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.