Friday, June 16, 2017

Random thoughts about Spiel des Jahres

Spiel des Jarhes season always has me looking at the current contenders, the past winners and the overall philosophy of family gaming. As a dad, I am more in the demographic that the judges aim at than ever before.

This year, looking at Chris raise exhaustive overview of the past winners has gotten me thinking even more about the award and the games that have been part of its history. ( Great work, by the way, Chris! I particularly love your discussions on how games have aged and if they could still win today. 

While there are specific games I could write about (and, indeed have), I'm just jotting down some random thoughts I've been having as I look through these games.

A. I have played twenty-four of the thirty-seven winners, unless I played Barbarossa sometime at Gencon and forgot about it. You know, that's not bad. And most of the missing ones are older games that aren't as easy to get ahold of. My biggest gap, in my opinion, is not ever played Hare & Tortoise. Not because it was the first winner but because I really want to see the carrot economy in action.

B. On the one hand, I am glad Sid Sackson won a Spiel des Jahres. Heck, I am glad he lived to see a post-Catan world and be treated like a star in Germany. On the other hand, Sackson only winning one seems kind of thin and Focus is an odd one for him to win on.

Okay, Acquire might be too heavy for the Spiel but Can't Stop is the poster child for what the Spiel is designed to promote. To be fair, it was nominated twice. And six other of his games have been nominated over the years.And he was designing games decades before the award were even existed. So, hey, getting in one win is acknowledgment.

C. Years ago, I read that the Spiel was the only board game award that affects sales. And I am sure that winning the Spiel des Jarhes will still help a game's bottom line. Possibly even more than it did ten years ago. However, I wonder if other awards now will help sales.

D. I remember folks I know feeling that the Spiel des Jarhes has been falling short because, after Dominion, it stopped being about the kind of games that they were interested in. Which, to be fair, they did. Of course, that's what the Kennerspiel is now for. Personally, I I think that the Spiel is doing its job for families.

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