, is a hallmark of the Game Market scene, and conveniently for me, also one of my tastes in games. They don’t always work for me, but many times they do, and I’m looking forward to giving this one a chance.
Designer: Umeruma Games
Publisher: Umeruma Games
This is Umeruma Games’ second Game Market, and while I passed on their first 2 releases last fall, I am giving one of their 2 spring releases a shot, UMIZUSHI. Like many of the TGM circles, they have a stunning and specific art direction.
The game is described as a “double drafting” game. The elongated hexagon tiles you see in the image below begin the game in a large grid, with only two outside tiles visible or accessible, but as one is chosen, others may be unlocked, and then are revealed. After a round of drafting, the number chosen determine the turn order for a second draft to acquire the round tokens you see in the image below. In order to put a piece of….sea slug sushi(?) onto your board, you’ll need hexagon and circle tokens with matching numbers.
シクスジムス (Six Gems) (セ13)
Publisher: Studio Turbine
Six Gems is a stock game of sorts, with cards arranged in a circle which will represent the value of different gems through the dice placed on the cards. On a player’s turn, they’ll play a gem card from their hand into a tableau in front of them, and adjust some dice accordingly. The result of the dice adjustment triggers a scoring.
シンデレラは帰りたい!! (Cinderella Wants to go Home!!) (イ22)
Publisher: Vic Village
Cinderella Wants to go Home!! is a competitive deck-building game where the players attempt to have Cinderella and the Prince meet up on a set of stairs. You can upgrade your shoes, enlist the assistance of small mammal friends, and curiously, despite being competitive, there is a single Cinderella-ple, advancing towards a single Prince-ple. I’m looking forward to learning more about how that works.
When it comes to researching new titles, there are a number of avenues I use, the Game Market website, early booth.pm listings, and, well, endlessly scrolling Twitter. But! A new opportunity is available this time, as ミナミムキ has made a spreadsheet (and Patrick set up some formulas to make it readable in English!). It includes an overview of the games from the Game Market site, the basic player count, etc. stats, and columns to make a customized shopping list!
I like to highlight some of the word games that will be released, but which I’ll likely never be able to enjoy. This time that is ナゼカヨメチャウ, from designer Fukutarou. If I understand correctly from my conversations with the designer, the game involves a series of commands printed on a page with holes were certain letters should appear. The commands and holes are curated such that players will have differing initial instincts as to what the command is. One player is the sort of referee, and the other players attempt to execute the command.
The designer also has a re-implementation of Jin-Kei Trick coming out, now known as 狼禽戦線. It is a 2 player game that sort of melds trick-taking with something like Stratego, as you begin each round by arranging your cards into a vanguard which can be used for leading, a middle guard which will be used for following, and a rearguard that serves as reinforcements. It is quite a clever system. (Dan from Ninjastar games says there will be some copies in stock at their webstore soon.)
It’s a short preview this time; like I said, life. There are many more, of course, and you may see some reviews of them here, I may sign some for licensing by boardgametables.com, and you can probably see pictures of things in my Twitter feed.
A few titles I was hoping for will not make the show. This time it was more than usual, with 6 not being ready in time – and at least one only just making it. These include Suki Games’ reprint of Auf falscher Fährte and a delightfully illustrated game that translates to roughly… Big F’ing Strawberry Hunt.
As always, there are a number of titles which just missed making my “to buy” list which I found intriguing, or was intimidated by the amount of language and translation involved. This time that includes, Kawasaki’s new Godzilla game, the commercial release of a game that first premiered at Smoox’s 150BG, a game whose only component is a baseball bat, a murder mystery game that comes on cassette tape, a roll and write take on Russian Railroads, and a “boxless” version of a game that involves sticking your hand in a box to feel for things.
Oh, and one interesting thing for the Fall. If I understand correctly, the Game Market organization has announced a “baseball” theme. This theming is a new thing, and will involve games being highlighted in a special area, and…maybe other things? Hopefully, I’ll be there in person to find out.