xxxx xxxx

International Toy Fair Nürnberg 2006


Mykerinos - Nicolas Oury
Special map cards form a map were players can put their cubes; these are completed after every round. On this map, divided into zones, they try to achieve majorities. When this has been done, the majorities are checked: how much influence does each of the players has on five symbols. These symbols correspond with characters that bring advantages like:
• the privilege to bring more new cubes into play
• bring more cubes at the same time into play
• having the edge in ties
• the possibility to build directly in the museum.
After a round, when scoring, a player may decide to collect the majority or profit right away or put a cube in the museum where it scores at the end of play, or take one of the character cards to get the privilege from that character.
The museum is a drawing in the middle of the board where a player also can put his cubes in socalled chambers that have a varying value of 2 to 5 victory points. The museum however, is only one of the ways to get to points. The board also depicts the scoring list and a short explanation of the characters and their symbols. After a number of rounds the game ends and the player with the most victory points wins.

Einfach Spitze - Jeff Widderich
On a grid of six by six pyramids players have to bring a number of pyramids to the other side. Movement is forward or sideways. That may sound simple, but soon players get mingled and stumble over each other. A pyramid that goes over that of an other player, blocks the underlying piece for the moment; that player cannot move it. But at any point, the player on top will have to move forward to get to the other side, freeing that pyramid again.

Advanced play introduces the numbers on the pyramid, Now not only a player will have to get across, but preferably with a high numbered pyramid too. When one player has got all his necessary pyramids across, all players count the numbers of the pyramids that have reached the other side.
At the expert level, a memory grid is put over the middle of the board, as a result of which it is no longer visible which colour and how many pyramids are under the top one. 'Einfach Spitze' could be translated as 'Simply Tops'. For 2 to 4 players, 8 years and up, 30 minutes.


Model of the 80 cm. caliber gun on rails 'Dora' used in the Second World War. For comparison a current German tank has been put next to it (yes, the little grey thing at the right of it).
Queen Games
Der Dieb von Bagdad - Thorsten Gimmler
Spring 2006. No further info available.


To conclude, what can be said on the newly published games from the large publishers? It is notable that many games are published for a minimum of costs, not only considering the game components and its related cost of manufacturing, but also on an intellectual level. Most of the games travel along known paths: gather stuff, building, or travelling. Of course, since Einstein died we haven't really seen a new one, so genius only comes rare, and maybe in this respect we are too critical. But the respectable games authors are still alive and well amidst us. What do they carry out, meanwhile? Are they being kept captive somewhere in the closets of the games publishers, kept drugged and below average performance, so they can no longer use their talents up to the full? In that case, we should instantly erect a Games Front!

Concerning the design we see more and more cartoonesque illustrations, a phenomenon with adult board games we thought we'd seen last in the mid nineties. If this trend for cheaper manufacturing settles down, more people may begin to worry. All fine illustrators, Franz Vohwinkel to mention just one, may be getting too expensive.
Players will be heavily disappointed to see that 'their' Alea, the brand that Ravensburger especially erected for the more than regular player, now publishes a pirates game in this series, meant for (little) players from 9 years and up. This can only mean one thing: the line has completely lost track, and flees back in panic at full throttle. In doing so, at great speed it looses a faithfull community of players. Some of them still may find their way to the smaller publishers who support them. But a larger group is cut off from a more challenging game tailored to their needs. Apart from the social aspect, playing also is learning, exploring new situations. If things get too repetitive, we must try to find a new challenge.

Of course every company is free to produce and bring products to the market they think or hope it fits the consumers needs that will be bought, but which consumer do they particularly have in mind? If it is the irregular player, or the impulse buyer, the competition will become killing, as there no longer is any difference between the respective suppliers because in that case all fish in the same pond; their Unique Selling Point will be gone. If it comes to that, they will meet more agressive players from across the ocean where it has to be feared what the outcome will be.

The strength of 'old' Europe lies within their detail, their richness of variety. Let us nourish that, as players and publishers, as a gaming community; a community that within limited time has grown to their current size thanks to the hit that 'Settlers' became. From here, this maybe first acquintance with the 'new' board game, many gamer has undergone a development and also started to value and play other games. Will the major companies now leave and abandon these players with this new strategy? It goes too far to demand the publishers to reconsider their move, and it even is not proven that this is a planned one. But from a major publisher with the creativity they already have shown throughout the years we may expect more than the founding of an assortment jig saw puzzles with standard bought stock photos.

But do not panic and cheer up; we keep optimistic, and everything may turn out just fine. Moreover there are the occasional exceptions of publishers that in bringing out the kind of games that they do, issue a clear statement.

Really exciting meanwhile was the traditional yearly fireworks at Saturday outside at the Messegelände, accompanied with a mug of Glühwein: fifteen minutes of ah's and oh's. We need this kind of peaks and excitement. We'd also like to see it back in the games.
© 2006 Richard van Vugt