Knizia. Spiel des Jahres. Some other thoughts, but only rarely. I'm not that much of a big thinker, you know - but I love games.
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German Games of the Year (Kennerspiel des Jahres and Spiel des Jahres) announced - updated with results! Plus Knizia, the City Builder

Laszlo Molnar
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In support of Babyloctobia - Knizia tile laying rules!
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So the Spiel des Jahres ceremony is being held just now. As this award has way more effect on the gaming industry than any other awards, it is an award that does matter whether you agree with it or not. I was curious which games win (I have only played 1 of the KdJ and SdJ nominees each but also what kind of dress we might expect from Reiner Knizia who dressed as an adventurer for The Quest for El Dorado and, uhm, in a Llama for L.L.A.M.A..
From gallery of W Eric Martin

Photo credit: W. Eric Martin

A city-building legacy game did not offer so interesting possibilities, I thought. But he managed it, using minimal dress and one of his trademark bowties.
From gallery of lacxox

Shot taken from the SdJ live stream, with a carefully positioned shelf full of awards

Also it was known the ceremony would not be the 200-guest event that it was before because of COVID-19; only designers and publishers were invited (and not even each of them were present). COVID-19 is also the main reason why I could try only Nova Luna and The Crew of the nominees so far. On the other hand COVID-19 might make (have made) family gaming more important than ever.

The ceremony started with a look back at the game that defined Eurogame as a genre and made the Spiel des Jahres logo more important than ever before: Catan, which celebrates its 25th anniversary now. While it may feel dated for experienced gamers now, it still lures many gamers to the hobby in 2020 so its importance is undisputable.

So the Kennerspiel des Jahres (which is the award for players with some experience, still not really a gamers' game award!) goes to the game I hoped would win even without playing the other two. The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a fantastic introduction to trick-taking card games for beginners - but also for those many gamers who think optimization Euros are the way to go and trick-taking card games are just too luck-dependent. With its missions and cooperative play it teaches clever play of your cards in an ingenious and really engaging way. It had to win, I felt, even though as a relatively small-box card game it had a disadvantage. Congrats to Thomas Sing and KOSMOS for the wonderful achievement!

Board Game: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

For Spiel des Jahres my guess was either Nova Luna or My City would win. Pictures looks nice and I'm pretty sure it's fun to play but it still does not look very novel, and I guessed an enjoyable but still not that great party game winning last year meant the other two games have more chance.

Nova Luna is a fine mix of Uwe Rosenberg's Patchwork and Corné van Moorsel's Habitats, maybe not as great as each, but a fine game anyway, especially for the general crowd Spiel des Jahres is aimed at. It fits the group of (more or less) themeless games that had many fine nominees and winners in the SdJ history (games like Just4Fun, Bloxx, Splendor, Kingdomino, Azul). Reiner Knizia's My City is, on the other hand, a tile-laying legacy game with tetris-like pieces and a possibility to play the game any number of times after the legacy campaign is over. The latter and the beginner-and-family-friendly simplicity of the game makes the game a rare winner even if it does not feature many novel elements.

And the award goes to Pictures, much to my surprise (and it seems to the surprise - and, of course, delight - of the designers as well). Not questioning the decision of the jury, I just have to hunt down a copy and give it a try. Until then I just copy what the game is about here:

Form the image on your secret picture card with one set of components, either shoelaces, color cubes, icon cards, sticks and stones or building blocks in such a way that the other players guess what image you have pictured:

Pull out a marker from the bag that determines your secret picture card.
Then form that image with your components in such a way that it is recognizable.
And finally guess what image each other player has pictured.
The players get points for correctly guessing other players images and for other players guessing their image.

Congrats to designers Daniela und Christian Stöhr for the win!

Board Game: Pictures

+ I think it's worth a mention that Kinderspiel des Jahres (Children's Game of the Year) was announced a few weeks earlier (and I'm a happy owner of the game). It went to Hedgehog Roll, an age: 4+... er... roll and move game, but of a cute and special kind: here you roll a hedgehog (suspiciously looking like a tennis ball) that collects mushroom, fallen leaves and apples and you move your figure based on the collected objects. It's got a coop mode (where you run from the fox) as well. It's lovely, enjoyable for small kids, an award much deserved. Congrats to designer Urtis Šulinskas and artist Irina Pechenkina for their game!
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