Hooray! Nominees are up - go check them out.
I've really put a lot of thought into awards these days. There are certainly quite a few of them out there, even if most people use an award to validate their opinions on games.
So with so many awards out there, why another award?
My main goal with the Dice Tower Gaming Awards was to provide a platform on which games could be recognized - even smaller game companies. I wanted any game to have a chance of winning - whether Ameritrash, Euro, abstract game, etc. Obviously no award is going to be perfect, and I'm sure ours have lots of problems. But let's take a look at the current awards out there.
Spiel des Jahres. This is the biggest, by far. I usually enjoy the winners and nominees of this category. It does have a limited scope - family games, which I don't have a problem with - it's a good way to find out some of the best family games. My problems with the award (for me) are that it doesn't have enough variety, and that it's focused on German games. An American based game with a lot of English text, or a funky Japanese game aren't going to have a chance - unless translated into German. No big deal - but as a person with English as my main language, I'd like to see an English award with the same clout that this award has.
Sadly there are none. But the contenders would be:
Origins Game Awards: These would have the potential of being the American "Spiel des Jahres". But with a flawed process, several main companies ignoring the awards completely, and a lack of global outlook, these awards have lost a lot of credibility over the years. (NOTE: I'm currently on the committee for Family/Party/Children's games.)
IGA: I like the idea of these awards, and while I find their voting system fairly funky - it does work, and they have some great gamers on the committee. My main problem with IGA is that they are simply Eurogame centric. An Ameritrash game doesn't have a chance, unless it's two player - a category the committee doesn't seem to enjoy quite as much. The day Fantasy Flight Games wins an IGA will be a big surprise to me.
BGG Awards: These are the "voice of the masses" awards, and I find them interesting. The problem with these awards is that they groupthink often occurs - and people will simply vote on what's popular on the 'geek. I like to have the people voting on awards have at least SOME knowledge of board games, and you can vote in these awards even if you've only played one game. Thus, games with the best distribution will have the greatest opportunity to win. Oh, and I notice they keep copying my categories from our awards.
Games Magazine: This is probably the most influential award of the bunch - because of the wide range of the magazine. But these awards are picked by one person. So we are going to occasionally (often) get odd choices - and the games tend to tilt towards games that puzzle enthusiasts would enjoy. Some odd choices in the past (Buyword?) but also some bold ones (Dvonn).
Mensa: I like the idea of their awards, but the process tends to favor games that can be explained and played quickly. Not a bad idea, but the award should be called "best filler". Seems like an odd way to do it - doesn't match the idea of the organization.
And a whole pile more here!
I want our awards to be as balanced as possible. So I've filled the committee with Ameritrashers, Eurogamers, wargamers and abstract gamers (although I need more of them). We argue about everything, but most people on the committee play a TON of games. And I want that breadth of experience, even if most of them vote down the games I think should win.
Nothing will ever be perfect, game awards will like discriminate against games based on theme, number of players, game length, style, and distribution.
Got any thoughts on how to make our awards better? Let me know! Want to be on the committee? Contact me. I'm always interested in seeing how things can be improved.
And while I chose my title to be a bit provocative, I really do have respect for (most of) the awards above. And I realize the vast amount of work that goes into them. I just want to see an English speaking award that carries a great deal of clout. Right now, that award doesn't exist. Will it ever?
The guys at the Dice Tower, and our gaming.
Archive for News
26 Apr 2011
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Every year Richard van Vugt of Gamepack.nl publishes a wonderful photo blog/list of the new games showcased at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. There are a number of games that look really interesting, including a new game from Stefan Feld and a Kiesling and Kramer release.
Here are a few of the games that I would like to play:
1. Paris Connection
Alright, you've got me. I have already played this game. It was part of last year's Winsome Essen set, and it is great. Congratulations to Queen Games for recognizing the great games that John Bohrer and Winsome Games keep coming up with.
You could probably take this game to crazy analytical levels, but I suspect that most gamers will enjoy it as a heavier 30 minute filler. It's good fun.
2. Casa Grande from Ravensburger.
Casa Grande by Günther Burckhardt has a definite Ravensburger look to it, and that's a good thing. Actually, it reminds me of Arkadia. It looks like players build buildings on the board and score points (?) based on the movement of Supervisor tokens that move around the edges. They seem to move via a die roll, so luck could be too large of a factor. But the components look great and it just has a "look at me, I'm easy to play, my bits are nice, and I have strategy" feel to it.
3. Plateaux from Winning Moves
Plateaux has all the makings of a fun two player abstract. It can play with more than two, but I wonder how chaotic it would be. Either way, players have the choice of two actions: Place a Brick or Move their Pawn. At the end of the game, the player with the highest pawn thingie wins. A perfect information abstract game. If you like that type of thing, this will excite you. If you don't, then you won't.
4. Olympos from Ystari
Whoa! What's this? Ystari games excite me. Up until this year, I owned all of them. I will now admit that I don't own Industria or their new three musketeers game. (I intend to fix this at some point...maybe). But a brand new release that joins Ystari with Philippe Keyaerts and their big box format is good news.
Yeah, this one is going to be a winner, I can just feel it.
So, those are the games I am most excited about. But I wanted to take a minute to also plug some recent additions to The Martin Wallace Ludography, a list that I try to actively maintain.
Martin has two new light card games coming out from Kosmos: Schlacht am Buffet and Volle Scholle.
Schlacht am Buffet is a re-release of ...und tschüss!, part of the Gold Sieber small box card game series. It has been out of print for a long time, though a Japanese company did produce a version of the game. It has no text, so that version would have been perfect. But Kosmos decided to stamp a theme on it and produce a new version with bits. Whatever. The game is brilliant. It is my favorite quick card game for more than 3 players.
I don't know much about Volle Scholle, but I am working on translating the rules. With that said, it's a super light game, and the game description on the geek pretty much covers most of the rules. It looks fun, in much the same way that ...und tschüss! is fun. I'm slightly concerned that it will be too random or chaotic for my tastes. ...und tschüss! is also random and chaotic, but it's a 10 minute game and it doesn't pretend to be anything else. But I will buy this game.
Martin is also going to release Discworld: Ankh-Morpork at Essen, a game based on the Disc World series by Terry Pratchett. I don't know much about it, but I doubt that I will pass it up.
A Few Acres of Snow should also be released this year, a remnant of the 2010 Treefrog Game Subscription. I'm somewhat sad to see Martin drop this model, but only somewhat. A subscription must put a lot of pressure on a designer to put out some very very good games. He would have to. If I order games up to a year and a half in advance, they had better be worth it. Dropping the subscription model takes away some of this pressure. This two player war game promises to be lighter and quicker than his prior two....and I am looking forward to the day when it shows up in the mail.
Finally, Mayfair is releasing a two player game from Martin, Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861. Martin has designed some of the best War/Euro games out there, but when he leans more towards War games, his designs sometimes leave me confused and cranky (I get tired of constantly looking up errata and different rules for particular situations). I do not think that Mayfair has some magical power to fix this, but designing for a second party means that he may tone down the rules some and I am excited by this game. It's not a must buy, as it doesn't have the Treefrog stamp on it, but it is a must play.
Let me know....are you excited by any of the Nuremberg releases?
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The second episode of Ludology is now available.
We discuss why people play games, and share personal anecdotes about our own experiences.
A geeklist for your feedback will be posted soon.
We hope you enjoy this episode. It is a little different than what we plan on typically doing, as we do get more personal, but we suspect that many of you will identify with it.
It's amazing to me when I look back how so many of my memories are bound up in games and the people I've met through them. I have a lot more than what I talked about in the episode. My circle of friends in high school was all about gaming. Then when I went to college I met a guy who was into games during 'rush week' (when you pick your dorm/frat/roommates) and we ended up rooming together freshman year and becoming lifelong friends. I could go on and on (but I won't, don't worry!).
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Well, we've put together a small gaming network. More news to come, but I thought I'd mention it here.
The Dice Tower Podcast - variety audio show about board games and the people who play them.
The Dice Tower Videocast - board game reviews, and the annual top 100
How to Play Podcast - Ryan Sturm talks about how to play board games
Ludology - Geoff and Ryan discuss the concepts behind games and game design.
We will soon have a combined RSS feed up on the website, as well as a feed for each show. Perhaps you'll see other shows join us in the future. Keep an eye out!
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