And the Spiel des Jahres 2020 goes to… Part 2!

With Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres nominations out (setting aside the Kinderspiel again), it’s time to look at the nominees and to check how I did in my predictions.

Nominated for Spiel des Jahres

Spiel des Jahres 2020

As every year, the jury nominated three games for the main award, one of which will receive the red meeple in July. In addition to that, there are six games the jury recommends. Do these games match the criteria I stipulated last time? Let’s see!

My City

My City

First off, congratulation to Reiner Knizia for the third Spiel nomination in four years! Looks like he shows no sign of slowing down…

This title completely slipped under my radar. Not like it wasn’t on my mind (sure, anyone can claim that), but its complexity is rated at 2.44, heavier than any of the three Kennerspiel nominees. Granted, there aren’t all that many votes for many of the nominees yet (9 in this particular case), but even with wider opinions, it seems unlikely to end up under the magical mark of 2 I drew as a hard line for Spiel des Jahres.

Of course, the jury just doesn’t take to BoardGameGeek to classify a game for either Spiel or Kennerspiel, but of course draws their own conclusions. Still, it’s a notable outlier. How come?

The best explaination I’ve got is the game’s legacy / campaign format. The advantage this genre has is that it can build up its narrative and unfold the rules as the players progress. This can significantly improve a game’s accessibility, which of course is the real feature the jury is after.

Nova Luna

Nova Luna

This one was on my shortlist, albeit for Kennerspiel. Its complexity is just short of 2, so it did technically meet that criterion, but the jury’s draw towards the very light games put Nova Luna rather outside the sphere of Spiel des Jahres for me. Further, the maximum playing time is stated at 60 minutes, another break of pattern. As I mentioned before, the jury hates to be predictable…



The one nominee for the main award I got dead right. Everything about this game looks and feels like a typical Spiel des Jahres. For these reasons and the rather unusual competitors, Pictures should be an early favourite to take home the coveted red meeple.

Spiel des Jahres recommendations

In addition to the three nominees, there’s also six games on the jury’s long list or recommendation list.

  • Colour Brain: One of those latecomers to Germany, it doesn’t seem to have had an impact outside of it either
  • The Fox in the Forest: Another latecomer, yet I’m annoyed at myself for missing it since there’s been some excellent reviews by jury members. The only two-player-game mentioned, as expected.
  • Draftosaurus: As predicted recommended, but not nominated.
  • Little Town: Another latecomer, another game above the medium light complexity. Maybe the jury does want to highlight more complex games this year, who knows…
  • Kitchen Rush: I called this one, but again for the wrong award due to its complexity. I’ll admit I was a little surprised to see it on the list in the end as there were some pretty negative reviews by some jury members.
  • Spicy: What’s going on with this game’s complexity rating? Is it an easy to learn, hard to master situation that makes this a light game for two thirds, and a heavy game for the other third of the players? Or is it trolling?

How good were the predictions?

Time to compare the predictions with reality! As mentioned, I called two out of three nominations, though one for the wrong award. Depending on how strict you are, this makes for a 50% or even 66% success rate, which I am really proud of, given the jury’s infamous unpredictability.

However, when looking at the long list of nominations plus recommendations, I only called four out of its nine titles (two of them on the wrong list). I’ll try better next year…

Nominated for Kennerspiel des Jahres

Kennerspiel des Jahres 2020

Again, there’s three nominations, along with three recommendations, so we’ll take a look at each of them.

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale

Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale

Another correctly called, but incorrectly classified. I very much had Cartographers as “probably nominated, but dunno what list”, so it ended up nominated for Kennerspiel. I cannot offer any insights as to why it is a Kennerspiel with a complexity of 1.9, while Nova Luna at 2.0 and My City at 2.4 are on the Spiel list.

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

While I was confident about the nomination for this one, I had some doubts about the classification as Kennerspiel. Its complexity says so, but then again this metric doesn’t seem to predict the jury’s classification very well. Also, as a campaign game it can ease the player into the game (cf My City), and traditional trick-taking games are very common in Germany, the land of Skat and Doppelkopf, so I might have been wrong again. As it stands, The Crew seems to be the favourite to win Kennerspiel des Jahres.

King’s Dilemma

King's Dilemma

I’ll be honest, I’m probably more excited about this nomination that any other, and the community seems to agree, judging by their reactions. I kinda excluded King’s Dilemma for no good reason other than having a high age recommendation (and even higher when asking the community). It’s great to see a more demanding game on the list, but I will say that the jury nominated (relative) heavyweights like Heaven & Ale and Terraforming Mars in the past, but didn’t give them the award in the end, so I’d think this one will be an also-ran as well.

Kennerspiel des Jahres recommendations

There’s three more games that didn’t make the cut, but that received a recommendation.

  • Paladins of the West Kingdom: I was confident that this one would receive a recommendation because of Udo Bartsch’s glowing review, but also confident it’s too complex for a nomination.
  • Res Arcana: One of the hottest candidate, no surprise to see it on the list.
  • Underwater Cities: This one slipped under my radar as a release from the previous year. Also pretty heavy, so a recommendation is the best possible outcome.

How good were the predictions?

I was pretty happy about my predictions for Spiel des Jahres, I am very happy with how the Kennerspiel des Jahres turned out. Of the six title on the long list, I missed only one, and I (pretty much) called all three nominations, even though one on the wrong list, and one for a recommendation, not nomination. Still, this is a good outcome, both for my predictions, and for the hobby gaming in general because I think the jury made a fine selection of games that showcase so much of what games have to offer to new players.

This concludes the discussion of this year’s nominations for Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres. I had a lot of fun with it, and I hope so did you. I’ll be back in July with more detailed analyses of the nominees and predictions for the winners!

See also