In a move that surprised no one, The Diana Jones Award was given to GenCon for it’s 50th anniversary.  The Diana Jones award is given out each year for excellence in gaming, and this award can be given to games, conventions, designers, or companies depending on their contributions to the hobby.  Last year saw the award go to Eric Lang for the many excellent games he has designed, and previous years have been awarded to and even the Youtube show Tabletop.  And while the award going to GenCon is not shocking, it did have some solid competition from Terraforming Mars, Gloomhaven, The Romance Trilogy, End of the Line, and The Beast.  But having 50 years of serving gamers the latest and greatest while growing to being the largest board game convention in the world (maybe), GenCon deserved the win.  You can read more about the award and the other nominees on the Diana Jones website.

starving artists

There’s no question: the life of a paint-by-cube artist is hard. What little money you do earn is invested right back into paint and canvases. Without that paint and those canvases, you won’t be able to follow your dream of becoming a famous artist. Being a starving artist is a constant struggle.

Fairway 3 Games would like to announce their Kickstarter project, Starving Artists, an award-winning board game in which players are paint-by-cube artists trying to become famous before they run out of food.  The game is a contest winner on The Game Crafter, and features some of the world’s most beautiful works of art.

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Gameplay involves blind-drafting and resource-management, in which players complete masterpieces using transparent cubes while attempting to feed themselves and stay alive, and hopefully becoming famous artists.

The following is an excerpt from the Kickstarter gameplay summary:

Starving Artists is played over a series of turns. Each turn represents a new day. On each day, you must choose between: buying new canvases, painting the canvases you already own, or working in order to get more paint. If at the end of the day, you’ve completed a masterpiece, you can sell it to earn more paint and food. If you don’t spend your days efficiently, you won’t be able to feed yourself, and you’ll have to give up on your dreams. 

The game is for 1-4 players ages 12 and up and requires approximately 20 minutes per player to play.  For more information and to support this Kickstarter, visit the Kickstarter page here.


Renegade Game Studios would like to announce that Pegasus Spiele, German board game publisher, is set to produce Mensa Select winner Lanterns: The Harvest Festival for the German market.  The German edition is on display this week at the Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg and is expected to release this March 2016.

For more information, see the official announcement here.

florian racky

The Hamburg Game Designers Award is a prestigious award provided by the Spielwerk Hamburg game designers build in northern Germany.  This year, more than 50 entries were submitted to this game design competition from designers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.  The award was given to Florian Racky, a 44-year-old German designer for his minimalist card game Prince and Princess.

According to the official press release, “„Prince & Princess“ is a micro game for 4-10 players, consisting only of 18 cards. Players secretly take the role of courtly characters who strive to acchieve their own personal goal before the prince and the princess have their royal wedding. It is a game of hidden roles, bluffing and backstabbery that plays in 15 minutes.”  Prince and Princess is being closely examined for publication in the near future.

“The Spielwerk Hamburg is amazed by the creativity of all participating designers,” reports Shaun Graham, founder of the Hamburg Game Designers Guild and creator of the Hamburg Game Designers Award.  “It is a delight to see this vibrant community of designers growing. Therefore, we are eager to announce the next Game Designers Contest at the beginning of February.”

For more information about this award and Spielwerk Hamburg, visit their web site here.


French gaming blog and community site, Tric Trac, posted its Tric Trac d’or 2014 awards naming the top three games of the year based on user submitted votes and Tric Trac’s own panel of judges.

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Taking first place honors, and the Gold medal, was none other than Bruno Cathala’s Five Tribes, Days of Wonder’s first foray into heavy strategy. This unique Mancala-style game set in ancient Arabian mythology was the runaway winner from the start.

“At the opening of the vote, the game started to reap the points, escaping after a few hours.”

Second place was more hotly contested, but it was Cédrick Chaboussit’s Lewis & Clark that took Silver. This worker placement game set in pioneer-era America has players reliving Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition to the Pacific coast.

splendor pieces

The Bronze medal went to Marc Andre’s Splendor. Noted for its high component quality, this light set collection game has players collecting combinations of gems to attract patrons and score victory points.

“With 1,210 voters, we can say the thing is the opinion of many players who surf Tric Trac and the current trend of European games.”

Check out Tric Trac’s full announcement to see an analysis of the voting process and which games just missed the winners’ podium. The article is in French, but can easily be translated through a number of online resources (e.g., Chrome’s built-in translator).

For more information on this year’s winner, click the links below for Dice Tower’s reviews.

Five Tribes Miami Dice
Lewis & Clark Review
Splendor Review

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“Really?  That game won?”

A recent article from Clever Move discusses the nature of the international Spiel des Jahres award and its importance to the international gaming hobby.  Due to the fact that many serious board gamers question the recipients of this award from year to year, Tom Felber, jury foreman for the SdJ jury, explained how the organization works at BGG Con 2014:

…The Spiel des Jahres is NOT for the board game geek. Not for the hobbyist or hard core player…Spiel des Jahres is for the general public. Games that EVERYONE can play.

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The Spiel des Jahres focuses on bringing the best games to the forefront that will encourage more people in the general public to participate in hobby games by highlighting lighter games that can be easily digested and played quickly, such as the 2014 winner, Camel Up.

Imagine sitting someone in front of Twilight Imperium when their previous game experience began with Monopoly and ended with Scrabble. They may or may not make it through the entire game, but, either way, they wouldn’t come back for more. Board games, they’d conclude, are not for them.

The article also presents, in a nutshell, the process for selecting the SdJ winner:

  1. There are 13 SdJ jurors.
  2. Each juror nominates 20 games.
  3. Each juror later narrows their list of nominees to 15 games.
  4. Jury meets in April, creates a list of 50-60 games.
  5. Jurors may veto games for any reason, one of the most common being poorly-written rules.
  6. They chop the list down to approximately 25 games.

The games selected for this prestigious award may not appeal to hardcore gamers at first sight, but that is not necessarily the focus of the award.  “The chosen games might be bland, edgeless, and simple — but that’s a good thing once you understand why.”

You can read the full article HERE.

tom felber

An interview with Tom Felber, jury chairmen of the Spiel des Jahres was posted over on the Toy and Game Innovation Conference website.

The Spiel des Jahres was created in 1978 to promote quality games.  Nomination and award criteria are based on game idea (originality, playability, play value), rules design (structure, clarity, understandability), game materials (features, workmanship), and layout and presentation (box, game board, rules).

Here’s just a small excerpt:


The nominees change from year to year in all directions. There is no pattern. It always depends on what is available on the market in the specific year. There are strong years and weak years. Games, which even didn’t get a nomination in one year, would have been easily elected as “Spiel des Jahres“ if they were published in an other year. Of course, the election of “Hanabi“ was a big milestone because of the size of the box. This wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago. That’s the most obvious change, that small games can be elected nowadays.