Spiel '11 report section 5
At the back of hall 9 we get the beginning of Spiel's companion show, Comic Action. The comics-related stands continue into hall 8, taking up the available space there. For the first time this year, part of hall 7 was opened up and several games companies were exhibiting in this space. (The organisers made a big thing about this in their publicity, but it was noticeable that the show did not use the whole of hall 8.) A left turn at the back of hall 8 takes us into number 7.
Hall 7 – mostly newbies
Prominent at the entrance was Cardboard Island Games, a new publisher from Singapore. Their game, Dash!, is a race around Singapore with terrific artwork that captures the feel of city, I'm told. The game is played over three races on different tracks. Players move by playing cards from their own hand-the best combination moves furthest. Players have to decide which cards they're prepared to sacrifice in the first two races as these just give the winners bonuses. It's the last race that decides the winner, but will those bonuses beat someone who's saved their best cards? It's an interesting race game and Cardboard Island were taking advance orders for the production run expected soon.
I couldn't resist a company called Gung Ho Games, especially as they had a pirate game to show me. Even though it was in pre-production form, I had to sit down and gave it a go. Pirates of Nassau, designed by Richard Glazer, Tom Merrigan and Gabrio Tolentino, has the players as pirates, each with their own ship. Each turn they roll their dice and choose where to move on the abstracted board of the Caribbean. Depending on the dice rolls, they can attack merchant ships or visit other islands (to smuggle or sack!), playing cards from their own set (each player has the same values available) to ensure victory. Either of these actions will provide treasure in different types of goods or cash, then they have to evade or fight the Royal Navy to return to Nassau.
Once they're back in port, players can buy additional crew and equipment or even upgrade their ship. In a clever piece of design, players' ships are constructed of cardboard sections that can be extended (with an extra mast and gun ports) by adding a new piece into the middle. The artwork is good enough that you have to look to see the join! Once you've gone through the deck, the game's over and players score for their relative positions in the various attributes: notoriety, ship, crew and treasure. I thoroughly enjoyed the game (well, I did win!) and give it an initial 8/10 on my subjective scale. Pirates of Nassau should be available before Christmas.
Hall 6 – role-play and wargames
A left turn again from hall 7 takes us into hall 6, which is like entering a different world. This is where the role-players hang out! The hall is stuffed full of stands selling costumes, (plastic) weapons and other games paraphernalia (rules seem to be down the list a bit). There are some fantastic costumes to be seen and some people are in full prosthetics-I enjoy soaking up the atmosphere-but there's little to be seen in the way of board games. Having said that, this is also the hall with the wargames publishers. A right turn at the far end takes us into hall 4 (hmm, slight numbering hiccup here).