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Welcoming Weimar, Anticipating an International Coffee Rush, and Resurrecting High Rise

by W. Eric Martin

Matthias Cramer‘s Weimar: The Fight for Democracy was crowdfunded in September 2022, and after fulfillment of that project, publishers Spielworxx and Skelling Games debuted the German edition of the game at SPIEL Essen 23.

Capstone Games has the remainder of the English print run — just over two hundred copies as of Nov. 8, 2023 — for sale solely on its website. Says Capstone’s Clay Ross, “Weimar is the smallest print run we’ve ever done. Going into this project with Matthias Cramer and the guys at Skellig & Spielworxx, we all knew this would be a very niche market game. That’s not a knock against the game design at all — if you take into consideration all the variables (excluding core gameplay mechanics) at hand, from player count (four-player-only), play time (up to six hours, although the game can be shorter depending on what course the game takes!), and theme (historical German politics), our audience in the North American market is significantly limited compared to most of the other games we provide.”

What is the market for a six-hour, four-player-only game about German politics from a well-known designer? The Kickstarter had 1,155 backers, so that’s a floor, I guess, with the 200+ English copies bumping that total up by another 17% — but beyond that? Says Ross, “[W]e’ll take the game one step at a time to see what the market reaction is and reassess the demand for a reprint through crowdfunding or other means if the need arises.”

KOSMOS has announced that it will release German editions of Luc Rémond‘s Sky Team and 3 Ring Circus from Remo Conzadori and Fabio Lopiano in the first half of 2024. (For background on 3 Ring Circus, you can read the designers’ diary about the game.)

Pandasaurus Games will release Thomas Dupont‘s card game Knarr in English in February 2024.

• Designer Gil Hova shut down Formal Ferret Games in January 2023, noting at the time that he was “working on getting my games signed”, including the High Rise crowdfunding campaign that was funded in October 2020.

U.S. publisher Allplay has now stepped in, promising to deliver High Rise to all backers, probably in Q3 2024, with no extra funds required for either the game or shipping. Allplay plans to release two other Formal Ferret titles — The Networks and Wordsy — at the same time.

Asmodee will distribute Euijin Han‘s game Coffee Rush from Korea Boardgames in Germany under the name Café Barista.

I’ll note that I played Coffee Rush on a mock-up advance copy from Korea Boardgames in the first half of 2023, and I was stunned by how quickly the game played — or rather how quickly we crashed and burned. Players share a kitchen full of ingredients, and on a turn you move your worker through the kitchen to pick up ingredients and assign them to three cups that you are working on for orders. After each turn, the orders slide down on your player board, and if you don’t fulfill them in time, the customer leaves and becomes a penalty.

If you complete an order, then each other player has a new customer show up at the top of their queue. (I guess your fulfilled order help spread the word about awesome cafés in town?) Thus, in a four-player game, you might have three new orders show up thanks to other players being successful — and you can’t possibly complete all of those orders in time, so others’ success = your failure.

You can convert completed orders into a bonus power to let you do more in the same amount of time, but even those powers don’t keep you from failing, so the game seems like a rush to stay just a bit farther ahead of the tidal wave — which works thematically, but I had initially expected players to score lots of points from completed orders, with us making it all the through the deck. Instead someone failed quickly in each of the three games I’ve played, and the winning score was never more than 7 points in any of those games.

I’ve wanted to dive more into the game to see whether we’re just terrible or whether I just need to re-work my expectations, but my plans haven’t worked out so far.

Failure incoming!


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