OK – so it’s time for the annual attempt of the Opinionated Gamers to show just how wrong we can be in trying to prognosticate the annual Spiel des Jahres winner. As you likely know, the Spiel des Jahres in an annual award given in Germany to the “best game of the year”.
If you’d like to see the official information/criteria for the award – please check out the FAQ page at the SdJ site: http://www.spieldesjahres.de/cms/front_content.php?idcat=148&lang=4
In any event, each year the Opinionated Gamers try to pool their collective knowledge to predict the award. This year, our writers were asked to name the game that they thought would win the award as well as a short list of 4 games they think should be nominated. We are doing this in advance of the official release of the lists in order to maximize our ability to guess wrong ;) The lists will be published this coming Monday, May 16. When those lists are published, we’ll try to vote again using the actual games.
In recent years, the actual shortlist has only been 2 games – but I went with the longer list to help us get a few more votes to tabulate our winner as well as possibly be ready for any changes in the format (as there are never any announcements to how/when the format will change). No information / coaching / criteria / list of games was provided to the writers – they were simply asked to respond with their list of games.
Each predicted winner received 3 points, each shortlisted game received one point in our survey. A total of 16 writers submitted lists, and after some careful tabulation – our prediction for 2015 Spiel des Jahres is….
The shortlist of the Opinionated Gamers is: Machi Koro and Cacao.
The full results of our survey – (total points, 1st place votes)
- (25, 7) Colt Express
- (21, 4) Machi Koro
- (19, 4) Kakao
- (8,1) Loony Quest
- (5) Patchwork
- (4) Lumis
- (4) Träxx
- (3) Abluxxen
- (3) Black Fleet
- (3) Rattlebones
- (3) Royals
- (2) La Isla
- (1) Bania
- (1) Korrigans
- (1) Mangrovia
- (1) 7 Steps
- (1) Vienna
We also took on the task of trying to predict the Kennerspiel des Jahres – the complex game of the year award. Using the same format, our predicted winner is:
The short list would be: Auf den Spuren von Marco Polo and Orleans
The full list:
- (22, 5) Deus
- (12, 3) Auf den Spuren von Marco Polo
- (12, 1) Orleans
- (11, 1) Five Tribes
- (9, 1) Die Schlösser des König Ludwig (Castles of Mad King Ludwig)
- (8, 2) Elysium
- (7,1) Mangrovia
- (5,1) Murano
- (2) Fresh Fish
- (2) Patchwork
- (1) Abyss
- (1) Black Fleet
- (1) Kanban
- (1) La Isla
- (1) Nations: The Dice Game
Thoughts on the results
Dale Yu: First off, for the SdJ – I’m personally pulling for Kakao. I really like this one, and I think that this one can appeal to the mass market. However, I almost also put it on my Kennerspiel list as the recent lists for the “complex” game have not been much more complex than Kakao. The rest of the OG seem to agree with me though as Kakao garnered enough votes to be third in our poll, and it did not receive a single vote on the complex list. Furthermore, each year, there seems to be one game that slips under the radar for gamers over here. I chose to put Bania on my short list because I think that it is a strong game from a designer who has had some recent success with a SdJ jury.
The Kennerspiel voting does not surprise me – with 8 different games getting at least one first place vote. Part of this (IMHO) is due to the uncertainty of what the jury thinks is a “complex” game. My first vote was for Mangrovia – which I think is an excellent game – but I’m hoping that the jury leans towards to more complex games, and I switched my vote to Deus at the last minute.
Chris W.: I’m also personally pulling for Cacao, and I think it has a decent shot at a nomination. Nonetheless, Cacao reminds me a lot of Carcassonne, and the modern SdJ jury seems to put a premium on originality (and having a variety of game types with different central mechanisms), so I don’t know that it is the most likely winner. I’d also be happy if Machi Koro won, and I think it has a decent shot at a nomination. Ultimately, though, I think Colt Express is the most likely winner. I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as other games mentioned, and I’d be a bit disappointed if it won. Nonetheless, it is one of the better programming games, the presentation is top notch, and the game seems to be quite popular. If I can call a dark horse in the race, I’m going to toss out “The Game: Spiel… so lange du Kanst!”. I’m not saying a nomination is going to happen (a recommendation seems to be more likely), but it is a game that isn’t getting any award-season buzz, and I don’t understand why.
I think the jury has been struggling with the direction of the Kennerspiel, and I’m very interested to see what they pick this year. I’m pulling for either Marco Polo or Castles of Mad King Ludwig. I think a nod for Orleans and/or Auf den Spuren von Marco Polo is highly likely. I put Royals in my third most likely spot in my BGG prediction contest, and I’d be excited to see it win, but I don’t have the confidence in it that I do in Orleans and Auf den Spuren von Marco Polo. (I was surprised to see some of the Opinionated Gamers peg Royals for the SdJ. It seems a bit heavy to me for that award.) If I were permitted a do-over, I’d probably drop either Five Tribes or Castles of Mad King Ludwig in the third most likely spot instead of Royals. I don’t know why I didn’t think of either the first time around. Both are decently original (particularly Five Tribes), with great gameplay and an excellent presentation.
I ran a contest over at BGG to predict the SdJ and KdJ winners. For the SdJ, BGG lined up quite well with The Opinionated Gamers: the most predicted were Colt Express (21), Machi Koro (19), and Cacao (9). Things also lined up well for the KdJ, albeit in a different order: the most predicted were Five Tribes (23), Orleans (18), Deus (10), and Marco Polo (7).
Mark Jackson: I’d be perfectly happy with Colt Express or Machi Koro winning the SdJ – both are highly accessible family games. And I’d love to see Rattlebones get some recognition for taking us a new direction with actual dice-building.
For the Kennerspiel, I think Dale is spot on… it’s tough for us to call because it’s proven difficult to figure out the parameters for choosing the Kennerspiel. I liked Deus a lot (one play) – but I’m personally rooting for Castles of Mad King Ludwig… and have a sneaking suspicion that Five Tribes might well win.
Eric Martin: Mark, Rattlebones hasn’t been released on the German market, so it won’t show up on any SdJ list.
Joe Huber: Ignoring the question of what I think will win (my guesses are Colt Express and Auf den Spuren von Marco Polo, FWLIW), looking at our collective guesses – what would I want to see win, from among the candidates we’ve identified?
From the Spiel des Jahres list, there’s a clear choice for me – Machi Koro, one of my favorite games of the past few years. Cacao would be nice, but is clearly a second choice for me.
From the Kennerspiel des Jahres, my favorite is Fresh Fish – though, given that the game is nearly twenty years old (if newly tweaked and rereleased), that feels like cheating, somehow. My favorite of the completely new games is Auf den Spuren von Marco Polo – I’ve really enjoyed the game so far, and think it could grow to be a favorite of mine. I’m enjoying Five Tribes, too – though personally, I don’t think it will even make the recommendation list.
Jonathan Franklin: Dohdles would be up there if Barbarossa, Dohdles’s predecessor, had not already won it. Cacao seems likely to be nominated, but Abacus just won for Hanabi. Machi Koro (Kosmos) stands a good chance. They last won for Andor (KedJ) and Keltis (SdJ 2008). I’m going with Colt Express because the train cars have the same magnetic effect as the dice pyramid in Camel Up. There is a certain telegenic ’want it’ aspect to Colt Express, even if I am not that keen on Machi Koro or Colt Express. Both already have expansions either out or on the way, so no issues there. Of course, there are always dark horses, so watch this be completely wrong. My favorites for the year in the SdJ weight class were Mysterium, Abraca What!? and Baseball Highlights: 2045, but I don’t think any of these were eligible for the SdJ.
For KedJ, no idea – lots of games liked by the gamerati. I liked Kanban and The Golden Ages more than most of the games on the list above. I don’t actually want to own any of the games I have played that are listed on the KedJ list above, but I’d be ok playing most of them if someone wanted to. I have not played Marco Polo, Elysium, Fields of Arle, and many others, so lots to look forward to.