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All Together Now — Spiel des Jahres Nominations for 2021: The Adventures of Robin Hood, MicroMacro: Crime City, and Zombie Teenz Evolution

W. Eric Martin
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Co-operative games dominated the nominee list for the 2021 Spiel des Jahres — Germany's "game of the year" award — while also finding a place on the nominee lists for two accompanying awards: the Kinderspiel des Jahres (KidJ) for children's game of the year, and the Kennerspiel des Jahres (KedJ) for enthusiast's game of the year, that is, for those already comfortable with learning and playing new games.

Spiel des Jahres jury chairman Harald Schrapers and Kinderspiel des Jahres chairman Christoph Schlewinski announced the nominees and other recommended titles during a live broadcast on Facebook, with these three titles being nominated for Spiel des Jahres 2021:

The Adventures of Robin Hood, by Michael Menzel and KOSMOS
MicroMacro: Crime City, by Johannes Sich and Edition Spielwiese (written and video overview)
Zombie Teenz Evolution, by Annick Lobet and Le Scorpion Masqué (video overview)

Aside from these nominations, the SdJ jury recommended the following five titles: Biss 20, Chakra, Point Salad, Switch & Signal, and The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land, the latter two of which also happen to be co-operative.

Note that the Spiel des Jahres award is primarily aimed at family gamers, i.e., those who play games but aren't heavily into the gaming scene.

Board Game: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Board Game: MicroMacro: Crime City
Board Game: Zombie Teenz Evolution

Nominations for the Kennerspiel des Jahres went to:

Fantasy Realms, by Bruce Glassco and WizKids (and in Germany from Strohmann Games) (video overview)
Lost Ruins of Arnak, by Mín, Elwen, and Czech Games Edition (video overview)
Paleo, by Peter Rustemeyer and Hans im Glück (video overview)

The SdJ jury recommended four other titles at the Kennerspiel level: Aeon's End, Barrage, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, and Riftforce. The winners of the Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres will be announced in Berlin, Germany on July 19, 2021.

Board Game: Fantasy Realms
Board Game: Lost Ruins of Arnak
Board Game: Paleo

The titles nominated for Kinderspiel des Jahres 2020 are:

Dragomino, by Bruno Cathala, Marie Fort, Wilfried Fort, and Blue Orange Games (video overview)
Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels, by Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, and Le Scorpion Masqué (video overview)
Storytailors, by Marie Fort, Wilfried Fort, and Lifestyle Boardgames (video overview)

The Kinderspiel des Jahres jury, which differs from the SdJ/KedJ jury, also recommended seven other titles: Dream Catcher, Hipp Hopp Hippo, Inspektor Nase, Käpt'n Kuller, Memo Friends, Swip'Sheep, and Tapikékoi.

The winner will be announced on June 14, 2021, roughly one month prior to the winners of the other awards.

Board Game: Dragomino
Board Game: Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels
Board Game: Storytailors

Aside from the overwhelming presence of co-operative games among the nominees and recommended titles — and perhaps this trend shouldn't be a surprise given the events of 2020 — Schrapers and Schlewinski highlighted the strong showing by French designers and French and French-Canadian publishers, with the husband-and-wife team of Marie and Wilfried Fort picking up two nominations in the Kinderspiel category and Le Scorpion Masqué having a nomination for both Spiel des Jahres and Kinderspiel des Jahres. Schlewinski noted that the French seem to be more adventurous in their themes, their mechanisms, and their approach to art and graphics.
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