Board game Spiel des Jahres nominees 2022

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On July 19, three winners of three awards in board games will be announced to the world. There’s a lot to be said for this decision: millions in additional sales, critical acclaim, future design and publishing deals. But unless you’re heavily involved in the gambling hobby, chances are you’ve never heard of the prize that carries such significance – the Spiel des Jahres, or “Game of the year”.

The name gives you a clue as to why: it’s a German prize, awarded annually since 1978 by a jury of game critics and industry veterans from the German-speaking world. It turns out that tabletop gaming is a big problem in the Germanic world, where it’s very common for families to enjoy a game together in the evening. It was the source of the revolution in board game design and popularity that swept the West, beginning with Klaus Teuber’s Catan (one of the most beloved classic board games), which won the price in 1995.

Winner of last year

MicroMacro: Crime City

(Image credit: Pegasus Spiele)

MicroMacro: Crime City ($29.98 on Amazon (opens in a new tab)) won the grand prize at the Spiel des Jahres 2021. This hidden object game depicts a seemingly peaceful world of cheerful cartoon characters, but more than a dozen murder and crime cases are hidden in the chaos – and your job is to find them.

The Spiel des Jahres nominations focus on the family end of the gaming market, highlighting board games for families that excel in originality, playability and clarity. And as the game grew in popularity, it expanded into two sub-categories in addition to the main prize: the Kinderspiel for children’s games and the Kennerspiel for more complex hobby games.

Even getting a nomination is a big deal and can boost a game’s sales by thousands of copies. And they’re almost always worth playing, while often highlighting hidden gems that have escaped greater attention. So here are this year’s nominees for all three awards for your consideration (if you’ve seen some of them already, it’s because they’re only considered for the award when a German edition is released).

Spiel des Jahres 2022 nominees

Cascadia box, tiles and tokens

(Image credit: Flatout Games)

1. Waterfall

By Randy Flynn

Features

Players: 1 – 4

Age: 10+

Hard: 30 mins

The magic of Cascadia is its extraordinarily broad appeal. It’s simple to play: each turn, you select a pair of pieces, an animal disc, and a terrain tile, and adapt the two to your growing landscape, placing the animal in a hex of land where it can thrive. Your goal is to satisfy one of many scoring conditions based on the hexagon and animal patterns you create. But these conditions range from simple, for family play, to far more diabolical combinations that will challenge amateur players familiar with adult board games.

As such, it can satisfy almost anyone, especially given the appealing wildlife theme and great art. And Mountain Top is a fun single-player campaign of increasing difficulty, so you can even play it alone.

Scout box, cards and tokens

(Image credit: Oink Games)

2.Scout

By Kei Kajino

Features

Players: 2 – 5

Age: 9+

Hard: 20 minutes

More and more smart games are coming out of Japan, a fact that was acknowledged with this nomination. This is a ladder game where you get a hand of number cards and have to get rid of them by laying down sequences. But there are two pitfalls. First, you cannot rearrange your hand, only flip it, putting different values ​​first. Second, you can’t play a sequence unless you can beat the previous sequence, and if you can’t, you must remove cards from it instead, making it weaker while potentially adding new sequences in your hand.

With brilliant art and easy, fast-paced gameplay, but full of tough decisions regarding timing, sequencing, and hand management, this has all the potential for a smash hit now that it’s been brought to greater attention. .

Box Top 10

(Image credit: cocktail games)

3.Top 10

By Aurelien Picolet

Features

Players: 4 – 9

Age: 14+

Hard: 20 minutes

The award isn’t just about strategy games, and party board games often do well (Just One won the award in 2019, for example). Top Ten hopes to replicate that success with its crazy question results ranking formula. Each round poses a situation, like “what kind of threat level could cause James Bond to drop a secret code?” Players are then given a secret card from one to ten and must come up with a scenario that fits the situation based on that value on a scale. The trick leader must then do his best to get the answers in the correct order. Cue lots of ridiculous answers and even more ridiculous groupthink as players try to guess how everyone might respond to the prompt.

Unfortunately, there is no English edition of the game available yet, but many people are already playing it with translation apps.

Nominees for the Kennerspiel des Jahres 2022

Cryptid box

(Image credit: Osprey Games)

1. Cryptid

By Hal Duncan and Ruth Veevers

Features

Players: 3 – 5

Age: 12+

Hard: 30 mins

Cryptid is a game almost as weird as the mysterious cryptids players hunt. It’s basically a clue-based logic deduction game. Each player has a unique pointer to which hex on the map the particular creature is hiding, but only by taking all the clues together can the location be found. So on your turn, you choose a player and a hexagon and ask them if, according to their clue, the beast could be hiding there or not. This slowly gives you the information you need to find out what other players’ clues are, and thus be the first to deduce the hiding place.

The result is a fascinating combination of misdirection and deduction. Cryptid is fast and fun…as long as no one accidentally gives their question the wrong answer.

Unboxing Dune: Imperium Deluxe Edition

(Image credit: Dire Wolf)

2. Dune: Imperium

By Paul Dennen

Features

Players: 3 – 4

Age: 13+

Hard: 60 minutes

Boosted by the 2021 Dune movie, this game set in the Frank Herbert universe is an excellent translation of the novel’s political machinations into a strategic board game. It’s a wonderful combination of worker placement and deck building with several twists. Representing one of the noble houses in the series, you will send agents to do business with factions like the Guild or the Fremen, or to fight for territory on the surface of the planet. The cards are dual-purpose, depending on whether you play them or discard them, adding a new layer to hand management and there’s an abstract yet thrilling multi-lane battle to rock at every turn.

Juggling maps, resources and army leaves you with a very varied and richly strategic game, with the popular theme being the icing on the spice cake.

Living Forest box and cards

(Image credit: Ludonaute)

3. Living Forest

By Aske Christiansen

Features

Players: 2 – 4

Age: 10+

Hard: 40 minutes

Another deck-building game, Living Forest features players as nature spirits trying to resist encroaching fires in the sacred forest. The main engine of this is a fun pushing your luck mechanic where you keep drawing cards from your deck, each adding resources that you can use to buy new cards, move around, or put out the flames. But if you get too many “lonely” icons, your draw is over and you can only perform one action instead of two.

On top of this engaging base is good strategic and tactical decision-making as you try to build an effective deck and stay above the spreading flames. It’s a game with wide appeal, simple enough for family play but satisfying enough for amateurs.

2022 Kinderspiel des Jahres nominees

Board Ganz Schon Clever Kids

(Image credit: Schmidt)

1. Ganz Schön smart kids

By Wolfgang Warsch

Features

Players: 2 – 4

Age: 5+

Hard: 30 mins

The panoply of names under which this game rejoices (Auch Schon Clever / Ganz Schön Clever Kids / Clever Junior) is indicative of the problems of publication in different languages. But also to follow a successful game with a child version. In this case, the original is Ganz Schon Clever, the game that started the current role-playing and writing craze (think Yahtzee but with more strategy). This version takes the same concept of rolling the dice, picking one to fill out a sheet where you try to collect sets of party favors, and leaving the rest to your competitors. It’s a great introduction to probability and pattern matching for kids, wrapped in a theme they’ll enjoy. Will it be among the other must-have board games for kids? We will have to see.

Quacks & Co. Quedlinburg Dashboard and Tokens

(Image credit: Spiel des Jahres)

2. Quacks & Co. Quedlinburg Dash

By Wolfgang Warsch

Features

Players: 2 – 4

Age: 6+

Hard: 25 minutes

Just like the game above – also with multiple names and by the same designer too – this is a simplified version of an acclaimed adult game. In this case, that game is Quacks of Quedlinburg, where players buy tokens to put in their bag, then draw them to try and get complementary effect chains without getting too many cherry bombs that can end their turn. . This risk versus reward setup is a brilliant concept for kids, marrying a lot of strategy and excitement together. Here, the bag contains food that players will feed their mount to propel it on a race to the finish line.

Zauberberg board and tokens (Magic Mountain)

(Image credit: Spiel des Jahres)

3. Zauberberg (Magic Mountain)

By Jens-Peter Schliemann and Bernhard Weber

Features

Players: 1 – 4

Age: 5+

Hard: 15 minutes

Of the three nominees this year, Magic Mountain is the most suitable for young children. It’s a marble-like cooperative affair where players pull colored marbles from a bag and roll them across the board, which consists of a series of branching paths that the marble will take in unpredictable ways. On the board there are figurines of apprentices and witches who will block a marble, forcing them to be moved to the next level. The goal is for all apprentice miniatures to reach the bottom before the witches.

What we are left with is very simple to learn, quick to play and with fun tactile elements. Plus, the cooperative aspect means kids can play without fighting.


For more table recommendations, check out these cooperative board gameshigh board games for 2 playersand these essential elements board games for kindergartens.


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