board game awards

The all powerful hive mind that is American Mensa has once again assembled in their hollowed halls to rate the games of 2019. Every year, more than 300 members of Mensa spend a mad weekend of games and judgement to bestow upon a deserving few the title of Mensa Select Winner. So without further ado, the Mensa Select Winners for 2019 are:

Architects of the West Kingdom by designers Shem Phillips and S J Macdonald, Garphill Games and Renegade Game Studios is a wonderful twist on the oft used worker placement mechanism. In Architects, players can improve their actions by adding more and more workers to a single location on the board, but other players can capture a group of opposing workers, to later sell the gang for cash.

Gizmos by designer Phil Walker-Harding and CMoN Games is an elegant engine building game expanding on the Splendor model, centering on a delightful marble dispenser. Players take turns collecting colored marbles, all the while purchasing cards to improve their collection ability, marble color conversions, storage abilities and card building power.

Gunkimono by designer Jeffrey D. Allers and Renegade Game Studios is a re-imagining of Heartland (2009), transforming the original farming motif to one of war-torn feudal Japan. In this quasi-abstract tile laying game, players choose between expansion for points, and building up for future strongholds.

Planet by designer Urtis Šulinskas and Blue Orange Games is a tile laying, city building game on a grand scale. In a move that would have Euclid roll in his grave, players place magnetic terrain tiles on a 3 dimensional “planet”, creating vast areas of desert, ocean, forest, etc. in order to meet specific goals.

Victorian Masterminds by master designers Antoine Bauza and Eric M. Lang with CMoN Games is a breathtakingly beautiful steampunk worker placement masterpiece. Players each take on the role of super villains in the recent wake of Sherlock Holmes’ disappearance, trying to take over the world with their unique doomsday plots.

The Spiel des Jahres awards are the premier awards for board gaming each year, with awards for Family Game of the Year, Strategy Game of the Year, and Kid’s Game of the Year.  Each year the Kid’s Games of the Year is announced in June while the rest are announced later in July, and today we have found out who the winner of the Kid’s Game of the Year is.  That game is Dragon’s Breath by HABA Games.

Dragon’s Breath is a cute little game for ages 5 and up, and in it you will have four young dragons and one dragon dad, trying to get the most gems out of a ice column filled with them.  That ice column in the game is represented by a stack of rings filled with plastic gems.  Each round the young dragons will pick a gem color that they think will come out of the ice when the dad melts it.  Once they have all picked the dad will pick up the top most ring, allowing some gems to fall off the tower to be collected by the young ones.  There is also some holes in the board that if a gem falls in there, it goes to the dad and he may win.  After all the gems that fell have been collected, the young dragons pick again what color they will collect and the next ring comes off.  This will continue until all the rings are gone and then whoever has the most gems is the winner.

As you can tell the game is simple, but with the fun theme and unpredictability of the gems in the ice, means everything isn’t always going to go as you think.  This is definitely a game for kids as it’s mostly luck with what gems will fall, but still has a element of strategy as they have to evaluate what gems they think will fall.  Dragon’s Breath is available now so if you are looking for a good kids game, go check it out.

The Spiel des Jahres nominees for 2018 have just recently been announced (see Dice Tower News article here), and for the first time since 2010 the judges have awarded the “Sonderpreis“, literally a special award. The recipient is the innovative Pandemic Legacy Season 2 by Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau, published by Z-Man Games. Pandemic Legacy Season 2 uses amazing new mechanics and devices, and blends them with an engrossing story taking place 71 years after the original Season 1, creating a game “all future legacy games will have to be measured” against. Pandemic and Pandemic Legacy Season 1 were both nominated for Spiel des Jahres awards in 2009 and 2016 respectively.

For more information, check out Z-Man Games press release on their website here.

Casual Games Revolution, the group behind Casual Game Insider magazine, has announced their nominees for the Best Casual Game of 2017, and they need your votes to secure the winner. A panel of 12 judges was given the daunting task to narrow the field of games, picking their best casual game, released in the US in 2017, which was a base game and not an expansion. Below are the judges picks for the final three.

The first nominee is Azul by Plan B Games, designed by Michael Kiesling. In Azul, 4 players take turns drafting beautiful plastic colored tiles in order to fill lines on their board, and therefore fill in a defined pattern. Points are earned by making connecting groups of tiles, and completing horizontal and vertical lines in the mosaic. But be careful; if you pick up too many tiles and do not have room for them on your board, they fall to the ground and lose points.

Also nominated was Go Nuts For Donuts by Gamewright and designer Zachary Eagle. 2-6 Players simultaneously place and reveal number cards designating which donuts they want to select from a lineup, but if multiple players go for the same pastry, that donut is discarded and no one gets it. Players try to collect sets, pairs of matching donuts, or powerful unique donuts to maximize their points.

The third nominee is  Sagrada by Floodgate Games, designed by Adrian Adamescu and Daryl Andrews. Sagrada is a dice drafting and placement game for 1-4 players, who try to complete a stained glass pattern on their personal board. Dice come in multiple colors, and constraints exists about where colors and numbers can be placed. Dice drafting is in a snaking order, going from first player to last, then last back to first, with the first player moving each round. Scoring goals change each game, and hidden goals exist for each player.

Casual Games Revolution will hold open voting for the winner on their webpage here until January 25, 2018.

The German Game Prizes, awarded to top games by Essen Spiel since the late 1970s, have been announced for 2017, and well deserved congratulations go to Terraforming Mars by Jacob Fryxelius. Runners up in order include: A Feast for Odin, Scythe, First Class, Kingdomino, Robber [Raiders] of the North Sea, Fabulous [Fabled Fruit], Captain Sonar, Magic Maze, and Competition [Quest] to El Dorado.

The winner of the German Children’s Prize is Ice Cool by Brian Gomez. Click here for the press release from Spiel.

It’s official folks, the winners of the Spiel des Jahres awards have all been announced.  The winner for the Spiel des Jahres, game of the year, is the tile laying game, Kingdomino by Bruno Cathala.  This game beat out the two other games, Magic Maze by Kasper Lapp and Race to El Dorado by Reiner Knizia, to win the title.  Kingdomino is an easy to learn and easy to play game, but comes with some nice decision making, and fits well into the family friendly atmosphere of previous Spiel des Jahres winners.  The game is available now so check out your FLGS to get this now award winning family game.

Also announced today was the winner of the Kennerspiel des Jahres, connoisseur/expert game of the year, which is EXIT the Game, a room escape series from Kosmos.  This beat out the first Kickstarter game to be nominated, Raiders of the North Sea, and the fan favorite in other awards, Terraforming Mars.  As of right now there are three EXIT games released with more having been announced, so check out your FLGS to grab a copy today.

As for the Kinderspieal des Jahres, kids game of the year, that was announced as Ice Cool last month, so you can see our previous article to find out more about that game.

The winners of the Spiel des Jahres and the Kinnerspiel des Jahres have yet to be picked, but they have chosen the Kinderspiel des Jahres winner.  And the winner is Ice Cool.

Ice Cool is definitely worthy of this title as it is a very fun dexterity game that works for adults and kids alike.  In the game you have one person being the hall monitor, trying to keep everyone in class, and everyone else are students trying to sneak away for a snack.  You will be flicking your weeble-wooble like penguin around the board trying to go through the doors with your color fish on them.  The more fish you collect the more points you get, and for the hall monitor, the more students you catch and take their ID from, the more points you get.  After everyone either gets their fish or the hall monitor catches everyone, the player being the hall monitor switches and you play another round.  Once everyone has been the hall monitor once you count up points, and the most points is the winner.

The UK Games Expo (UKGE) released it’s attendance numbers for this year, and with a total of 16,383 attendees, they have increased their attendance from last year by around 30%.  This pushes the UKGE up on the list of gaming conventions to be the 3rd largest gaming convention in the world.  Another interesting number is that they showcased 320 different exhibitors, and the attendees attended an average of 2 days with entry numbers over the whole convention being 30,743.  Also announced were the winners of the UKGE Awards for 2017, and they are:

Best Family Game – Sushi Go Party
Best Children’s Game – Baobab
Best Euro Game – SubTerra
Best American Style Game – Dark Souls
Best Strategic Game – The Colonists
Best Card Game – Statecraft
Best Abstract Game – Ominoes
Best Miniatures – Dropfleet Commander
Best Role-Playing Game – Adventures In Middle-Earth Player Guide
Best Role-Playing – Syrinscape
Best Party Game – Chameleon
Best Expansion – Dropfleet Commander: Reconquest Phase Two
Best Accessory – Dropfleet Commander Modular Spacestation Pack
Best Miniatures Rules – Dropfleet Commander

They have also stated that next year the UK Games Expo will be held on June 1st through the 3rd, you can read the full post for more information and to sign up for updates.

Unlock, the card based room escape game released by Asmodee and Space Cowboys, is already getting accolades in the form of the Game of the Year award from International Games Festival.  This bodes well for the game, and with two introductory/demo scenarios already out for free, setting this game up to really take off.  The first three full scenarios of this now award winning game will be in stores soon!

Unlock! Wins Game of the Year As d’Or for 2017!

Brand-new, card-driven, escape room game from Space Cowboys picks up most prestigious award at the International Games Festival.

Paris, France

Unlock! Escape Adventures, the brand-new, card driven, escape room game from world renowned designer Cyril Demaegd was recently awarded“Game of the Year As d’Or for 2017” at the annual International Games Festival in Cannes, France.

Unlock! Escape Adventures is a new, card based game for two to six players from French studio Space Cowboys, where players find themselves in mysterious surroundings with minimal clues to help them escape! The free Unlock! Companion app (available to download from the App Storeor Google Play) is fully integrated into the game, keeping the pressure on with a countdown timer, providing valuable clues, and rewarding you for deciphering secret codes!

“All my thanks to the Festival des Jeux As d’Or jury for selecting Unlock! as their Game of the Show! We are extremely proud to have received this honour, which rewards the whole team for their hard work and dedication,” said Cyril Demaegd, Game Designer at Space Cowboys.  “Personally, I am a huge fan of escape room games involving thematic riddles and the pressure of the clock, and we’re thrilled that we were able to recreate the escape room experience in a cooperative card game.”

Eager fans keen to check out the award-winning Unlock! Escape Adventures can now download “The Elite,” a free demo scenario, that includes basic game rules and a brief tutorial, via www.spacecowboys.fr/unlock-demo.