SdJ Winners – Qwirkle and 7 Wonders!!!

Earlier this morning, the winners for the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres were announced, and they were:

Spiel des Jahres: Qwirkle, by Susan McKinley Ross

I was really disappointed that Forbidden Island didn’t take the SdJ, both because I thought it’d be cool to have a coop game win it and because designer Matt Leacock has been nominated (and not won) for three years straight now (first with Pandemic, then Roll Through the Ages, and now Forbidden Island).

But I see why the jury would like Qwirkle, and even if it’s not my favorite game (be looking for my review of it soon), I bet it will sell a billion copies now that it’s won the award.  Plus, it’s already got a sequel (Qwirkle Cubes) ready to cash in on more sales as well.  So anyway, congratulations to Susan McKinley Ross and Schmidt Spiele (its German publisher)!

Kennerspiel des Jahres: 7 Wonders, by Antoine Bauza

And though it’s not really a surprise to anyone, 7 Wonders won the first “official” Kennerspiel des Jahres.  Again, congratulations to Antoine Bauza and Repos Productions!

The main thing that I have to say about this is that I think a lot of people’s expectations about the Kennerspiel des Jahres are off.  Many people are calling it the “Gamer’s Game” of the year, but I don’t really think that’s how the jury sees it.  In a recent issue of Spielbox, it was translated “Enthusiast’s Game of the Year”, and from that article and from the decisions that they made this year, I still think that the award is aimed mostly at families.  But rather than being aimed at families who buy only 1 or 2 games a year, this is aimed at families who have taken that “next step” and game regularly and with more complex games.  But I don’t get the feeling that it’s really aimed at niche hobby gamers, so I’d be surprised to see really super-heavy games make the nominations in coming years.

Take the list of recommended games, for example.  The guys over at The Spiel podcast (who did a really great job of covering all the nominated games, by the way) got a little hung up over the fact that they didn’t have seperate lists for the SdJ and KennerSdJ.  But if you look at the recommmended list on their own site, the games there are ranked by increasing complexity, sort of in a fuzzy spectrum from simple to complex, but still mostly being family-friendly.  And, given that there’s only one jury for both awards, I think that we’ll see the exact line between the two shift back and forth depending on the specific games up for consideration.  It’s always going to be a judgement call, and the decision about where a game falls will be made based on a lot of factors, including financial ones and the jury’s gut reaction to it.

So, in other words, there will likely be more controversies about games seeming to be in the “wrong award” (as many complained about 7 Wonders), and I while something along the lines of Puerto Rico’s complexity will likely make the KennerSdJ, I doubt that Dominant Species or its like will ever be on their noination list.

Maybe I could be wrong, though (I certainly was about Forbidden Island), but I guess that upcoming years will show us more one way or the other.

I was going to cover the winners of the Origins awards here, too, but I think I’ll hold off and cover them seperately, so check back soon for more about that!

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