Spiel Des Jahres & Kennerspiel 2021 Announced

Germany’s two most famous awards in board gaming were announced today in Berlin, Germany by the Spiel des Jahres jury, continuing a history of awarding game of the year in the hobby dating back to 1978.

First up, the Jury awarded the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year) award to MicroMacro: Crime City, a crime solving cooperative game by Johannes Sich and published by Pegasus Spiele. MicroMacro beat out The Adventures of Robin Hood by noted artist and game designer Michael Menzel and Zombie Teenz Evolution, the sequel to Zombie Kidz Evolution, by Annick Lobet and published by Scorpion Masque.

The Connoisseur’s Game of the Year (Kennerspiel des Jahres) went to Paleo by Peter Rustemeyer, published here in America by Z-Man Games, over two very popular games, Lost Ruins of Arnak by Min and Elwin, published by Czech Games Edition and Fantasty Realms, designed by Bruce Glassco and published by WizKids.

Did the Jury get the awards right?

Here at Board Game Gumbo, we have yet to play any of the Spiel des Jahres games for the first time in a long time as the pandemic made getting and playing games tougher than normal. So, our opinions on the winners sadly will have to wait this year.

However, we have played all three of the nominated games for the Kennerspiel des Jahres. Of the three games, we enjoyed Lost Ruins of Arnak the most, having played it almost a dozen times already (both in person and on the excellent digital interpretation over at Board Game Arena.)

Lost Ruins of Arnak appeals to any fan of engine building, and ratchets up nicely over the last two turns as players are given ample opportunities to design their own path to victory. Reading the table and the cards and expeditions available each round, and staying ahead of the pack as the race to the top of the temple revs up, seems to be key to winning.

Paleo is an amazing co-operative experience, and well deserving of the award. Paleo not only has an excellent theme, perfect length, and intriguing discovery format as gamers explore the levels ever increasing in difficulty, but it also deals successfully in our opinion with a problem suffered by other co-operative games, the alpha gamer. The fact that part of the abilities in each round are disguised because players play their cards face down before looking at what is on the other side adds just enough randomness that each player can decide on their course of action.

Fantasy Realms was a miss for us, with the caveat that we only played it once at Dice Tower Con 2019. Although we were intrigued by the idea and the challenge of taking a hand of cards and quickly building something out of it, we much preferred the improvement (in our opinion) of the mechanics in Fantasy Realms that resulted in Red Rising. That being said, it is tough to judge a game nominated for such a prestigious award on only one play, so we will certainly play it again if we see it at a game night.

Congratulations to all of the winners. Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!

— BJ @boardgamegumbo

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