Verified Commit 97b36d74 authored by Markus Shepherd's avatar Markus Shepherd 🙊
Browse files

Merge branch '59-sdj-2021' of github.com:recommend-games/blog

parents 09ec45b1 6e956010
Pipeline #433762 passed with stages
in 25 seconds
......@@ -3,7 +3,7 @@ title: Spiel des Jahres 2021 predictions – Part 2!
slug: spiel-des-jahres-2021-predictions-part-2
author: Markus Shepherd
type: post
date: 2021-07-01T00:00:00+03:00
date: 2021-07-14T00:00:00+03:00
tags:
- SdJ
- SdJ 2021
......@@ -42,13 +42,13 @@ Let's check out the nominees!
{{< img src="sdj-2021" size="x300" alt="Spiel des Jahres 2021" >}}
Before we dive into the individual games, let's look at some numbers to see some objective measures for them – as far as this is possible. What we've got at our disposal are the [recommendations to the `S_d_J` bot](https://recommend.games/#/?for=S_d_J&yearMin=2021&yearMax=2020&include=223040,300531,310448,312484,318977,326494&excludeRated=false), BoardGameGeek's average rating, and the [Bayesian rating]({{<ref "posts/reverse_engineer_bgg/index.md">}}):
Before we dive into the individual games, let's look at some numbers to see some objective measures for them – as far as this is possible. What we've got at our disposal are the [recommendations to the `S_d_J` bot](https://recommend.games/#/?for=S_d_J&yearMin=2021&yearMax=2020&include=223040,300531,310448,312484,318977,326494&excludeRated=false), BoardGameGeek's average rating, and the [Bayesian rating]({{<ref "posts/reverse_engineer_bgg/index.md">}}). Additionally, I've created a [poll on BGG](https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2690216/poll-spiel-des-jahres-2021-kennerspiel-des-jahres) where the geeks could have their say:
| Game | [R.G](https://recommend.games/#/?for=S_d_J&yearMin=2021&yearMax=2020&include=310448,318977,326494&excludeRated=false) | Average | Bayes |
|:-----|----:|--------:|------:|
| {{% game 318977 %}}MicroMacro: Crime City{{% /game %}} | **8.0** | 7.9 | **6.9** |
| {{% game 326494 %}}The Adventures of Robin Hood{{% /game %}} | 7.0 | **8.2** | 6.0 |
| {{% game 310448 %}}Zombie Teenz Evolution{{% /game %}} | 2.1 | 8.1 | 5.9 |
| Game | [R.G](https://recommend.games/#/?for=S_d_J&yearMin=2021&yearMax=2020&include=310448,318977,326494&excludeRated=false) | Average | Bayes | [Poll](https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2690216/poll-spiel-des-jahres-2021-kennerspiel-des-jahres) |
|:-----|----:|--------:|------:|------:|
| {{% game 318977 %}}MicroMacro: Crime City{{% /game %}} | **8.0** | 7.9 | **6.9** | **61%** |
| {{% game 326494 %}}The Adventures of Robin Hood{{% /game %}} | 7.2 | **8.1** | 6.1 | 32% |
| {{% game 310448 %}}Zombie Teenz Evolution{{% /game %}} | 2.4 | **8.1** | 6.0 | 7% |
Overall, {{% game 318977 %}}MicroMacro{{% /game %}} seems to be favourite, but will it survive our own scrutiny?
......@@ -58,15 +58,15 @@ Overall, {{% game 318977 %}}MicroMacro{{% /game %}} seems to be favourite, but w
{{< img src="318977" size="x300" alt="MicroMacro: Crime City" >}}
As has been discussed many times, possibly the greatest strength is the immediacy of this game. Better than no rules required: not even opening the box is required. Genius. Also, the jury emphasises that the winner should be ambassador for the hobby board gaming. {{% game 318977 %}}MicroMacro{{% /game %}} would definitely broaden many people's perception of what a modern board game can be.
As has been discussed many times, possibly the greatest strength is the immediacy of this game. Better than no rules required: not even opening the box is required. Genius. Also, the jury emphasises that the winner should be ambassador for the hobby board gaming. {{% game 318977 %}}MicroMacro{{% /game %}} would definitely broaden many people's perception of what a modern board game can be. On top of that, it also made quite the impression amongst the more hardcore gamers, which shows its universal appeal.
But before we get too excited, there are some important caveats. The crime theme might be the most obvious – murder and other quite mature topics might not be everyone's idea of family entertainment. The publisher certainly struggles with this: my edition says 8+ years on the box, later editions seem to say 12+. They also introduced some form of content warning for the successor, so parents can stay clear of cases that might not be suitable for their offspring. Overall, judging by their statements, the jury seems to have little objections to some comic figures being murdered, so this might not be an obstacle to the {{% sdj %}}red meeple{{% /sdj %}} after all.
The other issue is player count. The box claims that this game is for 1 to 4 players, but the jury "corrected" this in their announcement to 1 to *3* players. Those who played the game know that sometimes two players can be a crowd, so this game wouldn't really be one to be enjoyed by the whole family around the Christmas tree – and candles definitely won't provide enough light to read the details off that giant map… 🕯
The other issue is player count. The box claims that this game is for 1 to 4 players, but the jury "corrected" this in their announcement to 1 to *3* players. Those who played the game know that sometimes even two players can be a crowd, so this game wouldn't really be one to be enjoyed by the whole family around the Christmas tree – and candles definitely won't provide enough light to read the details off that giant map… 🕯
Let me take this opportunity to address the "it's not a game, it's a puzzle" faction. First off, even if this were true, the jury clearly wouldn't care: Already in their second year, in 1980, they awarded a special prize for the Rubik's Cube, which undoubtably is a solitaire puzzle. An experience someone who loves games would enjoy? Bring it on…
Still, I'd like to make the argument that this *is*, in fact, a game. The standard version, where the game asks you to answer one question about the case after another, might present itself as a series of puzzles, with no player decisions at all. But I'd urge anyone playing this game to quickly switch to the advanced version. There, players are presented with the crime, but are then left alone to investigate the full story on their own. No guiding hand by the game, no feedback if the investigation is complete. The group needs to *decide* for themselves in what order to investigate the different scenes and when to call it complete. This experience differs crucially from a classic puzzle that gives you unambiguous feedback when it's done.
Still, I'd like to make the argument that this *is*, in fact, a game. The standard version, where the game asks you to answer one question about the case after another, might present itself as a series of puzzles, with no player decisions to influence the course of the game at all. But I'd urge anyone playing this game to quickly switch to the advanced version. There, players are presented with the crime, but are then left alone to investigate the full story on their own. No guiding hand by the game, no feedback if the investigation is complete. The group needs to *decide* for themselves in what order to investigate the different scenes and when to call it complete. This experience differs crucially from a classic puzzle that gives you unambiguous feedback when it's done.
But then again, it *really* doesn't matter anyways…
......@@ -91,16 +91,16 @@ Further, it appears the designer chose a pretty traditional set of characters. T
{{< img src="310448" size="x300" alt="Zombie Teenz Evolution" >}}
There's no way around it, this is the dark horse amongst the nominations. Neither the core mechanics nor the zombie theme seem terribly exciting for hardcore gamers, but for many people that haven't played dozens of zombie games, this is actually surprisingly appealing. The legacy elements promise an interesting and engaging story, and unlike {{% game 326494 %}}Robin Hood{{% /game %}}, this game has been praised for its diverse cast, including a wheelchair on the cover. I imagine this must mean the world for some kids who feel very empowered by this image.
There's no way around it, this is the dark horse amongst the nominations. Neither the core mechanics nor the zombie theme seem terribly exciting for hardcore gamers, but for many people that haven't played dozens of zombie games, this is actually surprisingly appealing. The legacy elements promise an interesting and engaging story, and unlike {{% game 326494 %}}Robin Hood{{% /game %}}, this game has been praised for its diverse cast, including a wheelchair on the cover. I imagine this must mean the world for a lot of kids who feel very empowered by this image.
The numbers don't look very good for this game, but then again, it had just been released and it doesn't really seem to be targeted at BGG's core demographics. But there is a serious obstacle to winning the main award: both the cartoon artwork and the "teenz" in the title suggest that this is a family game. And while many people will refer to the {{% sdj %}}red award{{% /sdj %}} as the "family game of the year", the jury will go through great length to avoid this term since, again, the {{% sdj / %}} is meant to be for *everyone* and that includes groups without children. Pinning the award on what appears to be a game for a young audience might exclude some loyal fans.
## Who will win?
I've been going back and forth on this – as you can tell, there's pros and cons for each of the nominees. In the end though, my money is on **{{% game 318977 %}}MicroMacro: Crime City{{% /game %}}** to win {{% sdj %}}Spiel des Jahres 2021{{% /sdj %}}. The immediate access and potential shift in the perception what a game can be is just too enticing to pass.
I've been going back and forth on this – as you can tell, there's pros and cons for each of the nominees. In the end though, my money is on **{{% game 318977 %}}MicroMacro: Crime City{{% /game %}}** to win {{% sdj %}}Spiel des Jahres 2021{{% /sdj %}}, ahead of {{% game 326494 %}}The Adventures of Robin Hood{{% /game %}} on close second, with {{% game 310448 %}}Zombie Teenz Evolution{{% /game %}} in a respectable, but slightly more distant third place. The immediate access of {{% game 318977 %}}MicroMacro{{% /game %}} and potential shift in the perception what a game can be is just too enticing to pass.
But the other nominees are definitely strong contenders, and any of the potential outcomes on July 19 wouldn't surprise me. It'll be exciting!
Still, any of the potential outcomes on July 19 wouldn't surprise me. It'll be exciting!
# Nominated for {{% kdj %}}Kennerspiel des Jahres 2021{{% /kdj %}}
......@@ -109,11 +109,11 @@ But the other nominees are definitely strong contenders, and any of the potentia
Let's take a look at the same metrics as above, but for the {{% kdj %}}Kennerspiel{{% /kdj %}} nominees:
| Game | [R.G](https://recommend.games/#/?for=S_d_J&yearMin=2021&yearMax=2020&include=223040,300531,312484&excludeRated=false) | Average | Bayes |
|:-----|----:|--------:|------:|
| {{% game 223040 %}}Fantasy Realms{{% /game %}} | 7.0 | 7.5 | 7.0 |
| {{% game 312484 %}}Lost Ruins of Arnak{{% /game %}} | 7.3 | **8.1** | **7.6** |
| {{% game 300531 %}}Paleo{{% /game %}} | **7.7** | 7.9 | 6.8 |
| Game | [R.G](https://recommend.games/#/?for=S_d_J&yearMin=2021&yearMax=2020&include=223040,300531,312484&excludeRated=false) | Average | Bayes | [Poll](https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2690216/poll-spiel-des-jahres-2021-kennerspiel-des-jahres) |
|:-----|----:|--------:|------:|------:|
| {{% game 223040 %}}Fantasy Realms{{% /game %}} | 6.8 | 7.5 | 7.0 | 5% |
| {{% game 312484 %}}Lost Ruins of Arnak{{% /game %}} | 7.5 | **8.1** | **7.6** | **79%** |
| {{% game 300531 %}}Paleo{{% /game %}} | **7.6** | 7.9 | 6.8 | 16% |
This promises an even closer race – the numbers certainly don't yield any clear favourites. 🤷
......@@ -137,12 +137,14 @@ There is the issue of its bland theme and artwork. It doesn't have to be a negat
{{< img src="312484" size="x300" alt="Lost Ruins of Arnak" >}}
{{% game 312484 %}}Arnak{{% /game %}} certainly is a fan favourite (currently #65 on BGG) – choosing this game could make the skeptical crowd on the 'geek very happy. The game does come with a broadly appealing theme, a successful merging of two evergreen mechanics (*deck building* and *worker placement*), and great development work that makes playing the game very intuitive.
{{% game 312484 %}}Arnak{{% /game %}} certainly is a fan favourite (currently #63 on BGG, and climbing) – choosing this game could make the skeptical crowd on the 'geek very happy. Probably unsurprisingly, it's also by far the most selected option in the poll. The game does come with a broadly appealing theme, a successful merging of two evergreen mechanics (*deck building* and *worker placement*), and great development work that makes playing the game very intuitive.
It *is* on the pretty heavy side for the award though. There's a lot going on in terms of different tiles, tracks, effects… If a {{% kdj %}}Kennerspiel{{% /kdj %}} is meant to be *one* step up, this game might really be *two* steps.
It also seems to draw some lukewarm responses from critics. While the execution of the design is generally praised, it doesn't seem to do anything special. On the other hand, this comes from people who have played hundreds of games and chase that next big innovation, while the {{% kdj %}}Kennerspiel{{% /kdj %}} award is targeted at people who might have never played a worker placement nor deck building game and might really enjoy those mechanics here.
On that note: I've heard there's another Indiana Jones movie in the making – I smell a branded version of {{% game 312484 %}}Arnak{{% /game %}} soon… 🤠
## {{% game 300531 %}}Paleo{{% /game %}}
......@@ -150,15 +152,19 @@ It also seems to draw some lukewarm responses from critics. While the execution
{{< img src="300531" size="x300" alt="Paleo" >}}
### Pros
{{% game 300531 %}}Paleo{{% /game %}} was for me an [early favourite](https://twitter.com/recommend_games/status/1331118405810786311?s=20) and hasn't disappointed so far. While it's not exactly a "fresh" theme, the prehistoric setting hasn't worn out yet, the graphics are clean and inviting and the mammoth on the cover definitely makes we want to explore more. But maybe most importantly the mechanics are the most innovative amongst the nominees – without leaving less experienced players lost. Every turn offers a quick but always interesting decision. As the {{% sdj %}}Spiel{{% /sdj %}} nominees prove, co-operative games are in higher demand than ever, and this one has the whole table involved from the first to the last card in your deck.
As you can tell, I quite enjoyed playing {{% game 300531 %}}Paleo{{% /game %}} and think it's very much worthy of the {{% kdj %}}Kennerspiel{{% /kdj %}} trophy. But it's not just my enthusiasm, the critical response was very positive and might get second time designer Peter Rustemeyer's hopes up.
TODO.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's consider what could get in the way of {{% game 300531 %}}Paleo{{% /game %}}'s victory. First off, the often criticised rule book. The jury is *very* harsh when it comes to judging rule books – rightfully so, as badly written rules are the biggest obstacle in the way of players enjoying a game. But they wouldn't have even *recommended* {{% game 300531 %}}Paleo{{% /game %}} if they thought the rules as printed are too obtuse, so I doubt it's a concern now.
### Cons
The game is also on the heavier side of what's usually consider for the award, but for me it's about the same complexity as {{% game 266192 %}}Wingspan{{% /game %}} – if anything easier to approach as a co-operative campaign game. Talking of which, the different modules and levels make it feel somewhat finite, but then again the levels are fairly replayable and the jury doesn't seem to mind too much anyways.
TODO.
One last sticking point might be player count. It's well compatible with usual {{% kdj %}}Kennerspiel{{% /kdj %}} metrics *as printed on the box*, but the rules start by saying that under no circumstances should you try this game for the first time with four players. That first play is really critical for a game that's supposed to reach a wide audience, so this caveat could prove costly.
## Who will win?
TODO.
I'll contradict the BGG crowd and say that {{% game 312484 %}}Arnak{{% /game %}} has the lowest chance of winning {{% kdj %}}Kennerspiel{{% /kdj %}} – despite all its quality there seems to be no "hook" that would draw new players in. On the other hand, judging by the jury's statements, {{% game 223040 %}}Fantasy Realms{{% /game %}} would make a fabulous winner – if it came with a fresher, more appealing look… So, after all my praises, it's no surprise **{{% game 300531 %}}Paleo{{% /game %}}** is my favourite to win {{% kdj %}}Kennerspiel des Jahres 2021{{% /kdj %}}. However, I really do believe that all three nominees are very strong and have a realistic chance of winning.
That's all for now – I feel like I need to apologise since it took me over two thousand words just to express "they're all pretty good…" 🤷 Anyways, all this makes me just more excited for the announcement on July 19. 🤓
Supports Markdown
0% or .
You are about to add 0 people to the discussion. Proceed with caution.
Finish editing this message first!
Please register or to comment