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Spiel Des Jahres

The Spiel Des Jahres awards go to the best board games released in a German speaking country during the previous year or current year. The award is a high prestige for the winner.  There are three awards each year: The Spiel Des Jahres (The Game of the Year), the Kinderspiel Des Jahres (Children’s Game of the year), and the Kennerspiel Des Jahres (Connoisseur Game of the year).

Spiel Des Jahres 


  • Party Game
  • 3-5 players
  • Ages 8+
  • Play time: 30 Minutes
  • US Publisher: Rio Grande Games

Pictures is a unique party game that takes place over five rounds. The game begins with a field of 16 photo cards placed in a four by four grid. Then each player uses a series of unique items to best represent one picture. The kinds of objects are radically different and each have their own challenges.

Materials sets used to recreate photo:

  • 2 Shoelaces
  • 6 Wooden Building Blocks
  • Wooden cubes and Picture frame
  • picture cards, hand drawn style
  • 4 Sticks, 4 Stones

Once the pictures are recreated, each player guesses which pictures the objects represent. Players earn points by correctly guessing, and having your picture correctly guessed. Materials pass, allowing all players to use all five different materials, and the creating beings again.

Runners up:

  • My City by Reiner Knizia
  • Nova Luna by Uwe Rosenberg and Corné van Moorsel

Kinderspiel Des Jahres

Speedy Roll

  • Dexterity Game
  • 1-4 players
  • Ages 4+
  • Play time: 20 Minutes
  • Publisher:  Lifestyle Boardgames / Piatnik

Speedy roll is an adorable and versatile game for young players. The little hedgehogs want to get home, but they are hungry along the way. The game uses two different components for the hedgehogs: an adorable felt ball with eyes and wooden hedgehog meeples. Players roll the felt ball hedgehog through a field of mushrooms, leaves, and apples, which are tokens with a velcro back to collect food. The food collected is what directs the meeple’s journey along the path. However, too much food weights you down, and you do not move at all.

What is unique about this game is there is the option to play it competitively or cooperatively. When playing competitively, the hedgehogs are racing to be the first one home. In the cooperative version, there is only one hedgehog and he is trying to get home before the fox catches him.

Speedy Roll is not currently available in the United States.

Runners Up:

  • Photo Fish by Michael Kallauch 
  • We are the Robots by Reinhard Staupe

Kennerspiel Des Jahres

The Crew: Quest for Planet 9

  • Cooperative Trick Taking Game
  • 3 to 5 players
  • Ages 10+
  • Play time: 20 Minutes per mission
  • Publisher:  Kosmos

The Crew combines two unique gaming styles, cooperative and trick taking. Players take on the roll of a space crew trying to complete missions. The rule books tells the story of each mission as well as the conditions players need to follow to succeed. Once a mission is completes successfully players can move on to the next mission. The game has 50 mission, which increase in intensity both within the story and in the requirements needed to be successful.

One additional challenge, players are limited on how much the can communicate. A communication token provides information once per mission, and is based on where it is place on the card placed on the table. Different locations communicate different information to the other players.

For a small game, and modest number of components there is a lot of game packed into the small box.

Runners Up:

  • The Cartographer by Jordy Adan
  • The King’s Dilemma by Lorenzo Silva, Hjalmar Hach and Carlo Burelli

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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The Spiel Des Jahres awards are given out each summer to the best board games released in Germany during the previous year. The judges are an esteemed group of board game critics from Germany and other nearby countries.

It might seem odd to some that people stateside would pay so much attention to an award that is given out in the EU, but it makes complete sense. The modern board game movement was largely inspired by the work done in Germany and throughout Europe. So it only makes sense that the most prestigious awards would be handed out there.

There are three awards given out each year: The Spiel Des Jahres (The Game of the Year), the Kinderspiel Des Jahres (Children’s Game of the year), and the Kennerspiel Des Jahres (Connoisseur Game of the year).

Board games eligible for the aware are judged based on:

  • game concept (originality, playability, game value)
  • rule structure (composition, clearness, comprehensibility)
  • layout (box, board, rules),
  • design (functionality, workmanship)

Spiel Des Jahres – Kingdomino

I had a feeling that Kingdomino was something special the first time I saw it in a picture on Instagram. I bought it immediately and everything was confirmed once I finished my first game. Further, when you look at the criteria upon which the games are judged, this was the clear winner before the judges even opened the box.

Kingdomino combines the universal simplicity of dominoes with kingdom building. Players draw domino shaped tiles and lay them out in their 5×5 block kingdom. The goal is to sort their kingdom to that they have large contiguous biomes (lakes, forests, etc) to earn points. The gameplay is quick and the game ages down very nicely. Our 8 year old can play this game without any real problem.

Kinderspiel Des Jahres – Ice Cool

Ice Cool is a flicking game about penguins in a frozen high school. Players take turns flicking their penguin pawns through the halls. The goal is to get your pawn through open doorways to catch fish to earn points. This is made more complicated by the fact that each player takes a turn as the hall monitor and is trying to catch the other players.

I normally don’t like flicking games, but Ice Cool is more fun than I expected and our kids love it. The game board is super interesting because it is designed to allow for some really interesting trick shots like flicking your penguin pawn so that you have a decent spin going and having it travel in an arc through multiple doors. You can even try to send your penguin OVER walls if you like.

This is a very cool game that deserves the attention it is getting.

Kennerspiel Des Jahres – Exit

Escape rooms and puzzle room events are growing in popularity all over the world. It only made sense that one or a handful of companies would try to release some sort of home version. Exit is just that.

Obviously, Exit doesn’t prevent you from leaving your home. What it does do is very good job of motivate you to to keep pushing to solve its deep and intricate puzzles when you could just walk away.

Puzzles and the like are very different from most board games because they actually fight back. They are designed to prevent you from finishing them. They want to keep you out. That is what makes Exit so appealing, and likely why it won this award, it did a good job of pushing back just enough to keep things interesting while encouraging you to move forward and complete the challenges.


There you have it folks! The Spiel Des Jahres winners for 2017! What do you think? Did the right games win? Sounds off in the comments.

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The nominees for the 2017 Spiel des Jahres — Germany’s “game of the year” award – have been announced, and they are:

Kingdomino, by Bruno Cathala and Pegasus Spiele, with Blue Orange Games being the publisher of origin

We talked about Kingdomino on episode 84 of our podcast. This is an amazing board game that can be taught quickly to players of almost all ages and skill levels. It really leans on players past knowledge of dominoes (which almost everyone has) and layers on a few different mechanics. We could definitely see this one taking the crown!

Magic Maze, by Kasper Lapp and Pegasus Spiele (originally Sit Down!)

Magic Maze is a simultaneous play cooperative game where the players take control of a group of downtrodden would-be adventurers as they look a giant mall looking for arms, armor, and supplies. The real kicker is that players can’t communicate with each other outside of specific situations.


El Dorado, by Reiner Knizia and Ravensburger

This is a racing game where players control famous explorers as they venture through the wilderness of South America in search of treasure.  Players assemble and equip their own team using mechanics lifted from the deck-building genre and race to see who can get the loot first!


The games nominated for the Kinderspiel des Jahres, Germany’s game of the year for children, are:

Captain Silver, by Wolfgang Dirscherl, Manfred Reindl, and Queen Games

Captain Silver is a children’s game where players reach into a bag and try to feel around for the shapes to help complete a path to shore and earn victory points. This is a pretty cute game with all of the crazy pirate tropes. We’re definitely looking to trying this one out.

Ice Cool, by Brian Gomez and AMIGO Spiele(originally Brain Games)

Ice Cool is a penguin themed dexterity flicking game that encourages whacky trick shots. The idea is to travel through doorways in a frozen high school collecting fish that are hanging there. Trick shots are encouraged because if you can pass through multiple doorways it can give you an edge over other players. We have the game and have played it a bunch. My only complaint is that I don’t know how hard im flicking and I keep hurting my finger on the solidly build penguins.

The Mysterious Forest, by Carlo A. Rossi and IELLO

This is a cooperative memory game set in the fantasy world of the Wormworld Saga. This is popular series of graphic novels by Daniel Lieske. In the game players help Jonas cross the Mysterious Forest and ultimately face the Queen of the Draconia. The game consists of three phases. First is the scouting phase where they look at the eight forest cards to determine what equipment they will need. The second phase involves rolling dice to determine what equipment they get. The third involved trying to remember where the equipment needed to go based on the players’ memories of the eight forest cards from phase one.

The games nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres — an award aimed at enthusiasts who already have some familiarity with modern games — are:


EXIT: Das Spiel, a series of three escape room games from Inka Brand, Markus Brand, and KOSMOS

This nomination is interesting because it is actually a series of three different “games.” In fact, I don’t even know if I can call them games. The Exit series is a series of self-contained “escape rooms” in a single box. They each contain all the clues and puzzles you would need for the escape room experience without any of the inconvenienced of driving to a location and being locked in a room.

Raiders of the North Sea, by Shem Phillips and Schwerkraft-Verlag (originally Phillips’ own Garphill Games)

Viking games have become so common that they are almost cliché at this point, but Raiders of the North Sea elegantly combines enough different mechanics that it is easily one of the best in the genre. The goal of the game is to impress your war chief. In order to do so you have to select a good crew, have them supply a good boat, and pick the richest raiding target. There are lots of moving parts in this game, but they all fit nicely


Terraforming Mars, by Jacob Fryxelius and Schwerkraft-Verlag (originally from FryxGames and Stronghold Games)

Terraforming Mars is a game where player race to control territory on Mars. They do this by terraforming hexes on the board and then taking the resources they gain by doing so to build further improvements. This is, essentially, an engine building game where the actions you take will build on each other round after round.  It is definitely worth looking into.

Good luck to all the nominees! We’ll report back in late June when the winners are announced!


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