Spiel des Jahres Award Nominees List 2016

And the Nominees are…

Spiel de Jahres Game of the Year 2015 - NominationsHere are the Spiel des Jahres nomminees for 2016

It is the award that gets the board gaming community abuzz every year. Since its inception in 1978 the Spiel des Jahres has become the premier award for game designers. The award focuses on excellence in gaming and was initially set up to promote quality games developed in Germany. The award has broadened to an international market while maintaining its focus on gaming excellence. Nomination for the award is seen as making it as a game designer, winning it places you in an elite class.

It may come as no surprise to hear that the award has its critics. Some criticise the award for it’s tendency to focus on family friendly games stating that superior games that have been made for experienced gamers are often fobbed off and ignored. Others have criticised the bias for Eurogames. Others cite the number of games that win the award that go on to have limited success compared to other games released that year.

Despite the critics the awards are hugely successful and with wide appeal. The award boasts that winning can mean tripping sales with an expected $300,000 to half a million in takings. Since its foundation, and perhaps in opposition to some of the critics, the award has included a Children’s game award (since 1989) and a Connoisseur’s award (regularly since 2011).

The award looks at the following criteria before making a decision.
1) Game concept (originality, playability, game value)
2) Rule structure (composition, clearness, comprehensibility)
3) Layout (box, board, rules),
4) Design (functionality, workmanship)

Yesterday saw the 2016 nominees list. They are as follow:

Nominees for the Speil des Jahres 2016:

*Codenames *
Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
2-8 Players (15mins)
Published by Czech Games Edition

Imhotep
Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
2-4 Players (40 Min)
Published by KOSMOS

Karuba
Designer: Rüdiger Dorn
2-4 Players (40 Min)
Published by HABA

Nominees for the Kennerspeil des Jahres 2016 (Connoisseur’s)

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
Designer: Andreas Pelikan, Alexander Pfister
2-5 Players (60 Min)
Published by 999 Games

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
Designer: Rob Daviau, Matt Leacock
2-4 Players (60 Min)
Published by Z-Man Games

T.I.M.E. Stories
Designer: Peggy Chassenet, Manuel Rozoy
2-4 Players (90 Min)
Published by Space Cowboys, Asmodee

Nominees for the Kinderspiel des Jahres 2016 (Children’s)

Leo
Designer: Leo Colovini
2-5 Players; Age 6+ (30 Min)
Published by ABACUSSPIELE

Mmm!
Designer: Reiner Knizia
2-4 Players; Age 5+ (15-20 Min)
Published by Lucrum Games

My First Stone Age
Designer: Marco Teubner
2-4 Players; Age 5+ (15 Min)
Published by 999 Games

If some of these games come as a surprise it may be due to the fact that a few of the nominees are yet to be released in Australia or the US. Codenames is the notable exception and there is little doubt this game has been received with great enthusiasm. Sales have been good and the title very quickly found its way onto top ten lists within months of its release. Absent form the list of games that were put forward for recommendation include Spyfall, Blood Rage, and 7 Wonders Duel.

The Connoisseur award includes two games that are play limited. Pandemic Legacy is good for an average of 18 players and T.I.M.E. Stories can only be played through once (with additional expansions allowing for further plays). It is intriguing that these games are being so highly honoured. We do not dispute that they are deserving, only at the willingness to take on games that are designed for limited play. This is to say nothing of the fact that they are also strongly themed games and not the more traditional Euro, or Euro-styled games like previous winners Istanbul and Kingdom Builder. It is unclear if this is the judges opening up to less traditional options, or a sign that these games have improved in quality to a point where European audiences are more accepting of their presence. Either way it is a welcome shift and one that may open up the field to a broader range of nominees in the years to come.

In the ensuing weeks we’re sure forums will be a flurry of conversation debating the selection. Whoever wins it will be a boon for the designers and publishers a like. It is good to see the award becoming more diverse and starting to infuse some international flavour.