As usual, the Spiel des Jahres jury threw up some surprises in the choice of nominees for this year’s awards. For the main award, the nominees were Qwixx, Hanabi and Augustus. This is really odd as two of the games are small box card / dice games and, as the aim of the award is to promote the industry, the SdJ logo is not going to show up very well on such a tiny box if Hanabi or Qwixx win. For this reason, I’ll be astounded if Augustus doesn’t win, added to which it seems the only one with expansion potential. I’ve played both Hanabi and Qwixx and they are both decent games. Hanabi is a clever design but needs the right group of people to make it shine. I’m not sure it’s one for a typical German family. Qwixx fits the family game mode and is sort of a variant of Sid Sackson’s Choice. It works quite well and is an interesting choice of nominee and I can understand why it got the nod as you can jump right into the game in a matter of a couple of minutes. Not played Augustus but the reports made it seem like a likely choice.
Turning to the Kennerspiel des Jahres nominees (Brugge, Palaces of Carrara and Legends of Andor), I expected a Stefan Feld game to be nominated but thought it likely that the more straightforward Rialto would be chosen. Nige suggested Bora Bora, which I thought too heavy, so the jury instead picked Brugge which I think falls between the two. I’ve not played the game yet but look forward to the Z-Man English release in a couple of months. Palaces of Carrara is a game that I rate very highly so I’m not at all upset to see it nominated but it is a bit of a throwback to designs of ten years or so ago, hence I expected it to be overlooked. More fool me. Legends of Andor is a fairly decent choice as it is a co-operative game with multiple scenarios that ease the players into the full rules stage by stage. Could be good but I’ve not played it although the recent video run-through by the folks at BGG didn’t really grab me.
On the recommended list, I wasn’t surprised to see Tzolkin appear but was glad Terra Mystica also get recognition. Mark K has a copy on order so I’m keen to see what it’s like. There is some nice variety in the games chosen and those that I’ve played (Rondo, Riff Raff, Escape, Divinare and Libertalia) are all worthy of appearing. La Boca seems to have been many people’s favourite to win and also looks a solid game although I’m not sure about replayability. Yay! (a dexterity dice game), Mixtour (a two-player abstract) and Hand aufs Herz (a party game) I have no idea about as I’ve not played themÂ but IÂ had never even heard of them until this morning so interpret that as you like.
The winners of both awards are announced on 8th July.