SPIEL.Digital 2020 has closed its curtain for this year. After preparing things to join this digitalised board game exhibition, we were a bit sad to know that this annual convention was coming to an end. Although we share the same opinion with many board game fans all around the world (that this cannot substitute the real SPIEL Messe), we would give two thumbs up for the organiser. Without further ado, thank you for your hard work!
A short introduction to SPIEL.Digital 2020
What did we have in SPIEL.Digital 2020 then? This year’s online convention was, to begin with, free of charge. The visitors had access to the exhibition contents without paying a single fee. The organiser opened the donation page, but it was not mandatory.
With SPIEL went digital, undoubtedly many fans all over the world had more accessibility to one of the most anticipated events dedicated to board games. A large number of online visitors was possibly the reason why the server crashed in the first hours after the event started.
There were 400-ish exhibitors straight out from 41 nations in SPIEL.Digital 2020. Despite the lack of actual physical table, they successfully showcased their new releases through two of the most sought-after online board gaming platform, Tabletopia and Board Game Arena. Most of the publishers also did live streaming, from explaining the rule to doing an online giveaway as well. Some of them invited the designers to play with the fans on the digital table together, too!
Exciting new releases
I should put a disclaimer here before going on, guys. One should note that this segment is 100% subjectively my personal opinion and preference! Please share with us which games are your most anticipated ones this year!
Bonfire by Stefan Feld
Designed by the renowned board game designer, Mister Feld, Bonfire is undoubtedly on my top-priority list. The game has a lot of things going on. The board looks packed with many things. As a gnome, your task is to lit the bonfire once again. The gnomes must visit the islands to prove their goodwill and meet the holy guardians. Whenever you finish your duty, a bonfire will once again illuminate. You win by collecting the most points at the end of the game.
Pegasus Spiele is the distributor and the exhibitor of Bonfire in SPIEL.Digital 2020. By the way, I tried Bonfire in Tabletopia with Bagus from Sini Duduk and Marcel from Castle8. Thank you for the company!
Wok and Roll by Daryl Chow
Daryl is the mastermind of Overbooked and The Artemis Project. Through his company, Origame, he released Mooncake Master in 2019 and his latest addition in 2020 is Wok and Roll. Origame promotes Southeast Asian culture through their games. Wok and Roll, for example, players will become chefs and compete to develop the best menu. By cooking the best food, your restaurant will be the best “zi char” in town.
The Red Cathedral by Sheila Santos & Israel Cendrero
Another definite euro game to purchase is The Red Cathedral from the dynamic duo known as Llama Dice. The Red Cathedral brings you to the construction site of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. You have to show the Tsar that you can become the best builder in the entire country. With the dice rolling, this game still needs some strategic thinking to cope up with the area majority mechanic. The Red Cathedral will be available through Devir.
Cóatl by Etienne Dubois-Roy & Pascale Brassard
Published by Synapses Games, the German version will be available via HeidelBÄR Games. Cóatl has been a remarkable must-have. We have reviewed this game, thanks to Eddy, one of our contributors. The game transports you back to the Aztec Empire where you compete to obtain the title of High Priest by sculpting this feathered dragon-like beast.
Small Samurai Empire by Milan Tasevski
Another title of the Small Empire series from Archona Games!! I backed this game via Kickstarter awhile ago. Small Samurai Empire is an action programming game where players become the Daimyo, leading the samurai to get the most influences in provinces. I tried the game with Milan, the designer himself, during his live streaming. Really cannot wait to get this game in hands.
Sumatra by Reiner Knizia
I never thought that I would see an island’s name from Indonesia archipelago, Sumatra, becoming a board game title. What’s more exciting, the designer is Reiner Knizia. LudoNova showcased the game via Table Top Simulator, sadly, so I could only watch the live streaming via Discord. Nevertheless, I am pretty excited. Sumatra is a family game, so I think it will suit perfectly for my homeland’s market, too. Players will move around and explore the island. While doing so, they will gather points to win the game. In a glance, this game looks so stunning. I expect nothing less from this publisher, after experiencing great moments with their 2019’s game, Yukon Airways.
Paleo by Peter Rustemeyer
Travelling back to the ancient time, you have to lead your tribe to survive the harsh condition of the Stone Age. Paleo is a cooperative game with some strategic aspects, distributed by Hans im Glück. MeepleEksyen will review this game shortly. Please wait!
My upcoming and on-going Kickstarter projects
Nothing beats the feeling of finding the new hidden gems on our beloved crowdfunding, Kickstarter. There were some publishers in SPIEL.Digital 2020 who showcased their next and on-going project, too. I found out two Kickstarter projects we definitely will back next.
First, we have our favourite publisher from Japan, itten, with their Crash Octopus. The game is currently on Kickstarter and the funding period is almost closing, as we write this article. We couldn’t try it in SPIEL.Digital 2020 because this game is a dexterity game, something an online platform can never accommodate.
Next, still from Asia, we have Macaron. This trick-taking card game is another masterpiece from Ta-Te Wu. The cover looks cute. Stunning and I am weak against this kind of box. We have already shared our first impression of Macaron, and currently waiting for our preview copy to reach Germany. The Kickstarter page will be live ETA November 17th.
Upcoming Kickstarter in 2021 is Darwin’s Journey. Thundergryph Games will start this crowdfunding project on January 5th. My experience with their Kickstarter projects has always been astounding. My in-depth review of Iwari may be able to persuade you to back their next project, perhaps.
I also browsed several new titles in SPIEL.Digital 2020 and found some intriguing titles. Another title from Archona Games, Pest, for example. This euro game pits players to rule during the plague in the Middle Age. While expanding your government, you have to control the outbreak as well. Sounds a bit dark yet fun! A pity I missed the announcement from Milan last week at this event. Good luck with the crowdfunding project!
Live streaming during SPIEL.Digital 2020
The organiser has partnered with several board game blogs and news outlets. Thanks to that, they have covered all the new releases and other topics, such as playthrough and reviews. For example, they streamed how to play Paleo, too!
They also helped to showcase the new releases from sponsors. In this live streaming, for example, they featured Anansi from HeidelBär Games. This time, it is another trick-taking card game. I have seen them showing this game via Castle Tricon 2020. By the way, HeidelBär Games, Horrible Guild, and Czech Games Edition also reinstated their virtual 3D world for SPIEL.
My personal experience
I deeply miss the feeling of walking along the corridors and halls in SPIEL Messe. The pandemic was the reason they cancelled this, and I understand the decision made by the organiser. The presence of SPIEL.Digital 2020 was a neat option to fill the void in October. Even though it can never substitute the real convention, we cannot dismiss the fact that the organiser has done a genial job here with this format. With months of preparation for something completely new, they nailed it. Of course, there were hiccups here and there, but overall, I enjoyed this digital format, too!
Hopefully, everything runs normal already in 2021. Friedhelm-Merz Verlag has announced that SPIEL 2021 will be on October 14-17th 2021. We cannot wait to meet old and new friends next year. Thanks a lot for this fantastic experiences.
I am a full-time food technologist during weekdays. However, when the calendar hits weekends, I transform into an avid board gamer. I am a hardcore Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) LCG player from Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). Current hobby: buying board games. My shelf of shame’s list is getting longer, thanks to you, Kickstarter.