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Spiel des Jahres 2020 Winners Announced

U Updated
Spiel des Jahres 2020 Winners Announced
There Will Be Games

The winners are...

The 2020 Spiel des Jahres winner is Pictures by Daniela and Christian Stöhr, publisheed by PD-Verlag.

Pictures is a quick-playing family game with very simple rules. Form the image on your secret picture card with one set of components, either shoelaces, color cubes, icon cards, sticks and stones or building blocks in such a way that the other players guess what image you have pictured.

The players get points for correctly guessing other players images and for other players guessing their image. The most points wins!

The other nominees were My City by Reiner Knizia (Kosmos) and Nova Luna by Uwe Rosenberg and Corné van Moorsel.

 

The 2020 Kennerspiel des Jahres winner is The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine by Thomas Sing, published by Kosmos.

The Crew is a co-operative trick-taking game, where players must complete "missions." During each mission, it is not the amount of tricks, but the right tricks at the right time that count. The team wins only if every single player is successful in fulfilling their tasks.

The other nominees were Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale by Jordy Adan and The King's Dilemma by Hjalmar Hach, Lorenzo Silva and Carlo Burelli.

There Will Be Games

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Pictures
The Crew
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Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #312243 20 Jul 2020 15:05
Never heard of pictures. So very wrong about games has been talking a little bit about the crew but it doesn't really sound like my thing.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #312247 20 Jul 2020 15:27
In contrast to some recent years, I've actually heard of most of this year's nominees. Similarly to most recent years, I haven't played any of them. There was a comment thread on Reddit that asserted that the selection committee had recently declared that their award wasn't intended for "gamers", but rather for the general public to get them into gaming. That would seem to imply that this is no longer an award for sites like this to pay attention to...? Given how often we all react with either confusion or mild disdain to the results, maybe they're right.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #312249 20 Jul 2020 15:40
They've always been pretty vociferous about not being an award for hobby enthusiasts, but that's why I thought they introduced the heavier game award or whatever.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #312253 20 Jul 2020 17:09
I think the IGA (International Gamers Award) is the award that is most worth paying attention to. Unfortunately, IGA has lost visibility in recent years. Doesn't help that they haven't posted to their Facebook since 2017 and they have disappeared off Twitter.
Jexik's Avatar
Jexik replied the topic: #312254 20 Jul 2020 17:21
I might be in the minority here, but I'd rather try out the latest SdJ than the latest Feld or overproduced Kickstarter joint.

Although right now my most common gaming partner is my 81 year old dad so I guess that makes sense.
Ah_Pook's Avatar
Ah_Pook replied the topic: #312261 20 Jul 2020 17:58
The Crew is incredibly good if you like trick taking games. I'm also very excited about My City. Pictures is a thing I would try if someone had it, it looks fun for that kind of thing.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #312271 20 Jul 2020 23:14
First time in years . . . a couple of decades that I haven’t even heard of any of them. I guess I’m officially a grumpy old man now.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #312273 21 Jul 2020 00:41
The Crew is a great, great game. Very glad it won KDJ. But it is an odd win- trick taking is a very niche genre as it is, and this is a co-op variant with a 50 mission campaign.

The card play is pretty standard trick taking fare. And really, trick taking had co-op play before it was cool (partnership games). Where it becomes brilliant is in its format. When you play through the missions, it’s almost like taking a course in how to play trick taking games. The objectives almost become puzzle-like, forcing you to solve them with trick taking skills. Playing to win, playing to lose, playing to lead, draining suits, fishing for suits, learning to trump, using hand information...all of it comes into play and to different degrees. Some objectives you have to do specific things like win a trick with a 1- which requires players to coordinate and get someone to lead a 1 when the others can only play off suit or a 1 rocket (trump) when all three other trumps are already played. Others you have to take specific cards in sequence, first/last, etc. it can get really tricky and sometimes tense working it out- it can feel almost like The Mind- getting that link-up between players and hands.

I think it’s a masterpiece of the genre- but it is also much more accessible than Tichu, Mu, Sticheln, Cosmic Eidex and so forth. Plus, with it being co-op, it opens a highly competitive and skill-based genre up to more people who might be intimidated by the more complex designs.

We’ve been cycling between The Crew, Skull King, and both Fox in the Forest titles all summer.
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #312274 21 Jul 2020 00:49
I think your point about opening up the genre to a new audience is a good one. Trick taking games are so hyper competitive it's a turnoff, particularly because *even among regular non-hobby gamers* trick taking games tend to be absolutely merciless, with lots of sharks.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #312280 21 Jul 2020 10:08

Gary Sax wrote: I think your point about opening up the genre to a new audience is a good one. Trick taking games are so hyper competitive it's a turnoff, particularly because *even among regular non-hobby gamers* trick taking games tend to be absolutely merciless, with lots of sharks.


Hang on. Trick-takers are wildly popular with the general public. I'd wager there were more plays of Hearts last night than Castles of Burgundy during its entire lifespan.

I suppose you can call them competitive, but jeeze. It may be the single most popular genre of tabletop games in the world. Rummy games maybe could give it a run.

The Crew sounds interesting and I know some people prefer cooperatives. But I'll ask a question -- how is tabletalk handled in a cooperative trick taking game? Can you discuss what you're going for and what you have? It sounds almost painful to me short of laying your hands out open on the table. Even that sounds rough just from a logistics point of view. Clearly it works somehow or it wouldn't be getting awards.
dysjunct's Avatar
dysjunct replied the topic: #312283 21 Jul 2020 10:44
You can’t talk about what’s in your hand.

In each hand, there’s cards dealt out from a little deck of tasks. The tasks are things like “win the trick with the Blue 9 in it.” If that task is in front of you, then you’d either have the blue 9 or help other people run out of another color so they can slough off the blue 9 to you.

So that’s how people know what you’re going for - it’s public.

There’s also, in some missions, a communication token. Each player gets ones, and can use it once in a hand. When you use it, you put out a card from your hand face up in front of you. You put the token at the top of the card to indicate “this is my highest card of this suit,” at the bottom to indicate “this is my lowest card of this suit,” and in the middle to indicate “this is my only card of this suit.”

Other than that, no communication.
Ah_Pook's Avatar
Ah_Pook replied the topic: #312284 21 Jul 2020 10:48

Sagrilarus wrote: The Crew sounds interesting and I know some people prefer cooperatives. But I'll ask a question -- how is tabletalk handled in a cooperative trick taking game. Can you discuss what you're going for and what you have? It sounds almost painful to me short of laying your hands out open on the table. Even that sounds rough just from a logistics point of view. Clearly it works somehow or it wouldn't be getting awards.


Each player can communicate exactly once per hand. In between tricks you can lay one card face up on the table and indicate that it is your highest card of a suit, lowest card of a suit, or only card of a suit. Outside of that you can only communicate by way of your card play, which is why it really is "Learn How To Trick Taking: The Game". The table needs to be able to parse what's happening and react to it correctly, collectively.

Edit: also, as Dysjunct said, the goals you are going for are public knowledge.
Gregarius's Avatar
Gregarius replied the topic: #312291 21 Jul 2020 12:04
I really like The Crew, so I'm glad it won. I also love the idea of it being a tutorial for how to play trick-takers. I had never thought of that, but it really is spot on.

I blindly pre-ordered My City a while ago, due to arrive sometime this month. As a Knizia fanboy, I'm sure I'll like something about it. I hope it continues his recent resurgence of great designs.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #312296 21 Jul 2020 12:35
It’s true that trick taking is a traditional card game thing and it’s also true that really competitive, skill oriented games exist in the mainstream, of course.

But positioning those things in a “hobby” market is different. In the market in which The Crew exists, Hearts barely registers as even existing- it’s actively devalued along with other traditional games. And this is why I think trick taking has always been a niche among hobby gamers. And frankly, highly competitive skill based games are also devalued in the hobby market. Especially ones where all you really need are a deck of cards and there aren’t a bazillion building tiles, resource exchanges, workers to place, and so forth.

The open goals and the one-shot communication token you get are really a lot of info you can give to your partners. If you take the omega pink 9, that is a message. If someone else does because they picked last, and you have the 9...you want to signal that you have it so that everyone can play accordingly. It’s such a neat system...and yeah, the skills translate over into other trick taking games. My kids are better at Skull King because they’ve played The Crew.