Time to move on to the new publishers, starting with Alphabet Runner. This is also the name of the game, which is explicitly an educational game based around the alphabet. In its simplest form, players compete against the clock to make 3-5 letter words from the cards available. Each valid word scores a point, advancing the player’s scoring marker. On getting to the end, players need to make a long word to win the game. Colour coding of the cards allows an extra element to be added to the game for older children and tournament rules (which may better suit adults) are available from the publisher. The first Alphabet Runner Championships will be at Games Expo at the beginning of June.
Dinner Party Challenge is the game you can play with your meal! The game has a series of different challenges to accompany each course of dinner. Failing a challenge means paying a forfeit. These are intended as ice-breakers, helping to set the mood and relax people.
Fusion Games didn’t have a game, they had a whole series of games: the Psilesia Project. These start with the board game, Kayn. This is a fantasy combat race game that uses a computer (or games console) to administer the game and act as GM. There is also a role-playing element as players can develop their character and customise their vehicles. Coming next is Kayn-Net, an online environment where players can compete and build up their standing and resources. The first expansion for the game, Kayn-Team, is expected to be available before the end of 2007 to allow team competitions. This is a fascinating cross of board game, role-playing game and computer game and I hope it develops the following it needs.
JR Sports is the brainchild of Jonathan Rudd and publishes In the Drink, a drinking game themed around Golf. The rules are flexible, allowing players to play the game in the way they want. The key element is the use of measures on players’ drinks glasses. These are calibrated to show how much they have to drink to achieve particular numbers of yards. The game is then played over a series of ‘holes’ of different lengths. It is not intended to be taken seriously, but as a focus for social gatherings. The idea is that people won’t abandon this game in favour of a trip to the pub!
Powershot Soccer is the creation of Powerplay Industries and is a card game with a football (soccer) theme. Each player has their own deck, representing a particular team. They take a hand of eleven cards and play a series of passes or dribbling while their opponent uses tackle or intercept cards to try to take control. String a series of passes together and they can take a shot at goal, hoping that their opponent can’t save it. Play continues through the decks and the winner is the player with most goals. The teams have different strengths and weaknesses – the Dutch, for example, have a strong goalkeeper, while the Italians are good at intercepting passes (there are 10 national teams available at the moment). The game is mainly luck, but is fun and has a collectable aspect as well.
SolBenk is a new company with a couple of new games. Saikoro is played across a grid of dice, which players move to create gaps and isolate each other’s pawns. It plays quickly and provides lots of tactical opportunities. Solomon’s Stones is a game of removing stones from the triangular grid. You can take as many as you want from any row, but whoever takes the last loses the game. The game is played with polished haematite stones – see the picture on the previous page.
Accused! is published by Twisted Winds and has the players competing to establish their alibis for the murder that is the start of the game. At the same time, they can provide evidence and motives that point to other players. Unfortunately, the details of the crime aren’t known until the end game, so you may be stacking the odds against yourself. The game ends with an opportunity for each player to make the case for their innocence. And the ‘real’ killer can win by bumping off everybody else! This game has several elements that I like the sound of – and it looks good, too. One I definitely want to try when it’s available later in the year.
Wicked Vision had all sorts of interesting things on their stand, including lots of indoor boomerangs and just the one board game. World Discovery is a game of travelling the world by a given route and answering geographical questions about the places you visit. The first player to get all their ‘visas’ (by answering their questions) and return home wins the game. I particularly liked the little aeroplane playing pieces, which complete the look of this as an entertaining family game.
And that was the end of another Toy Fair. It was good to see that so many smaller companies are clearly flourishing and returning to the show. There were some interesting games on show, too. I’m looking forward to playing them.