As I look back at a lot of my favorite games from last year something has striked me as interesting. Many of my favorite games, as well as the most popular releases, were not in fact “new games”. Turns out some of the best games from last year were games not released last year. There appears to be a new trend in the hobby and it’s one that I’m actually a big fan of. What is it? Well, it would appear that there is a huge market within the hobby for publishing reprints of older games with either updated art, updated mechanics, or both.
My favorite game from 2019 was none other than Pax Pamir (2nd Edition), a redesign and aesthetic overhaul on the original game published in 2015. My number 3 game, Claustrophobia 1643, also a new version of a game released back in 2009. I chose to keep another trio of great games off my list, merely because they’re reprints just weren’t different enough to warrant counting them as a new game. Those were; Suburbia: Collector’s Edition, Snowdonia: Deluxe Master Set, and the newest version of Pret-a-Porter. There were a handful of other games that also proved to be quite popular, being nothing more than reprints.
I attribute a lot of this due to the recent growth within the hobby. Many of the greatest games of the last years were produced in such small print runs compared to current game releases that there just aren’t a lot of copies floating around in the wild. This drives up not only the demand on the second hand market, but also the price. New gamers joining hear tales about how great these older titles are and then excitedly look for a copy only to realize it’s not practical to own a copy. Publishers aren’t dumb and they hear the people’s demands for reprints and they figure updating the design or artwork will make the game not only appealing to those hunting down copies but also to those who own the original games, crappy art, components and what not.
Why am I a fan of this business model. I, myself, am somewhere in the middle of the two camps. I have successfully hunted down a few grail games, Bruges being one of those. But I also keep my ear to the ground constantly for rumblings of new reprints, so I can get rid of my old copy while the demand is high and begin the long wait for the new edition. It’s also a safe bet that the new game will be good, if not great. While the opinions of the original may be slightly biased, you know the game is at least decent otherwise people wouldn’t be hanging onto their copies despite the high demand and going price. In my eyes it’s a win-win; gamers like me get a shiny new copy of a game that I know will be good, while publishers are basically printing themselves money.
So, with this in mind I thought I’d bring up a new reprint that I am very excited about. One of the many games I’ve owned, enjoyed, but moved on from due to the demand within the hobby was Rococo. Originally printed in 2013, the game features a theme that is quite unique. Players are master tailors making dresses for the nobility in preparation for the upcoming ball being hosted by the king. The game features a unique deck management mechanic, similar to Concordia, along with area majority and a handful of other familiar systems. While there was nothing particularly wrong with the design or the art, it wasn’t really anything to write home about. The expansion in particular was always in short supply and could rarely be found without paying a ridiculous price.
The good news is Eagle-Gryphon Games has decided to reprint the game. And let me tell you, they aren’t sparing any expenses. They have hired none other than the very talented Ian O’Toole to do the art and graphic design. They decided to include not only the Jewelry Box expansion but also a new mini-expansion. All of this is going to be done with the highest component and production standards in the industry. If you are familiar with any of the recent Lacerda releases like, The Gallerist, Lisboa, Escape Plan, or On Mars, then you will know what to expect.
Having owned the original, I can say that this is a really good game. The highlight of the game by far is the hand management mechanic. The cards you play are going to cycle though and as the game progresses you will get the chance to add stronger, more useful cards to your hand. There is a good deal of timing involved as you are competing for the right materials with the other players but also to claim the most valuable decoration spots on the board. The game is full of tension and each turn will require you to plan ahead a round or two to take full advantage of your hand of cards. I really enjoyed my plays of the game and am eager to give things a go with the included expansion.
The game goes live for preorders here on the 22nd and will continue though March, with an actual release date of later this fall. If you don’t currently have the funds or want to try and save on shipping, then I may suggest speaking with Jordan or one of the other fine employees at Game Grid to see if they can get in on preorders, supplying yo with a copy later at the actually release.