Eric Martin, over at Board Game Geek, recently visited the Tokyo Game Market and posted a really good article about his experiences here.
The majority of releases at Game Market are card games of some type, partly because they’re small and therefore can be displayed more easily at the minuscule stalls available for exhibitors and partly because they’re easy to produce compared to a game with wooden pawns or punch-out cardboard tokens. Name cards — and the exchanging of them — are a cultural touchstone in Japan, and name card producers can just as easily be game card producers. Publisher Tagami Games, for example, released 原始人の晩餐 (Banquet for Early Humans), a game in an AMIGO Spiele-sized card box jam-packed with 160 half-sized cards.
While we all have some degree of familiarity with cards, designers keep finding new things to put on them or new activities to do with them, new ways to hold them or place them or stack them or throw them. One example of this: Six weeks prior to Game Market, designer Shimpei Satochallenged designers to create a card game that consisted of only two types of cards. You could have different artwork on the cards if desired, but if the artwork had a functional meaning, then you were violating the spirit of the challenge. A number of designers released new creations that fit these guidelines, such as Susumu Kawasaki‘s bluffingish deduction game 15 ○ 9 ×, just as years ago designers took on the ¥500 challenge — a price ceiling that required designers to think small, with Seiji Kanai‘s Love Letter being one such result (as detailed here), and with the chance publication of that game by AEG and the subsequent shift within the international industry in terms of what’s viable making Love Letter the most important release this decade in my eyes.
(Curiously enough, Sato did not himself release a two-card design, instead selling a new start player die at his stand along with copies of Komodo’sJushimatsu and Nanahoshi. How do you use it? Roll the die and see to whom the triangle points. If you’re stuck on deciding which game to play, roll it to determine a genre.)
You can read the entire article over on BGG here.