SdJ and KedJ 2014 – A completely different set of predictions. Mostly.

It’s nearly time for the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres nominations, so it’s time for me to take a guess at what’s going to happen.  Fortunately, I realized some time back what two (of the total of six between the two awards) likely nominees will be; unfortunately, no other games have stood out, making for a bit more of a stab in the dark.

FWIW, it never made sense to me to give my picks, so I won’t.  Some of the games I’m predicting I like, some I don’t, and most I’ve not played.

As I suspect the audience here likely cares more about the Kennerspiel des Jahres, I’ll start with the Spiel des Jahres:

Nominee #1: Camel Up

Confidence: Low

Why it might be nominated: It’s a nicely produced game, the right length and weight for the award.  And, as with Qwixx last year, the jury has been observant of the number of dice games on the market.

Nominee #2: Gardens

Confidence: Low

Why it might be nominated: Light, but with some meat to it, and a family-friendly theme.  There’s also a puzzle aspect to the game, but an easier, more accessible type of puzzle that should be a positive rather than a drawback.

Nominee #3: Love Letter

Confidence: High

Why it might be nominated: Love Letter is an innovative game, introduced to the German market at large at Essen in 2013.  It’s exactly the kind of game the SdJ was designed to honor – short, unique, and family accessible.

Other possibilities I can imagine:

Abluxxen, Cuarto, Norderwind

Winner: Camel Up

Confidence: Low (assuming it is nominated)

Why it will win: After Hanabi last year, I expect the game to go back to a more traditional, big box game in 2014.  There have been a _lot_ of dice games lately, and while the jury likes to award a trend (i.e. Dominion) they’re also happy to award a game that takes a popular trend in a new direction.  I will not be at all shocked if Love Letter wins; I just don’t expect it.

And now for the Kennerspiel des Jahres:

Nominee #1: Concordia

Confidence: Low

Why it might be nominated: It’s smooth and quick.  And it’s been very well received since it’s release at Essen.  It’s the most accessible design from Gerdts, which helps too.

Nominee #2:  Kashgar

Confidence: Low

Why it might be nominated: I’m not sure – but when I was going through the possibilities, I kept coming back to Kashgar; none of the lists I had without it made sense to me.  I think the game might be perceived as reasonably innovative.

Nominee #3: Russian Railroads

Confidence: High

Why it might be nominated: While the game is perceived in the US as a heavy game, I think it’s actually viewed as a somewhat lighter game in Germany – not light enough for the Spiel des Jahres, certainly, but the right weight (if a touch heavier than ideal) for the Kennerspiel des Jahres.  Beyond that, the game has received a marvelous reception, the rulebook is well regarded, the presentation is nice, and the jury has always appreciated Hans im Glück.

Other possibilities I can imagine:

Rialto, Trains

Winner: Russian Railroads

Confidence: High (assuming it is nominated)

Why it will win: The jury has nearly always selected a game that stands out significantly above the competition, and Russian Railroads does.  I predicted it would win back in early February, and nothing I’ve seen since dissuades me in the least.

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