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RANDOM MUSINGS on the fin-de-millénaire games scene . . .

4 January 2010 . . .

When last we met here it was for a report on board games being counterfeited in China. That article really touched a nerve. Even though posted only after some part of December had passed, it was the fifth most popular for 2009. The report popped up in quite a few fora, not just on BGG, but around the world. By use of automatic translators it has been possible to follow discussions even in obscure languages like Thai and Hungarian. Now a few follow-on comments thereto.

It would have seemed obvious, but from some of the comments it appears maybe it was not clear enough, that the titles being counterfeited are not limited to only those pictured or listed. Those are just a small sampling of the many, many titles on offer.

To the speculation that there may be some connection between those producing games on contract for Germany and America and these copies, apparently this cannot always be the case since at least the Mr. Jack game has only ever been produced in Germany.

A point left out of the report reflects the high sophistication of the copying strategy and understanding of its market. The firm's employee stated that most of the copies are created in two types. The first version matches its original nearly exactly and is sold for a very low price. But also made is a version of the same title with much lower quality, which sells at an absurdly low price.

There have been some inquiries about how to acquire these knockoffs. On a Thai forum there was even the suggestion of planning a trip to China for the purpose of acquiring some of them. Not having the contact information anyway, it's impossible to provide assistance for these requests. But more to the point, it's suggested that you not try to do it anyway. Even if you don't have a heart for the publishers, at least have one for the game inventors, who are basically game fans just like you and despite all their work to create new games that you enjoy, are only getting paid a mere 5-8% of the wholesale price. With the usual edition running to just two to three thousand copies, it can readily be seen that it's far from a fortune, certainly not one that deserves to be reduced further by unpaid knockoffs.

click an image to view a larger version

German version at left, Chinese knockoff at right

Chinese knockoff version of Dominion with
Chinese text, yet retaining English card names.
This retails for about $15 worth in Chinese currency.

Dominion box and insert differ considerably.
Also comes with about 40 card sleeves, apparently
to use on the master cards? Or just to encourage
purchase of more sleeves?

Advice on what to do about this problem comes from Toy Directory Monthly.

In other news from China, the WanZhouYou website has announced the winner of an annual best game award. The good news for the Chinese board game industry and Chinese gaming is that the winner, Killers of the Three Kingdoms, is not a knockoff, but a Chinese original, and on a Chinese topic. The bad news is that this game, by an unnamed designer, in its mechanisms and style of play is almost an exactly copy of Bang! Of course this is a knockoff also, at least in a way. But it seems at least to represent progress in the world of Chinese board games. So warm congratulations to Yoka Games better hopes for the future of Chinese gaming.

By the way, other winners at the site were

Editor's Pick: Pandemic
Best Artist: Mathieu Beaulieu for Pony Express
Best Designer(s): Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc for Cyclades

More about board games in China from Global Times (notice how the foreign origins of the games are never mentioned)


by Rick Heli    RSS
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