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Ever look at your new game and wonder what the weird Spiel des Jahres on the cover means? It’s German for “Game of the Year” and is an award given to board and card games. It was created in 1978 to reward excellence in game design and promote top quality games in the German market. Games are judged on: game concept, rule structure, layout, and design. In order to even be considered, you need to print your rule book and relevant text in German and have your game release in the previous or current year.
As games have gotten bigger and better over the years, Spiel des Jahres has adapted to the demand. In 1989, a new category was added for children’s games (Kinderspiel des Jahres). With the advent of more complex games, Kennerspiel des Jahres (Connoisseur-Enthusiast Game of the Year) joined the line-up in 2011.
What does this mean for the average gamer? Spiel des Jahres winners are an amazing line up of games. Just being nominated is a huge honor and a fairly good indicator that a game is well thought out (Forbidden Island was nominated in 2011, but lost out to Qwirkle). Nominations are announced in May, and winners are announced in July. This year’s winner is Kingdomino by Pegasus Spiele.
Spiel des Jahres Winners
Game of the year
2017- Kingdomino by Pegaus Spiele
2016- Codenames by Czech Games Edition
2015- Colt Express by Ludonaute
2014- Camel Up by Eggertspiele
2013- Hanabi by Abacusspiele
2011- Qwirkle by Mindware Spiele
2010- Dixit by Libellud
2009- Dominion by Rio Grande Games
2008- Keltis by Kosmos
2007- Zooloretto by Abacus Spiele
2006- Thurn and Taxis by Hans im Gluck
2005- Niagara by Zock Verlag
2004- Ticket to Ride by Days of Wonder
2003- Alhambra by Queen Games
2002- Villa Paletti by Zoch Verlag
2001- Carcassonne by Hans im Gluck
2000- Torres by Ravensburger
Connoisseurs’ game of the year
2017- Exit- Das Spiel by Kosmos
2016- Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King by Mayfair
2015- Broom Service by Ravensburger
2014- Istanbul by Pegasus Spiele
2013- Legends of Andor by Fantasy Flight Games
2012- Village by Eggertspiele and Pegasus Spiele
2011- 7 Wonders by Repos Production
Children’s game of the year
2017- Ice Cool by Amigo
2016- My First Stone Age by ZMAN Games
2015- Spinderella by Zoch Verlag
2014- Geister, Geister, Schatzsumeister! by Mattel Games
2013- Der verzauberte Turm by Schmidt/ Marke Drei Magier Spiele
2012- Schnappt Hubi! by Ravensburger
While this list is nowhere near complete, you can see some of the amazing games that have won Game of the Year. What’s your favorite off of the list? Was there a nominee that you think deserved to win? Let me know!
Image Credit: Spiel Des Jahres