Every year, in May, the nominees are announced for the most prestigious award in board gaming, the Spiel des Jahres. There are typically three categories, the Kinderspiel (children’s game) , the Kennerspiel (“expert’s” game) and the most desirable of all, the family award, the Spiel des Jahres. The nominees for this year’s award have been announced as:
Last year the group picked out the eventual winner, Azul, after playing it at Essen, but this year nobody really had much idea of what would be nominated. While we enjoyed the sequel to Azul, Stained Glass of Sintra, we felt it was not in the same league as its predecessor. This year the games generally seem to be light, almost party games. Our personal favourite for the “Red Poppel” was probably Echidna Shuffle, but we knew that was unlikely to make the cut for other reasons. Those who had played it felt that Teotihuacan: City of Gods was in with a shout for the Kennerspiel award, but in truth, that it was probably a little too complex. Wingspan was the only game from this year’s nominees that the group had really picked up on, and is planned as a “Feature Game” for later in the year.
Usually the Kennerspiel Prize winners are a good fit to our group, but this year they are also largely unknown to us, so there is clearly a lot to discover before the winners are announced in Berlin on 22nd July (Kinderspiel des Jahres winners will be announced a month earlier in Hamburg on 24th June).
Latin for “dice”, Alea is a brand of Euro games that celebrates their twentieth anniversary this year. Alea is owned by Ravensburger, a company that has been around for nearly a hundred and fifty years producing everything from instruction manuals to children’s books under their familiar Blue Triangle trademark. Alea is a more recent development intended to develop a range of strategy games distinct from their more family-friendly range. Dating from 1999, the Alea range is credited with bringing a lot of “modern classics” to our tables, including Puerto Rico, Ra, Taj Mahal, San Juan, The Castles of Burgundy, Broom Service and one of our groups all time favourites, Las Vegas. There are four series in the range, the “Big”, “Medium”, “Small” and “very Small” box games, each game in the series is numbered with the artwork on the covers designed to have a “book-shelf” look.
– Portmanteau image created by boardGOATS
It looked like the end was nigh when AsmodeeboughtHeidelberger Spieleverlag in 2017, and with it the distribution rights to the Alea brand. However, Ravensburger reclaimed the rights last year, so to celebrate that and Alea’s twentieth anniversary, they are relaunching the line with new graphics. They are starting with a new version of The Castles of Burgundy, a boxed set including all the current expansions, and Las Vegas Royale, a big-box version of Las Vegas, including selected elements from the Boulevard Expansion and some new action tiles. It remains to be seen how many of the old familiar titles will also get a face-lift and make an appearance in the new line and how many new exciting titles will be introduced.