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Svarog's Den - Board Games

My Nominees for the 2023 Spiel des Jahres

by W. Eric Martin

In a report about BGG.Spring 2023, I mentioned that I had played all of the nominees for the 2023 Spiel des Jahres — Fun Facts, Next Station: London, and Dorfromantik: The Board Game — and didn’t like any of them.

A few people responded by saying, well, what would you have chosen? After a liter of thought, along with acknowledgement that my choices will be somewhat arbitrary no matter how much research I devote to the topic, I chose:

AEOLOS, by Guido Eckhof, Arve D. Fühler, and SPIEL DAS! Verlag

KuZOOka, by Leo Colovini and Pegasus Spiele

Triggs, by Karin Hetling and NSV

I explain my choices in the video below starting at about 9:00. The short explanations:

• AEOLOS is an old-fashioned German game with intuitive gameplay that allows for planning, but can also be played casually by the seat of your pants.

• Like Fun Facts and Dorfromantik, KuZOOka is co-operative, but unlike those games you can make meaningful choices that impact the game based on information available solely to you.

• Triggs is somewhat solitary, like Next Station: London, but you can affect others while make smart choices with your card drawing and hand management as you race for victory.

I cover AEOLOS in detail in this November 2022 post, and I plan to cover KuZOOka and Triggs in the future to spread my enjoyment of these games in case they’re something that would suit you as well.

In the video, I also discuss my issues with the actual nominees as well as the qualifications that games need to fit in order to be nominated by the SdJ jury:

• A German edition of the game must exist! This should be a given, but I’ve seen plenty of people suggest games that have not been released in German.

• This edition must be widely available on the German market. For example, Heat: Pedal to the Metal is currently sold only by one retail chain on an exclusive basis, so it’s off the list.

• The game must be released by the end of March in the year of nomination. The jury needs a cutoff time that allows all of them a chance to play potential nominees, and my understanding is that the end of March is that cutoff, although a title with a limited release before that cutoff could certainly be considered in the subsequent year.

• The publisher must be able to fulfill demand. This is not an official qualification, but something I’ve heard in passing. If a publisher cannot supply hundreds of thousands of copies of a game, that game cannot win. The point of the award is to suggest a game that the German public at large will enjoy — and if the public cannot access that game, no enjoyment will follow.

• The rules must be relatively short with clear goals. You want players of all ages and skill levels to grasp what they need to do in the game — not necessarily to play well, but just to have a clue as to what they should do.

• The rules must be well-written. The SdJ jury has complained about rules many times, and if a game’s rules are confusing, that game will not be nominated. Again, you want the public at large to know how to play the nominated games. They will not look for rule clarifications online, but instead by annoyed and turned off.

• The game must be good for the intended audience of casual game players. Another given, but I thought I’d state it anyway.

Which three games would you select given all of these qualifications? I tried to balance styles of games to include in my nominees a card game, a racing game, a party game, a co-operative game, and a strategy game — all within only three titles! Can you do the same?!

Youtube Video


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