Of the many “board game of the year” awards handed out each year, the most prestigious is unquestionably the “Spiel des Jahres” prize. Judged by a panel of German critics, the long-running award earns the winner a boost in profile, increased sales, and the hushed awe of the entire board game community.
This year, the main award, which focuses on lighter, family-friendly fare, went to the party game Just One. Just One is a cooperative word-guessing party game designed by Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter, the team that brought us the ambitious adventure game The 7th Continent. Each round, players write down one-word clues to present to the round’s guesser, who has to figure out a secret word. Players need to give a clue good enough to point the guesser in the right direction—but any identical clues are discarded before the guesser can see them, so being too obvious could backfire. The game is simple to teach and play, and a 13-round game is over in a brisk 20 minutes. Also nominated for the Spiel des Jahres were party word game (Werewords) and legendary designer Reiner Knizia’s L.A.M.A.
This year’s “Kennerspiel des Jahres,” the prize awarded to more strategically complex games, went to Wingspan, a beautiful engine-building game about birds. Designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, Wingspan quickly became one of the hottest games of the year when it was released a few months ago, and it’s not hard to see why. The production is gorgeous (no surprise, as it comes from publisher Stonemaier Games), and the gameplay is simple and satisfying. You can read our full review here or check out a gallery of the game’s lovely components below. Stefan Feld’s Carpe Diem and Portal Games’ Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game were also up for the Kennerspiel.
The Children’s Game of the Year (“Kinderspiel”) went to the barrel-bowling dexterity game Valley of the Vikings (Tal der Wikinger), by designers Marie and Wilfried Fort. The game beat out nominees Fabulantica and Go Gecko Go!
For those whose lust for new board games can’t be sated by a mere nine titles, the jury announced an additional list of recommended titles in each category. For the Spiel des Jahres, those games are Belratti, Dizzle, Imhotep – Das Duell, Krasse Kacke, Sherlock, and Reef (check out our review of Reef here). For the Kennerspiel, we have Architects of the West Kingdom, Lowlands, Newton, and Paper Tales. Seven more Kinderspiel recommendations can be found here.
Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!