A while back, someone asked me to predict what the big thing would be this year. I said if I knew that, I'd be doing it by now. Snark aside, there is one trend that I do hope gains some momentum, which I'm calling Chibi Games.
"Chibi" comes from anime and manga, and is often conflated with the "super deformed" style of art where characters have giant heads and eyes, with little bodies (and often no fingers, oddly). But in this case, I'm focusing on the "cute" aspect. Technically, I could call these Kawaii games, but "Chibi" is just more fun to say.
- Chibi Games wear their inspiration on their adorable little sleeves. They're based on popular games which are great in themselves, but can be a little hard to approach as a newcomer.
- Chibi Games take the fun elements of those games, distill them into a few simple modes of interaction, and retheme it with cute approachable art.
- Chibi Games use very few components, take up very little footprint on the table and last at most 20 minutes.
- 7 Wonders: Drafting game with lots of moving parts, but fast play and an elegant system of tech trees. Calculating final scores (and all scores mid-game) can be opaque though.
Chibi Response: Sushi Go focuses exclusively on drafting cards to build unique and easily grasped sets. Scoring is relatively simple. Play lasts half the time. Instead of ancient empires, the art features cute anthropomorphized sushi dishes.
I've heard people describe the new game Machi Koro as a simpler, cuter version of Settlers of Catan, but I can't verify that myself yet. If so, that's awesome. If not, there's open space there for a designer to work. I can see a whole set of Chibi games, each focused on a different popular genre or theme in the hobby.
It can be helpful to look at the existing market and see what is already out there. So let's do that.
- Chibi Kingdom: With a different theme and art, Eight Minute Empire or Coin Age might fit the bill.
- Chibi Rails: It would be hard to beat Ticket to Ride or Cable Car as relatively simple introductions to the rail genre, but I'd give String Railway a fighting chance.
- Chibi Tycoon: Assuming this is a stocks game, how would you condense the world of commodities trading into as succinct a game as possible? My vote goes to classic game Pit.
- Chibi Auction: Take a heavy auction game like Der Speicherstadt and add a cutesy theme? I think For $ale is a strong contender, possibly Felix the Cat in the Sack or No Thanks.
- Chibi Farm: Responding to heavy farming games like Agricola, you might find Farmageddon a fun and light alternative, though the gameplay is totally different.
Anyhoo, just thought it would be fun to see a whole line of these chibi games from one publisher.