W. Eric Martin
Michael Kiesling's Azul from Next Move Games has won yet another game industry award, this time placing first in the 2018 Deutscher Spielepreis, an award given based on votes by the gaming public. The rest of the games in the top ten are:
2. Gaia Project from Helge Ostertag, Jens Drögemüller, and Feuerland Spiele
3. Rajas of the Ganges from Inka and Markus Brand and HUCH!
4. Clans of Caledonia from Juma Al-JouJou and Karma Games
5. Heaven & Ale from Michael Kiesling (him again!), Andreas Schmidt, and eggertspiele
6. Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 from Matt Leacock, Rob Daviau, and Z-Man Games
7. Clank! from Paul Dennen and Renegade Game Studios
8. Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg from Wolfgang Warsch and Schmidt Spiele
9. The Mind from Wolfgang Warsch and Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag
10. Altiplano from Reiner Stockhausen and dlp games
Carlo Bortolini's Memoarrr! from Edition Spielwiese took first place in the DSP voting for top children's game.
One thing to note about the DSP voting process this year: Normally the voting period runs from May 1 through July 31, but as Dominique Metzler of DSP organizer Friedhelm Merz Verlag explained in late July 2018, they stopped accepting votes on July 27 and they threw out all the votes submitted between July 23-27.
Why? On July 23, 2018, vlogger Stephan Gust asked fans of his channel to vote for Clank! for the DSP, claiming that if the game ranked first in the DSP, then all fans of his channel would receive an exclusive promo card courtesy of Schwerkraft Verlag, publisher of the German edition of the game. Writes Metzler (in my translation):
We considered this process a clear attempt at manipulation, and I communicated this to Mr. Gust that same evening, because the tenor of the video is simply this: Whether you like Clank! or not, vote for it so that I and you, my fanbase, receive this card. Among other things, this video called for people to vote for only Clank! and no other games. The next day, a second video was added to this channel which in its entirety once again seemed very strange to us.
After these calls, about one hundred votes for Clank! came in, about half of which did not vote for another game, with the other half voting for Clank! in first place but also voting for other games.
We feel we have a duty to you, the gamers, but also to Schwerkraft Verlag. Although Clank! didn't reach first place thanks to this unambiguous manipulation, the game would probably have moved up a place in the top 10 list. Many people would have wondered after the announcement of the voting result, whether Schwerkraft Verlag would have placed X in the ranking for Clank! without the questionable tactics used by Mr. Gust.
To avoid any question about which game might have deserved which place in the rankings, Merz Verlag ended the DSP voting immediately and threw out all votes after July 23. The organization apologized to those who might have voted during that time given that their votes were also discarded, but in the interest of fairness that's the course they thought best.