I’d like to add my voice to those congratulating our very own Brett Gilbert and Matthew Dunstan for having their latest game, Elysium, nominated for the Spiel des Jahres Kennerspiel Award 2015.
It has been amazing to see games go on their journey from being playtested in The Cricketers pub, Cambridge to hitting the shelves, but to see a game you’ve a had a (tiny) part in testing be one of three nominees for the biggest awards in gaming is a thrill.
Despite its growing popularity as a hobby worldwide, Germany is still the spiritual home of hobby games and the Spiel des Jahres are the German board game of the year awards – the ones every publisher and designer wants to win above all others. they are broken down into three categories (essentially family, children’s and gateway), with the Kennerspiel Award being given to games considered a step up from basic family games.
The super high production values on Elysium and matched by the game play: think set collection card game with just enough bells and whistles added to make it a real thinker’s game. And it still plays out in an hour, while offering lots of variety in the box through different card sets. I hope to do a review in the not too distant future.
Also nominated in the same category are ‘Broom Service’ and ‘Orleans’. The family award nominees are ‘Colt Express’, ‘Machi Koro’ and ‘The Game’, while ‘Push a Monster’, ‘Schatz-Rabatz’ and ‘Spinderella’ will fight it out for the children’s game prize.
Matthew was of course the co-designer of my own published game, Empire Engine – while Brett played no small part in getting it tested, online, and with a solid rules set. They are both already responsible for other successful published games, including Brett’s bluffing and deduction card game Divinare (a Spiel des Jahres ‘recommended’ title in 2013) and Matt’s fantastic family game Relic Runners.
If you think you might be interested in board or card game design you should check out the Playtest UK Games Meet Up Group. Regular sessions are now held in London, Cambridge, Newcastle and Cardiff and you don’t have to have any experience to come along and get involved – just a passion for games and games design, plus a realistic idea that the games you may play may be written on cards with pen and totally broken! But then a few years later, those same games may be nominated for their own awards.