This year’s nominations for the Spiel des Jahres, which is considered one of the most prestigious awards in tabletop gaming, have recently been announced. This is the “Oscars of Gaming,” or maybe it’s the Olympics of gaming? Whatever your favorite “best of the best” analogy is, but for board games. Regardless of how you spin it, this is the award in gaming that tends to have the most profound economic effect on the winners and nominees. Congratulations on all the upcoming sales, 2016 nominees.
The Spiel des Jahres (which means “Game of the Year”) is actually one of three categories awarded every year, and has been handed out since 1979. Settlers of Catan, Dominion, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, and Dixit are just some of the previous winners. It is good company, for sure.
Each year, there are generally three official nominees as well as a few more recommended games (which are like nominees, but they can’t win). Pandemic, Power Grid, and Galaxy Trucker some of the games that have been nominated or recommended, but didn’t win in the past years. There is a list of every past nominee and winner on their website and it’s worth reading it down because maybe you’ll find something you want to try. Now on to this year’s nominees:
First off is Codenames, which has been taking the game world by storm in the past few months. It can be fast and fun, and the game works well for experienced players as well as newcomers. It’s also going to be on the upcoming season of TableTop. Well picked, Wil!
Next up is Imhotep, a competitive monument building game that’s not yet available in the US. The playthroughs online, which are almost entirely in German, make it look really fun. It’s too soon to tell if it will take off with American audiences, but because of this award nomination, it’s pretty clear your local retailer will have a copy on his or her shelf when the game drops, likely later this summer.
The third nominee, Karuba, is a game of exploring ancient jungles that almost plays like competitive puzzle solving more then the adventure game the box art might suggest. Players each have their own boards and take turns building jungle paths based on randomly selected tiles. Moving your explorers across the map can earn you valuable treasure and reaching the temple’s first earns you even more. This game always reminds me of the video game Spelunky, and I can’t be the only one.
The recommended list this year includes; Animals on Board, Die fiesen 7, Krazy WORDZ, Qwinto, and Agent Undercover (a.k.a. Spyfall) which is interesting as another spy themed party game. I think I actually enjoy playing that one more, but that’s just me.
The “Children’s Game of the Year” award (Kinderspiel des Jahres) nominees and recommended list are available here. Plus there’s the newest category, the Kennerspiel des Jahres, or “Expert/Connoisseur” game of the year. This one’s only been going for about 5 years and was first awarded to the amazing 7 Wonders. This year’s nominees include two games worth giving an extra mention.
Pandemic: Legacy is currently the highest ranked game on BoardGameGeek. It’s also my favorite. Considering the “legacy” living game mechanic is so revolutionary and the game is so unique, I can’t imagine this not getting the win. But… T.I.M.E. Stories is also a nominee and steadily becoming the must-play game in my gaming circles. It really is fantastic, and again, very new in terms of how the game is played. My local play group plans around the expansions like you might plan a wedding. Save the date! This is a clash of titans to be sure. The third nominee, Isle of Skye, doesn’t seem to have as much buzz, but considering the company it’s in, I might be ordering it as soon as I’m done with this article.
Now, then… off to my local brick and mortar.
Check out the nominees and give us your thoughts in the comments section. Also answers us this: Do you take awards or industry accolades into account when you buy games? We want to know!
Header Image by BoardGameGeek User: The Innocent
Spiel des Jahres logo courtesy of www.spiel-des-jahres.de
Images Courtesy of KOSMOS Games, HABA Games, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Z-Man Games, Space Cowboys