The jury has chosen, the winners for this year’s Spiel des Jahres and for the first ever Kennerspiel des Jahres have been picked. Both categories had a tough competition.
Spiel des Jahres 2011 is *drumroll* Qwirkle! The abstract triumphed over Forbidden Island and Asara. Although against my initial prediction – and against the result of our poll – Qwirkle‘s victory doesn’t surprise me: after we played the game a few times, we knew it would be a hot contender for the award. I have to admit, I feel a bit sorry for Matt Leacock, who had one of his games nominated three years in a row now (Pandemic in 2009, Roll through the Ages last year and Forbidden Island this year) without taking an award home. The choice could have gone either way, all three games were worthy of the Red Pawn, the jury just happened to favour Qwirkle‘s easy teach-in-thirty-seconds rules.
In Kennerspiel des Jahres 2011, Strasbourg and Lancaster had to bow their head to 7 Wonders. If you just go by the buzz surrounding the games, you won’t be much surprised by this; 7 Wonders has been the talk of the community for the whole last year while both Strasbourg and Lancaster were released a relatively short time ago. But none of the Spiel des Jahres awards is a popularity contest, the jury doesn’t judge by which game gets the most talk – they simply liked 7 Wonders best. I haven’t had a chance to play any of the three nominated games, but reading through the rules for each one again the decision can’t have been easy. While 7 Wonders absolutely deserves an award, I’m unsure about the direction this sets for Kennerspiel des Jahres: without trying either game, 7 Wonders looks to be the lightest of the nominees – I’m still convinced it could have been an entry in Spiel des Jahres without raising any eyebrows. I hope this choice wasn’t made based on the games’ complexity, Kennerspiel des Jahres is supposed to be an award for more complex games, after all. We’ll find out next year, I presume.
Our congratulations to Susan McKinley Ross and Schmidt Spiele as well as Antoine Bauza and Repos Productions, but also to everyone else involved in the nominated games and in the games on the Jury’s Recommendations List – you can all be proud to make the list.