Spiel des Jahres 2016 Nominees
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Here are the nominees and recommended title for the 2016 Spiel des Jahres, or German Game of the Year Award.

Here are the official announcements:

http://www.spiel-des-jahres.de/spieldesjahres
http://www.spiel-des-jahres.de/kennerspieldesjahres
http://www.spiel-des-jahres.de/kinderspieldesjahres


I'm rooting for Codenames, Mmm! and Isle of Skye...
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1. Board Game: Codenames [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:95] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Board Game: Codenames
Jeremy Heilman
United States
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Nominated for Spiel des Jahres
Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
2-8 Players
15 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.4

Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their CODENAMES.

In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.

Codenames: Win or lose, it's fun to figure out the clues.
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2. Board Game: Imhotep [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:424]
Board Game: Imhotep
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Nominated for Spiel des Jahres
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
2-4 Players
40 Min.
BGG Weight: 2.6 (this will surely come down over time!)

In Imhotep, the players become builders in Egypt who want to emulate the first and best-known architect there, namely Imhotep.

Over six rounds, they move wooden stones by boat to create five seminal monuments, and on a turn, a player chooses one of four actions: Procure new stones, load stones on a boat, bring a boat to a monument, or play an action card. While this sounds easy, naturally the other players constantly thwart your building plans by carrying out plans of their own. Only those with the best timing — and the stones to back up their plans — will prove to be Egypt's best builder.
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3. Board Game: Karuba [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:466]
Board Game: Karuba
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Nominated for Spiel des Jahres
Designer: Rüdiger Dorn
2-4 Players
40 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.5

This is a tile-laying race game with players starting with boards that are identical, and one player drawing tiles that they all will use. They race to get their explorers to temples first and earn points. Along the way they can collect additional points by collecting items off the paths they create.
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4. Board Game: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:200]
Board Game: Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
Jeremy Heilman
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Denver
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Nominated for Kennerspiel des Jahres
Designer: Andreas Pelikan, Alexander Pfister
2-5 Players
60 Min.
BGG Weight: 2.2

In the tile-laying game Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, 2-5 players are chieftains of famous clans and want to build their kingdoms to score as many points as possible — but in each game only four of the sixteen scoring tiles will be scored.

Thanks to the scoring tiles, each game is different and leads to different tactics and strategies, but having enough money is useful no matter what else is going on. Managing that money can be tricky, though. Each turn, each player places two area tiles in front of them and sets the selling price for the tiles. Setting a high price is great, but only so long as someone actually pays the price because if no one opts to buy, then the seller must buy the tiles at the price they previously requested.

In the end, the player with the best kingdom — and not the richest player — becomes the sovereign of the island.
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5. Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 [Average Rating:8.61 Overall Rank:2]
Board Game: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Nominated for Kennerspiel des Jahres
Designer: Rob Daviau, Matt Leacock
2-4 Players
60 Min.
BGG Weight: 2.8

Pandemic Legacy is a co-operative campaign game, with an overarching story-arc played through 12-24 sessions, depending on how well your group does at the game. At the beginning, the game starts very similar to basic Pandemic, in which your team of disease-fighting specialists races against the clock to travel around the world, treating disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand.
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6. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:156]
Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Nominated for Kennerspiel des Jahres
Designer: Peggy Chassenet, Manuel Rozoy
2-4 Players
90 Min.
BGG Weight: 2.6

T.I.M.E Stories is a narrative game, a game of "decksploration". Each player is free to give their character as deep a "role" as they want, in order to live through a story, as much in the game as around the table. But it's also a board game with rules which allow for reflection and optimization.

At the beginning of the game, the players are at their home base and receive their mission briefing. The object is then to complete it in as few attempts as possible. The actions and movements of the players will use Temporal Units (TU), the quantity of which depend on the scenario and the amount of players. Each attempt is called a "run"; one run equals the use of all of the Temporal Units at the players' disposal. When the TU reach zero, the agents are recalled to the agency, and restart the scenario from the beginning, armed with their experience. The object of the game is to make the perfect run, while solving all of the puzzles and overcoming all of a scenario’s obstacles.
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7. Board Game: Leo [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:2657]
Board Game: Leo
Jeremy Heilman
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Nominated for Kinderspiel des Jahres
Designer: Leo Colovini
2-5 Players; Age 6+
30 Min.
BGG Weight: 2.0

In Leo, players need to help Leo reach the barber shop before it closes for the day. To set up, place all of the animal tiles face down, shuffle them, then create a track that leads from Leo's bed to Bobo's Barber Shop. Set the clock to 8:00 a.m. Each player starts a number of cards in hand.

On a turn, a player plays one card to move Leo ahead 1-4 spaces on the track, then reveals the animal tile on which Leo landed. If the tile is the same color as the card just played, the clock remains at the same time as it was at the start of the turn; if the tile has a different color, however, the clock moves ahead 1-5 hours depending on the animal depicted. Poor Leo! If the clock reaches 8:00 p.m. before Leo arrives at the barber shop, the round ends and Leo must return home in order to try again the next day. Turn all face-up tiles face down again.

If the players manage to get Leo to the barber shop within five days to get him a trim, they win!
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8. Board Game: Mmm! [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:4597]
Board Game: Mmm!
Jeremy Heilman
United States
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Nominated for Kinderspiel des Jahres
Designer: Reiner Knizia
2-4 Players; Age 5+
15-20 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.2

When the cat’s away, the mice will play. But the mean black cat is still close when you try to fill your tummy with all the yummy food from the pantry and say “Mmm!”

The players are mice feeding on the Smiths’ food storage and should not be caught by the family’s cat. Mmm! is a cooperative game even for the smallest (special rules for ages 5 and up), which entertains everyone!
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9. Board Game: My First Stone Age [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1930] [Average Rating:6.68 Unranked]
Board Game: My First Stone Age
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Nominated for Kinderspiel des Jahres
Designer: Marco Teubner
2-4 Players; Age 5+
15 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.0

In My First Stone Age, a children's version of the Stone Age family game, the players collect goods and build their own settlement.
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10. Board Game: Spyfall [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:669] [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked]
Board Game: Spyfall
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Designer: Alexandr Ushan
3-8 Players
15 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.3

Spyfall is a party game unlike any other, one in which you get to be a spy and try to understand what's going on around you. It's really simple!

Spyfall is played over several rounds, and at the start of each round all players receive cards showing the same location — a casino, a traveling circus, a pirate ship, or even a space station — except that one player receives a card that says "Spy" instead of the location. Players then start asking each other questions — "Why are you dressed so strangely?" or "When was the last time we got a payday?" or anything else you can come up with — trying to guess who among them is the spy. The spy doesn't know where he is, so he has to listen carefully. When it's his time to answer, he'd better create a good story!

At any time during a round, one player may accuse another of being a spy. If all other players agree with the accusation, the round ends and the accused player has to reveal his identity. If the spy is uncovered, all other players score points. However, the spy can himself end a round by announcing that he understands what the secret location is; if his guess is correct, only the spy scores points.

After a few rounds of guessing, suspicion and bluffing, the game ends and whoever has scored the most points is victorious!
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11. Board Game: Animals on Board [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:2113]
Board Game: Animals on Board
Jeremy Heilman
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Designer: Wolfgang Sentker, Ralf zur Linde
2-4 Players
15-30 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.5

The accessible and clever game Animals on Board features a two-tiered cardboard ark that will hold each player's animal tiles. At the start of the game, each player draws three animal tiles, chooses one of these tiles, and places it on a bracket of his ark without showing it to the other players.

The leftover animals that players initially drew begin forming what will become a single animal collective in the center of the table. The total number of animals in the collective is based on the number of players, but one animal in the collective will always be face-down. Each player also starts with one food crate and may never have more than five food crates at any time.

On each turn, a player has two options: (a) split a collective of animals into two groups and take a food crate, or (b) take one of the animal collectives into their ark by paying a food crate for each animal in that group. As players choose their group of animals, they drop out of the turn. The first player to drop out of a turn starts the next turn. The game ends when an ark has at least ten animals on board.

Before scoring, all animals in pairs are discarded because a guy called Noah claims all animal pairs for himself. Single animals score the points imprinted on the tile (from 1-5) and herds of animals automatically score five points each. Remaining food crates also score one point each.
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12. Board Game: Die fiesen 7 [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:4617]
Board Game: Die fiesen 7
Jeremy Heilman
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Designer: Jacques Zeimet
2-6 Players
15-25 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.5

Players play a card in front of them showing one or two gangsters. They have to say the current number, i.e: The first is one, the second two up until 7 and then it goes backwards (after 7 comes 6).
If there are two gangsters the player has to name both numbers and the next player is skipped.
If the gangster is looking into a gun you don't say anything.
If the gangster is holding a mobile you have to clear your throat instead.
If you make a mistake you have to take the pile of cards.
Goal is to get rid of the cards first.
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13. Board Game: Krazy Wordz: Erwachsenen Edition [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:1834]
Board Game: Krazy Wordz: Erwachsenen Edition
Jeremy Heilman
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Designer: Dirk Baumann, Thomas Odenhoven, Matthias Schmitt
3-7 Players
45 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.0

"A party game in which you make up fictitious answers from available letters and must then guess which of the words might be meant to be a name for a newly discovered planet" (Win 489)

The secret task of each player is to invent a new creative word by use of several different letter-tiles (vowels and consonants). Then all players have to guess which of the created words will fit to which of the tasks.

Finally, the best guesser and word-creator will win the game.
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14. Board Game: Qwinto [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1119]
Board Game: Qwinto
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Designer: Bernhard Lach, Uwe Rapp
2-6 Players
15 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.4

Players in Qwinto all play at the same time, with everyone trying to fill the rows on their scoresheets with numbers as quickly — and as highly — as possible in order to score the most points.

To set up, each player receives a scoresheet that contains three colored rows of shapes (mostly circles with a few pentagons); the rows don't completely overlap, but they do overlap enough to create five vertical columns of three shapes, with one pentagon being in each vertical row.

On a turn, a player rolls 1–3 dice, with the dice being the same colors as the rows: orange, yellow, purple. Each player can place whatever sum is rolled into an empty shape in a row that matches the color of one of the dice. Two rules must be followed when placing a sum in a row:

All numbers in a row must increase from left to right.
No number can be repeated in a vertical column.
A player does not have to enter the number in a row, but if the active player, the one who rolled the dice, doesn't do so, then they must mark a misthrow box on their scoresheet.

The game continues until someone has filled two rows on their scoresheet or someone has tallied four misthrows. Players then tally their points: For each completed column on their scoresheet, a player scores points equal to the number in that column's pentagon. For each completed row on their scoresheet, a player scores points equal to the rightmost number in that row. For each incomplete row on their scoresheet, a player scores one point per number in that row. For each misthrow, a player loses five points. Whoever has the highest sum wins!
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15. Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:17]
Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel
Jeremy Heilman
United States
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Designer: Antoine Bauza, Bruno Cathala
2 Players
30 Min.
BGG Weight: 2.2

In many ways 7 Wonders: Duel resembles its parent game 7 Wonders as over three ages players acquire cards that provide resources or advance their military or scientific development in order to develop a civilization and complete wonders.

What's different about 7 Wonders: Duel is that, as the title suggests, the game is solely for two players, with the players not drafting card simultaneously from hands of cards, but from a display of face-down and face-up cards arranged at the start of a round. A player can take a card only if it's not covered by any others, so timing comes into play as well as bonus moves that allow you to take a second card immediately. As in the original game, each card that you acquire can be built, discarded for coins, or used to construct a wonder.

Each player starts with four wonder cards, and the construction of a wonder provides its owner with a special ability. Only seven wonders can be built, though, so one player will end up short.

Players can purchase resources at any time from the bank, or they can gain cards during the game that provide them with resources for future building; as you acquire resources, the cost for those particular resources increases for your opponent, representing your dominance in this area.

A player can win 7 Wonders: Duel in one of three ways. Each time that you acquire a military card, you advance the military marker toward your opponent's capital, giving you a bonus at certain positions. If you reach the opponent's capital, you win the game immediately. Similarly, if you acquire any six of seven different scientific symbols, you achieve scientific dominance and win immediately. If neither of these situations occurs, then the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
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16. Board Game: Blood Rage [Average Rating:8.00 Overall Rank:33]
Board Game: Blood Rage
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Designer: Eric M. Lang
2-4 Players
60-90 Min.
BGG Weight: 2.9

In Blood Rage, each player controls their own Viking clan’s warriors, leader, and ship. Ragnarök has come, and it’s the end of the world! It’s the Vikings’ last chance to go down in a blaze of glory and secure their place in Valhalla at Odin’s side! For a Viking there are many pathways to glory. You can invade and pillage the land for its rewards, crush your opponents in epic battles, fulfill quests, increase your clan's stats, or even die gloriously either in battle or from Ragnarök, the ultimate inescapable doom.

Most player strategies are guided by the cards drafted at the beginning of each of the three game rounds (or Ages). These “Gods’ Gifts” grant you numerous boons for your clan including: increased Viking strength and devious battle strategies, upgrades to your clan, or even the aid of legendary creatures from Norse mythology. They may also include various quests, from dominating specific provinces, to having lots of your Vikings sent to Valhalla. Most of these cards are aligned with one of the Norse gods, hinting at the kind of strategy they support. For example, Thor gives more glory for victory in battle, Heimdall grants you foresight and surprises, Tyr strengthens you in battle, while the trickster Loki actually rewards you for losing battles, or punishes the winner.

Players must choose their strategies carefully during the draft phase, but also be ready to adapt and react to their opponents’ strategies as the action phase unfolds. Battles are decided not only by the strength of the figures involved, but also by cards played in secret. By observing your opponent’s actions and allegiances to specific gods, you may predict what card they are likely to play, and plan accordingly. Winning battles is not always the best course of action, as the right card can get you even more rewards by being crushed. The only losing strategy in Blood Rage is to shy away from battle and a glorious death!
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17. Board Game: Mombasa [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:87]
Board Game: Mombasa
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Designer: Alexander Pfister
2-4 Players
75-150 Min.
BGG Weight: 3.8

In Mombasa, players acquire shares of chartered companies based in Mombasa, Cape Town, Saint-Louis, and Cairo and propagate trading posts of these companies throughout the African continent in order to earn the most money.

Mombasa features a unique, rotating-display hand-mechanism that drives game play. Each round players choose action cards from their hand, then reveal them simultaneously and carry out the actions. These cards are then placed in a discard pile, and the previously played cards recovered for the subsequent round.

Each company has a double-sided company track, so games will vary quite a lot based on which tracks are revealed and at which companies they are placed.
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18. Board Game: Castle Flutterstone [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:8428]
Board Game: Castle Flutterstone
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
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Designer: Guido Hoffmann
2-4 Players; Age: 6+
15-25 Min.
BGG Weight: n/a

Quick! Into the old stone castle!

An exciting race for the Magic Cup is about to start in Burg Flatterstein, but beware as the mysterious ruins are littered with obstacles and odd surprises. With a little luck and some skill with flapping bats to the right places, children will find the fastest route to their destination.
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19. Board Game: Sleepy Castle [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:10921]
Board Game: Sleepy Castle
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
CO
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Designer: Heinz Meister
2-4 Players; Age: 4+
10 Min.
BGG Weight: n/a

All of the castle residents are fast asleep and do not notice the nimble robber sneaking around the walls. Only the twelve guardians of the legendary castle's treasure do not sleep — or perhaps they nap just for a moment? Whoever catches the two guards sleeping in Sleepy Castle can steal the guarded treasures, but you have to be clever to manage it...
 
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20. Board Game: Die geheimnisvolle Drachenhöhle [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:14709]
Board Game: Die geheimnisvolle Drachenhöhle
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
CO
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Designer: Carlo Emanuele Lanzavecchia, Walter Obert
2-4 Players; Age: 5+
15-20 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.0

The little dragon on a big treasure hunt wants to collect as much as treasure as possible, and the players are eager to make this happen. If the dragon lands on the right box, he lights up with joy and whoever brought it to that space is rewarded — but with each new adventure in Die geheimnisvolle Drachenhöhle, the treasures are hidden somewhere new. Take care to find where they are because whoever first collects six treasures wins.
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21. Board Game: Jungle Party [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:13600]
Board Game: Jungle Party
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
CO
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Designer: Stefan Dorra; Manfred Reindl
2-4 Players; Age: 5+
20 Min.
BGG Weight: n/a

In Dschungelbande, the jungle party is splashing down the river at night, and you need to remember where all of the animals are: Which animal is swimming in the river? Which is diving under the bridge?

Who can discover each of the critters out there and more importantly remember where they're hidden. If you move the right animal cards down the right river branch, you can be sure to advance rapidly...
 
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22. Board Game: Mein Schatz [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:13023]
Board Game: Mein Schatz
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
CO
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Designer: Oliver Igelhaut
2-4 Players; Age: 7+
20 Min.
BGG Weight: n/a

Players slip into the role of dwarves who have found a cave full of treasure. Now they take turns distributing their finds to the four treasure spaces, but the growing stacks make the dwarves more and more nervous. Should they secure their share now and make a run for it? Some dwarves are greedy and hang back, and by doing so they might miss the right moment to leave, with another player stealing their favorite treasure from right under their nose. And if the worse comes to the worst, the cave orc will catch them!

Before leaving the cave in Mein Schatz ("My Treasure"), you need to decide on a treasure stack and a treasure type, so it's important to remember where the right treasures are. It's hard to keep track, but that stack in the top right corner contains quite a lot of pearl necklaces, right? And then you try to pick a good moment to leave. Usually it pays to wait as the treasure cache will only grow in the course of the game. But keep an eye on your fellow dwarves, and watch out for that cave orc!
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23. Board Game: Harry Hopper [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:14763]
Board Game: Harry Hopper
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
CO
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Designer: Florian Nadler
2-4 Players; Age: 6+
20 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.0

In Harry Hopper, there is only one strategy: aim, bounce, hit! Two players or teams play against one another, using their plastic grasshopper with skill and good judgment to knock down their tall rectangular blades of grass. To make your grasshopper hop, simply press down on his tail, then watch him fly. Did you cut down the opponent's grass as well? Too bad — aim better next time!

To win, you must not only knock down your own blades of grass, but also the king's precious red blade that stands amongst all the others. Just don't knock it down too soon or else it's your head...
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24. Board Game: Time's Up! Kids [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:6039]
Board Game: Time's Up! Kids
Jeremy Heilman
United States
Denver
CO
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Designer: Peter Sarrett
2-12 Players; Age: 4+
10 Min.
BGG Weight: 1.0

Time's Up! Kids features the familiar Time's Up! gameplay, with players giving clues as in charades in order to get their teammates to guess a word or phrase.

What differs with Time's Up! Kids, however, is that the cards feature only images with no text! The game lasts two rounds with players using the same set of cards in both rounds. In the first round, players can describe the cards in order to give clues to teammates, while in the second round they can only mime clues. Whichever team scores the most points wins!
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