Origins Awards Winners (disappointing) and Dianna Jones Nominees (exciting!)

Sometimes I just hate to be right… 

Back a while ago, I predicted some of the winners for the Origins Awards, based mostly on trends I’ve seen in the past and certainly not on the merits of the games themselves.  When the winners were announced over the weekend, I found that I nailed everything I predicted, even though none of them lined up with my personal preferences.  So anyway, here’s the results:

Best Roleplaying Game
DC Adventures (Green Ronin Publishing)
Dragon Age, Set 1 (Green Ronin Publishing)
The Dresden Files RPG (Evil Hat Productions)
Fiasco (Bully Pulpit Games)
Gamma World RPG (Wizards of the Coast)
WINNER: The Dresden Files RPG

I have absolutely nothing against Dresden.  I wanted Fiasco to win, but love FATE and the Dresden universe, and would love to play (or run) it sometime.  If only someone would donate the books to me… (hint hint, fine readers )  But the Origins Awards are usually pretty good for RPG’s; it’s the board game selections that suck…

Best Roleplaying Supplement
A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide for A Song of Ice and Fire RPG (Green Ronin Publishing)
The Dresden Files: Our World for The Dresden Files RPG (Evil Hat Productions)
Advanced Player’s Guide for Pathfinder RPG (Paizo Publishing)
Sixth World Almanac for Shadowrun RPG (Catalyst Game Labs)
Sunward: The Inner System for Eclipse Phase RPG (Posthuman Studios)
WINNER: The Dresden Files: Our World

I didn’t make a predictions for this one (having no experience with any of the nominees), but again, Dresden looks great and is a fine winner.

Best Board Game

Castle Ravenloft (Wizards of the Coast)
Defenders of the Realm (Eagle Games)
Fresco (Queen Games)
Lords of Vegas (Mayfair Games)
Nuns on the Run (Mayfair Games)
WINNER: Castle Ravenloft

Castle Ravenloft is based on D&D, it has the best name recognition, roleplayers seem to love it… but it is so completely mediocre as a board game.  I really didn’t have a dog in this race, though, since none of the nominees really seem that great to me, but considering all the great boardgames that came out over the last year and weren’t even nominated, calling this the “Best” boardgame is just a joke. 

Best Traditional Card Game
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer (Gary Games)
Back to the Future: The Card Game (Looney Labs, Inc.)
Hecho (Glowfly Games)
Hex Hex XL (Smirk & Dagger Games)
Railways of the World: The Card Game (Eagle Games)
WINNER: Back to the Future: The Card Game

Of the nominees, Ascension is so clearly the best game.  And while I admit that I haven’t actually played Back to the Future, I have played Chrononauts, and a dumbed-down version that I’ve heard lots of bad reports about doesn’t sound like a winner.  But between the name recognition from the movies and the fact that Looney Labs has a pretty powerful presence at the convention, it was a shoe-in for the meaningless win. 

Best Family, Party or Children’s Game

Ligretto Dice (Playroom Entertainment)
Telestrations (USAopoly, Inc.)
Wits and Wagers Family Edition (North Star Games)
Word on the Street Junior (Out of the Box Publishing)
Zombie Dice (Steve Jackson Games)
WINNER: Zombie Dice

Zombie DIce actually isn’t a bad game at all.  But it also isn’t either a Family, Party, or Children’s game.  It’s a push-your-luck dice game that appeals to geeks and gamers, who are obviously the people doing the voting.  Telestrations, W&W Family, or WotS Junior should have taken this. 

Best Historical Board Game
Warlords of Europe (GameBuilders)
Conflict of Heroes: Price of Honour Poland 1939 (Academy Games)
Catan Histories – Settlers of America: Trails to Rails (Mayfair Games)
Panzer General: Allied Assault (Petroglyph Games, Inc.)
WINNER: Catan Histories – Settlers of America: Trails to Rails

I didn’t have a prediction here, but this result clearly shows that wargamers aren’t a significant force at Origins.  Settlers and Mayfair, however, apparently are.

Other Awards that I don’t know much about:

Best Gaming Accessory

WINNER: Cthulhu Dice Bag

Best Miniatures Rules
WINNER: DC HeroClix Blackest Knight Starter Game

Best Play by Mail or Play by Email Game
WINNER: The One Ring

Best Game-Related Publication
WINNER: Shadowrun: Spells and Chrome

Hall of Fame
Alex Randolph, Twixt
Erick Wujcik, Amber Diceless Roleplaying
Sid Sackson, Acquire

Dianna Jones Award Nominees

If you haven’t heard about the Dianna Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming, it’s a bit of an oddity in the gaming award circles.  It takes into account all spheres of non-electronic gaming and is voted on by a secret group of judges, and the nominees don’t even have to be games.  Check out their “about” page to get a better idea of what it is.

But anyway, this year’s nominees are:

It’s a pretty cool list of nominees.  Fiasco is obviously my favorite (check out my review and all my other coverage of the game), and I hope that it wins.  Catacombs was one of my favorite games last year, and definitely has innovation going for it with its hybrid of dexterity element (you can also check out my review of it if you’re interested).  The Dresden Files RPG is obviously a juggernaut, both because of its source material and the strength of FATE and Evil Hat Productions.  While I haven’t played it either, Freemarket looks to be a rather incredibly innovative roleplaying experience that I hate to even try to describe in fear that I might misrepresent what it’s all about.  The most obscure nominee is definitely Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space, which I’ve heard some decent things about, but was most likely nominated just because it’s so different.  

The cool thing is that I have absolutely no clue who will win.  Past winners have included Board Game Geek (the website), Dominion, Sorcerer (an RPG), Ticket to Ride, My Life With Master (an RPG), Grey Ranks (an RPG), and the charity auctions from the Irish games-convention scene (which frequently raise more than $40,000 for local charities).  

The awards ceremony is held on the eve of GenCon, so keep an eye out for it later in August! 


  1. Yeah, I don’t follow the industry stuff as closely, but I feel like there were probably some better choices to be made here. Particularly the miniatures rules winner seems odd: a starter box for a previously existing clix game? It also looks like several of the minis categories from 2010 got eliminated or folded into the overall ‘minis’ category.

    I dunno, I’d love for someone who’s been following minis wargaming for longer than I have to chime in here. Are the Origins awards moving away from the minis wargaming hobby?

  2. Chris Norwood

    Yeah, the voting for the Origins Awards have always been screwy because it’s a simple popular vote of all the attendees at the fair.  And since apparently traditional roleplayers are the majority of visitors, selections are always skewed to their likes and away from their ignorances.  Plus, open campaigning is common, and complanies like Looney Labs tend to do well because they have a big presence at the fair.

    But as far as the nominations go, I thought they were really trying to improve that over the last year or two, getting more and more “experts” from the different arms of the hobby involved.  I just don’t see much of a difference from past years, though, so they’re just going to continue being a joke to the boardgaming community I guess. 

  3. I was doing a bit of research on this and I didn’t realize that originally the Charles S. Roberts wargaming awards were given at Origins, but since 2000 they’ve moved to the WBC. Furthermore, the WBC used to be Avaloncon, which was initially run by the old wargamey Avalon Hill. Interesting.

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