My Take on the Spiel des Jahres…

Most of you may already know, but the winners of the Spiel des Jahres (German “Game of the Year”) awards were announced on Monday.  Just to make sure you know, here are the games:

Spiel des Jahres  – Kingdom Builder by Donald X. Vaccarino (Queen Games)
(basically the family game of the year)

Kennerspiel des Jahres  – Village by Inka & Markus Brand (eggertspiele & Pegasus Spiele)
(“enthusiast” game of the year)

So what do I think about it?  I like Kingdom Builder quite a bit, and given that it was sort of the odds-on favorite, I was both pleased and not at all surprised to see it win.  But I enjoyed Vegas a lot in my one play of it, and it would have made a nice (and much more approachable) winner as well.  And from its description on The Spiel podcast, even Eselsbrücke sounded pretty cool too (and will be on my wishlist if it ever gets an English translation). 

As for the Kennerspiel, I didn’t really have any experience with any of them.  Again, The Spiel did a great job of covering them as well and made all 3 sound pretty cool.  The Village seemed to be the most common prediction that I heard, and I think it also holds the most interest for me at this point.  Targi may be great, but I just don’t get much chance to play 2-player games, and K2 also sounds pretty great (even if it is a little on the lighter side).  

If last year’s nominees for the KSdJ are any indication, I definitely want to try all three this time as well.  7 Wonders (last year’s winner) was really good, but I actually like both the others (Strasbourg and Lancaster) even better.  So in general, I’m pretty pleased with where the new Kennerspiel des Jahres award is going.

One thing that still seems to trip up many of us “hobby” boardgamers is how we have this idea that the award should be for the best “gamer’s game”.  But my very strong impression is that it’s still mainly aimed at families.  Rather than the standard “buy 1 game a year” sort of game-playing family, I imagine these are more of the families (probably with older kids) who really get into games and want something with a little more meat.  But still, I doubt that we’re ever going to see a really “heavy” game as a true nominee or winner.

Any of y’all have ideas about the SdJ or KSdJ?  What’s been your experience with the winners, nominees, or formerly recognized games?   

1 Comment

  1. Keith

    I have no experience with Village so no comment there. I thought Kingdom Builder was just okay. I remember there being issues with the negative impact of having the same terrain in the opening moves. We house ruled that in our group and it seemed to be widely accepted as a siginifcant improvement. I also remember having some concerns dealing with water powers (rarity?, importance?, disadvantage of getting left without one?) that I can’t remember now. That there was a first moves adjustment needed and the fact that the game stood out so little that my memory of the game is very fuzzy took it out of the “Best of the Year” catagory to me.

    Taking into account that it is a family game award level I am willing to give the choice more leeway but even with a fudge factor the award choice falls short.

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