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Knizia. Spiel des Jahres. Some other thoughts, but only rarely. I'm not that much of a big thinker, you know - but I love games.
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Short speculations and opinion on Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres, having played 5 of the 6 games

Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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I have played all but one of the six Spiel des Jahres- and Kennerspiel des Jahres-nominated games this year. As usual, the jury did a good job; when the nominations were announced I only knew 3 of the 6 but I really hoped each one of those would be nominated. So which games are going to win on next Monday?


Spiel des Jahres

The Mind

Pro:
It's a novel, never-before-seen experience. It's an idea that should not be working but it does work. It works great, can be an eye-opener, and it is really extremely satisfying to be successful in each round.

Con: It works great... in most of the cases. It also seems some loathe the experience. Also, it's a small-box card game with easily replaceable elements (many play it using 6 nimmt! cards). But that didn't stop Liar's Dice or Hanabi win, so maybe that's not that big of a problem. Also I just don't know about long-term replayability: while the experience is great and novel, does it remain great if you keep playing with the same people (e.g. your family) after a year as well? Time will tell.


Azul

Pro:
It's beautiful, not only beautiful, but it's even a great feeling to touch those stones or hear them knock each other. It's clever, it's interactive. It also gives you some rewards at the end of each round and you do create something nice during the gameplay (it's an ultimately important feature of about half of the SdJ winners).

Con: It's still not that novel. Also it can turn a bit cutthroat with some players losing lots of points in some cases, which can be too much for families.


Luxor

Pro:
It's got some theme while the other two really feel like abstracts. Families like theme. Also even though it's not a roll and move, the 'play a card and move' gameplay still might feel more comfortable for families than the other two.

Con: It's just... very good, not great as the others. It's even fiddly compared to those, and might be very-very slightly rules heavy for the award.

Board Game: The Mind
Board Game: Azul
Board Game: Luxor


Right now I'd say there is a 60% chance The Mind wins and 40% chance for Azul (so, significant chances for both) but wouldn't really think Luxor has any chance even if it's a good family game and I won't be sad (but will be surprised) if it wins.




Kennerspiel des Jahres

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

This is the game I haven't played yet. Which is a pity, as looking at it (colorful board and pieces), reading reviews (interesting and fun, family friendly) it seems to be the best fit for the award (probably winning?). However it's hard to tell without playing. Still I will list pros and cons for the other two games.


Heaven & Ale


Pro:
I love this game. It's clever, tense, somewhat brain-burning, also it's complex but not with baroque complexity, more like a well-built, beautiful complex structure where everything is important. I know the theme feels somewhat pasted on but it looks good and does give me the feeling of the theme. Also upon replays, when players become more and more familiar with the rules and tactics it becomes even better, and in the end it feels to have an oldschool Euro quality to it even with the "newschool" complexity. Also even though the scoring sounds rather convoluted in the beginning, it does make sense and is rather interesting.

Con: It's heavier than most KdJ winners. Is it too heavy for the award? I just don't know - usually the 'too heavy but great' games get a recommendation, not a nomination. still I think that's why it won't win (although I'd love to see this one win). (Also, if The Mind wins and not this one, then a newcomer takes both awards home? That would be outrageous. ). Also the difference of activating and triggering monks seems to have caused some confusion amongst many gamers - which is strange, considering how clearly it is always referred to at the right places in the rulebook - but even if on every second image of Tigris & Euphrates I can see the 'treasures in the corner' rule is forgotten, I won't say it's not written clearly in the rulebook.


Ganz Schön Clever

Pro:
Wow. Who thought a roll and write dice game can be so good? I mean, yes, there way Roll Through the Ages, which was also fine (and nominated for the award) but for a themeless dice roller, there is a surprising amount of consideration and combination included here. In the end it just gets extremely addictive even if you play solo. Also it's fun in its gamery way, also exciting... and maybe even novel in some ideas.

Con: I'm not sure I can name any. It has no theme, okay, that's one.

Board Game: The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Board Game: Heaven & Ale
Board Game: That's Pretty Clever!


Soo... Not having played each of the three I leave this one open, although if reviews are to be believed, possibly Quacksalber should win... But I really don't know. We'll see it on Monday!
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