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 predictions shortly beforehand. The winners will be announced on Monday, and you can usually watch the ceremony over on BGG or other places.
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 three 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.
Our Track Record
For the SdJ in past years, once the nominations were announced, we’ve correctly called the five past winners. For the KedJ, we’ve correctly called the past three winners once the nominees were known.
In making predictions of the nominees this year, we had a mixed bag. We predicted The Crew for SdJ, but it got a KedJ nod. Pictures was fourth on our predictions list, and My City was seventh, but Pictures had only recently received an English-language release, and My City hadn’t yet. Nova Luna was 13th on our list.
Cartographers and The King’s Dilemma were not on our KedJ list.
Put differently, we have a solid history of predicting the actual winner once the nominees are released, but sometimes we are hit and miss before that.
SPIEL DES JAHRES 2020 Predictions
Our choice for the Spiel des Jahres is My City!
My City – 29 Votes
Nova Luna – 23 Votes
Pictures – 17 Votes
The voting among our group was unusually close this year, so Monday morning should be anybody’s game (pun intended).
Our choice this year for the Kennerspiel (KedJ) is The Crew!
The Crew – 30 Votes
Cartographers – 17 Votes
King’s Dilemma – 10 Votes
THOUGHTS FROM THE OPINIONATED GAMERS
Chris Wray: I think Dr. Knizia is heading for his second SdJ win, and deservedly so. I reviewed My City a few months ago, and my family and I loved the game. Nova Luna is also great, and it would be cool to see Uwe Rosenberg (one of my favorite designers) get a SdJ trophy (along with Corné van Moorsel, another great designer), but the SdJ jury famously plays games dozens of times, and I don’t know if Nova Luna survives the replayability test at that level. I personally tired of Pictures quickly (you can read my review in Gamers Alliance this month), and I think it is a bit too Dixit-ish for it to be a real contender.
Turning to the KedJ, I voted for The Crew. Cartographers is an excellent roll ‘n write, and I think it has a good chance, but The Crew has been on a streak since Essen, when it topped the Fairplay list. The Crew is addictive, and with 50 games in the campaign, there’s a lot of value in the box. I’ve only played The King’s Dilemma once, but once was plenty for me: that was a game with a heavy story element, but I thought neither the story nor the gameplay to be that interesting.
Joe Huber: To me, the key to this race is – as it was last year – the KedJ, not the SdJ. Last year Wingspan was an obvious winner, with a question of which award; this year, the same is in my opinion true for Die Crew. Therefore, with Die Crew placed in the KedJ category, that’s my clear choice for that award.
For the first time in some years, I’ve played none of the SdJ nominees by the time that the award is to be announced. In some ways, this makes it easier, since what I think of a game doesn’t seem to have any reliable relationship to how the jury sees things. And while I do not want to suggest that this is in any way the process by which the jury will come to its decision, I believe that (1) the opportunity to reward Uwe Rosenberg and Corne van Moorsel, (2) the preference for rewarding multiple companies (My City is, like Die Crew, published by Kosmos), and (3) the preference for rewarding different styles of games all make Nova Luna the most likely choice for the Spiel des Jahres. Of course the process the jury does use is to determine the best game for their target audience, so it won’t at all shock me if I’m wrong.
Dale Yu: Based on how 2020 has gone otherwise, I feel very confident that the winners of this year’s awards will be Pictures and King’s Dilemma. Because nothing else has gone the way I had expected. JK. I have not yet tried My City, so it was hard to really process the SdJ candidates, but I really felt like Nova Luna would be a great fit for the award from my first game in Essen. My first game of Pictures was pretty awful; so bad that I left Essen without a copy. Since then, I’ve played it again (with friends), and it has been a blast. Easy to teach, easily replayable, lots of laughs, etc. For me, this is the sort of game that the jury would love. I am hoping that Pictures wins, and it’s my vote for the SdJ award hands down. (As of the moment I write this comment, I’m the only OG writer who has voted for Pictures to win).
Mark Jackson: I haven’t played My City… but Nova Luna was a disappointment and Pictures is fun but doesn’t have legs – leaving My City as my pick. (BTW, I love both Patchwork & Habitats, the “parent” games for Nova Luna, and I’d love for Corne & Uwe to get an award, but not for this – it was dry, abstract, and not fun. My dislike for it in Bizzaro 2020 probably means it wins.)
On the KdJ side, I’m fine with either The Crew or Cartographers. (Pro tip: colored pencils, which you can buy cheap almost anywhere, make Cartographers map drawing even more fun.) I have not played King’s Dilemma. I’m guessing that The Crew wins.
Tery: I, too, have not played My City, so I can’t speak to its worthiness. I still enjoy Nova Luna after many plays. The vast majority of my plays have been 2-player, though, and I think that is the only number that this game works consistently well at. I assume the jury might play with more than 2, and that they would think less of it because of that.
I don’t see how Die Crew doesn’t win. It’s a great game, and it seems to be wildly popular.
high five to die crew, but a poor year for the spiel. My City is no better than era:medieval, copen, cart or even noch mal, with the legacy element a total gimmick that hipsters like to TALK about, akin to another stripe in the toothpaste. Legacy games are simply a new marketing trick and also wasteful and environmentally unfriendly. Bah Humbug, knizia takes 15 years to polish someone else’s idea – huzzah!
My impression the last decade is that the jury aims their target squarely at my family. If that’s the case again this year, Pictures will win in a landslide and The Crew is, in fact, ideally suited to the KdJ. My family expressed a passing interest in My City, but they asked instead to just play Knizia’s FITS once they got the gist of My City. Discussing Nova Luna resulted in family members saying, “But why? We can just play Azul?” Pictures, however, was able to include the children in the family and all-ages appeal carries a lot of relevance for us. And while I had talked The Crew up big time, no one really wanted to play it. We gave it a quick spin and I was fascinated, but family members gave it an “I don’t want to think that hard tonight” temporary pass. Early on, I was convinced The Crew was a lock for SdJ this year—after my family gave it a lukewarm reception (I am still convinced that EVENTUALLY they will love it!), I was pleased to see it get the KdJ nomination instead.
I concur, sir! Pictures is the winner in my family (though My City has not yet arrived).
Once again, I am late to the party and completely whiffed on adding my thoughts.
I am one of the Nova Luna voters. I think it’s time to reward Uwe and Corne(who has become one of my favorite designers over the last year or so). I have not played My City, but Chris left his copy here for us to mess about with and play the “final” version of the game, but after reading the rules, we haven’t felt very inspired to play it. Hoping that changes by the time the English version arrives here and I can convince the family to run through the “Legacy” portion, which really didn’t seem to “Legacy” like, more like Queen modules. But once again, I’ve not played it. Pictures just wasn’t that fun, and made me wish I was playing Dixit, a game that I am firmly in the “it’s fine” camp. But Nova Luna, I have absolutely loved — at two and three player. I am a huge fan of Habitats and Patchwork both, and Nova Luna takes the best of both of those and mashes them together in a wonderful family game — who cares about theme. It does suffer from a bit of loss of control at four, and because of that I prefer Habitats at four, but at two and three, Nova Luna is pretty fantastic.
KdJ? My money says The Crew, my heart says it should be Cartographers. I like The Crew, but it will never be a game that inspires us to complete all the missions, so it has simply become an exercise in playing it two or three times and then forgetting about it for awhile. I don’t think we’ve even passed mission 12 yet. It’s fun, and it’s challenging, and it’s a wonderful design, but it has just failed to inspire us. But clearly, not a lot of other folks. Cartographers on the other hand, turned out to be an absolute blast of a Flip and Fill game, one that I really want to play a lot more of, even after reviewing it a couple months back, which isn’t always the case. I’ve no desire to play King’s Dilemma, but also I can’t see the jury giving the award to a game that can’t be kept in stock relatively easily.