Spiel des Jahres 2009

spiel_des_jahresThe winner of this year’s Spiel des Jahres, Germany’s “Game of the Year”, will be announced on June 29. Previously, I’ve looked at the Spiel des Jahres nominees and thought that they looked great and couldn’t wait to give some of them a try, having not been able to actually play them. This year is a little different. Out of the five nominees, I’ve actually played two of them, though I only own one of the two. Out of the eight games on the SdJ recommended list, I own three of them and play them regularly. I’m going to break this topic up into two posts and start by talking about the five nominees.

Here are the nominees for SdJ this year along with my random opinions.

Dominion, designed by Donald Vaccarino. I’ve played this game online and in person. In the game, you use cards from your hand to purchase more cards to let you do more stuff later, which is cool, but you have to keep shuffling in the new cards to your deck that keeps getting bigger. Shuffling becomes annoying very quickly, which is why I like it better online. However, the online game at Brettspielwelt can happen so quickly that it seems like hot potato, and I get freaked out because I think that some college student in Denmark is cursing me for taking so long to make my turn. While I think it’s pretty damn clever in how it makes deck building the focus of the game, I am still just sort of ho hum on the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s a great game. It just seems like most people like it more than I do.

Fauna, designed by Friedemann Friese. A trivia game about animals. Wow. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I don’t know anything about this game other than that the theme doesn’t seem interesting to me, but Friedemann Friese makes good games, so I’d love to try it someday. I heard some gamers talking about how they thought this would be the winner this year, because Friedemann Friese has never won the SdJ, and because so many of the entries started with the letter “F”, like the SdJ judges are trying to give us some secret clue or something. I thought that was hilarious.

Finca, designed by Ralf zur Linde and Wolfgang Sentker. This looks really neat and I might just purchase this soon. It’s a game about delivering your crop of fruit to market. Yeah, I know I just made fun of the animal trivia theme, but the components and the board are gorgeous and the mechanics seem fun. This, btw, is the game I think will win the SdJ. That’s just my gut feeling, and I don’t really have any good evidence to base that on, but if I’m right, I will act like I had some secret information on the matter. Don’t believe me.

Fits, designed by Reiner Knizia. This is like Tetris – the boardgame. I think I would enjoy playing it, because I do like puzzle games. The components look great, and I really wish someone in my game group would buy this so I can play it. Come on guys, cough up some dough for Dr. Knizia. This can’t win the SDJ because Knizia won last year and if he won again the universe would fail its saving throw and take 3d12 in repetitive award damage.

Pandemic, designed by Matt Leacock. A cooperative game where the players try to cure deadly diseases that threaten the planet. I do own this game and have played it a couple of times just this month. The game is fun, plays in about 45 minutes, and features a box that can withstand a rocket blast. I love this game. I’ve played it with both gamers and non-gamers with equal enjoyment by all. I think this is the game that should win the SDJ, but again, I have a feeling that it won’t. I hope I’m wrong.

That’s my take on the nominees for this year’s Spiel des Jahres. I’ll talk about this year’s list of recommended games next week.

There is also an award for the kids game of the year, the Kinderspiel des Jahres. If you want to learn more about the nominees for this year, I suggest you head over to Mark Jackson’s site, aka pastor guy, and read his post on Kinderspiel des Jahres 2009 – Nominees & Recommendations.

Happy gaming!

5 Comments

  1. Sure does, Joe. It really could be any of them, even Knizia, since they have previously given repeat awards to three designers.

    I still haven’t played Power Grid. Will keeps promising to play it some night but it still hasn’t happened.

  2. Thanks for the link to the Kinderspiel list… I, too, am rooting for Pandemic and am afraid it won’t win.

    Dominion & Pandemic (along with Le Havre) were the Meeple’s Choice Award games for 2008… but don’t take that to be a clue about the SdJ.

  3. Joe – I just downloaded that episode. I will let you know if I need to retract my mocking of Fauna. In fact, if you pick up Fauna, I pick up Finca, and someone else picks up Fits, we can have our own SdJ evening!

    [Added later] Okay, I listened to the episode, and I do see what you’re talking about regarding Fauna. That appears to take the Wits and Wagers mechanism and tweak it with a few nifty extras. It does seem pretty family friendly, and I think it was a good pick.

    After learning a bit more about Finca, I still think that it will take the SdJ award this year. I love the wheel worker placement mechanic, and any game that you can tell someone to take their ass (donkey) token or their big ass (large donkey) token is a must have for me.

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