The board games nominated in the three categories Game of the Year 2021, Kennerspiel des Jahres 2021 and Children's Game of 2021 have been determined. The association behind the awards announced the list positions via livestream. The publishers are clearly delighted: not least because the awards and mentions as nominees or on the recommendation list increase sales of the titles.  

The fact that the coveted awards are only reserved for the big publishers is long gone. Thanks to many special interests and international partnerships with regard to the localization of board games, small to very small publishers can always get involved in the annual races for the games of the year. So this year too. Although the traditional publishers such as Pegasus Spiele, Kosmos or Asmodee were able to send weighty titles into the battle for the awards, their board games also have to survive against works by Strohmann Games (Fantastische Reiche) or the resurgent Heidelberger Verlag, now Heidelbär Games, among others.

Game of the year 2021: Zombie Surprise

At Asmodee the joy is great. The Essen publishing house is in the with a total of four board games represented in different price categories, among others in the main category Game of the Year 2021 - with a little surprise. Basically, the motto also applies to board games: Zombies always go, but the fact that Zombie Teenz Evolution from Asmodee's publishing partner Le Scorpion Masque was shortlisted is close to a sensation. 

In any case, this year's selection by Spiel des Jahres eV for Asmodee is a premiere: with a nomination as Game of the Year 2021 for Zombie Teenz Evolution by Le Scorpion Masque, a nomination for Kennerspiel des Jahres 2021 for Paleo by Hans im Glück and two nominations for Children's game of the year for Mia London from Le Scorpion Masque and Fabelwelten from Lifestyle Boardgames is the first time ever that the Essen-based distributor Asmodee is represented with games in all categories.

Zombie Teenz Evolution is one of Asmodee's contributions to this year's race for the game of the year 2021. Images: Asmodee

Zombie Teenz Evolution is one of Asmodee's contributions to this year's race for the game of the year 2021. Images: Asmodee

"The nomination for Zombie Teenz Evolution as Game of the Year shows once again how great implementations of the themes of legacy and cooperative games come out on top," comments Asmodee PR Manager Robin de Cleur on one of the jury's decisions. The board game Zombie Teenz Evolution is about finding a cure for the undead that threaten a city - in line with the corona pandemic. The family-friendly game with simple rules is a door opener into the board game world and a shallow entry into the trend genre of legacy board games.

Paleo was nominated in the Kennerspiel category, and Mia London and Fabelwelten in the children's games category. That's not all: Asmodee has also hijacked the recommendation list: "Two other games from our program have made it onto this list," says de Cleur. Space Cow's Dreamcatcher as Children's Game of the Year Recommendation and 1 More Time Games' Riftforce as Connoisseur's Game of the Year.

Kosmos: Robin Hood secures a place as a nominee

The Kosmos publishing house will probably also be celebrating. The cooperative family game penned by the author, illustrator and Andors creator Michael Menzel convinced the jury of the Spiel des Jahres eV - the game ended up among the three titles that can hope for an award in the main category. 

“'The Adventures of Robin Hood' gently introduces the players to the rules of the game almost automatically through the narrated story. The changeable game board, which always opens up several possibilities thanks to its advent calendar principle in combination with the book, offers a new kind of playing experience," the jury explained. "Particularly successful: If we fail at a task due to the tight time schedule and try again, we experience a different version of the story with new twists."

Players play cooperatively in The Adventures of Robin Hood. Image: Cosmos

Players play cooperatively in The Adventures of Robin Hood. Image: Cosmos

The board game for two to four players aged ten and over relies on a large game board in which numerous tiles that can be turned are integrated; Players move their figures on it completely freely. So it is important to interact with the game environment. The highlight: A hardcover book guides you through the story. The family game can be set up and dismantled quickly. A tutorial leads directly to the first adventure. 

Kosmos was able to secure another place on the list with the cooperative family game "Switch & Signal" by David Thompson. The title ended up on the jury's list of recommendations. 

Hidden object gangster game on the road to success

MicroMacro, the hidden object board game by Johannes Sich (La Cosa Nostra), also made the list of the top three games contending for Game of the Year 2021. Unsurprisingly given the early praise. The joy at Pegasus Games and Edition Playground is still great. The nomination has almost become a tradition for the publisher: "Since the first nomination for Game of the Year in 2009, Pegasus Spiele has had the pleasure of receiving nominations, recommendations and awards for children's games, connoisseur games and Game of the Year almost every year," says the publisher.  

The jury Spiel des Jahres 2014 awarded Istanbul and Camel Up (together with eggertspiele) two titles from the Pegasus games range with the coveted gray and red pawns. This was followed in 2017 by Kingdomino and in 2018 by Azul (together with Next Move Games / Plan B Games) as Game of the Year. In 2020, Foto Fish, Der Kartograph and Nova Luna (together with Edition Spielwiese) were again nominated for three titles from the Pegasus publishing and exclusive sales range, games for children’s game, connoisseur’s game and game of the year. Kitchen Rush and Go Slow! They also made it onto the recommendation lists for Game of the Year and Children's Game of the Year.

2021 is also successful in terms of nominations, because MicroMacro is not the only title with a place on the list: In 2021, Pegasus Spiele can look forward to nominations and recommendations for all three categories of the world's most important jury award for board games.

Is in the Game of the Year category MicroMacro: Crime City, published by Edition Spielwiese, one of three nominated games. One to four players aged ten and over solve 16 exciting cases with different levels of difficulty in this innovative detective game. To do this, they go on a hunt for criminals on a 75 x 110 cm illustrated hidden object city map. Step by step, the players puzzle themselves with the task cards of a case from the scene of the crime to clues, clues and evidence to the perpetrator himself. The jury game of the year on the title: “A large black and white poster and a few cards - MicroMacro: Crime needs more City not to be cast under its spell. When the players bend over the table to sink into the scenery, there is crackling tension in the room. All eyes flicker over the city map to elicit new information about the crimes. When one thing joins the other in a lively discussion about motive and sequence of events, the game creates unforgettable moments. "

Where other board games are praised for their clarity, MicroMacro deliberately does not exist. Image: Pegasus

Where other board games are praised for their clarity, MicroMacro deliberately does not exist. Image: Pegasus

In the Children's Game of the Year category, the jury nominated Dragomino by Bruno Cathala and Marie and Wilfried Fort as one of three titles. The child and family-friendly version of the Game of the Year 2017, Kingdomino, invites two to four players from the age of five to a mysterious island. In search of baby dragons, they gradually explore them by laying out colorful dominoes. Whenever the players place the dominoes so that the depicted landscapes fit together, they discover a dragon egg there. If a baby hatches there is one point for it at the end of the game; if the egg is empty, there are no points, but the end of the game may first take a new domino in the next round. Dragomino teaser video.

The Children's Game of the Year jury says about Dragomino: “Dragomino shows in an impressive way how to turn a family game into a children's game. As a sibling game from Kingdomino, it brings an interesting and fantastic atmosphere to the table, in which children find their way around completely after just one game. Luck and deliberation keep each other in an exciting balance and that is why children always want to immerse themselves in the world of domino dragons. "

In addition, Aeon's End from sales partner Frosted Games and Punktesalat were able to convince the jury and each received a place on the recommendation list for Kennerspiel and Game of the Year. In the cooperative deck building game Aeon's End, one to four players from the age of twelve slip into the role of powerful crack magicians who defend the last fortress of mankind against one of four arch enemies and his minions. Two of the peculiarities of the game by Kevin Riley are that the players and the archenemy make their moves in a random order and that the decks of cards of the players are never shuffled, but always played through in the same order. So they always have to be prepared for the moves of the archenemy and at the same time plan well when they play which cards on their discard pile. After the base game and two expansions, another Aeon's End base game and two new expansions are expected to appear in June.

The family game Punktesalat, which was included on the recommendation list Game of the Year, takes two to six players from the age of eight with them on a vitamin-rich and varied hunt for the vegetable salad with the greatest number of points. To do this, they collect cards round by round that show different vegetables on one side and a possible scoring option on the other. An exciting drafting mechanism and over 100 ways to collect points provide new thrills and a practically inexhaustible replay stimulus in every game. Teaser video for point salad.

Sales cooperative "Spiel direct" represented several times

"Fantastische Reiche" by Strohmann Games is nominated for Kennerspiel des Jahres. The organization also put “Gloomhaven: Die Paw des Löwen” and “Wasserkraft” from Tierra del Fuego games on the list of recommendations. The sales cooperative Spiel direkt congratulates its members Strohmann Games and Tierra del Fuego Games on this recognition and delivers the three outstanding parlor games to the trade. Its board member Henning Poehl is happy about the success: “We congratulate Strohmann Games and Tierra del Fuego Games on this great success. This is a great recognition for the publishers and all of their employees. We are delighted with the employees of the two small publishing houses and will reliably deliver the titles to retailers. "

“Fantastische Reiche” is a great success for the still young Strohmann Games publishing house. Image: Straw Man Games

“Fantastische Reiche” is a great success for the still young Strohmann Games publishing house. Image: Straw Man Games

The nominated "Fantastic Empire" is expected to be available again from June 2021. "Gloomhaven: The Lion's Paws" and "Wasserkraft" are currently sold out. Post-production is expected to arrive at the warehouses in June 2021. However, retailers can already order these titles from the Spiel direkt eG program now. Henning Poehl assures that the parlor games will be delivered as soon as they are available in the warehouse.

Henning Poehl highlights the achievement of Strohmann Games: “With the title 'Fantastische Reiche' the publisher lands a surprise coup. Strohmann Games is a very young publisher that has understood how to prepare exciting topics in an appealing way. The nomination for Kennerspiel des Jahres is a great success, which proves the dedicated work and underlines the class of the title. We keep our fingers crossed that the success will continue and that an even larger number of game fans will become aware of 'Fantastic Realms'. "


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