Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend in person this year but with the help of some friends, a language translating app and a forwarding service it’s the next best thing!! Here are some brief first impressions of some non trick taking games.
Nukumi Onsen Kaitakuki from designer Kudosan is a follow up to the popular Nulumi Onsen Hanjouki published in 2020. Kaitakuki provides familiar characters from the same game in the same setting, developing a village with hot springs near the sea earning the most points.
Kaitakuki successfully employs a bag building mechanism. Resources enter the bag and a certain number are drawn with which players can take actions such as building, acquiring and hiring characters , and advancing up the happiness or deliciousness tracks.
You also spend resources to move your pioneers on the main board. Buildings are placed on the main board where your pioneer stands. Each building built allows you to draw more resources from the bag.
One of the extra cute parts of the game is chasing the cat, Nukamura, with your pioneer. If you catch Nukamura, you become the first player and may earn a bonus. The winner is the player with the most points. Points are earned from buildings, characters and position on the tracks and a bonus for being the last to catch Nukamura. Don’t forget to check the back of the board for Nukamara!
What I really like about this game is that it is played over only 5 rounds. This increases the intensity as you really have to try and maximize every action. The last few rounds are really tense!
Indie publisher Minamimuki last year brought the delightful Vogu, a game about the business of sports shoes. This year they bring us Floristy, a beautifully illustrated game where you are a florist in training, trying to acquire beautiful flowers to complete contracts for points.
Here players in turn order, draft in dice in one of 4 colors and the pips are your currency to buy flowers in the matching color. Players can then complete contracts which are worth points. Some contracts also provide rewards and they may also add to the number of pips used when buying flowers. At the end of the round, in reverse turn order players select the turn order for the next round. The nifty part is that certain positions of turn order provide different benefits and if you want to guarantee first choice of dice you may even need to take a penalty.
The game evokes a similar feel of Splendor or Project L but it’s a bit more involved. The box insert also provides a great stand for the flowers! I love flowers and the artwork is great.
Ghost Snap is a two player cooperative game from Yutrio. The card based game follows Kathy and James as they try to prove their town is haunted. The intrepid duo try to snap pictures of the ghosts with their trusty polaroid camera and limited film. The challenge, of course, is that ghosts are pretty scary, and as Kathy and James go about their adventure their anxiety builds up! Can they finish capturing all the ghosts on film before their anxiety overcomes them?
Each player has a deck of cards and can choose to play a card, draw a card or “care” for their partner by discarding a card from the deck and having the other player switch from scared to ok! Players can only snap photos when they are in ok mode. When the deck is reshuffled new anxiety cards are added to the deck. Too many anxiety cards in hand will scare the players.
Ghost snap is a nice filler length cooperative game with a fun theme.
I love a good abstract and I picked up a couple of interesting ones.
Gardo is a 2-3 player connection and area majority game. Players may play hexes with lines and nodes or play one of their pieces with the value hidden from other players. After all the tiles have been played, players with the highest value surrounding a finished area will score points equal to the number of sides the area has. There are some special tiles which add points or allow an unfinished area to be scored.
The other abstract is Slip Stream. In Slip Stream, two players race futuristic machines earning points to reach the goal. The board and scoring goal are modular. The cool thing about Slip Stream is that there are no random elements other than setting up the course.On a turn you move one of your 4 racers along the course. The course has 2 types of movement spots. Ovals on which you must stop and circles on which you may stop or pass through until you reach an oval. As the name suggests, there is a third type of movement which involves slipstreaming behind another machine bypassing circles and ovals until reaching the lead machine.
Along the way, if players are the first to advance all their machines beyond a section of track they can earn wheels which are equal to 2 points. The score marker is moved along the goal track. If your score marker ends the turn on some spaces, if you are in the lead your opponent may get an extra turn or worse there may be a crash!
Looking forward to playing more of Slip Stream and glad of the modularity.
I also was able to try some games from Jupiters Club, an indie game publisher from Jupiter but familiar with Korea. I corresponded with one of the designers, Jupiter Bunko, as I was curious about the state of indie designers in Korea. Jupiter attended Tokyo Game Market with KDTA, a Korean tabletop designer association. Jupiter reports indie game designers are starting to get more of a foothold in some of the Korean board game events with tables being reserved for small designers and the attendance of their association at other events. This is good news for gamers! I wish I had been more aware of this as I would have tried to locate a few more of their games. Jupiters Club games come in DVD cases, complete with a DVD! The DVD, if played, provides a soundtrack for the games otherwise doubles as a player aid with printed icons. While background music has been included for longer heavily thematic games recently, it’s fun to see what the designers include for these shorter games.
The first is Al-Khazneh, which is a beautifully illustrated set collection game. The designers were inspired by the Tales of the Arabian NIghts and the cloth map/board evokes this. Players try and collect card sets of various areas of the maps discovering treasure and jewels. On a turn, you can discard 1-3 cards by trading them to the display or caravan and distributing them in stacks of up to cards. You may then draw the same number of cards either from the trop card of a caravan stack or the deck. You may also “trade” with an opponent. If you have a set of cards matching a portion of the map you may explore and lay them down earning a treasure and a jewel. When all the treasures run out the game is over or the map cards are gone and the player with the most jewels wins.
Quack Quack, Corrupt Ducks is a fun ladder climbing game. Loosely themed on the chaotic political turmoil of the Joseon Dynasty. The deck consists of different cards with values associated with different social strata such as spies, working class people, guards, merchants and governors. With 4 players you play teams and trade cards with your partner at the start.
The governor is the highest single card but watch out! a “Revolution” of the people or a “Secret Inspection” may overcome the governor. Of course if you are starting the Revolution you must shout it out with the appropriate slogan! Other players then have the opportunity to join either the Revolution by playing a worker or a guard for the Secret Inspection. The round ends when someone has played all the cards from their hand and points (nice metal coins) are awarded to players who have emptied their hands. After 5 rounds the player(s) wins. Fun game with a rowdy crowd.
Jupiters Club has a third game, a solo dungeon called Because the Lonely Novice Hope to enter the Dungeon… which is on my to play list but I haven’t had time yet.
Last but not least is Christmas nana! nana is popular game with adorable art in the original edition from last year and it is updated for this Christmas version this year! It’s a quick family friendly set collecting game.