For the past few years, our group of gamers has taken their best guess at trying to read the minds of the Spiel des Jahres jury members. The nominations for the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres were announced back in May, and we made our original predictions shortly beforehand. The winners of each award will be announced on Monday, July 23, and you can usually watch the ceremony over on BGG.
As has become our habit, we’ve done our predictions in two parts. This is the second of those parts, where once the lists are out, we do a second round of voting, limited only to the actual nominees. (In the first round, we tried to guess the nominees.)
This year, we used a similar system to what we’ve used the past two years. Each OG writer was invited to rank all three games in each category, with their top pick (what they see as most likely) getting 3 points, second pick getting 2, and final pick getting 1. Vote totals are shown below.
If you’d like to see the official information on and criteria for the award, please check out the Jury’s website.
Here are links to our reviews of the nominees: Azul (Dale Yu); Luxor (Ted Cheatham); The Mind (Chris Wray); Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg (Dale Yu); Ganz schön clever (Chris Wray); and Heaven & Ale (Tery Noseworthy).
Our Track Record
In making predictions of the nominees this year, we did pretty well with the SdJ but not as well with the KedJ. For the former, Azul and The Mind were our top two vote getters, though none of us anticipated Luxor. For KedJ, Heaven & Ale was our top vote getter for KedJ, and Ganz schön clever was a bit further down, though that’s in part because several of us voted for it for SdJ. None of us predicted Quacksalber for KedJ, though some of us also voted for it for SdJ.
Once the nominations were announced, we’ve correctly called all three past SdJ winners.
Once the nominations were announced, we’ve correctly called the winner of the KedJ once, which was the Exit Series last year.
SPIEL DES JAHRES 2018 Predictions
Our choice for the Spiel des Jahres is Azul!
Azul – 59 Votes
The Mind – 45 Votes
Luxor – 24 Votes
Our choice this year for the Kennerspiel (KedJ) is Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg!
Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg – 36 Votes
Ganz schön clever – 26 Votes
Heaven & Ale – 22 Votes
THOUGHTS FROM THE OPINIONATED GAMERS
Chris Wray: I think Azul is the most likely to prevail this year, so that’s my prediction, but my heart is with The Mind, which I also think has a great chance. But I’d be happy if either of those got a nomination and ultimately won. I’ve played Luxor a half-dozen times, and I’m not really impressed: I’m content playing it, but the design doesn’t feel exceptional like with the other two.
I’ve never been good at predicting the KedJ. My vote went to Ganz schön clever, which I’ve fallen in love with and think I could play 50 times without tiring of it. By contrast, I’ve played Quacksalber about a dozen times and am already feeling it get stale. Heaven & Ale is excellent and deserves award-season recognition, but it does seem a bit heavy for the KedJ, so I’m hoping the IGA jury gives it some praise.
Mark Jackson: I need to clearly state that my votes are, with the exception of Azul, based completely on the opinions of others. (I will say that I’m looking forward to playing Quacksalber!)
Matt Carlson: It was an odd year for me as I had played several of the SdJ/KedJ nominees firsthand and was able to at least have a chance at voting based on my own experience rather than looking at the range of opinions here at the site. I still enjoy The Mind more than Azul. Azul is a great game, but other than the excellent pieces it doesn’t “stand out” from other semi-abstract games. The Mind is quite a unique (experience or game, your choice) but I’m going to second-guess that it might not be as great a fit for the win. So I’m going for Azul as my prediction, not my choice. For KedJ, I’ve only played Ganz schön clever. I thought it had a shot at the SdJ, but can agree with the judges that behind the roll-and-move style game lies quite a bit of complexity (which can be a good thing for the gamer crowd, if not for families.) I found Ganz schön clever to be very unique (and clever – figure that!) and enjoyable game so I’m hoping it gets a win.
Joe Huber: This may be the most confident I’ve ever been in a KedJ pick – it’s not an award I’ve ever been particularly good at predicting. But I can’t see Heaven & Ale being viewed as the standout game, which I believe a game of its complexity would have to be to win the award. Likewise, a smaller game such as Ganz schön clever needs to stand out clearly in order to win, and I don’t think it does. As a result, I’m confident that Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg will win, even though my personal preference is mildly for Heaven & Ale.
Given that, and what many see as a two-way competition between Azul and The Mind, and the fact that The Mind is a card game, I’m still locked in to my original SdJ pick of Azul. The fact that it means different designers win the two awards, while by no means required, I do think will be seen as an advantage by the jury.
I should note – part of the reason for the delta between Azul and Quacksalber in the collective prediction above is that I only predict one winner for each, not placement, so I gave no points to Luxor, The Mind, Ganz schön clever, or Heaven & Ale.
Jeff L.: It’s a strong field of games, with the exception of Luxor in my view, which just fell kind of flat, and I haven’t managed to play Heaven & Ale. All of the other choices would be worthy. At the same time, I don’t see these as particularly strong family-level games compared to past years. Many past winners are staples for us, like Dixit, Camel Up, Qwirkle, Dominion, and Ticket to Ride, and so far I haven’t gotten that vibe from this years’ contenders. Perhaps the closest is Azul, so I feel we’ve made the correct prediction.
Fraser: Azul is a good and very accessible game, I have yet to see a copy of Luxor and The Mind is not a game, so my preference is quite clear here :-)
I thought Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg would be a good nominee for the SdJ as opposed to the Kennerspiel. To me it is a little too light for the Kennerspiel and Heaven & Ale is probably a little too heavy. Which, to my mind, leaves it between Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg and Ganz schön clever, which is a good roll and write but takes almost as long as Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg to play.
I suspect one of the Warsches will get the KdJ and Azul the SdJ. I’d love to see The Mind win though – firstly for how brilliant and innovative is, secondly for the BGG freakout it would surely trigger.
I’ve had these same picks for the past couple months and I’m sticking with them. :) Although I am less confident in Die Quacksalber winning. I honestly think that Azul is one of those games that can be timeless, at least it feels timeless and it feels like it’s a classic game in it’s early infancy. I worry that with 325k in sales already, maybe it won’t be the biggest mover for the SDJ committee. I can’t wait to see Sintra though and see where Herr Kiesling is taking Azul.
I agree with Martin though, it would really be a fun day on BGG and Social Media in general just to see The Mind win.
Kennerspiel wise, I hate that I am picking either of the Warsch titles as I honestly think that Heaven and Ale is the vastly better game, it’s just a shame that it doesn’t fit with the award as it is right now. It could be a defining moment though for the committee to change the award a bit, so who knows!
It’ll be fun to see who wins next week!!
I am ready to join in the freaking out, I think The Mind is a very interesting and unique experience but I rank it much lower than Azul as a game.
Have not played any of the KeDJ nominees and I’d love to play any of them but this is making me want to try Heaven and Ale more and more.
Well done :)