Spiel des Jahres 2014
Last week’s Dice Tower Awards went so well that it’s not surprising that other organizations have jumped on the bandwagon of naming a game of the year. No hard feelings though, I’ve heard that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
But seriously, the Spiel des Jahres (German for Game of the Year) is probably the most important award of gaming. Without this award, the gateway greats that introduced most of us into this hobby (like Ticket to Ride, The Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Dominion) may not have reached the level of popularity that they currently have. And now, joining that list of classics as this year’s Spiel des Jahres winner is Steffen Bogen’s Camel Up. This game about betting on racing camels beat the other well-received nominees’ Marc Andre’s Splendor and Concept by Gaëtan Beaujannot and Alain Rivollet.
The other big award that was given out was the Kennerspiel des Jahres, which is given to the best strategy game. Rüdiger Dorn’s Istanbul, a game about trading rupees with the help of your assistants in the Turkish city formerly known as Constantinople, won this award over Mac Gerdts’ Concordia, and Rococo by Matthias Cramer, Louis Malt and Stefan Malz.
If you’re interested in any of these games, the increase in publicity from these awards often causes them to become more widely available. For example, Z-Man Games has announced that they will be releasing Camel Up in North America before the end of the year.
The Kickstarter Gold Rush
The theme of the old west is deceptively popular. On one hand, western themed games don’t seem to rake in nearly as much funding in Kickstarter projects as the zombie genre. Zombicide consistently makes well over a million dollars per campaign, and other recent games within the genre also are impressively well-received. For examples, check out the Kickstarters for games like Zombie 15’, Escape: Zombie City, and even smaller games like We Are Dead.
On the other hand, the article with the highest view count last week (other than the Spiel des Jahres announcement) was about the new western themed game on Kickstarter Wanted: The Outlaws. At the time of writing, the small game has been a modest success. Last week, Tom Vasel reviewed Spurs: A Tale in the Old West, which was another successful Kickstarter game. In an interview with Sean Brown, the president of Mr. B Games, he seemed surprised by how well the Spurs was selling. So, although these games may not receive the funding and press that more popular and bloated genres do, it’s worth noting that a lot of gamers are still interested in finding the next Bang!
What’s New with the Dice Tower?
1. Sometimes we have to admit things about ourselves that other people may not like. Case-in-point: Tom Vasel loves destruction. Last year when Board Game Breakfast first took off, Tom’s initial opening sequences in videos were innocent enough. He would do something simple, like pour milk in a bowl of dice or Ticket to Ride trains. As time went by, those cheap thrills weren’t exciting enough. He began to boil Memoir ’44 army men over the stove and smear jam over Marvel Dice Masters cards. Some people have not taken it so well.
In last week’s Board Game Breakfast, Tom defended his “misuse” of components. While Tom has talked about his component drops in previous videos, his most recent explanation does an excellent job of describing why he cooks his components, as well as his views on the value of games. You may not agree with what he says, but it is an interesting argument. Also, he’s probably never going to stop. So at the very least, if Tom ever invites you over to play a board game in the morning, you know that you probably shouldn’t let him make you breakfast.
2. Tom Vasel hosted a special Q&A segment this week, and a lot of the questions he answered focused on the big events that would be coming up within the next few weeks. Perhaps the most exciting event to look forward to is Gen Con, which will be taking place from August 14 to 17. You can look forward to a lot of previews of new games and interviews with designers, similar to the content that the Dice Tower offered during Origins Gaming Convention last month. In the more immediate future, the long-awaited Top 100 lists from frequent Top 10 and Miami Dice co-host Sam Healey and Zee Garcia will begin to be recorded this week.
Speaking of Top 10 list, a few hints were given about what to expect within the next few games. The Top 10 Fantasy Games was already recorded in front of a live audience during the Dice Tower Con. Other upcoming Top 10 include the top Queen Games and the Top 10 Milton Bradley games. Also Tom’s lips are still sealed about a Musical Episode that he’s been hinting at for a long time. Forget turning components into sandwiches, if you’re looking for game-related spectacle, you should keep a look out for that episode.