This post would have been a lot more interesting and topical if I had done it two weeks ago when the winners were announced. But, as always I am behind the times. Still, I thought I would spend a little time telling you about the five games that were nominated for the (arguably) most recognized prize in boardgames, the Spiel des Jahres.
The Spiel des Jahres (literally "Game of the Year")is decided by a jury each year. The award is definitely biased more towards family friendly games, and there is certainly an undercurrent of politics with which companies win. I find that the SdJ does a pretty good job of picking a deserving game. This year, the five nominees (of which I have reviewed two for this site, and have played three) all look like excellent games. The winner was not a surprise to me, but seems to have been to many.
Dominion has been previously reviewed in this series. It is an excellent deck building game that gives the player many tough decisions. I must admit that as people have played more optimal strategies have started to surface, so I now only play with random deck choices, to better force tactical thinking. Still, a great game, and with it's new expansion a game with almost endless replayability.
Fauna is the most kid friendly game in the competition, and is by one of my favorite designers the ever wacky Friedemann Friese (maker of such wonderful games as Powergrid, Fearsome Floors and Funny Friends.) Fauna is essentially a steroids infused animal trivia game, with no knowledge of trivia required. Each turn a card is revealed with one animal on it. You guess about certain characteristics of the animal by placing chips on the board in corresponding spaces (ie where it lives, how large it is, etc..) You get points for each right (or almost right) answer. One trick, non-scoring chips are removed for the next turn, which can make guessing a little dangerous. Haven't played it, but I really want to. Friedemann's games are always interesting, and present new twists on old mechanics. Sadly, this is currently only available in German.
Finca is the best boardgame about picking fruit since Heigh Ho Cherrio! Bold words, I know. I love the rondel mechanic (which is how you move your workers around) and the tough choices the game forces on you. This is likely my favorite of the five games, and I am saving a description for an upcoming post.
FITS is an intriguing game. It's like multiplayer Tetris on a game board. Each player has a board and slides very Tetris-y pieces on to it to meet varying conditions (usually leaving certain spots uncovered.) A card is drawn each round to tell the players which piece they must add to their board. I have not played the game, but hope I get to soon. It looks like a fun multiplayer puzzle game.
Last is Pandemic last years great co-operative game. I wrote about it on the Hat already. I still think it is the best co-op game I have played. At least three times, we have sat down and decided that we are not leaving the table until we beat the game. Just a great gaming experience.
So, an interesting field this year. Two American games (Dominion and Pandemic) only one real kids game (Fauna) and one "traditional" Euro. Honestly, my guess before the award was announced was that Pandemic would win. However, the hugely popular Dominion took the award this year. I would recommend any of these games, and look forward to the chance to try them all. Check them out!
Last 5 posts by Ezra
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