There and Back Again: Spiel des Jahres 1985
Ava Jarvis
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Hello again, and welcome back to our weekly perspective on past Spiel des Jahres awards, nominations, and recommended games.

The Spiel des Jahres site has been revamped recently, which seems to have moved the links to descriptions of past SdJ games somewhere I haven't yet found on the site.

Fortunately, fewer games will be truly "lost" as we proceed towards the present---plus Google will be keeping those links for a while, and the Wayback archive will take over for the rest.

The field was already opening up in 1984, and 1985 blasts it wide open. From this point onwards, there will never be less than six games on the recommended list alone.

As ever, more information is available at

http://www.spiel-des-jahres.com/
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1. Board Game: Pin [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Ava Jarvis
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I was going to start off the list with a placeholder, but a very kind administrator quickly added my new game submission for Dieter Drkosch's Pin! Thank you very much.

Pin is a connection abstract involving pegs and string.

Translated roughly from http://www.spieldesjahres.de/spiel/1985/pin.html :

A nice, small "little game" is "Pin". The idea is simple. On a square with 49 holes, used several times by Dieter Drkosch, 20 pegs (pins) in five different colors are placed at will. Two white pegs are connected by a string, one of which is placed on the square with the others. The player now tries to loop as many pegs as possible with the string, changing direction at each peg. Touching the peg alone is not enough. The different colored pegs have different values. Finally, the second white peg must be placed so that the string is drawn tight. The points of the twined-about pegs are totaled. Who has the most, is the winner. "Pin" can also be played alone, then a pre-determined result must be achieved.
 
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2. Board Game: Mister Zero [Average Rating:4.93 Unranked]
Ava Jarvis
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Currently owned by one fellow 'Geek, at least this game exists in the database with a picture at the time of the creation of this geeklist.

Translated roughly from the old Spiel des Jahres site:

New game ideas are difficult to find and therefore rare. "Mr. Zero" is successfully such an original idea, easy to learn and additionally quick-playing. On the board is a network of lines, at the center of which a game figure - Mr. Zero - stands. Each player [the phrasing here implies that this game is two-player or four-player-partneship, perhaps? there's an emphasis on "two players". - ed.] owns a marked target space and seeks, with 10 chips numbered 0 to 9, to influence Mr. Zero's movement in such a way that he reaches this space. In addition, the chips are placed on the pathways in alternating turns by the players. Once all chips have been placed, play is at an end, because now Mr. Zero begins his movement, by always following the path with the lowest chip. Chips passed in this way are turned over. If Mr. Zero arrives at the target space of a player, that player receives all the turned-over chips. The player with the most chips wins.
 
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3. Board Game: You're Bluffing! [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1247]
Ava Jarvis
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Published also under the English title, "You're Bluffing", Kuhhandel translates to "Horse Trade". A bidding and bluffing game, I will allow Fawkes to elucidate here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekforum.php3?action=viewthrea...

This game has been reviewed on the 'Geek by Fawkes, Tom Vasel, and Jeremy Avery---all favorably.

I'll have to pick this one up some time!
 
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4. Board Game: Iago [Average Rating:6.57 Unranked]
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A word game that looks like Scrabble, but features mechanics like stealing words. Unlike other word games, the letters played to the board have ownership (different colors). Letter tiles of words existing on the board can be flipped, a la Othello, if you can come up with a way to change your opponent's words. Each turn you take must finish with you having at least one more tile than your opponent.

The goal is to not run out of the time that you've been alotted to create/steal words. In fact, the "nifty timer" included in the game will actually give more time to your opponent, if you spend too much time in turn angst.
 
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5. Board Game: Heimlich & Co. [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1538]
Ava Jarvis
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You may be more familiar with this game's alternate title, "Top Secret Spies". I remember reading about this game a while back in GAMES magazine, before the 'Geek and, in fact, the 'net as a whole were around. It features the rare mechanic of pieces of unknown ownership, a certain number of which can be moved each turn depending on the roll of some dice. Deducing your opponent's color will allow you to reduce their points---and you hope your opponents won't do the same to you.

This game will be one of those now-rare (as of 1985) repeats, which will become non-existant in later years.
 
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6. Board Game: Cash & Carry [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
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This game was one of the last gasps of a game publisher called Hanje-Spieleatelier (Hanje Game Studio).

It's a bit too close to "roll-and-cash" for me from the description, with a lack of other details, and the one picture on the 'Geek at the time of this writing is very humble.

Roughly translated from Bernward Thole's description on the old SdJ site:

For many years, from Hanje-Spieleatelier came interesting and most notably, from material and design, very beautiful games. Unfortuantely, one of the last games from this studio is "Cash and Carry", a mixture of dice and economic games. With the help of two dice, the players move round wooden pieces along a number of numbered squares imprinted on the game box. If a piece stops before an empty square, one can buy it. The purchase price is calculated from the multiplication of the value of the square and the two dice. The goal of the game is to make a good bargain from the bank as possible and to sell the squares expensively. If the bank is broke, the game ends. A diverse game with beautiful equipment.
 
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7. Board Game: Campus [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:11224]
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A sort of reverse Bingo with dice, each player has a 6x6 board with number tiles on it. Each player rolls two dice, and must use the dice rolled by their opponent to turn over tiles on their board which sum up to that number. The last unturned tile in a row can be turned over without the help of the dice, which can result in a cascade as other rows are similarly "closed". The goal is to turn over all the tiles on your board.

(Extracted from a rough translation of Hans-Ulrich Schneider's description at the old SdJ site.)
 
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8. Board Game: Abilene [Average Rating:5.78 Overall Rank:10102]
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With Abilene, you can have cow *and* cowboy meeples---on a hexagonal board no less! The goal is to drive cattle---yours or those stolen from another player's---to Abilene. Stolen cattle are worth twice that of your own, leading to the expected results... shootouts between your cowboys and others as your cattle-wranglers attempt to protect your stock.

Cattle sold at Abilene are always declared "healthy", but some may not be. You receive money based on how many players guess the truth as to the health of your cattle (and you receive more money for healthy cattle in the first place, of course).

 
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9. Board Game: Die Magier [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:11230]
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Die Drei Magier (the Three Magicians) won the "Most Beautiful Game" award this year, and the image on the 'Geek certainly looks very pretty, with extra large wooden, shaped pawns---one wizard and one apprentice for each player. The game is aptly named, since you can only play this game with three players.

The goal of the game is to reach magic spots and collect one of each kind of "Tarot" card. Two each of seven different kinds are available. Their placement differs depending on the orientation map picked. Since there's only two of each card, there's going to be some contention sooner or later...

Movement and magical combat are resolved by three "magic sticks", which are special long three-sided dice. When a "magic stick" lands, you get a number from the edge pointing upwards (0, 1, or 2 dots), and two symbols, one on either flat edge exposed upwards. Only the dots count for combat or movement.

The symbols available are the arrow (power), star (magic), and nothing (fate). These are used to give your less powerful apprentice piece a special power when they move on a symbol spot, depending on the majority of symbols you get.

Nick Sauer has kindly made a translation, which is currently available on the 'Geek.
 
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10. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: The Thames Murders & Other Cases [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:66] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
Ava Jarvis
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Originally titled "Sherlock Holmes Criminal-Cabinet", you probably know this game better as "Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective"---and yes, this game did indeed win the 1985 Spiel des Jahres.

This game is somewhat legendary to me, because it was the first one I'd read of (on the Game Cabinet) that seemed so very thematic---and very, very unique.

There are no playing pieces, dice, or board. Instead, you have criminal case files, with help in the form of a map of London, a London directory, and newspaper archives---all done up in the style of the Victorian period. The map is simplified, but actually historically correct. The game is something like a more visceral, looser variant of Choose Your Own Adventure books (or the dungeon adventures books written by Steve Jackson and others).

The game is pure deduction, but not of the Clue type, and more varied.

A well-deserving and unusual SdJ winner.

And with that I retire for the night, after having mirrored the old SdJ pages to my hard drive (and then to my other hard drive, and then to a backup). There will never be less than nine games covered by the SdJ each year after this one, although as we get closer to the present, I'll need to do less digging for information.
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