The Opinionated Gamers predict the 2015 Kennerspiel des Jahres

Opinionated Gamers Predict the 2015 Kennerspiel des Jahres (Roundtable)

Now that the short list has been revealed for the 2015 Kennerspiel des Jahres, it’s time for us to discuss the three finalists and predict who we think will win from this list.   The award will be given away on Monday July 6 in Berlin.  Our format for this prediction is simple.  Each OG writer who wanted to participate was allowed to give a single vote for who they thought would win the prize!

Our prediction for the 2015 Kennerspiel des Jahres is…:


Orleans Box

Here is the breakdown of our voting:

  • Broom Service: Joe H.
  • Elysium: Matt C.
  • Orleans: Dale Y, Alan H, Greg S., Larry, Chris W., Michael W., Mary P., Jonathan F

Thoughts on the 2015 award:

Dale Y:  I am a big fan of two out of the three games (Elysium and Orleans).  I have only played Broom Service once, and it just didn’t catch my eye.  Additionally, it seems too light for the Kennerspiel.  Which I know sounds ridiculous because the past few Kennerspiel award winners have been pretty light…

So my initial thoughts on the other two games:

Elysium – I’ve played this three times over the past two years, and I really really like the game.  The drafting mechanic is quite novel, and there is a lot of thinking you need to do to make sure you have the correct colors remaining in order to get the cards you want in future turns.  I also like the scoring mechanic where you have to choose when to score the card (as you lose its special ability once you score it) – leading to some tight decisions in the course of the game.

Orleans – while perhaps not the first entry in a new genre (the bag builder), it is perhaps the best of the bunch… tied with King’s Pouch IMHO, but King’s Pouch isn’t released in Germany, so that wouldn’t have been looked at by the jury.  Herr Stockhausen has designed a number of great games in the past few years, and this is the best of the bunch.  The Kennerspiel doesn’t seem to have the same “requirement” of  needing a large company publishing it – and I think that dlp games therefore wouldn’t be disqualified from the award even though they appear to be a one-man company.

Greg S:  I’m going to simpy “ditto” Dale’s comments.  I, too, thoroughly enjoy both Orleans and Elysium and would be happy to see either capture the prize.  I’ve not played Broom Service, but since it is basically a revamping of Witch’s Brew–a game I didn’t particularly care for–I don’t have the desire to play it.  It would actually be a shame to have alea win the award for this game when they have been snubbed in the past with so, so many better offerings.

Larry:  Orleans strikes me as a very good fit for the Kennerspiel.  My main concern about it (and the reason I didn’t include it in my predictions) is that dlp is a fairly small publisher.  But if that isn’t a problem for the Jury, then I think it represents the best choice for the award.  The “bag building” works well and having to worry about the instant benefits of recruiting a character as well as how well that token will help you with future recruiting is interesting.  There’s a pretty strong strategic element, based on which actions you automate and which expanded actions you add.  Finally, the game just seems to have that hard-to-define fun factor.  It was my favorite game from 2014, so I would be delighted if it won.

Elysium is a pretty good game.  I like how you have to decide which color to discard after each card you draft, necessitating you to plan ahead.  Choosing when to cash cards in for VPs (and losing their abilities) is nice too.  I don’t think it stacks up to Orleans, but it wouldn’t be a terrible choice for the award.

I haven’t played Broom Service, but I have played Witch’s Brew.  The latter is well designed, but it just isn’t my kind of game.  Unlike Greg, though, I don’t think it would be a shame if this turned out to be the title that finally gave alea an SdJ.  They are one of my favorite publishers, so anything that allows them to stick around and produce more of the great gamer’s games for which they’re known is fine with me!

Joe Huber: While I’ve played all of the SdJ nominees, I’ve only played Orléans among the KedJ nominees.  I’ve also had really awful luck at predicting the KedJ – while I recognized early on that the award would skew lighter, I’ve been starstruck by games such as Russian Railroads and Auf den Spuren von Marco Polo.  I _knew_ they were heavier than the jury has selected – but with their strong rules and strong gameplay, I’ve expected the jury to make exceptions for them.  And, of course, I’ve been wrong.

Well, having learned my lesson, I’ve looked at the nominees in a different light – and settled upon Broom Service as my pick.  I haven’t noticed many others who saw the issues I did with Orléans, so it’s a fine pick – though I suspect a little on the long side.  Elysium fits in better length-wise, and feels like it’s got a reasonable heft for a KedJ – but I just don’t think it’s going to be seen as quite as fresh as Broom Service.  Given my history of picks, you should probably bet on Orléans, of course…

Michael W: I finally got to play Elysium this weekend, so I can at least compare 2 of the 3. I have not played Broom Service, which sounds different enough from Witch’s Brew that I won’t assume experience with one translates too well to the other. I like Elysium well enough – the card drafting mechanic is well done and the angst between keeping a card with a useful power and transferring it for points is good. I’ve yet to play all 8 gods, so I look forward to more plays with new cards. That said, I feel like Orleans is the stronger design, with better long term planning and heavier player interaction. It’s more novel and heavier than Elysium, yet still has a good “weight-to-length” ratio.

Mary Prasad: I’ve only played two of the three – Elysium and Orleans. (I’ve played Witch’s Brew; to me it’s just OK at best). I like both Elysium and Orleans quite a bit, although I’ve only played Elysium one time (so far!). I’m leaning towards Orleans as the pick – agreeing with some of the others’ comments.

Matt Carlson:  I voted for Elysium because I felt sorry for it, no one had voted for it and if it wins I’ll look really cool.  I’d vote more intelligently, but just call me a slow adopter – I haven’t played any of the three yet.  (Not that I don’t want to, of course.)

Alan How: Like Mary, I’ve only played two – Elysium and Orleans. I like the planning in Orleans more than that in Elysium and I think that Orleans strikes a better chord with the Kennerspiel jury. I like the bag drawing and how everything links better together. Elysium is much more about the cards and their interaction and I feel that this is more toward the CCG feel, even though it is nothing like a CCG. So that swings it to Orleans which I personally prefer.


We seem pretty set on Orleans — what about you?

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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4 Responses to The Opinionated Gamers predict the 2015 Kennerspiel des Jahres

  1. reixou says:

    Well, as I commented yesterday, I am pretty convincend that Orleans is the one that will NOT win.
    We’ll see.
    My money is on Broom Service.

    • frankhamrick says:

      Have played Witch’s Brew and Elysium. Have watched a couple of play-throughs of Orleans (still waiting for my copy to arrive). Of the two I’ve played – Elysium is my choice by a mile. From my observation of Orleans, I would put it alongside Elysium as co-equal! :) However, the jury will select, and they tend toward lighter games. Of my two choices, Elysium seems to be the lighter, quicker game (but I’m not convinced it is lighter). I do think Elysium has a LOT going on, however. There are so many things to consider in selecting the cards – Family, Level, Action. What are my goals? How can I get synergy from the cards in my Domain? When do I transfer them to the Elysium? Do I use them in a Family or a Level Legend? When do I take a Quest and which do I take? So many decisions on every single turn.
      So I really perceive Elysium as ‘heavy’ as Orleans – not sure the jury will, however. So I predict Elysium will be their choice. (But would be just as happy if either Elysium or Orleans wins.

      • rprasadusa says:

        Yeah, me too! I prefer Orleans, but it seems to me that Elysium is closer to the complexity level preferred by the jury.

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