2015 Spiel des Jahres and KedJ predictions

The awards for the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres are announced tomorrow morning. Here is my speculation about which of the three nominees for each prize will be celebrating victory.

Spiel des Jahres

For the main award, I’ve played all three nominees: Colt Express, Machi Koro and The Game… spiel so lange du kannst! All three are fun games that I could see as a good  choice but I don’t see The Game… as a serious contender. It’s a small card game, has little expansion potential and doesn’t do the “co-op with limited communication” genre as well as Hanabi (even though I prefer it to the earlier game). Of the other two, I’d like Machi Koro to win, as it’s a fantastic light game where the dice rarely do what you want them to, but I think the toy factor of the three-dimensional train will get the nod for Colt Express.

Kennerspiel des Jahres

Unfortunately, I’ve only played one of the KedJ nominees: Elysium. As a next step up game, it fits the criterion really well and you can see plenty of potential for expanding the game – even though that’s something I don’t really appreciate. Orleans has the bag-building mechanism that was the novelty of Essen last year and seems a pretty solid game, whereas Broom Service was a surprise nominee to me (and a lot of other people) as it is a re-working of Witch’s Brew but it does seem to add a bit to that earlier game. I really am having difficulty judging what the judges might be looking for from these three nominees so I’m going to say Broom Service, as I hope it makes what was already a fun game even better.

Newish Boardgamegeek Blog

If you’ve not already noticed (and why should you), I’ve started a blog on Boardgamegeek where I plan to post the sort of things I would have hitherto posted here. Comments on my posts here are minimal, spam comments are widespread, so I will probably stop posting here if the new blog works ok. Comments are easier there and more people tend to take notice so hopefully it will be an improvement. The blog is unimaginatively called Trickylight Relief and you can find it here. Feel free to subscribe if you want.

March 2014 roundup

In March, I managed to play 23 games of 19 different titles, 10 of which were new to me. The new games were: Eldritch Horror, Bang: The Dice Game, Amber, Auf Teufel komm raus, Council of Verona, CV, Fleet, Potato Man, Nox and Glass Road.

I added 12 new games to the collection which were Eldritch Horror, Habe Fertig, Potato Man, Nox, Abluxxen, Dungeon of Mandom, Kobayakawa, Wurfel Bingo, Qwixx: Das Kartenspiel, Zooloretto Mini, Glass Road and Splendor.  My unplayed list has crept up to 31, something I need to reduce during April, and Game of the Month was the excellent re-imagining of Arkham Horror: Eldritch Horror which has a great story to it and can be played in a pretty reasonable time. Our first three player session ended in failure but we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

A carton of cards

I had a small delivery from Amazon Germany arrive today. And when I say small, I mean four small card games whose box sizes in aggregate are about half the size of a typical Ticket to Ride box. That said, having gone through the rules of each of them, there is some interesting game play in each of them. The games I’m talking about are Habe Fertig, a game of playing in the gap by Qwixx designer, Steffen Benndorf; Potato Man, a trick taking game where not matching any suit played is the key requirement – otherwise the round ends; Nox, a wicked game of building high scoring piles of cards while trying to shrink the piles of your opponents (just make sure you have three colours showing when the round ends); and Abluxxen, by Kramer & Kiesling, where you try to build up the number of cards in front of you while snatching cards played by others and making sure you don’t get left with cards in hand when the round ends. I’m really looking forward to playing all these.


Wayback When? – March ’94, ’99, ’04, ’09

Wayback When? is a review of the games I was playing five, ten, fifteen and twenty years ago with me highlighting the most memorable titles of each particular month in the vain hope that I might dig out some of them to play again. This month we’re looking at March 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009.


Five years ago, I played Martin Wallace’s Brass for the first time. A meaty economic game played over two phases; the canal age and then the railway age. The other game that had a noteworthy first play was Blox, which is very different: an abstract tower building game where demolishing as well as building your towers is very important.


In March 2004, I got to play two very well regarded games. Alhambra was a variation of the earlier games Al Capone and Stimmt So by Dirk Henn and was rewarded with the Spiel des Jahres. San Juan is Andreas Seyfarth’s best game: Forget Puerto Rico. This distillation of the game into card games is absolutely brilliant and one of my favourite games of all time.


Fifteen years ago, March 1999 didn’t see any really outstanding new games played. Of the eleven titles I played during the month, the only two new titles were Fluxx and Johnny Controletti, the former of which is good fun but susceptible for outstaying its welcome and the latter is a somewhat forgettable bidding and bluffing game.


March 1994 saw me play 12 titles at the Nottingham Boardgames Club with two new games of note. Bier Borse was Sid Sackson’s Bazaar translated into collecting bottle tops to fulfil combinations displayed on beer mats. Al Capone was the first incarnation of what, as previously mentioned, eventually morphed into Alhambra. The version I have is Stimmt So and a fine game it is too.

February 2014 roundup

February saw me play 19 games of 18 different titles, 12 of which were new to me. The new games were: Shephy, Candy Chaser, Caverna: The Cave Farmers, Famous Fairways, Famous Fastballs, The Great Heartland Hauling Co, Greedy Kingdoms, Khmer, Palmyra, Trains & Stations, TransEuropa and Machi Koro.

I sold 45 games and added 7 new games to the collection which were Bang: The Dice Game, Khmer, Greedy Kingdoms, Famous Fairways, Famous Fastballs, Council of Verona and Age of Industry. The only game I played more than once this month was Shephy and that was only twice. My unplayed list has dropped from 32 to 30 and Game of the Month didn’t appear until the very last day of February when I played the absolutely fabulous Machi Koro. When this comes out in an English edition, it is going to be an instant purchase.

Industrial Horror with a Japanese side-order

Having successfully sold 45 games in my latest Ebay auction, I have spent a small part of the proceeds. A browse of Ebay while waiting for the bids to come in revealed a copy of Martin Wallace’s Age of Industry up for sale at £10. I got it for £12.50 plus £4.00 postage which I was quite pleased about. It turned up today and most of the pieces are still unpunched. Looks like the previous owner just tried a single two-player game and decided it wasn’t for them.


Possibly against my better judgement but deciding to take advantage of a Bookdepository deal, I also grabbed a copy of Eldritch Horror for £32 with free postage. A shorter Arkham Horror with a worldwide landscape sounded intriguing and it’s been getting some very favourable reports so I’m keen to give it a go. Hopefully, we might finish it – something we didn’t achieve with AH. Should be with me around the weekend.

Finally, I decided against getting a Japanese version of Machi Koro as part of the service that Mandy Tong is providing to the favoured few (as I didn’t want to go too mad with my Japanese adventure) but having raised some cash on Ebay, I actually ordered a lovely homemade version designed by Matthew Marquand to try it out. If it’s as good as people suggest it is, I’ll definitely get an official version once a new English edition appears, but this gives me a chance to try it out. Hopefully that should appear in the next week.

Anything can happen in the next 24 hours

My latest Ebay auction has just over 24 hours to run and there are a few titles I’m surprised haven’t had any bids yet.

  • Porto Carthago is another great design about influencing the passage of ships and goods through the harbour of Carthage by Bernd Eisenstein, the designer of Peloponnes;
  • Kamisado is a beautiful and very clever abstract game by Peter Burley where the colour space you land on determines which piece your opponent has to move next;
  • Drunter & Druber is a Spiel-des-Jahres winner from Klaus Teuber about directing a city’s walls, roads and irrigation system while avoiding the precious outhouses (it was republished as Wacky Wacky West;
  • Café International is another Spiel-des-Jahres about seating customers of different nationalities at the tables in a posh café.
  • Schrille Stille is a rare game about the music industry with a unique voting mechanism and beautiful production as usual from Zoch.
  • Villa Palettti is both a Spiel-des-Jahres winner and a beautiful production from Zoch – and it’s a fun dexterity game where steady hands are crucial;
  • Alcazar is a huge game by Wolfgang Kramer which was a follow-up to the classic Big Boss and includes rules to adapt the game to fairly closely recreate that earlier game;
  • Time’s Up is the classic party game that has come out in many editions because it is that good with three rounds of increasingly difficult clue-giving;
  • Ostia is another economic game about trading in a harbour this time set in ancient Rome and it is a game of timing when to donate goods to the senate to get the best return.

There is also the very collectable first edition of Vlaada Chvatil’s Through the Ages, released in 2006 by Czech Board Games (which I’ve only played once so is in near mint condition).

There are lots more that do have bids but still at reasonable prices, particularly those by hot designers like Stefan Feld, Friedemann Friese, Uwe Rosenberg, Reiner Knizia and Kramer & Kiesling. The full list is here.