2020 American Tabletop Award Winners

Wow, that was quicker than I had thought. I had thought there would be more build up and a bit of drama, but the award winners have already been announced.

If you have thoughts on the awards, leave them in the comments and I’ll give my thoughts as well. In short, I’m kind of disappointed, but this isn’t unexpected. I think that awards that want to be taken seriously, need to start out strong and establish themselves, but I don’t see these picks as doing that in any sort of way, which is a shame, as I was excited when I saw the nominees and thought that they were on the right track.

Early Gamers

Draftosaurus – Designed by Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc & Theo Riviere and published by Ankama

Casual Games

ShipShape – Designed by Rob Daviau and published by Calliope Games

Strategy Games

box (flat image)

Wingspan – Designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and published by Stonemaier Games

Complex Games

Final English Cover

The Taverns of Tiefenthal – Designed by Wolfgang Warsch and published by North Star Games

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6 Responses to 2020 American Tabletop Award Winners

  1. Pingback: 2020 American Tabletop Award Winners - Rollandtroll.com

  2. J says:

    What would have been your picks?

    • Brandon Kempf says:

      I have no issues with the Early or Strategy category, although the Strategy game is ultimately fairly predictable.

      My issue is with games like ShipShape winning, a game that ultimately has a couple fans and most of that is on the committee. I’m sure it’s a fine game, but you couldn’t tell it from here or most any other place. I think that Point Salad and Wavelength are far superior to ShipShape and I would probably play Miyabi or Silver and Gold before it as well(those were the other four nominees).

      The Complex Game is just a mess, I like Taverns of Tiefenthal quite a bit, but even with all of the extras thrown in, it’s not what I would call a complex game, especially when compared to the other nominees. It would have been better suited for the Strategy category, but then they couldn’t give an award to something that has already gotten all the awards, plus a Warsch game. And honestly, this may be awfully presumptuous, but knowing half that committee, I wonder if it won there because that’s all that most of them had played. I don’t see a few of those folks actually sitting down to Barrage, or Pipeline or Pax Pamir.

      But it is what it is, I have my preferences, they have theirs and they have an award that they started so that they could do this, I didn’t. So I don’t really have much of a foot to stand on here, right? But it comes down to trust and when I see these choices and I don’t trust half of them, I wonder what is going on with the committee and their choices. Which is disappointing considering I was pretty happy with how the nominations turned out.

      • Christian Orton says:

        Silver and gold definitely would’ve been my pick. My wife and each of my kids ask to play constantly (and we have a really big game collection!). During this whole quarantine thing, it’s been out on a table every day. For it to be accessible and enjoyable to different ages and personality types (and loved by each of them) is a huge deal.

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  4. huzonfirst says:

    With awards of any kind, I tend to put more credence on nominations, rather than victories. In many cases, earning a nomination means the person/game/whatever has strong overall support, while the selection of the winner is sometimes based on the quirks of the group. That’s a long way of saying that, even though the resolution of the ATA’s for 2020 may have been less than satisfying, the award is still on my radar, because of the strong set of nominations they’ve chosen during their first two years.

    So what do I think of their selections? A bit surprising, but not mind-boggling. I have no thoughts on the Early Games–the only one of the nominees I’ve played is L.L.A.M.A., and that didn’t impress me. I have a similar lack of experience with the Casual Games, but I do understand Brandon’s issues with the selection of ShipShape. It’s certainly the least renowned of the nominees (it’s also the one with the lowest Geek rating). Without having played it, it’s hard for me to castigate the choice, so I guess I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, particularly since ShipShape is hardly an unknown or poorly rated game. There’s no way you can criticize choosing Wingspan as the best Strategy game: it’s the single most honored game of the year, even if it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Picking Taverns as their Complex game winner is probably the most controversial choice. It’s very well regarded, but almost universally regarded as a middleweight. Both it and Cthulhu: Death May Die were surprising nominations in this category (the other three nominees, for example, have much higher Game Weights on the Geek) and choosing one of them as their selection does make you question the jury’s definition of “complex games”. On the other hand, they chose Root last year, and that certainly seems in line with most people’s view of “complex”. So let’s give them at least one more year, to see if this is a trend or a one-year quirk.

    Just to give you a little background on my thoughts, I’m a member of the jury for the International Gamers Awards (IGA), which is pretty well regarded. Most years, there’s a pretty strong divide in our group between those who prefer middleweights and those who prefer heavier designs. Very often, we’re divided right down the middle, leading to very close votes between a meaty design (the type that are often asssociated with IGA awards) and a considerably lighter title. And every now and then, this divide leads us to picking award winners which have caused eyebrows to be raised in the gaming community. So even though we often assume that game award juries speak with one voice, I’m aware, through personal experience, how contentious things can be and how a small preference from one member can swing the entire award. So I say to give the ATA some time to show their worth. Only time will tell if they can be trusted to come up with a solid set of nominations year after year and winners which, even if they’re not always the expected ones (I mean, how boring would that be?), are still ones which aren’t TOO outrageous.

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