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Qwirkle Wins 2011 Spiel des Jahres, 7 Wonders Wins Kennerspiel

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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For 2011 the biggest award in board gaming – the Spiel des Jahres, Germany's "Game of the Year" award – has been given to Susan McKinley Ross' Qwirkle, published in Germany by Schmidt Spiele.

Qwirkle's SdJ win, not to mention its nomination for the award in the first place, might come as a shock for some as the game was first published in 2006 by U.S. publisher MindWare. What's relevant for the SdJ, however, is the year of first publication in Germany, and that date is 2010.

How did the game come to be published in Germany in the first place? Well, funny story – my wife Linda and I brought my copy of Qwirkle to Berlin in October 2007 while visiting game designer and then-Boardgame News columnist Jeffrey Allers. I had raved about the game many times on BGN, even naming it my game of the year in April 2007 with eight months left on the calendar. Jeff had asked about buying the game from me, but he played tour guide in Berlin, so I gave him my copy as I could easily buy another in the U.S.

Before I did so, however, Linda and I taught the game to designer and publisher Andrea Meyer and Schmidt Spiele editor (and No Thanks! designer) Thorsten Gimmler while playing games for the evening in Spielwiese Berlin, a boardgame café. Linda and I rolled the newcomers – as Qwirkle is trickier than it seems at first glance – then Linda played again with Andrea, Thorsten and someone else and once again came away victorious. Thorsten asked for a contact at MindWare, and that contact eventually led to Qwirkle appearing on German game shelves and (soon to be) bearing a bright red popple.

After years of conversations via email and at NY Toy Fair, I consider Susan a friend, and I'm tickled to see her creation honored this way. Congrats!

In addition to naming the Spiel des Jahres, the SdJ jury awarded the inaugural Kennerspiel des Jahres – or "Connoisseur's Game of the Year", an award meant to highlight a game aimed at more experienced gamers – and to practically no one's surprise, Antoine Bauza's 7 Wonders took home the prize. (Strangely, just as Reiner Knizia missed the SdJ award ceremony when Keltis won in 2008, Bauza missed being on hand to receive the Kennerspiel as he had apparently missed a flight and was in South Korea.)

Published by Repos Production and distributed by Asmodee, 7 Wonders started making waves in mid-2010 while being shown at game conventions in Europe and the U.S. and the first printing sold out long before the game officially debtued at Spiel 2010 in October. Congrats to Antoine Bauza and the Belgo-Mexicans in charge of Repos!
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