I know we’re all excited about the goings on at Essen. But this is the time of year in which Fairplay announces the winner of the a la carte for the best card game of the year, so I wanted to spread the news.
Every year since 1991, the readers of Germany’s Fairplay magazine have helped choose the a la carte award. The list of winners is long and prestigious; in my opinion, no other gaming award may have gotten it “right” so often. In most years, there is a dominant card game and the a la carte unerringly picks it out. This year, though, there were two outstanding, world class games played with cards: SdJ winner Codenames and 7 Wonders: Duel, the acclaimed 2-player version of 7 Wonders. In what is probably a mild upset, the award went to the latter game. When the vote totals are released a bit later, I’ll be very curious to see how close this contest wound up being. Congratulations to designers Antoine Bauza and Bruno Cathala, and consolations to Codename’s designer Vlaada Chvatil (who must be satisfied with the oodles of extra sales the SdJ brought him).
Here are the top 10 vote-getters, together with their designers. I’ll follow the list up with some fun facts about each game.
- 7 Wonders: Duel (Antoine Bauza, Bruno Cathala)
- Codenames (Vlaada Chvatil)
- Die Holde Isolde (Nicolas Poncin)
- Oh My Goods! (Alexander Pfister)
- Die Fiesen 7 (Jacques Zeimet)
- Agent Undercover (Alexandr Ushan)
- The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game (Stefan Feld)
- Kobayakawa (Jun Sasaki)
- 3 sind eine zu viel! (Reinhard Staupe, Christoph Behre)
- Die Portale von Molthar (Johannes Schmidauer-Konig)
7 Wonders: Duel had earlier won the IGA award for best 2-player game. This is Bauza’s third a la carte award (7 Wonders and Hanabi were the others), giving him more than any other designer. It’s the first a la carte for Cathala and his fifth top 10 finish.
Codenames is Chvatil’s first top 10 finish in an a la carte.
Die Holde Isolde is better known as Medieval Academy, first released in 2014. This version is by Schmidt Spiele and contains the base game and two min-expansions.
Oh My Goods! (also known as Royal Goods) becomes the fourth game of Pfister’s 2015 designs to receive a nomination or top 10 finish in a significant award. It was a magical year for him and his performance in the gaming awards is one of the greatest ever seen.
Die Fiesen 7 is a well regarded party game (Dale reviewed it earlier for OG) by Zeimet, who earlier in his career gave us such culinary delights as Cockroach Poker and Cockroach Salad.
Agent Undercover is better known as Spyfall, first released in 2014.
The Castles of Burgundy Card Game is Feld’s first top 10 a la carte finish and the fourth Alea game to be so honored.
Kobayakawa is a minimalist, Love Letter-ish game first released in Japan in 2013.
3 sind eine zu viel! is vaguely reminiscent of the classic 6 Nimmt!. It’s the seventh top 10 finish for card game specialist Staupe, in a career that stretches back 20 years.
Die Portale von Molthar is a fantasy themed game also known as Portal of Heroes.
The a la carte is the last of the well known gaming awards of the season to be announced. So this is a good time to summarize the winners:
- SdJ – Codenames
- Kennerspiel – Isle of Skye
- DSP – Mombasa
- IGA Multiplayer – Mombasa
- IGA 2-player – 7 Wonders: Duel
- a la carte – 7 Wonders: Duel
- Golden Geeks – Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
- Dice Tower – Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
- Meeples Choice Awards – Codenames, Food Chain Magnate, Voyages of Marco Polo
It was a great year for games and some great games got recognized. Now, let’s get back to the Essen highlights, where many of next year’s award winners are getting their first public viewing!