So, let's start with something personal - my Published in 2017: Best and Worst games I've played and what remains to be tried. Opinions & suggestions are welcome! list is up at last. Thinking of it, if you click the link you won't read the rest of this blog post now (or if you read the blog post you won't return to this link) so do either open it in a new tab or... just click the link in the end of this blog post.
As a result of some personal (family etc.) issues the list was posted even later than ever. It can't go on like this forever so I just don't know what I can do in the future. Right now I'm hoping I can do it faster next year, but if I can't then possibly I won't do it at all. Finding enough time, energy (having 3 kids), occasion to play at least 50 new games released in a year has never been so hard before, even though there are more and more games published every year. So in the end I just didn't focus on the games I really wanted to play - I just said I want to try anything published in 2017 that anyone has...
Also, as expensive games, kickstarter and legacy games are getting more and more popular (while I can try less and less of these right now) I'm starting to feel these lists start to get more and more out of touch with general opinion...***
One of the extra reasons why I could not go to gaming clubs enough to learn new games was taking part in the Hungarian Board Game Awards jury. This is an award for board games published in Hungarian with largely Spiel des Jahres-like aims (awarding light family gateways that can make the hobby more popular in Hungary, a country where the hobby is a lot younger than e.g. in Germany).
I did the same two years ago and then we had the problem of not too many good games (fitting the award AND really good) published. This time it was the contrary, having many popular and award-winning or nominated games published in Hungarian in 2017. We made a shortlist of 20ish games of which a few proved to be not good enough and a few others had translation problems (Which is a real problem if players can't play the game (at all or correctly) reading the rulebooks, but still we had a large number of games that were practically all quite good for the award (and could have even won two years ago). 4 games got the nomination and there was one winner - a surprise winner as it was practically the most unknown one, certainly not the one anyone would have guessed beforehand: Avenue, a surprisingly good roll-and-write game without dice (to even out luck, you have an even distribution of 6 different kinds of cards instead of rolling the die). A Hungarian game (Sakura) got a special award for being... a good Hungarian game and the Codenames family got another special award for being as great as it is (somewhat compensating for the scandalous decision of Codenames not being even nominated last year - this year Codenames: Pictures was on the shortlist but a Hungarian edition of Codenames: Duet was also already published in the beginning of 2018).
The results were surprising because... Well, there were so many great games fitting the award in the list! Many of these were loved by some jury members while others had (understandable) objections. But still, I'm curious. Given how unknown Avenue is, I ask you even without knowing the Hungarian market (just for fun) : which game should have won the award (if not Avenue)? Which games should have been nominated?
Poll Even I would have chosen better games for the 'Hungarian SdJ' Which game should have won instead of the largely unknown one? Choices Your Answer Bars Vote Percent Vote Count Between Two Cities 12.8% 6 Cottage Garden 10.6% 5 Kingdomino 76.6% 36 Voters 47 Which games should have been nominated instead of the ones above? Please select max. 3. Choices Your Answer Bars Vote Percent Vote Count Century - Spice Road 21.2% 11 Dream Home 15.4% 8 Forbidden Desert 26.9% 14 Forbidden Island 19.2% 10 Magic Maze 23.1% 12 Mmm! 3.8% 2 Sheriff of Nottingham 9.6% 5 Sushi Go! 44.2% 23 Timebomb (2016) 3.8% 2 I think the selection above is just perfect. 19.2% 10 Voters 52This poll is now closed. 55 answersPoll created by lacxoxCloses: Sun Sep 30, 2018 6:00 am***
Oh, and another thing I didn't have time for: a Knizia retrospective. I did it in the previous years so I won't skip it now.
Obviously the most interesting stuff is Quest for El Dorado. Ever since FITS in 2009 (when there were still 5 nominations), this is the first time a game by Dr. Reiner Knizia gets a Spiel des Jahres nomination (one of the three) and deservedly so. Somehow it feels like after a few years that really wasn't that interesting for hardcore gamers, Knizia finds a new way to connect to gamers. The Quest for El Dorado is his first deck building game, developed in a very Knizian way. It is a success so much that a spin-off and an expansion is already on its way.
Another completely new design is his Voodoo Prince card game, a really interesting design and a spin on classic trick-taking card games. The idea that when you quit (taking a given number of tricks) you score as many points as the number of tricks your opponents have already taken, but being last means you just score as many points as the number of tricks you have taken is just great. I suggest giving it a try if you like trick-taking games at all.
Then, besides some kids' games and very German (e.g. language-dependent) games, there are the usual batch of light dice games. Schollen Rollen seems to be like a very usual fare for him with the exception that press your luck comes from the possibility of doubling, quarupling or even octupling the points (fish) you can collect. Gold Armada probably belongs to his other family of dice games where you try to match a certain set of symbols on the game boards, but with the idea that scoring coings make collecting further coins harder (but more rewarding). And Criss Cross is a roll and write game... that combines his Sono/Dragon Master idea with his Take it Easy!-like approach (everyone places the same symbols on their own board).
Finally, reimagining old favorites in new form is back. Through the Desert didn't simply get a new look - it also got a new board with new rules (river). Axio and Ingenious Extreme both play with the Ingenious idea, changing the shapes (from hexes to squares and octogonals) with different results - the latter becomes more luck-dependent (but feels extreme indeed) while the former one introduces a new element, pyramids which make it a really interesting game. King's Road is another rework of Imperium from Neue Spiele im Alten Rom, in a form that is probably better than either predecessors - it's not just a pleasure to look at but it might be the first time it really feels like a good standalone game. And Amun-Re: The Card Game is not only a successful adaptation and simplified version of the 15-year-old classic, but it also has some new ideas - mainly by incorporating elements of Ra to the game (just like Ra was incorporated in the idea of Amon-Ra thousands of years ago).
All in all, I think it was a good year for Knizia fans and 2018 is shaping to be fine as well with original designs like Blue Lagoon or Kartel, a fine-tuned rework of a quite unknown game (Forbidden City) a sequel (Yellow & Yangtze), two new versions of Lost Cities, new maps for Stephenson's Rocket, an expansion for El Dorado and so on...***
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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.
- [+] Dice rolls