Spiel des Jahres 2011 – The Jury Recommends

After we looked at the Spiel, Kennerspiel and Kinderspiel des Jahres nominees, there is one group of games we haven’t looked at: the Jury’s Recommendations. These games haven’t made it to a Spiel des Jahres nomination, but that doesn’t mean they are worse, just that the jury had to make some hard choices which games will go on to the award ceremony. Tastes, especially in games, differ, so take a look at the recommendation list, maybe you like some of these games better than the nominees.

Speaking of the nominees, remember our poll? We asked you who you think would win the Spiel and Kennerspiel awards, and the results are surprisingly clear-cut: for Spiel des Jahres an unbelievable 82% of the voters think Forbidden Island will take the golden pumpkin, followed by 18% of the votes for Asara. None of the eleven participants believed in a Qwirkle victory. The 13 votes for Kennerspiel des Jahres show slightly more spread, but is 7 Wonders still far ahead with 77%, Strasbourg and Lancaster fight over second rank with 15% and 8%, respectively. Lets see how the famous wisdom of the crowwds does on this forecast.

But now, the Jury’s Recommendations for 2011:


Such simple rules, such a mean game: there are five items in the middle of the table. A card is turned showing two of them. If one of the items on the card has the right colour, you want to grab that item. If both item’s are in the wrong colour, you want to grab the item that matches none of the pictured items in shape or colour. You do that, you win. You grab a wrong item, you lose. Grab nothing and … I have no clue, but you don’t win.


This game is like sudoku’s evil twin brother, it only lacks the goatee. You play tiles in the column they belong if they’re numbers, in the row they belong if they’re letters or in the right area of the board if they’re symbols. Your goal is to have as few separate areas of your colour on the board as possible.


Uluru is a pretty puzzle game – hold the interaction – with a Australian mythical setting. Eight animals try to find their seat around the magic mountain Uluru. But they’re picky and have wishes like “sit on the long side of the mountain”, “sitting by myself”, “sit next to the blue animal” or even “I want exactly what he wants”.  Every round has eight wishes to fulfil, and you better try to satisfy everyone before the timer runs out.


We already have a review of Mondo, so head on over to learn more.

Skull & Roses

The Jury shows a lot of appreciation for games with simple rules this year. Skull & Roses is another one that would be hard to make simpler. When it’s your turn, you place one of your coasters in front of you with either a skull or roses on the bottom side. At some point, someone wagers how many roses he can find. Other players may outbid him on that number, the one that finally gets to turn coasters does so. If he finds all roses, he wins. Bluffing and push-your-luck, rolled into one of the simplest games these two mechanics could combine into.


Safranito was present in Essen last year; unfortunately I didn’t get to try it, but it’s fun to watch. Players are spice traders on a shopping stroll through the market of Mumbai.  Bids are placed by tossing bidding chips on the game board, trying to hit the spice you want. It’s allowed and necessary to push opponents’ chips away from their position – Boccia the Spicy Board Game. After all bids are placed, spices may be bought. If they are available at that time.

Sun, Sea & Sand

The first heavier game on the list, Sun, Sea & Sand is an economy game about building your own vacation resort. You have to manage money and time to build lodgings, attract tourists and build attractions to make them stay and pay.  Different kinds of tourists want different things, leaving you decide who you want to cater to to earn your money.

Die Burgen von Burgund

Another heavier game, in this one you build your own castle in the beautiful Loire valley, with the dice dictating which tiles you may buy from the central game board and where you are allowed to build them on your own. Every building has an additional action when it’s build, giving you workers or goods, allowing you to build another one right away and so on. And then there is the Knowledge tiles that bend the rules a little for the player who has them.


The second entry to the list by Stefan Feld (the other one being Die Burgen von Burgund) is also the one with the most points on the jury’s “heavyness” rating.  As one of the contenders to be the new Moon Priestess, you order your novices around the islands the game is set one and let them perform various duties. Being in the right place at the right time is key, and Luna gains some bonus points for including noveeple.


The only party game in this year’s selection, Freeze is the gamification of improvisational theatre. Cards and dice select the scene and each player’s role in it, when the timer runs out players try to guess the scene and who was playing which role and points are awarded. If anyone actually thinks about points in this kind of game.

This year’s Jury’s Recommendations show a lot of diversity. There is a party game, an agility game, there is bluffing, quick thinking, puzzling… I’m sure everyone can find a game from this list to love. Personally, I’m a bit disappointed by the big number of light games with only three heavier options. I’m sure that more deep, strategic games were released since last June. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure every lighter game that is here deserves a spot on the list, I would just like more complex games in the list. Maybe for next year, the Jury will decide to release separate recommendation lists for Spiel and Kennerspiel to remedy that gripe. After all, even 20 games is a very small pick from all the games that are now being published in a year.

Leave a Reply