The Spiel des Jahres (German for "Game of the Year") is an annual German award for board and card games first awarded in 1979 with the purpose of "rewarding excellence in game design, and promoting top-quality games in the German market." It is also considered the most prestigious board game award in the world. The award is given by a jury of German-speaking game critics who review games released in Germany based on game concept, rule structure, layout, and design within the past 12 months. Along with the Spiel des Jahres, the judges also award the Kennerspiel des Jahres (Connoisseur-Enthusiast Game of the Year) for more complex games and the Kinderpsiel des Jahres (Children's Game of the Year) for games that are tailored more for children. Nominees are chosen by the jury of judges themselves through a multi-staged elimination process and the jury presents the awards with no superior private or state authority other than themselves as competent game critics. There are no prize money included with these awards, but winning games and nominees usually receive a huge increase in sales. The winners for 2019 were announced today, so let's take a quick look at the winners!
Just One is a cooperative party game designed by Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter. The game revolves around one active player who tries to guess a word and the other players giving clues. A game is played with 13 cards, each with 5 word choices on them. The group chooses a word for the active player to guess and the others players each give a single word as a clue. If any of the clue words are repeated, the point is lost. If the active player guesses wrong, the point is lost as well as the next card on the deck, but if the player chooses to pass, only the current card is lost. The goal is to collectively achieve a score closest to 13 as the group can.
Wingspan is a competitive board game designed by Elizabeth Hargrave in which players collect a wide variety of bird cards in order to score as many points possible through various combinations and effects. Each of the 170 unique bird cards have a specific food cost, habitat, nest type, flock, egg limit and other unique benefits. The game is played over four rounds in which players can choose from a variety of actions to grow their aviary. With beautiful art and a complex set of rules, the game is offers an great replayability and strategy.
Valley of Vikings is a German children's board game that actually has not been released in English yet. Due to their nomination however, the game is set to be brought to the United States at the end of 2019, earlier than what was originally planned. It is described as a viking bowling game in which player use a small ball to knock down barrel pieces which determines the movement of the character pieces. There are four colors of barrels, each letting players move a different number of spaces. Each space of the board has a different effect or amount of gold and when any player gets to the end of the board, the effects of each space are activated. The player who collects the most gold at the end of the game wins.
Congratulations to all of this year's winners and nominees!