Games at Hama-con

A question I often hear is, “what TRPGs are popular in Japan?” I recently saw a flyer for a large TRPG convention, and thought it’d be interesting to look at the games being played.

Before we jump into the specifics, “convention” can mean anything from a small monthly event with a table or two to large events with dozens of tables. They also range from general TRPG conventions to single-system-only conventions, where only one game system is played (e.g. Sword World only).

Continue reading Games at Hama-con

Babel

Continuing on the success of Pandemic: Iberia over New Years with my wife, we next tried the balance game Babel.

Babel Box

Box Contents

Babel comes in a sturdy box with a nice pulp texture to it. It can be played with 1 to 5 players and takes 15-30 minutes. The version we played was the new version that came out in 2017. The previous version came out in 2016 and had some differences with the components.

Unboxing Babel

In the box are 36 wall cards, 45 blue print cards, 10 base cards, one ceiling card, and 5 language cards, plus the instruction booklet. The components are well-made and sturdy. Appropriate to its biblical namesake, Hebrew is used as a design element on the cards.

Babel Contents

Continue reading Babel

Scouting Yokohama Shops and Cafes

As I mentioned last post, I’ll be moving to Yokohama soon. Curious what my gaming options would look like, we decided to swing by some game shops and cafes after checking out apartments. I’ll add a list of Yokohama shops, similar to my Tokyo list, once I get to know the area a bit better. Now to the shops!

Continue reading Scouting Yokohama Shops and Cafes

One Year of Entropic Dreams

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since I started blogging. I’ve learned a lot in the process, and am very thankful for all of you who take the time to read it. One of the highlights for me last year was learning that one of the players in the weekly Adventurer’s League game I attend found it because of this site.

January and February will be very busy for me, but I hope to start going through my backlog of games once things calm down a bit. In addition to some board and card games, there’s a number of TRPGs I’ve been hankering to introduce here. It’s funny to think that I was worried about finding topics to write about; it’s more a matter of finding the time to research and write.

The new year already brings some change- namely an impending move from Tokyo to Yokohama. After checking out apartments there, we dropped by a few game shops and cafes. I’ll write about that trip and gaming over the New Years holiday soon.

Hands on Hanamikoji

Hanamikoji contents - 7 geisha cards and 7 types of tool cards. Victory and action tokens. Rules in multiple languages

It’s hard to believe that it’s already New Year’s Eve! I had fun playing Hanamikoji a few times with my wife the other night. Taking its name from a famous street in Kyoto, it is a beautifully illustrated game about earning the favors of geisha by giving them the tools they specialize in. While a simple and fast game to play, there’s a lot of thought and reading of the other player that goes into each round. Continue reading Hands on Hanamikoji

Interview with Game Designer Yoshiyuki Arai

I had the pleasure of discussing analog gaming and design over dinner with veteran Japanese game designer Yoshiyuki Arai. Among his various accomplishments, his game Fantasy Defense had a very successful Kickstarter.

Yoshiyuki Arai closeup
Yoshiyuki Arai at GenCon 50

Scott: How did you get started gaming and what were your first games?

Arai: As a child in the early ’80s there was a board game boom with lots of TV program toy tie-ins. After that, Bandai’s Party Joy
(Japanese blog post about the SD Gundam version) board game series took off, with each game costing 1,000 yen each. I couldn’t afford it with my allowance, so I’d play at a friend’s place. They included an A4 size board, rubber figures, and dice. Over ten years there were over 300 types of games and it was a big hit at the time.

A long time ago, Japan was a major player in the board game market. Sorry, I’m starting with some board game history. Avalon Hill games were imported and sold in department stores. I never played them, but gamers born before the 70’s most likely have. In fact, I’d say that most gamers now in their 50’s got started with Avalon Hill games. Continue reading Interview with Game Designer Yoshiyuki Arai

A Day at the DAC 2017

DAC 2017 Sign on whiteboard
This way to the 2017 DAC!

The Dungeons & Dragons Annual Convention (DAC) usually falls at a busy time of year for me, so I haven’t been able to participate until this year. The convention consists of two days of D&D-related gaming, with each player participating in one game for the entire day.

I only attended the Saturday session, but it was packed. Reception started at 9:30 am and was followed by the opening ceremony at 10am where they introduced the DMs for the day. Gaming started at 10:30am and continued until 7pm with a few breaks decided by the table. After that, closing comments, announcements, and a raffle with tons of prizes. Continue reading A Day at the DAC 2017

Friday Night Adventurers

With the Japanese edition of Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition coming out this Autumn, there has been an increased interest in D&D. We’ve had a number of new players, or those returning from older editions, stop by the Wednesday night Adventurer’s League as well.

The cast
The cast of Friday Night Adventurers

There’s a Japanese language stream of D&D on Friday nights that just recently restarted after a hiatus called Friday Night Adventurers (金曜夜は冒険者). It’s structured in a way that also teaches a bit of the system. There is a natural feel to it, like we’re just joining in and watching a group play instead of watching a more theatric performance. While enjoyable to watch for veteran players, I imagine this style is especially helpful for beginners and those who have an interest in seeing how a real game plays out. Hopefully this and the Japanese edition will increase the number of players in Japan. Continue reading Friday Night Adventurers