by W. Eric Martin
Time for more pics and notes about new games from NY Toy Fair 2020, starting with a peek into the offerings from AMIGO Games, the U.S. branch of German publisher AMIGO.
It’s interesting to note that AMIGO Games changes the titles and graphics of almost every game it releases compared to what appears on the German market. I remember this being an issue in 2018 when AMIGO Games first displayed its new look for No Thanks!, only to go in a different direction. From talking with company representatives, I learned that they apparently got feedback from potential buyers suggesting its initial graphic approach would not succeed on the U.S. market, so they changed courses and went with, what I would describe as, a louder and more direct look. That approach generally continues with these titles.
Non-final cards and packaging
I loved Katja Stremmel’s Krass Kariert when I first played it in 2018, but an English-language version didn’t seem to be forthcoming based on the game’s reception that year — then the game took off at a fairly influential private convention in 2019, and apparently word of mouth has now made it possible for Dealt! to be released in the U.S. in Q3 2020.
Note that the box and cards show above are not final, but the game will generally have that look, with less confusion being possible between the 1s and 7s. As for the gameplay, that remains the same, with players needing to play higher cards or card combos within a round or else be forced to pick up one of their two reserve cards. This isn’t always a bad thing, though, as you can’t change the order of cards in your hand, so sometimes adding a reserve card allows you to create a strong combo where one didn’t exist previously.
Non-final cards and packaging
AMIGO Games will release English-language versions of several other games that have already been released in Germany, such as Alex Cutler‘s Tatort Tonne, which will be released as Playin’ Possum since trash-grabbing raccoons already have a home on the U.S. game market in Trash Pandas.
In this game for 2-10 players, you’re trying to be the first to grab three pieces of trash or be the last possum still in the game. Each player has the same three cards: GRAB, ACCUSE, and SHINE WITH THE HOLY LIGHT OF INNOCENCE, although I don’t think these are their actual names. On a turn, each player secretly plays one of their cards face down, then everyone raises a hand and on the count of three, if someone has played an ACCUSE, they point at another player. If that player has played GRAB, then they’ve been caught and they’re out of the game; if they’ve played SHINE WITH…, then the accuser is out of the game for falsely accusing someone else of theft. If you played GRAB and weren’t accused, then you grab a piece of trash. Repeat rounds until someone wins.
Eric Kulzer from AMIGO says that Playin’ Possum was probably the game that most excited buyers at NY Toy Fair 2020, thanks partly or wholely due to the game now being packaged in a plastic trash can. As much as gamers are annoyed by unusual game-packing solutions, regular people (you know what I mean) don’t care about such things because they don’t have dozens or hundreds of games to store and just find such packages cute or clever or otherwise worth taking a look at. If packaging your game in a plastic trash can will double the sales of such game, then perhaps packaging your game in a plastic trash can is worth considering — except that you have to do something different since the plastic trash can packaging has already been done.
Non-final cards and packaging
Günter Burkhardt‘s Schwarz Rot Gelb will be released in the U.S. in Q3 2020 as None of a Kind, with players in this real-time game trying to lay out non-matching cards in front of themselves as quickly as possible. You might start with a card that has the word “red” written twice on it in yellow ink. Drawing from the deck or the face-up cards discarded during play, you need to play a card next in line that does not have red or yellow on it (whether in text or in color) and that does not have a word printed twice.
Once you do this, then you need to play something that doesn’t match your new card, and so on until you’ve reached or surpassed the length limit, which is based on the number of players. If you’ve made a mistake, then you lose the incorrect card and anything to the right of it. Whoever has the longest line then takes a point card of their choice, with the other point card going to whoever has the second-longest line. After five rounds, the player with the highest point total wins.
Bear Down! will be the English title of Grizzly: Lachsfang am Wasserfall, a late 2019 AMIGO release from Stefan Kloß and Anna Oppolzer. Each player is a bear trying to catch as many salmon as possible on a river bed that leads into a waterfall, but salmon are most common at the waterfall’s edge, jumping up the fall and being placed in the five river channels depending on the roll of the five dice each turn.
After the dice roll, players take turns moving their bears. If you’re already sitting on fish from a previous turn, you can bring them back to your rock for safety; if you’re on the rock, you can go somewhere in the river to sit on and reserve fish. You might want to gamble on grabbing fish near the edge of the waterfall, but if water comes up on that die on the next roll, then you add a water tile or two to that channel, which pushes everything down a space or two. Get pushed over the edge, and you lose your holdings. The game ends once the supply of salmon or water tiles has run out.
Non-final cards and packaging
Polar Panic is a Martin Nedergaard Andersen design for 2-6 players that falls in the “flip-and-slap” category of Jungle Speed and the like.
Spread out the cards on the table face down. On a turn, flip over one card, but not like the woman above who is flipping the card toward her and clearly trying to cheat! Flip the card face up onto the table. If any fish on this card match any fish already revealed, slap those two cards with separate hands. Cards show 1-3 fish, so sometimes you’ll have two or three matches at once across up to four cards. Other players can claim those cards at the same time you’re slapping something else. Make a mistake, and you have to throw a card back in the ocean.
Flip the fisherman, and you return everything face down once again to reset the board. Flip the polar bear, and bad things happen, then the bear returns to the ocean.
Non-final board and bits
Magic Mountain is a new release for AMIGO, and here’s an overview of how it plays:
In the co-operative game Magic Mountain, you want to help four good witches get down and off the mountain before three bad witches can do so.
The game board starts with six good witches near the top of various channels in the plastic surface covering the board; four bad witches are placed at lower intersection pints for these channels.
On a turn, you draw a colored marble from the bag, then drop it down one of the channels. If it hits a witch, that witch will stop the marble’s movement. You then remove that witch from the board and place it on the closest space matching the marble’s color below — that is, going down the game board from — that witch’s current location. The marble will then start to roll again, possibly hitting another witch and causing it to move down the board, and so on. When a good witch reaches the pool at the bottom of the board, it needs to be hit by one more marble to remove it from the board entirely. Remove four witches before three bad ones, and you win!
I visit The Op booth each year at NY Toy Fair, yet I can write about little-to-none of what I saw given that most of the games on display are under embargo for one reason or another. I’m curious to look, and I have notes for the future, but little to write about now.
That’s changed in 2020 as in addition to the announcement of Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion, as covered here, The Op has also publicized two other upcoming 2020 releases, with one of those being Hues and Cues, a 3-10 player game from Scott Brady.
The game board features 480 colors arranged in a pleasing manner similar to what’s shown on the game cover. On a turn, the active player draws a card that shows a handful of colors, picks one of those colors, then gives a one-word clue related to that color. Each other player places one of their markers on an unoccupied color square, then the active player gives a two-word clue related to that same color, and players once again mark a color, but in reverse player order. Once everyone has guessed twice, the active player places a cardboard frame that surrounds a 3×3 square area on the board centered on the chosen color. If anyone guessed that color, they score 3 points; anyone in one of the other eight squares within that frame scores 2 points; and anyone in a square adjacent to the frame scores 1 point. The active player scores 1 point for each guess inside the frame. (The details of clue-giving, guessing, and scoring vary depending on the number of players.)
• The other title from The Op is Telestrations: Upside Drawn, a standalone drawing-based party game for 4-12 players from Kane Klenko. In this game, which is due out in May 2020, players compete in teams, with the player who is drawing the image also guessing what they are drawing!
How this works is that the clue giver on a team rolls a die and looks at the category rolled: person, place, thing, action, or phrase. Each team’s clue giver is trying to get their team’s drawer to guess what is shown on the card, but the drawer’s only action is to hold the pen straight up and down above the dry-erase board. The clue giver gives the drawer commands, but only “Up” and “Down”, which doesn’t mean to draw a line up or down on the board, but literally to raise or lower the pen. The clue giver says “Down”, then once the pen is on the board, moves the board to draw something while the pen stays still — but upside down since they’re on the opposite side of the board from the drawer. When a part of the image is done, say “Up”, move the board, “Down”, then move the board again to draw. Whichever drawer guesses correctly first wins the round.
You can’t take pics in The Op booth due to all the embargoed material surrounding you, so I can’t share the awesome compass that I “drew” with the help of developer Jake Davis. It looked like a mirror image of a compass stepped on by an elephant, but I still guessed it, so let’s call it a win!