The SdJ Prediction Challenge: First Update

Well, the jury has released the nominees for the SdJ awards, and just as is usually the case, there were surprises a-plenty.  In this case, though, there were just as many surprises in the structure of the award process as in the actual games.

Much of this, of course, is due to the new split into two adult awards:  the existing family-friendly SdJ and the new, more complex Kennerspiel des Jahres.  Like the rest of the world, we assumed that there would be 5 nominees in each category.  Well, the jury had other ideas and is limiting things to 3 nominees apiece.  In retrospect, this makes perfect sense, as the number of nominated games remains about the same.  But it was still an unexpected twist.

Additionally, there is only one Recommended list of games, not one for each award.  The jury did mention this would the case recently, but not in time for our fearless prognosticators to take it into account.  So just another thing for all of us to deal with.

But enough of that; what about the games themselves?  Did the nominations represent big shocks or business as usual?

How We Did and How We Didn’t

You can get critiques regarding the overall suitability of the SdJ nominees elsewhere.  In this article, I’ll be focusing on how good a job the Opinionated Gamers did in reading the minds of the jury.

We start off well with the first SdJ nominee, Asara. 12 of the 20 OGers chose it, making it our co-favorite for the award (together with 7 Wonders), and more than half of those allocated stars to it.  But then things get dicier.  Only 6 people picked Forbidden Island (and only one gave it a star).  And only that clever Mr. Allers figured out that Qwirkle had a recent German edition that made it eligible.  So pretty close to an epic fail there.

It’s actually worse on the Kennerspiel side of the house.  Half of our responders selected 7 Wonders, but 6 of them gave it the maximum 3 stars, so that’s pretty good.  (The other half chose 7W for the SdJ, so at least we nailed the obvious choice.)  However, only Joe Huber thought to nominate Lancaster and he didn’t sweeten it with any stars.  And Strasbourg got the big goose egg from our crack staff (although I’ll grant you it was probably the most surprising pick from the jury).  So only half of the nominated games got any kind of support from our prognosticators.

We didn’t do a whole lot better with the recommended games.  Half of them (Freeze, Geistesblitz, Safranito, Skull & Roses, and Sun, Sea & Sand) slipped by us with nary a mention.  Two others, Blockers! and Luna, only got a little love (2 and 4 picks, respectively).  That leaves Die Burgen von Burgund (16), Mondo (8), and Uluru (6) as the only recommended games with sizable support from our crew.

Games that got significant backing from the OGers but which didn’t get any mention from the jury included Airlines Europe (12 picks; seems like a surprising omission from the jury); Pantheon and Merkator (8 picks); Mord im Arosa (7 picks); and Navegador, Tikal II, and Pergamon (6 picks).

The Leaders at the First Turn

So with that out of the way, let’s see how all 20 participants in the SdJ Challenge are doing following the nominations stage.  I list two values after each person’s name.  The first is their current number of points, based on 2 points for each nomination in the selection’s category, 1 point for each nomination in the selection’s other category, and 1 point for each recommended game.  The second value is the maximum points possible.  Basically, I determined what the player’s score would be if the best possible pair of games won the award in the two categories.  Remember, an award winning game gives the selector 2 extra points, plus 1 additional point per star assigned to that selection.  It also gives an extra point if the player chose the game in the other category.

Here are the current leaders, ranked by current score:


Current Points

Max Points

Jonathan Franklin



Joe Huber



Jeff Allers



Craig Massey



Jonathan Degann



Doug Garrett



Brian Leet



Erik Arneson



Luke Hedgren



Dale Yu



Patrick Korner



Tom Rosen






Larry Levy



Jennifer Geske



Mark Jackson



Valerie Putman



Greg Schloesser



John Palagyi



Matt Carlson



 Jonathan, Joe, and Jeff have the inside track at this stage.  Each has a 3-star game still in the running (Asara for Joe, 7 Wonders for the other two).  Joe is actually the only player to select 4 of the 6 nominees, but Jonathan and Jeff counter by having an active 1-star game in the other category.  Jonathan’s lead is based on picking 6 nominated or recommended games (only Craig matched that).

So that’s how things stand now, but obviously they can change based on which winners are selected.  And there’s one more thing that could affect the outcome…

But Wait, There’s More!

Now that we know which games are nominated, we figured it would be fun to predict which two of those get selected.  So we’re going to ask all  of the Opinionated Gamers (including those reluctant ones who didn’t participate in the original process) which games they think the jury will pick for the SdJ and the Kennerspiel.  The main purpose of this is to let you know how we’re handicapping the race, but just to add a little spice, the players in the SdJ Challenge will get 2 points added to their total for each correct selection.  Hey, it could be a come-from-behind finish and everybody likes those!

Once we collect the picks, I’ll let you know how the group is voting.  Until then, why don’t you tell us which games you think are going to win this year?

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8 Responses to The SdJ Prediction Challenge: First Update

  1. Charles Waterman says:

    Forbidden Island and Seven Wonders. Forbidden is just perceived as so family frienly, and Seven Wonders is a big hit everywhere.

  2. Dale Yu says:

    Thanks again for doing this, Larry! I know this is a big project to take on…

  3. Randy Cox says:

    Qwirkle and Lancaster (due to some sort of odd “I don’t want to vote for 7 Wonders, so I’ll vote for one of the others fiasco, just to keep people talking).

  4. Matt J Carlson says:

    Let me just say… I ROCK!

    As for useful comments, I wonder of the OpGamers might have a bias towards Airlines Europe due to so many of them having positive connections with the game. There seem to be quite a number of them that run in groups with strong ties to ‘The Gathering” which may then bias them towards the game. (I’m not saying they don’t enjoy the game, I’m simply positing that they may have had experiences with the game in very favorable environments which would then influence their enjoyment of their game plays…)

    In defense of my picks, I think I could find 2 to 3 of what I considered “eligible” games that I had actually played. Everything else was just guesswork based on how well I liked how the game’s name sounded in German or some such thing… Had I known Quirkle was a candidate I have thrown that in (at least I’ve played that one!)

    Up until this year, I’ve always looked at SdJ nominations after they come out and been happy if I’ve played one or two already and even happier if I’d heard of most of them before… (Most years, it was 1 game I played and a couple I was aware of…)

    Now I have to pick things again, I’ll at least have a narrower field from which to pick!

    • Joe Huber says:

      In defense of my picks, I think I could find 2 to 3 of what I considered “eligible” games that I had actually played. Everything else was just guesswork based on how well I liked how the game’s name sounded in German or some such thing… Had I known Quirkle was a candidate I have thrown that in (at least I’ve played that one!)

      FWIW, I find that having played a game is of limited value; I’m not sure I would have picked Mord im Arosa had I not played it, for instance. FWIW, of the four games I got right, I haven’t played Asara or Lancaster, I haven’t played the released version of die verbotene Insel, and I don’t greatly care for 7 Wonders.

      I looked over everyone’s selections when Dale published them, and Qwirkle stood out by a mile as an “of course, that _will_ be nominated_”; while it didn’t matter for this exercise, I did revise my personal prediction to drop Jaeger der Nacht and add Qwirkle.

      Oh, and for anyone who wants to know the final scores (other than the bonus points) now, they will be*:

      Jonathan Franklin: 17
      Joe Huber: 16
      Jeff Allers: 15
      Brian Leet: 15
      Jonathan Degann: 14
      Liga: 13
      Craig Massey: 12
      Doug Garrett: 10
      Erik Arneson: 10
      Luke Hedgren: 10
      Dale Yu: 9
      Patrick Korner: 8
      Tom Rosen: 8
      Larry Levy: 8
      Mark Jackson: 6
      Valerie Putman: 6
      Greg Schloesser: 6
      Jennifer Geske: 5
      John Palagyi: 4
      Matt Carlson: 3

      * – Of course, I don’t really know; I simply applied the results I expect to the given data, to see what fell out. As you can see – the results I’m expecting leave everyone near their maximum possible points…

      • Larry Levy says:

        As something of a follow-up to Joe’s analysis, I’ll note that in our little contest, the two games that got the most predictions for a win (by a considerable margin) were 7 Wonders and Asara. If they wind up winning their respective categories, I’d say that collectively the Opinionated Gamers did a pretty good job!

    • Matthias Wagner says:

      Matt, how did you know I brought every OpGamer cold drinks when playing “Airlines Europe” ;-)

  5. jeffinberlin says:

    I think it’s a toss-up between Qwirkle and The Forbidden Island. Qwirkle has that abstract-that-can-be-played-serious-or-light feel that would see it as the game “most likely to be played in places diverse as cafes and trailor parks.” And it’s been awhile since something like that (Rummikub?) won the award.

    On the other hand, Forbidden Island would finally bring the cooperative trend in modern boardgames front and center in the marketplace.

    Asara, though probably an excellent family game, just doesn’t seem to offer anything radically different than the many good family Eurogames that are released every year–though Wolfgang Kramer is still, in my opinion, a genius and certainly deserves lifetime achievement awards regardless of the outcome this year.

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