Sugoroku in the Wild

After learning about sugoroku, I’ve started noticing it in various places. The first was a reproduction of a 1902 game in a gift shop in Otaru. Next was at a museum gift shop in Yokohama, and again at a park gift shop. Most recently was the Edo-Tokyo Museum having several exhibits. Hunting for sugoroku has turned into a hobby of mine!

Guide to Otaru

Otaru sugoroku

The left panel is a place where they're making Ramune. The middle panel is tobacco shop.
The left panel is a place where they’re making Ramune. The middle panel is of a tobacco shop.

Otaru is a small town in Northern Hokkaido that once had a bustling financial district. This reproduction of a 1902 (Meiji 35) game Continue reading Sugoroku in the Wild

Sugoroku – Traditional Board Games

Sugoroku: Traditional Japanese Games Cover

Today we’ll take a look at sugoroku, which refers to two types of traditional Japanese board games: board sugoroku (盤双六) and art sugoroku (絵双六). The latter, though, is is what people think of when they think of sugoroku. My wife discovered a book simply titled Sugoroku: Traditional Japanese Games at a local used bookstore and kindly picked it up for me. Published in 1974 and full of lavish photos of historic games, the first half looks at the types and art of sugoroku, while the latter half explores the history. As a bonus, a famous places sugoroku was tucked away in the sleeve.

I enjoyed flipping through the book just for its pictures alone, but the essays by its three authors deepened my interest. The following is a summary and highlights of what I learned from the book. Continue reading Sugoroku – Traditional Board Games

Hands on Gundam the Game

Amuro looking at the game

Last year my wife and I became hooked on the original Gundam TV show. Surprisingly, neither of us had watched it before, so what started as a lark inspired by this Yoshinoya commercial turned us into fans.  When Arclight announced they were releasing a cooperative Gundam board game, I knew I wanted to give it, so picked it up at Tokyo Game Market.

The game is for 1-4 players and takes at least 30 minutes to play each phase. There are always four characters being played, so how many each player controls scales inversely with the number of players. Its gameplay is straight forward and simple, following the original TV show story. Like many story-based games, Continue reading Hands on Gundam the Game

From Season to Season

From Season to Season is a cute game of winning by losing. Coming in a small confectionary-sized box, the labeling and design is that of traditional Japanese sweets. The game really plays to the idea of hospitality and ometenashi, with players giving points to others, and the player with the fewest points wins.

The reference sheet, season with point tracker card, and sweets tiles
The top left card is a reference card. The bottom left card is used to track points, as well as indicate the player’s season.

Continue reading From Season to Season

Playing at the Game of Life

Things are starting to settle down a bit and I’m finally able to game again. A friend organized a board game day and the first game we played was quite interesting– Life (人生ゲーム). I’ve played the American version when I was a kid, so it was interesting to revisit as an adult. Adding on to that, there are a number of changes unique to the Japanese version. I got a kick out of it, so wanted to share a few pictures of it.

Back of the box. The game has expanded from what I remember. There are now four add on expansion boards included with the game.
The game has expanded from what I remember. There are now four add on expansion boards included with the game.

Continue reading Playing at the Game of Life

Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault

After probably twenty years away from Games Workshop games I’ve dipped my toes in again with Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault. For the last year or two I’ve been painting Star Wars: Imperial Assault miniatures and enjoying that, so when the Warhammer Yokohama shop opened up nearby I was tempted to pickup one of the smaller skirmish games, but managed to resist.

Freebie play mat
Freebie play mat

A week later a friend wanted to get started with Shadespire and form a group, so I decided to pickup the Magore’s Fiends warband. Cue the Nightvault release and its bonus items still being available and my wallet got a bit lighter.

Nightvault box with bonus dice and dice bag
Nightvault box with bonus dice and dice bag

Continue reading Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault

Understanding BattleTech

After years away from the world of BattleTech, Harebrained Schemes’ new BattleTech PC game has sucked me back into the 31st century. As a kid I was a huge fan of BattleTech and devoured its novels. But despite having the base game, AeroTech, and BattleSpace, I only played a few games of it. One of the things I longed for was a double blind game, and the new game has finally given me it.

So how does this relate to analog games you might ask? Well, the original tabletop game was also released in Japan and was translated by Group SNE, the makers of Sword World. It had its own revised mech designs and some of the novels were translated, but it didn’t seem to take off as much as one might have expected.

Fantasy File Guides

I have have a soft spot for old Fantasy File Fujimi Dragon Books. Riding the TRPG renaissance of the early nineties, Continue reading Understanding BattleTech

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