Monday, March 29, 2010

Spiel des Jahres: My Uneducated Guesses

According to BGGWiki, the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) is "the most prestigious award for board & card games" and "is awarded annually by a jury of German game critics." Some may debate the 'most prestigious' part (particularly your more hardcore capital "G" Gamer types) but the award has an amazing history.

I think it's a very good award for what we in the hobby call "family gamers" - folks who want something more than Phase 10 or Uno but aren't interested in devoting the rest of their natural life to learning the best opening moves for the various 18xx boards.

The nominees & recommended game will be announced at the end of May, with the winner announced at the end of June. (The Kinderspiel des Jahres - the Children's Game of the Year - will be announced in early August.)

Well, it's late March... and I'm going to attempt to predict which games will end up on the jury's lists. I'm doing this primarily on the strength of years of watching the jury and on my own gut feeling about the various games. Note: I haven't played very many of them - not even the kid games! But that won't stop me from trying to do this.

Special Award?

There's been some early talk about a Special Award (which they give on occasion) for Dungeon Lords... I think that's a distinct possibility. It's a bit too complicated to be on the regular nomination list, but it's a great game with one of the funniest rulebooks (esp. if you've ever played D&D) around. (It is, btw, a theme-heavy worker-placement game about building a dungeon & keeping those pesky adventurers from messing it up.)

Spiel des Jahres

Here are my picks (in alphabetical order) for the nominations/recommended list:
  • Abandon Ship (Knizia push-your-luck game with cute theme)
  • A Brief History of the World (this is really probably a dark horse... but it's a splendid new re-imagining of the original game)
  • Fresko (Queen - building frescoes game... looks very cool)
  • J├Ąger und Sammler (Knizia collecting game from Amigo)
  • Kamisado (abstract game now released by Huch & Friends)
  • Mosaix (Schmidt)
  • Power Grid Factory Manager
  • Ra: The Dice Game (I'm torn whether I like this better than the original game or not)
  • R-Oko (R-Eco released by Amigo)
  • Small World (another dark horse, mainly because of theme)
  • Snapshot (Rudiger Dorn flicking game in a box from Kosmos)
  • Seeland (Kramer game from Ravensburger, comes w/multiple ways to play/levels of difficulty)
  • Tobago (beautiful deduction game that's weighted for families rather than gamers)
Even though it's a good game, I don't think Endeavor will end up on the list... just a bit too fiddly. I think that goes double for Opera, Carson City & Vasco de Gama. And for Kinderspiel:
  • Burg der 1000 Spiegel (a memory game from Kosmos that uses mirrors inside the box)
  • Diego Drachezahn (Haba makes a racing game out of marble bowling - I think?!)
  • Nelly (another entry from Queen in the same line/box size as Enuk)
  • Gelini Nightlife (while technically not a kids game, the artwork is likely to throw it into this category - it works VERY well with kids, btw)
  • Heckmeck Junior (Zoch simplifies this great dice game about BBQ worms... the original game is known in the U.S. as Pickomino)
  • Kraken-Alaram (a dexterity + memory game from Kosmos)
  • Larry Lasso (Selecta now has us lassoing wooden pieces to score points... excellent)
  • Minotaurus (the best received entry from the new Lego games line... I'd be surprised if at least one of them wasn't mentioned)
  • Schatz der Kobold (from Drei Magier Spiele - it's got a weird crystal doodad that is almost enough to convince me to buy the game without a review)
  • Schatz der Mumie (a small memory-based game from Haba that's received very positive reviews)
  • Vampire der Nacht (Drei Magier Spiele's follow-up to the very popular Nacht der Magier)

BTW, we almost always forget here in the U.S. the influence of the stuff we won't see until the voting is pretty much done (the Spring releases)...

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