On Monday, May 23, the Spiel des Jahres jury will announce the games nominated for the SdJ award this year. About a month later, the winners will be announced. As this is far and away the most significant gaming award of the year, there’s always a good deal of speculation in the days leading up to it. Inevitably, a few gamers can’t resist using their prognostication skills to try to predict both the nominated games and the eventual winners.
Well, the Opinionated Gamers like to think that we know a little bit about the gaming industry and we relish a challenge. More than anything, we tend to respond when our Glorious Leader, Dale Yu, begs us to come up with a set of predictions, if only to shut him up. (There were also a few vague threats about unsightly caricatures of non-respondents being used as card art in the next Dominion expansion.) However it happened, 20 of us have made predictions for how the jury will act, all for the purpose of possibly adding insight into this year’s award (emphasis on the possibly).
The Times, They Are a-Changin’
Trying to divine the jury’s tastes is difficult at best, but this year’s task figures to be much harder than usual. That’s because the awards are being expanded. As in years past, there will be the Spiel des Jahres (SdJ), widely viewed as honoring the best family game of the year. In addition, there will now be a second award, the Kennerspiel des Jahres (KdJ). “Kenner” in German translates roughly to “connoisseur” or “aficionado”. So clearly, the award is intended to honor more challenging and complex games than the SdJ (and the jury’s announcement of the new award made that clear). What isn’t clear is just how complex these games will be, or if the new award will affect the way that the original SdJ will be positioned. So not only do we have to predict twice as many nominees, there is also at least twice as much uncertainty. So our task is not an easy one, but, resolutely, we carry on.
(The jury will continue to select the best children’s game of the year, the Kinderspiel des Jahres, in addition to the other two awards. That, however, will not be part of our predictions. Enough people already think we’re too childish without giving them any further ammunition!)
Both the SdJ and the KdJ will have the same structure. On May 23, the jury will announce which five games have been nominated in each category. In addition, there will probably be some recommended games in each category, although it’s not certain if that practice will continue, nor is it known how many games will get recommended if it does continue. Then, on June 27, the winning game in each category will be announced. So there are multiple things which we, the Opinionated (but probably not Omniscient) Gamers can predict.
Gamers Being Gamers
Well, because it’s fun and since, after all, we are gamers, we decided to make a contest out of it. Each participant submitted five games in each category, which is basically their prediction of which games will get nominated. If they want to include the same game in both categories, that’s fine. In addition, they got to distribute 3 stars among their games in each category. They can do this however they like: they can give a single game 3 stars, give 1 star to each of three games, or give 2 stars to one game and 1 to another. The more stars a game is given, the more it is worth should it win one of the awards.
Once the results are announced, the lists will be used to see how many points each submitter earned. If a game makes the recommended list in its category, it’s worth 1 point. If it’s one of the five finalists in its category, it’s worth 2 points. If a game goes on to win the award in its category, it gives the player 2 additional points, plus 1 more additional point for every star assigned to it. So if someone put Zombie Fluxx on their KdJ list and assigned 3 stars to it and it wound up winning in that category, it would be worth 7 points for them: 2 points for being a finalist, 2 points for winning, and 3 points for the 3 stars.
Finally, we figured we’d assign some crossover points, since no one’s too sure which games will be nominated in which category. If a game is listed in one category, but it winds up being nominated in the other category, the player gets 1 point. If it winds up winning the other category, it’s worth 2 points instead. Stars aren’t worth any extra crossover points. If someone lists a game in both categories, it only scores for the category it winds up getting nominated in, so there would be no extra crossover points in that instance.
Well, that’s about as involved as your typical Knizia scoring system, but hopefully the explanation wasn’t too confusing. As I said, we’re gamers, so we like rules. 20 brave OGers rose to the challenge and risked public ridicule by submitting lists of games. That not only gives us an interesting competition, but allows us to make some overall predictions for the award by mining the data. Which games do the Opinionated Gamers as a group think will win the two SdJ awards? In which category do we think the games will be nominated? I have lots of conclusions to share with you, but this setup has gone on long enough, so it will have to wait for tomorrow. Patience, gentle reader: all will soon be revealed.