What Board Game Collective
Publisher of the Month
What Board Game will feature one distributer or publisher each month to take a look at some of their best games and discuss with the team what it's like to work in the wonderful world of board game distribution and publishing.
Founded in 2008 by founder Hadi Barket, Helvetiq is one of Switzerland's leading publishers of games, books and puzzles.
Below, WBG reviews three of Helvetiq's best currenlty available games, but first, let's chat with CEO and founder Hadi, who has a fascinating story to tell about how Helvetiq begun.
WBG's Top Three Helvetiq Games:
Bandido is board game perfection! A tiny box that can go with you wherever you like. Rules that can be explained and understood in under a minute. A game that can be played with any age or ability. And something that is just so fun to play! Partly as winning is tricky, and games are short. So, if you fail, you just want to start again! Oh, and did I mention set up takes less than 10 seconds?
In Bandido, you are trying to stop the cheeky Bandido from escaping. You start with either five or six tunnels to block, depending on which side of the starting tile you use. Each player has three tunnel tiles in their hand and on their turn, they lay one, then pick up. If you block all the tunnels, and the Bandido is trapped, you win! It really is as simple at that.
The tiles you have in your hand will either reduce the tunnel options available, sometimes even block the route entirely. Or, open one route into three or four new routes. As you are picking from a hand of three, you are not always full in control of the situation! You can go from having the bandido reduced to only one path, to giving him multiple escape routes in the matter of one round!
This is a simple puzzle, but so incredibly fun to play! And when you win, oh my! It is so satisfying! The game has sold an incredible amount of copies and I can see why. It has also seen two spin off versions. The free to download COVID-19 print and play versions designed by CEO and owner, Hadi Barkat’s daughter! And the recently released Bandida, which see’s many new power cards introduced and even the chance to switch sides and try and help Bandida escape!
This game comes highly recommend from WBG. It is a brilliant family game. A really fun co-op experience and the perfect filler. Although, bear in mind the filler category may be a red herring as an hour later when you are still playing, onto game 20, still trying to win! This game is addictive!
Kawaii means “cute” in Japanese, and you can see why Helvetiq decided to name this game as they did. The art on the cards is so incredibly… well, cute!
In Kawaii, you are trying to collect as many ice creams as you can in your favourite flavour and style. At the start of the game, players choose cards that represent the colour and type in secret and then all the cards are dealt out evenly.
Players then lay a card in front of their play area in turn. You keep laying in front of you, card after card, until someone shouts “Kawaii!” and claims a set. Players are waiting for enough of their chosen flavour and style to come up to make the claim worth it, as they can only do this so many times. Each time to shout “Kawaii” you give one of two hearts you start with to the player whose cards you are taking. You can take your own pile if you like, in which case you discard the hart back into the box. With this simple mechanic or reducing the amount of times you can claim cards, the game takes on a real sense of tension!
There are bonus cards like cherries which give you extra points, and shops which are worth one negative point, unless you collect all three in which case this becomes a positive. So, as these show up, sets become juicier and juicer, but sometimes with an edge of danger!
Games take no more than five minutes or so, but the fun had by all players makes playing just once almost an impossibility for us. My children love this game so much! Not just because of the art, or simplicity of games, but I think because of the way the game works so smoothly with multiple mechanisms. The set collection is the route of the game, but the fact you have to give a heart to another player if you take their cards makes each cry of “Kawaii” a more thoughtful decision. As you continue to lay your cards, and watch other players cards being laid, all players are taking the risk as to how long their wait until they claim the cards. There is an element of push-your-luck as well as the set-collection very prevalent here. This multiple use of mechanics works brilliantly and introduces younger gamers into a whole new world!
3. Team UP!
Team UP! Is a cooperative game where players are trying to stack wooden blocks of different shapes and sizes onto a pallet in the most efficient way as possible. The games works well in solo as well a group, and has a beautiful complexity that will keep you coming back, game after game, trying to solve this puzzle.
Players take it in turn to flip cards showing a specific block or block type. This block must then be placed onto the pallet in any position. Subsequent blocks must be added in turn with the only rule being blocks of the same size and shape cannot ever have a completely sharing side. Each complete level completed on the pallet earns you five points.
The perfect score of 25 does exist, but after about 50 tries I have still not found it yet! The solution is available online provided by Helvetiq, but that would be cheating right!? And also, the game is not just about the perfect score, but trying to beat your own score. There is also a fun game mode where one person flips cards and plays until completion and then another player resets the pieces but uses the same cards in the same order to see if they can beat the first players score. It is amazing how different the scores are, due to the many ways each piece can be stacked.
This is essentially a multidimensional Tetris style game, and the tactile aesthetics of the blocks is just so incredibly satisfying to play. Leave this out on a coffee table in your house and I challenge any non-gaming friend to not start playing within five minutes of seeing it!