Toy Fair 2003 – page 3

New boys (and girls)

Quaffers box and gameQuaffers comes from ChonkyChonks (I didn't like to ask) and is a game about wine. At heart we have a fairly conventional trivia game: roll the dice, move your plastic wine bottle round the circular and, depending on where you land, answer questions about different aspects of wine and wine-making. Correct answers earn money and, with enough cash, you can buy your opponent's vineyards to win the game.

The gimmick is that each player brings along a bottle of wine and these are concealed in the drawstring bags provided. The game allows you to taste other players' wines and guess what they are to earn more 'money'. There's a bit of knowledge, a bit of luck and a bit of tactics in this nicely-made board game. Quaffers made it into the shops for last Christmas and should be widely available this year – my wife certainly wants a copy!

Cirondo is a two or four-player abstract strategy game from Cirondo Games Company and is effectively a Chess variant (though it's some distance from the original). The playing surface is made up of concentric rings, divided into spaces in a checkerboard pattern (if you see what I mean), with an unused centre circle.

Cirondo box, board and piecesThe players each have a number of pieces, which come in three types. Moons (a crescent) move one space forward and take diagonally (as Chess pawns). Planets (a sphere) move and take 'diagonally' – in arcs – like Chess bishops. Solar Systems (a ringed sphere) move and take in any direction, like Chess queens. Moons that reach the centre of the board convert to Solar Systems.

Moons and Planets start on the outside edge of the board, Solar Systems on the inside. Eliminate your opponent(s) to win. Production is great, with a solid board and nice, hefty pieces with felt undersides – just like a high quality Chess set. There's also a computer version of the game and it can be played online at

Golden Goose Games had a prototype of their game, Make a Million. This is essentially a quiz game. Players start with a notional 100,000 cash and invest it in shares. Then they take in turns to roll the dice and move round the board. Depending on what they land on, they have to do an action or take a question card. Questions are about people, heads of government, capital cities, national flags, currencies and others. Get it right and your investment goes up, get it wrong and your shares go down.

The first to raise the value of their investment to a million wins the game. What raises the game above the standard are the tactical options available. Players can auction a question card to the others (a maximum of three times in the game). Do you take the most money or sell it to someone you think won't be able to answer it? Players can also merge their holdings, subject to certain restrictions. This allows players who are clearly losing to take on the leader.

As I was leaving the show I suddenly noticed Impact International – a new name to me. Most of their stand was taken up with toys, but they had one display case full of Lord of the Rings games. One each for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, clearly licensed from the films. Something to find out more about.

Display of Biras box and game componentsBiras is the game from Okami – though it's more of a game system. The board (the inside of the box) is a mosaic pattern of a five-pointed star and surrounding areas in lots of different colours. The other main component is a set of colour dice (i.e. cubes with different colours on the sides). In the basic game, you roll the dice on the board. You get points for sets of colours and for landing dice on the same colour as they rolled. There are lots of variations on this, giving several different ways of using the components. The rules are a bit opaque, but there seems to be an interesting game in here – albeit one that is heavily dependent on rolling dice.

Quadfootball is the company and Quadfootball is also the game. There's usually at least one football board game each year and this the one for 2003. Quadfootball box and boardThe playing area on the board is made up of concentric rings divided into spaces. Each player has a quadrant, with a goal space on the outside. They also have two strikers and three defenders (it's a five-a-side game), which are moved around and pass the ball by dice roll and play of cards.

The aim is to get your strikers in position to attack an opponent's goal, while defending your own. However, the turn moves unpredictably round the table, governed by rolling the dice. The first player to score against all the others wins the round. After as many rounds as the players feel like, the winner is the player who won the most rounds. Even to this non-football fan, this feels like the sort of family game that will go down well.

Contiquences is a trivia game with a geographical twist from Red Inc. A track loops round the outside of the board with a map of the world in the middle. Both map and track are divided into six continents and players have to answer questions based on the continent they're in: geography, history, current affairs and so on. Each question answered correctly gains you a seat in the 'Senate' for that continent. The aim is to have a majority in the Senates. Get the question wrong and you lose 'credits' – lose them all and you're out! This seems like quite a tough game: you need to get a fair number of questions right to win and too many wrong answers will take you out.

Taso International has produced a game called Tube Fun. This has an interesting board showing stylised Underground lines. Each line is the same length, divided into stations, and they interlock/overlap in the middle. The aim is get from your starting point at the end of one line to your destination at the opposite end of another (for a longer game, you have to make it back again). Getting the interchange right can shorten your journey, but these stations also introduce hazards into the game. The game looks like good, family fun, isn't challenging and it has nice plastic engines as playing pieces.

Termination Incorporated has the theme of a shoot-out for hitmen – a tournament that provides an outlet for aggression in the otherwise peaceful world of the future (3001, to be exact). The board is a plain grid, broken by black lines that represent glass walls (the idea being that protagonists can see each other everywhere in the arena/board, but can't shoot through the walls).

Players use cards to move, trying to get a clear line of sight in order to get a shot at someone else. A shot scores points according to distance (the nearer, the more points) and a die roll. It also allows the shooter to move through the a wall to make a getaway – a neat mechanic that makes sure players don't get into a loop of trading shots in turn and gives an incentive to get up close for maximum points.

Once a player has got a certain number of points, he just needs to last a full round to win. As successful shots also remove (half) points from the player hit, this means everybody else will be after him/her. Players also have a limited amount of ammunition, but can re-load – the re-loading points are suitably exposed to other shots. I can see this being great fun with five or six players and a tense, cat-and-mouse contest for two. The game is being manufactured by Carta Mundi, so quality is high.

Treasure Trove is a new name on me, but the company is apparently UK distributor for a number of toy manufacturers. Noticeable on their stand were Tactic games, which were previously imported and distributed by the London Game Company. I didn't get the chance to find out if there was anything new.


For completeness sake, I'll just mention a few companies that I didn't visit. Living and Learning, Orchard Toys and Playbreak all produce great games for pre-school and young children. These are not really what I'm looking for, so I gave all of them a miss to save time.

BV Leisure have a number of Murder Mystery-type games, but haven't produced any new games for several years. Paul Lamond Games have an extensive range of 'adult' and party games, but somehow I failed to find them. They are listed in the show guide, so my apologies for overlooking them.

A number of companies were missing, though. I don't count those who appeared for the first time last year in this number – so few of them come back for a second time. However, I will mention Boxer Games as they have been running for over twenty years, even though 2002 was the first time they made it to the Toy Fair. They are a distributor of 'adult' and party games aimed at the gift market. I'd guess that the Toy Fair isn't the best place for them to reach their market.

Also missing was the London Game Company, although their flagship game, Rapidough, was to be seen on the Upstarts! stand. Last year the company had a large stand and was showing off the Tactic range. Clearly it's lost this business, but I don't what else has happened. Another disappearance was Susan Prescot Games, who have been at the Fair the last few years. They specialise in producing simple games to licensed themes (for example, S Club Seven last year).

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Note that games are often described by reference to other games. This is purely for comparison and does not imply that any game has been copied from another.

Page created 1st April 2003. Last modified 24th June 2005.
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