We’re a little late to the party, but the announcements for the Spiel des Jahres came out a while ago and there’s some great Australian news wrapped up in it.
For those that don’t know, the Spiel des Jahres (which translates to Game of the Year, but we’ll call SdJ from here on in) is an award given to the best game of the last year that was released in Germany as decided by the German gaming press. Boardgame reviews appear in lots of print mediums in Germany somewhat like movie reviews appear here in the press.
There’s actually three awards, the SdJ (which tends to focus on family games), the Kennerspiel des Jahres (the game for those in the know… or the more complicated game) and the Kinderspiel des Jahres (the game of the year for kids). The winner for the Kinderspiel has been announced already, but the Kennerspiel and SdJ get announced on July 6.
Because of the ‘released in Germany’ in the last year, you get odd nominations and recommendations for games that have been out elsewhere in the world, such as this year, Machi Koro which was originally published in 2012 in Japan, but has taken a while to get translated to German.
So the two games which we’re excited about in our jingoistic way are
- Elysium by ex-pat Matthew Dunstan (now living in the UK, also designed Relic Runners) and UK designer Brett J. Gilbert. Elysium is nominated for the Kennerspiel.
- Cacao by NSW’s Philip Walker-Harding (who also designed Sushi Go, Pack of Heroes, Archeology and more). Cacao is a SdJ recommendation.
Click on the link below to take a look at the other nominees and recommendations!
This year the SdJ nominees are:
by Steffen Benndorf
by Masao Suganuma
by Christophe Raimbault
All very different sorts of games!
Machi Koro is an engine building economic city game where you’re competing to build all 5 of your landmarks before the other players do. It has cute graphics, easy to comprehend rules and a little bit of luck (you throw dice to determine what building/s generate money).
In a similar way to recent winner Hanabi, The Game is a card playing communication game where players are trying to work together to perfectly play out all of the cards in the deck. The artwork is odd, but the game is well worth a play.
Colt Express is a game about a train robbery. Players are criminals who are trying to get the loot while avoiding the Sheriff by secretly picking cards that will determine their actions. It contains a 3D train, so it certainly has an exciting look, but if games like Robo Rally don’t work for you, then you might want to steer clear of this one.
For the recommendation list there’s Ugo!, Simsala… Bumm?, Vollmondnacht, Loony Quest, Patchwork and Australia’s own Cacao.
by Andreas Pelikan and Alexander Pfister
by Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert
by Reiner Stockhausen
Recommended games are Fields of Arle, by Uwe Rosenberg, Deus by Sébastien Dujardin, The Voyages of Marco Polo by Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini.
Having only played Elysium, I certainly feel that it’ll probably win! It’s somewhat similar to Splendor, but has a little more meat on the bone.
You play as demi-gods, looking to impress the great Greek gods by having tales told of you.
The game lasts five rounds and during each round you’ll be getting cards (which all have colour requirements on them) by spending one of your coloured columns, not necessarily one that matches the cards requirements. These cards will give you different abilities, but to get points for them you need to transfer them into your Elysium, where they will no longer give you access powers. The game has many interesting choices throughout and for each game you select 5 of the 8 families to use, so there’s some variability there.
Board Game Geek’s GameNight! ran through each of the nominees for the SdJ and the Kennerspiel… check out what they thought of them!
by Wolfgang Dirscherl and Manfred Reindl
by Karin Hetling
by Roberto Fraga
Push a Monster sees players trying to cram their monsters onto a strangely shaped board that sits above the table. If in doing so they knock other monsters off then they take a token. At the end of the game, players count up the tokens and the player with the least wins. Somewhat similar to Animal Upon Animal but you’re playing horizontally rather than vertically.
In Schatz-Rabatz, players try to cram in as much loot as they can into their treasure chests. But Jewels Jack the ferryman demands certain treasures each turn, so if you have them in your chest then you’ll have to give them to him. And if your chest doesn’t close, you’ll have to start throwing out treasures. Promotes spacial awareness and quick decision making.
Spinderella turns the players into groups of ants who are trying to race across the board while avoiding a spider that dangles overhead. Smart players will get their opponents to carry them across the board while picking off other opponents with the spider. The spider sits above the board and uses magnets… oh, it’s hard to explain, but check out the BGG Game Night episode on Spinderella here.
Spinderella won the SdJ, so it’s probably worth checking out!