As the BGG posting notes, the Spiel des Jahres are primarily aimed at family gamers. Of the three nominees, I don’t own any (although I have come close to ordering Azul). If BGG rankings are to be believed, Azulshould be the run-away Gloomhaven-like hit given it is ranked as the #1 Abstract and #1 Family Game on BGG.
The Kennerspiels des Jahres, the “connoisseur’s game of the year” according to BGG, is an even weaker category for me. I know nut-thing about the nominees nor am I likely to anytime soon. As I have stated before, my gaming tastes tend to be more narrow and reflect my legacy of playing wargames. I just don’t buy into full eurogames or the “heavy cardboard” part of the hobby.
On the other hand, the Kinderspiel des Jahres (Children’s Game of the Year) is a category I watch out for because of my wife’s teaching and a new niece that I hope to introduce to proper gaming someday! Alas, I don’t recognize any of the nominees, nor do they look interesting to me for family play. I am pleased to see that the jury recommended Rhino Hero: Super Battle which I do own and the family finds enjoyable.
So what do I personally take away from the Spiel des Jahres nominations? I see another sure sign that the boardgame/tabletop gaminghobby is alive and well. But as much as hobbyists will try to say that there is no split between Eurogames and Ameritrash, a straight up comparison of the Spiel des Jahres and 2018 Origins Awards nominees or (worse yet) the 2017 Golden Geek [Fan Service] Awards shows that there is still a difference. This is not bad for the hobby. This year I tend to be an outlier in the hobby; I refuse to bow to the Cult-of-the-New (COTN) nor do I spend my precious dollars frivolously chasing away a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)-phobia. As a result, the awarded games and my collection are diverging.
The divergence doesn’t bother me; indeed, it makes me happy that the hobby is strong enough that I can build my collection to my tastes and not have it dictated to me like so many mass-market game companies try to.
I have said before that 2017 was the year of the wargame for me as I rediscovered by wargaming roots. But that is not to say I have forgotten the roleplaying game part of my gaming expereince. In 2017, I still managed to get some make a few RPG purchases and get in a few plays.
Gypsy Knights Games continues to support their awesome The Clement Sectorsetting. In addition to their great Wendy’s Naval-series which lays out the fleet of various subsectors, this year also focused on pirates and uplifts or alterants. All three introduce true grey-areas into the setting morality and can be used to play anything from a campy to dark setting. I like this; GKG has given me many tools to make the setting I want.
In early December, Zozer Games released their new rules/setting called Hostile for Cepheus Engine. This “Gritty Sci-Fi RPG” draws heavily from popular franchises like Alienor movies like Outland. The setting is right in my wheelhouse and it certainly deserves its own deeper dive in the near future (no pun intended).
I know my RPG tastes are not mainstream; I am not a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition fan nor have I dug deeper into the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. In 2017, as wargames and family boardgames grew in popularity in the RockyMountainNavy house, something else in my gaming world had to give. I have given up a lot of RPG experiences, but by keeping to a simple rules system with wonderful setting support I still find a way to keep my RPG gaming going.
My primary means of finding out about new RPGs is through my Twitter feed. I also watch several forums, especially Citizens of the Imperium (CotI) for Traveller RPG and now Cepheus Engine-related news. Less active is RPG.net or even RPGGeek. I also occasionally hunt Kickstarter and listen to the occasional podcast. Overall, I think I’ve curated a decent selection of Twitter feeds that I get what I need in a relatively timely fashion.
The published RPG that I wish I was playing right now is Fantasy Flight GamesStar WarsEdge of the Empire. This is because I have an on-again/off-again campaign going with the RockyMountainNavy boys. Personally, I prefer to play Classic Traveller or Cepheus Enginebut the boys are into Star Wars. Thank goodness they are not too into the new Di$ney crap but prefer an “edgier” campaign setting!
In the past I have looked at the #RPGaDay questions and even went so far as to try and answer a few. Looking at this years list, I find myself actually inspired in a way to try harder.
In past years, I often felt (for some reason) that the questions were too aimed at a certain RPG player, in particular the Dungeon & Dragons crowd. This year I feel like the questions are more apropos of the larger RPG community. This makes me happy, though over the course of August you may see that my RPG-life is in many ways narrow. Narrow in that I tend to concentrate on a niche genre (science-fiction) and narrow in that I don’t have a very wide collection of newer games.
So I’m going to give it a try, and see what #RPGaDay 2017 teaches me about myself.