Microgames

Oink Games from Japan is known for small card games which pack a big punch. Past hits from Oink have been the excellent games A Fake Artist Goes to New York, Insider and Deep Sea Adventure. Oink has just announced their next 2 games coming to western shores – Mr. Face by Jun Sasaki and Tricks and the Phantom by Takashi Saito.

Mr. Face is a social guessing game, where players play cards with leading phrases, such as “The clouds look so nice”, or “What is that smell?” One player attempts to build a facial expression on the board with supplied components, representing their phrase card. Afterwards, all players place phrases into the middle. Players then try to guess which odd phrase was the one which inspired the face. Mr. Face can also be played by taking selfies for the facial expressions.

Tricks and the Phantom is a deduction trick-taking game with a tiny deck of only 10 cards. The values and colors of the cards in the deck are known to all, reminiscent of Seiji Kanai‘s megahit microgame Love Letter. Each player plays one of their two cards face down to the middle, but denotes the color of the card by placing a token on the back. Players then try to guess which card is the “culprit” – the highest card. Cards are revealed, and successful guesses earn points, but be careful, several of the cards have special abilities, and the Phantom, the lowest card, can not only pretend to be any color, but also earns points for each other player tricked into incorrectly picking it.

Mr. Face and Tricks and the Phantom should be available in stores in the beginning of August. For more information, check out the Oink Games website here.

“Our space colony has been infiltrated by murderous androids who look just like us. We are gradually being replaced by look-alikes! The only way to find out for sure if someone is a robot is by shooting them with your laser pistol. Our only hope is to destroy the robots one by one!”

Looney Labs, grand masters of all things Fluxx, have announced a new microgame, Are You a Robot? by designer Andrew Looney. This 4 card game boils down the essence of a social deduction game to its simplest form. 2-3 players each secretly receive a card stating whether they are one of 2 humans, or the robot. Purely by questioning each other, they then need to decide who is who. The game ends when one player either shoots the other or shakes hands. If a human shoots a human, they both lose. If a human shoots a robot, the human wins. And finally, if a robot shakes hands with a human, the robot wins, since it’s menacing metal hands never release. The game can be played with 2 players, or with multiple decks, expanding the complexity. For more information, check out the Looney Labs webpage here, and look for Are You a Robot? on store shelves this August.

The award winning card game Love Letter (2012), by designer Seiji Kanai, has been the poster child and gold standard for the burgeoning genre of microgames. With only 20 cards, Love Letter is easy to teach, easy to carry and can fill just a few minutes of gaming satisfaction anywhere, anytime. Now Z-Man Games has announced a new version of this classic, which includes two new character cards to shake up game play. The Chancellor (#6) allows players to draw multiple cards, keeping one and placing some on the bottom of the deck.

Did you find yourself constantly asking who was still in the round? Now you won’t have to worry about that! Once a player is knocked out of the round, they’ll flip over the character reference card to reveal a broken wax seal. A quick glance around the table will tell you who is still in the round and whose letter didn’t quite make it.

The Spy (#0) gives players a more valuable win for a round, that is if no other players have also played the Spy. This new edition also includes handy reference cards that flip to reveal a broken wax seal, when a player is eliminated from a round. For more details and pictures, check out the story from Z-Man here.

Happy Meeple, a web browser based board game app provider, has announced their next game is Circle the Wagons by Button Shy Games. Released in 2017, Circle the Wagons by designers Steven AraminiDanny Devine and Paul Kluka, is one of Button Shy’s wallet games, packing a deep experience into an 18 card deck. The cards have 4 territories on one side and endgame goals on the back. 2 players take turns creating a town with 15 cards, trying to connect like territories, and meet the goals set forth on the remaining 3 cards. If a player skips the first available cards, they must give them to their opponent. Towns are scored after all 15 cards have been played. Happy Meeple, who previously created web browser versions of Lost Cities and Hanamikoji, has a contest going for Circle the Wagons – the first player to beat their top rated bot, Verboten, 3 times in a row wins a cash prize.

Foxmind Games has announced The Potion, a light fast bluffing and bidding game from designer Kaspar Lapp (Magic Maze) about alchemists creating the coveted potion. In The Potion, 3-7 players each start with 2 beetles, 2 mushrooms and 2 vials. Each turn, players roll custom dice, which show symbols for the three ingredients on each face. After considering the dice, players secretly select an ingredient type from their stash. The players then reveal their “bid”, and if the total number of one ingredient held by all players equals the number and type of symbols on one of the dice, involved players can discard that ingredient into the potion bottle. If a player picked an ingredient that does not appear on any dice, and no players were able to discard as above, then they are allowed to discard their ingredient. Finally, if all players qualify to discard ingredients into the bottle, then no players may discard into the bottle. The winner is the first player to be left with only one ingredient type in hand. Expect this fast microgame to release at Essen Spiel 2018, October 25-28.

Button Shy Games has started a Kickstarter campaign for the latest in its Wallet Line of games, Sprawlopolis. Jason Tagmire’s Button Shy is known for amazingly engaging microgames, containing few cards, and finishing production in very short time. Sprawlopolis is a 1-4 player cooperative city building game with only 18 cards, wherein players take turns adding cards to the sprawling metropolis, completing roads and growing urban areas. The rules for each game are created by randomly flipping 3 cards, revealing the scoring goals. In addition, the three cards together give the total points needed that game to emerge victorious. But be careful, because the necessary roads require maintenance, eating away precious points.

The Kickstarter Campaign for Sprawlopolis continues through May 26, and the game is expected to deliver in 3 short months – August of 2018.