By coincidence, Fraser and I were in Paris this weekend and so was Le Monde du Jeu, the French game fair. We dropped in for a few hours on Sunday and stayed for a bit longer than we expected.
Here’s the very brief version.
We looked at new games at the Cocktail games stand. Fraser played their new pirate game that he said was fun but not great, and would probably improve in subsequent games. I’m not sure how much his not speaking French helped or didn’t. Probably worth a try to see.
Otto (still 6 years old) and I looked at Surprises which is a new children’s memory game in one of the small tins that they use. This looked nice, perhaps a little simple for Otto, but with some sequencing elements in the harder game levels (find A then B then C) that I liked. She liked both the artwork (very age-appropriate and fun) and the game itself. Luggage space was limited coming back from Paris (although this wouldn’t have required much room) so we decided to hold off buying it till Essen.
They were playing Rhythm & Boulet at the stand. I had heard of this and, well, to be honest I had sneered a little. Ewww, combine music and silly should-be-a-drinking-game? Well evidently I have more fondness for that genre of game than anyone realised because I thought this looked like a lot of fun. It’s on the to-buy list as well. Basically it involves making symbols to – well, to zoom another player. They then make their own symbol (I think) and then make another player’s symbol to zoom them. And on it goes. With a background of Queen’s “We will rock you”. Tres Bizarre.
We also had an explanation of their new game, Crazy Dancing. This may or may not make it out for Essen but it looks like it will be a lot of fun – three teams compete to be the best dancers. Cards are dealt out showing parts of a dance routine, and teams have to make up the rest and then perform the routine. It sounds dumb but looks like it actually hits the “terribly silly, but fun” spot. This and Rhythm & Boulet look like they would be great games for our family game nights at school, for getting groups of people participating and having fun. Also popular for late night gaming. Another buy, if it makes it to Essen.
iello? – another publisher, anyway.
Castle of 1000 mirrors – Burg der 1000 Spiegel – this from Inka & Markus Brand, with Menzel illustrations. Currently only in French and German, as far as I can tell, but components are completely language-independent.
This is a very fun-looking children’s game incorporating mirrors (possibly a little odd given the vampire theme). I sort of caught half of an explanation of the game, which I half understood, then had a quick look at the rules and a play with it. Otto loved this one as well, although she hasn’t learned to track what is being reflected through multiple mirrors. (In at least one instance, nor have I … sigh …). We will look at this one more closely as, again, it could be interesting for the game programs we run at the kids’ school.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the novelty might wear off quickly but good gameplay would make up for that. Definitely on my look-at-this-more-closely list.
This publisher also had a tower-building game that looked interesting.
We sat down to play a few turns of this year’s Essen release Assyria, which was present as a pre-production copy (printed out bits but I believe the artwork was final).
This plays, I think, 2-4 players – we were 3, including the Bigster, who is 11. Four if you count Otto, whose aim was to choose lousy cards for me and play with my pieces.
I’d expected that we’d play 2 of the 8 turns (the game runs in 3 eras, of 2, 3 and 3 turns) but we kept going. After 5, I suggested that we call the game and dash off, as planned, to see the famous Parisian Catacombs – and was howled down by Fraser and especially by the Bigster. There’s a recommendation in and of itself – “Better than the Catacombs”.
Assyria felt very much like a Ystari game – which I mean as a compliment 🙂 Our positions on the board were very very dynamic, and there was constant pressure from the desire to do more than we could, the jostling for position on the board, and the need to resource pieces, once placed. The end comes quickly and left us, at least, wanting to sit down for another round immediately.
Overall, the fair was fun and seemed well-attended and well-organised. There was high attendance from videogamers and roleplayers so there weren’t separate numbers for boardgamers, but all the stalls seemed busy.
There was an interesting panel on videogaming and boardgaming – we caught the end of it, but while I understand enough French to know what they were talking about I don’t understand enough to know what they were saying. Oops. Some points that I did pick up (at least, I think I understood them) were that (1) videogames have much more marketing spend; (2) boardgames have a shorter and more transparent development cycle; and (3) boardgamers tend to be older, in their 30s and 40s. (This last one seems more an issue in Europe, although I think we are starting to see it more in Australia as well.)
It was an interesting discussion and seemed to generate some good discussion. I say “seemed” only because my feeble French was definitely not up to the task.
Special thanks to the guys at Cocktail Games (didn’t get their names – oops) and Cyril at Ystari who were happy to explain things to us in English.
Hits of the day were
- (for Biggie but really for me and Fraser as well) Assyria
- (for Fraser) getting his hands on a copy of Megawatts. This, along with ENBW Funkenschlag, will be getting a special glass case back in Melbourne, I think.
- (for me) the Small World display at Days of Wonder. I wanted to get a copy of Small World in French because I think that “Amazons et leur dragonnes” are much more interesting than “amazons with dragons”. Needless to say, my family all rolled their eyes at me and dragged me on.
- (for Otto) Bombay. Not played yet, but she likes the elephants.
- the kebab kettle thing outside the expo centre. We thought we were getting a kebab in a roll but actually we got a kebab *and* a yummy sausage (in the same roll) and could have had vegetables if they hadn’t been vetoed by a small person. The sausage and chicken combo was weird, but everything tasted good.