Germany’s Fairplay Magazine has announced the results of 2014’s À la carte award, presented annually to the best card game released during the previous 12 months. The winner is Abluxxen, the clever game from Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. This only adds to the excellent group of designs recognized by the À la carte since it began back in 1991. Second place went to Seiji Kanai’s Love Letter. (The AEG version of Love Letter actually placed third in last year’s À la carte; the version that managed a second place finish this time around is from Pegasus.) Ugo!, an innovative trick-taker, finished third.
Here is the complete top ten:
1. Abluxxen (Wolfgang Kramer, Michael Kiesling)
2. Love Letter (Seiji Kanai)
3. Ugo! (Ronald Hoekstra, Thomas Jansen, Patrick Zuidhof)
4. Port Royal (Alexander Pfister)
5. Kashgar (Gerhard Hecht)
6. Skull King (Brent Beck, Apryl Stott)
7. Parade (Naoki Homma)
8. SOS Titanic (Bruno Cathala, Ludovic Maublanc)
9. Morels (Brent Povis)
10. Koryŏ (Gun-Hee Kim)
Congratulations to Ravensburger, Kiesling, and the ageless Kramer!
This is probably the last significant award that will be made for some time. The Golden Geeks have been pushed forward to a January timeframe, to allow it to focus on games from the previous calendar year. I’m not sure when the voting for the Dice Tower Awards will occur, but I think it’s several months away at least. And the Games Magazine awards aren’t usually announced until December or so.
So to summarize, here are the winners of the major and second-tier awards for the 2013-2014 time period:
Spiel des Jahre: Camel Up (Steffen Bogen)
Kennerspiel: Istanbul (Rudiger Dorn)
Kinderspiel: Geister, Geister, Schatzsuchmeister! (Brian Yu)
DSP: Russian Railroads (Helmut Ohley, Leonhard Orgler)
IGA: Russian Railroads (Helmut Ohley, Leonhard Orgler)
À la carte: Abluxxen (Wolfgang Kramer, Michael Kiesling)
Spiel der Spiele: Abluxxen (Wolfgang Kramer, Michael Kiesling)
Meeples Choice: Russian Railroads, Bora Bora (Stefan Feld), Concordia (Mac Gerdts)
Just a follow-up comment about Kramer. Abluxxen is his second À la carte winner. His first happened exactly 20 years ago: 6 Nimmt! Just to illlustrate the length and consistency of Kramer’s career, three other designers have won 2 À la carte awards: Knizia, Antoine Bauza, and Marcel-André Cassasola-Merkle. The other three either won them back-to-back or in a 3-year span. Kramer’s are separated by two decades! He’s been designing great games for such a long time.
To further emphasize this, here’s another bit of trivia. 20 years before that win by 6 Nimmt!, Kramer had his first game published. It was called Tempo and was also based on cards. It was actually the first card-based (as opposed to dice-based) racing game. Despite its innovations, it didn’t make much of a splash in Germany, but it was significant because all of Kramer’s other great racing games (including Daytona 500, Top Race, and Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix) were all based on it. So that’s FORTY years of great and innovative card games from Herr Kramer! The man is a marvel.