At the SPIEL in Essen, not only is the German Game Prize awarded, but games are also awarded for particularly innovative gaming experiences. The award of the “innoSPIEL” also followed at SPIEL19 during the press conference. The winner was the children's game “Ab durch die Mauer” by Jürgen Adams. Surprising, because the Zoch title prevailed against strong competitors.

Innovative and novel, but also imaginative or original: all of these are synonyms that could be used instead of “innovative”. In fact, every year parlor games come onto the market that stand out from the crowd of board and card games through their originality and novelty. Together with the city of Essen, Friedhelm Merz Verlag has been awarding an award since 2017 that aims to point out precisely these special tricks in board games: the "innoSPIEL".

Strong competition: In the end, the ghosts win

At the international game days, not only the audience award “German Game Award” is awarded (the winners of 2019 can be found here), but also a jury award with the innovation award.

"Ab durch die Mauer" by Jürgen Adams, published by Verlag Zoch, "Detective" by Ignacy Trzewiczek, published by Portal Games and Pegasus Spiele, and "Keyforge" by Richard Garfield, published by Asmodee Germany, made it onto the shortlist.

Detective from Portal Games and Pegasus Spieler is aimed at crime fans who want to investigate and solve crimes as part of a story-driven gaming experience. Keyforge by Asmodee Germany is a card game with recognizable influences by Richard Garfield. The highlight: Keyforge is a so-called unique game, i.e. a game whose material composition is unique for each player. Although every deck of cards bought is different from the others, anyone can go into the game against anyone: the ability to use cards skillfully is essential to success and not a “better deck”.

Magnets plus rotation: the colorful ghosts can wander through walls. Photo: André Volkmann

Magnets plus rotation: the colorful ghosts can wander through walls. Photo: André Volkmann

In the end, Jürgen Adams' children's game, in which ghosts want to disguise themselves and collect accessories, prevailed. The highlight: the ghosts actually wander through walls - at least the game material is so cleverly designed that this impression is created. "Off through the wall" creates the perfect illusion through the use of magnets and a rotating game board.

Two to four players, ages seven and up, go on a ghost costume hunt in this board game. A game lasts around 20 minutes. The idea works: In fact, the material is so well thought-out and linked to the game mechanics that players - especially children - are drawn into the action. "Off through the wall" is still not a pure "material battle" and convinces with playful tricks. The fact that this game was able to prevail against the strong competitors is less surprising than it initially seems.

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Yes, Detective and Keyforge are also creative in their own special way, but the focus of the originality of Jürgen Adams' children's game lies in the origins of board games. It didn't need technical accessories or a uniqueness - also understood as a marketing trick - to be innovative. The new literally arose out of itself.

In any case, completely different target groups are addressed, so that the award ceremony as a whole is the typical “apples and pears” comparison - reduced to material, mechanics and basic idea, the award of “Ab durch die Mauer” is a comprehensible jury decision. In the end, all three titles are good and recommendable.

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