The Spiel des Jahres (German: Game of the Year) is an award for board and card games, created in 1978 with the purpose of rewarding excellence in game design, and promoting top-quality games in the German market.
The awards are divided into 3 categories: Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year), Kennerspiel des Jahres (Connoisseur Game of the Year), and Kinderspiel des Jahres (Children’s Game of the Year).
The judges this year specifically chose light, easy-to-teach, and family-friendly games, most with playing time under 20 minutes. The slightly heavier “enthusiast” category, the “Kennerspiel des Jahres,” got a more diverse group of entries.
Let’s see what made it to the top three in each category and which games took home the grand prize!
2019 Spiel des Jahres Nominees
Just One – Winner!
by Ludovic Roudy & Bruno Sautter, Published by Repos Production
Just One is a cooperative party game in which you play together to discover as many mystery words as possible. Find the best clue to help your teammate. Be unique, as all identical clues will be canceled!
A complete game is played over 13 cards. The goal is to get a score as close to 13 as possible. In case of a right answer, the players score 1 point. In case of the wrong answer, they lose the current card as well as the top card of the deck. Thus losing 2 points. In case of lack of answer, the players only lose the current card, and therefore only 1 point.
You have the choice – make the difference! —description from the publisher
Small Historical Point: (from BGG)
Originally, Just One was called We Are The Word and was published by Fun Consortium.
Repos Production bought the rights in early 2018 and adapted the game. The Sombrero-wearing Belgians decided to improve the quality of the components, add 50 new words, and change the name of the game. Following this new edition, the game went from having only a French edition to having a worldwide edition.
- Cooperative party game
- 550 words to guess and make others guess
- Quality erasable markers to write clues forever
by Reiner Knizia, Published by AMIGO
In LAMA, you want to dump cards from your hand as quickly as you can, but you might not be able to play what you want, so do you quit and freeze your hand or draw and hope to keep playing?
Each player starts a round with six cards in hand; the deck consists of llama cards and cards numbered 1-6, with eight copies of each. On a turn, the active player can play a card, draw a card, or quit. To play a card, you must play the same number as the top card of the discard pile or one number higher. If a 6 is on the discard pile, you can play a 6 or a llama, and if a llama is on top, you can play another llama or a 1. If you quit, you place your remaining cards face down and take no further actions in the round.
The round ends when one player empties their hand or all players have quit. In either case, players collect tokens based on the cards in front of them, whether in hand or on the table. Each different number card in hand gets you white tokens (each worth 1 point) equal to the value of the card while one or more llamas gets you a black token (worth 10 points). If you played all your cards, you can return one token (white or black) that you previously collected to the supply. You then shuffle all the cards and begin a new round.
The game ends the round that at least one player has forty or more total points. Whoever has the fewest points wins! —description from the publisher
- AGES 8+ | 2-6 PLAYERS: Great for your next family game night or...
- AWARD NOMINATED: In 2019, Don't L.L.A.M.A. was one of just three...
- EASY TO LEARN: The familiar gameplay and unique scoring system...
by Ted Alpsach, Published by Bézier Games
In Werewords, players guess a secret word by asking “yes” or “no” questions. Figure out the magic word before time is up, and you win! However, one of the players is secretly a werewolf who is not only working against you but also knows the word. If you don’t guess the word in time, you can still win by identifying the werewolf!
To help you out, one player is the Seer, who knows the word but must not to be too obvious when helping you figure it out; if the word is guessed, the werewolf can pull out a win by identifying the Seer! —description from the publisher
2019 Kennerspiel des Jahres Nominees
by Stefan Feld, Published by Ravensburger
The players slip into the role of rich patricians in ancient Rome. Everyone is trying to build a lucrative city district to score as many prestige points as possible. The novel way to get to the individual buildings of a district combined with a large variety of scorecards makes for an unusual game with a large number of strategies. From the successful designer, Stefan Feld. —description from the publisher
- What you get: this strategy game for 2-4 players Includes 1 game...
- Clear instructions: Easy to learn with clear instructions! In...
- Hone your tile-placement strategy skills: in this exciting...
Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
by Przemysław Rymer, Ignacy Trzewiczek, & Jakub Łapot, Published by Portal Games
Take the job of a real detective in a modern setting! In Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, 1-5 players take on the role of investigators, solving mysterious crimes while working as an Antares National Investigation Agency team members. This board game tells rich stories – stories you will participate in. Let’s hope that you will be able to deduce the end before there is another crime… The game will challenge you with five different cases, that have to be played in order. Seemingly unconnected at first, they will unveil an immersive meta-plot based on facts and fiction alike.
Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game brings classic, card-based, puzzle-solving gameplay into the 21st century with the introduction of online elements. You will gain access to the online Antares database that contains data about suspects, witnesses, and documentation from arrests and trials related to your case. Use every tool at your disposal to solve these crimes – consult the Internet, check the facts and constantly discover new clues. You are not playing a detective; you ARE a detective! —description from the publisher
- Complex detective investigation using clues general knowledge and...
- 5 crime cases to solve all interconnected and telling one...
- A fully cooperative immersive game night experience
Wingspan – Winner!
by Elizabeth Hargrave, Published by Feuerland
Wingspan is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game from Stonemaier Games.
You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). These habitats focus on several key aspects of growth:
Gain food tokens via custom dice in a birdfeeder dice tower
Lay eggs using egg miniatures in a variety of colors
Draw from hundreds of unique bird cards and play them
The winner is the player with the most points after 4 rounds.
If you enjoy Terraforming Mars and Gizmos, we think this game will take flight at your table. —description from the publisher
- For 1-5 players. Ages 10+
- 40-70 minute playing time
- A competitive bird-collection, engine-building Game
2019 Kinderspiel des Jahres Nominees
by Marco Teubner, Published by Pegasus Spiele
A spell that went wrong has dispersed the inhabitants of Fabulantica throughout the entire land. Confused as to what has happened, the inhabitants take cover in the towers where they wait for help since nobody knows where the others have got to. That’s up to the players to find out. At all times 3 open mission cards are pending, each requiring players to find a specific resident first and then look for their friend. To do so, players play travel cards that correspond with the four kinds of paths, to move across the board, or they use the Magic Carpet and travel to a location of their choice. The resident in each tower is revealed to all players when their current location is visited – but if that resident was part of the active players’ mission, the resident including the tower changes their position. The player who cleverly plans their travels, remembers the residents’ locations and fulfills three mission first, wins.
With accessible rules Fabulantica challenges players from age 6 and up to make the best out of their hand cards, to pay close attention at all times so that no residents “disappear” again, and move efficiently to succeed. —description from the publisher
Go Gecko Go!
by Jürgen Adams, Published by Zoch Verlag
Go Gecko Go! is the roll and move game that’s all about piling smaller animals on top of larger animals while keeping an eye on the height of the next bridge that needs to be cleared.
Every swimming team is comprised of a crocodile, a turtle, a frog, and a gecko. In order to advance their animals, one player rolls three dice and then selects a combination of icons from the result. The player has to keep in mind that bigger animals can give smaller ones piggyback rides. Also, animals that are piled too high will run into the bridges that span the river and be knocked off. The first player whose full animal team reaches the goal is the winner. —description from the publisher
Tal der Wikinger (Valley of the Vikings) – Winner!
by Marie und Wilfried Fort, Published by HABA
In Tal der Wikinger (Valley of the Vikings), the annual barrel bowling contest is taking place. Now courage, skill and risk-taking are required so that the players use the ball to knock down the right barrels, and cleverly position their Vikings on the dock. But the player who ventures too far and is first to fall in the water goes away empty-handed. The player who captures the most gold coins wins. —description from the publisher
Congratulations to all of the nominees and the winners! Now it’s time to go try them out.
Have you tried any of 2019’s nominees? What did you think? Let us know with a comment below.