As you already noticed, the Spiel des Jahres nominations are out. It’s kinda hard to miss when you frequent the boardgame-affiliated parts of the Internet. Or if you read our coverage of the Spiel des Jahres nominees yesterday. Today, we’re having a look at the Kennerspiel des Jahres nominees and jury recommendations. Why both in one post, you ask? Because it’s only a total of five games, that’s why: three nominees and two recommendations. I’m not sure why there are only two recommendations this year, there were certainly more games that fit the category and are worth a mention. What about Bora Bora, for example – okay, there already is a Feld game among the nominees, so I’ll let that one slide. But what about Keyflower, available from HUCH! & friends in Germany and thus eligible? What about Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island? What about many, many other games that should be somewhere there, but aren’t? I’m pretty sure there could be more games on that list, and I don’t know why they aren’t. But nevermind that now, here are the games that did make the list.
This is the Stefan Feld title that did make the list, under the name Brügge and published by Hans im Glück. We all knew Stefan Feld had to be in the selection this year, and while I didn’t try Bruges yet, the description makes it sound like a perfect example of his style: tough choices at every turn. The character cards, your means to success in medieval Bruges, all have many different ways to use them – for money, for workers, to build houses or canals, to defend the city – and their colour also factors into the decision which one you will want to play. Which card should you use for what action, then? And with cards, obviously, being drawn at random, this is a very typical Feld title: some luck is involved, but the real deciding factor is what you make of it.
The Palaces of Carrara
The second Hans im Glück game in this year’s selection: Die Paläste von Carrara by Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer. It’s set roughly in the same era as Bruges, but some kilometres to the south-east, namely in Italy where you will be building palaces with the world-famous Carrara marble. Yeah, the title did give it away. The marble you need is sold on a rondel style market in different qualities, and used to build different types of buildings in six different cities with different levels of pickiness about the marble quality they accept. Points are awarded when a player decides to score, but he can choose each type of building and each city only once and has to find the right moment between having enough buildings to score and having enough objects – point markers – left in the supply to take, before the other players took them all. Definitely a game about timing, and the included advanced variant is not going to make it any easier.
Legends of Andor
The third nominee is Michael Menzel’s Die Legenden von Andor (Kosmos). It’s always nice to see a cooperative game in the nominations, and this one is a special treat for its gripping narrative. Through five scenarios, the players themselves unfold the legends of Andor from the legend deck, a card-based story-telling mechanism that changes the rules of the game as it progresses. Players have to handle the changing rules, which include the goal that is initially unknown, as well as the monsters that are endlessly approaching the castle. It’s not a secret that we like cooperative games here in the Meeple Cave, and games with a strong narrative are always welcome as well.
No, that’s not a game called The Prediction, this is where I take a wild guess which game might … you know what, nevermind. It’s another really tough decisions where all the games have a lot going for them and I really can’t begin to guess who the winner might be. Not having played any of them doesn’t help, either – with all the time we spend playing the more complex type of boardgame around here, it may come as a surprise that they are all unknown. But the influx of new games is just to great to actually play them all unless I find a way to make playing games my day job. Anyway, I admit to not having a clue, and while all of them are worthy of the award from everything I heard about them, I’m personally rooting for Bruges, based on nothing else but me being a giant Stefan Feld-fanboy. Seriously, if I was any more fanboy, I’d ask him to sign my chest in Essen. You better forget I said that. Good luck to all the nominees!
The Jury’s Recommendations
Tzolk’in – The Mayan Calendar
I’m very disappointed that Tzolk’in didn’t make the nominee list. I may also have lost some money on the betting pool. Everything else I wanted to say about this game, I already said in the review.
Actually, I fully expected this game to be on the list of nominees as well. And not only me, pretty much everyone. Terra Mystica was one of the big success stories in Essen last year, and just about everyone who tried it loved it. It could almost be considered a game of conquest, where your fantasy race would do anything to conquer the whole board, but it’s actually a peaceful game that doesn’t even give you the option to attack the other players. But that’s not even necessary, it still leaves you plenty of options to ensure your superiority with your powerful racial abilities, the favour of the four elemental cults and the power you gain from building your settlements close to other players. Which is the one place where you don’t want to be when all you want is space to expand.