As a burgeoning hobbyist swept up in the excitement and pomp of these awards, I've tried before to evaluate the list on our YouTube show and in print. It's our hobby's version of the Oscars - I just wish the award ceremony were televised! - and, along with the Origins awards and the Dice Tower awards, forms a triumvirate of accolades that I find deeply interesting.
Unlike other awards, the process for deciding the winners of the Spiel des Jahres involves no industry professionals. It's required that jury members be in no way connected to the board gaming industry, and as a consequence their nominations are often surprising. They're also restricted to only those games available in print in Germany (the motherland of our treasured hobby), so often games that are popular in the US aren't eligible yet, or at all.
BoardGameGeek, the hobbyist's source for all board gaming information, has in recent years hosted the Spiel des Jahres leaders at a local convention, BGG Spring, and provided a special section of the convention for all of the nominated games. The visiting SdJ folks take the time to teach these games to con-goers, allowing us the chance to experience the games that our German counterparts found to be the best of the year in the various categories.
For a full list of past nominees and winners, click here.
I played the nominated games at BGG Spring - continue reading for my thoughts!