Friday, October 29, 2021

The Meeple's Choice Awards - 2020 Edition

Yesterday, I wrote about my participation in the International Gamers Awards committee... today, I'll share with you the other board game award in which I've voted in for years - the Meeple's Choice Awards. (Yes, it's a horrible pun. I've learned to live with it.)

The MCA began as a part of Spielfrieks, an online board game discussion group. Over time, the group went backwards to award MCA recognition as far back as 1995 (the beginning of the "German Invasion" of new board games designs). I've taken part - I think - in every one of the MCA votes.
More recently, the MCA has been "flying solo" as the Spielfrieks group is no longer active. It's still an interesting award that does a good job of recognizing middle- and heavy-weight game designs.


Beyond the Sun
designed by Daniel Chan
published by Rio Grande Games

Lost Ruins of Arnak
designed by Elwin & Mín Štach
published by Czech Games Edition

Dune: Imperium
designed by Paul Dennen
published by Dire Wolf

My Thoughts on the Winners

Beyond the Sun

I've only played once (on BGA)... but I can see why folks who like the tech tree style of game enjoy it as much as they do. It's got some clever bits and a nice balance between zigging when everyone else is zagging & letting others blaze a trail for you to follow at higher speed. Of the three games, it's probably the least thematically strong.

Lost Ruins of Arnak

Dripping with theme and gorgeous artwork… filled with Euro-y decisions… no direct conflict but plenty of chances to beat someone to a good location… plays quickly and cleanly… multiple ways to pursue victory… what’s not to love? (Oh, did I mention there’s a second more difficult board on the back of the main board… and a great solo mode?!) This was my #1 new (to me!) game of 2020. (And, yes, this is the identical blurb that I wrote for the IGA awards post yesterday.)

Dune: Imperium

Blending the worker placement elements of games like Champions of Midgard or Lords of Waterdeep with a robust deck-building game AND an end of round battle for goodies (not dissimilar to Arctic Scavengers) makes for a really enjoyable game design. When you add in a classy (if abstracted) use of the Dune theme/characters as well as an impressive solo mode, you've really got something. (I highly recommend the Dire Wolf app for solo & 2 player play... and I know that they've got new modes for the game on the app that I haven't even explored yet!) 


Similar to the IGA, I think we managed to pick three really solid games... all of which I'd be happy to play and two of which I already own. It's been a good year for gaming awards!

I will note that what will be my #1 game of the year (barring a dark horse appearing in the next two months) - Imperium Classics/Legends - didn't even make it to the final rounds of the MCA, which is a crime.

What I Voted For (Just in Case You're Curious)

Preliminary Round:
  • CloudAge
  • Dune: Imperium
  • Hallertau
  • Lost Ruins of Arnak
  • Minigolf Designer
  • Pan Am
  • Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade
  • Undaunted: North Africa
  • Unmatched: Cobble & Fog
  • Warp's Edge
Final Round:
  • CloudAge
  • Dune: Imperium
  • Lost Ruins of Arnak

I received a review copies of Lost Ruins of Arnak and Unmatched: Cobble & Fog. I was a playtester for Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade.

The meeples pictured at the top of the page are from the good folks at MeepleSource... who don't just do cool custom meeples but are also fun people to play games with!

1 comment:

Dave Vander Ark said...

When it started, there were hundreds of people on Spielfrieks who participated in determining the winner of this award. That gave the MCA some credibility. One of the last times I followed this award I think there were only 17 or so people that voted through the entire process. That was when the Spielfrieks group was on its last legs. To be frank, an award determined by 17 random people with a Yahoo ID doesn't necessarily have much credibility.

What is the current process for determining a winner? Who participates in the voting? If voting is open to anyone, are there enough voters to lend the award some credence, or is it just a popularity contest among random people?

I'm asking because I can identify a game that is a hit with my local group that the vast majority of people on BGG have ignored. If we decided to give that game an award, and wrote about it on our personal websites and blogs, would it have any relevance among the broader population of gamers? I think not. (Note: I am not criticizing you here, just wanting to know if the MCA has any credibility).