Spiel des Jahres nominees 2017:

It's that time of year again where we get to marvel at the nominees of the most prestigious gaming award on the planet. We have become familiar with a variety of games over the last year and like me, you may be excited to see some of our favourites on the list. So if you are anything like me you would also be surprised to not recognise any of the games on the list.

It's certainly an interesting list this year and somewhat surprising. Let's get straight into it.

Speil des Jahres:

alt Designer: Bruno Cathala
Play Time: 15-20 minutes
Plays: 2-4 people

The first game on the list is by Bruno Cathala, certainly no rookie here. I had to rack my brain about this one because I recognised the name Kingdomino, but have never actually seen the game.

I recalled that when it was announced and what I had heard about it didn't overly interest me, but its nomination has piqued my interest. Perhaps there is more to this game than I first thought, but I should have known better considering the designer. I went looking for copies and discovered no online stores in Australia selling with copies for sale. That may be why the game is a virtually unknown to me still. But no more unknown than the next game.

alt Designer: Kasper Lapp
Play Time: 3-15 minutes
Plays: 1-8 people

Magic Maze is definitely an unknown game to me, a theme that will become apparent as we make our way through the list. But that is not the most remarkable thing about this game. Based on what research I can find this is Kasper Lapp's FIRST ever published board game. This is one fine way to enter the game design arena. That's highly powerful considering his game is nominated beside two of the best in the field at the moment. Which leads me to the final game for this category.

alt Designer: Reiner Knizia
Play Time: 30-60 minutes
Plays: 2-4 people

I do not believe there is an English version of El Dorado released yet, this may help explain my surprise at seeing it on the list. Of course, I am not surprised to hear that Knizia is still releasing hits.

The big similarity on this list is the rather short playing time of each game. El Dorado is the longest with a minimum play time of 30 minutes that may extend to 60 minutes. I am not sure if the selection committee is making a point with this year's selection. Are they encouraging shorter games intentionally? I am just surprised that a game that can be over in 3 minutes warrants the award, which only makes me think a whole lot of game must be packed into that time frame. I look forward to trying these games.

Kennerspiel des Jahres:

The Kennerspiel is for more "connoisseur" or expert games. These are usually heavier games that do not always fit the family setting. Some of my more favourite games have come from this category. This year sees some surprises beginning with our first nominee.

alt Designer: Inka Brand, Markus Brand
Play Time: 45-90 minutes
Plays: 1-6 players

Escape room games are the "in" thing right now and although the theme is not surprising the gameplay is. This really indicates a move towards what I call disposable games. One time play through games that are essentially discarded after their primary experience.

I have not played these games because I frankly have no interest in escape rooms. These games also raise a lot of debate about what is defined as a game. Escape rooms and the games based on them are essentially collective problem-solving. While I acknowledge such discussions are important at an academic level I believe when it comes to the community it really doesn't matter. "Is it fun to play?" should be the big question and it seems plenty of people are enjoying these games. Not keen to try this one, but I guess I could give up an hour and a half to try one. I mean, it's not like I will ever have to play the scenario again.

alt Designer: Shem Phillips
Play Time: 60-90 minutes
Plays: 2-4 people

This game excites me to see. I like the euro look. I enjoy the design, the board layout, some interesting additions to worker placement mechanics, and more. I just wish I could find a copy in Australia. Not even Amazon has a copy at the moment! I am looking forward to playing this game.

alt Designer: Jacob Fryxelius
Play Time: 90-120 minutes
Plays: 1-5 people

Now I am not only excited about playing this game, a copy should be arriving this week. This game is a surprise breakout game from Stronghold Games. Stronghold has been on fire of late and their other big hit from last year Great Western Trail got a recommendation. This is a big boon for Buonocore. I have heard nothing but great reviews for this so I am optimistic this one will be around for a long time to come, regardless of winning or not.

Kinderspiel des Jahres

This is the final category and is reserved for the younger players.

alt Designer: Wolfgang Dirscherl, Manfred Reindl
Play Time: 20 mins
Plays: 2-4 people

Queen Games are no stranger to the Spiel Awards either, but once again good luck finding a copy in Australia. I will be keen to check this game out once we get copies released abroad.

alt Designer: Brian Gomez
Play Time: 20 minutes
Plays: 2-4 people

Now this game has been all over my Instagram feed and not just from young players. This seems to be a family favourite as well as a nice filler for many of my gaming friends. This game has been getting a lot of love and while it does not appeal to my type of gaming experience, I cannot say it is astonishing to see this nominated.

alt Designer: Carlo A. Rossi
Play Time: 10-25 Minutes
Plays: 2-4 people

iello [sic] are well known for their beautiful games with great components. I also find that they release more successful games than duds and that tells me iello takes time developing their games and cares about releasing quality. I think we should get used to seeing iello games nominated for this award.

An interesting list and I am sure we will see these games across our Instagram and Twitter feeds prolifically over the next few months.

If you are looking for many of these games make sure you check out our sponsor The Big Game Theory that provides really great prices on all available stock.
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