2020 Golden Geek Nominees – The #Boardgame Popularity Contest

The 2020 nominees for the Golden Geeks are available for voting (now thru May 1, 2021). Everybody knows that the Golden Geeks are really nothing more than a popularity contest so I’m not going to comment on what games deserve to be winners. Instead, the awards show me that, 1) There are many games I haven’t played and, 2) The BoardGameGeek game weight system is horrible.

What Game?

There are 16 categories of nominated games. I’m not surprised that I don’t know some of the games, but I was surprised at just how few games I actually know.

  • 2-Player Game: 11 nominees but I only played The Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle Games) and Undaunted: North Africa (Osprey Games) which I both really enjoyed. That said, I did put The Shores of Tripoli as my 2020 Wargame of the Year….
  • Artwork & Presentation: 10 nominees but I only played Fort (Leder Games) which the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself enjoyed. I’m sad that my 2020 Boardgame of the Year, Four Gardens did not make the nominees list (for shame!).
  • Card Game: 10 Nominees and again I only know Fort.
  • Cooperative Game: Another 10 nominees but I only played Back to the Future: Back in Time (Ravensberger) which was a disappointment.
  • Expansion: Of the 10 nominees I only played Root: The Underworld Expansion (Leder Games) which I like.
  • Innovative: Haven’t played any of the 10 nominees. I tried to nominated Atlantic Chase (GMT Games) but it likely didn’t get enough buzz because though is listed as a 2020 game by the publisher though it did not ship until early-mid 2021..
  • Light Game of the Year (GotY): Again, none of the 10 played. I note that this is a perfect category for Children’s games but they seem to be slighted in this category (and every other).
  • Medium GotY: Of the 10 I only played Fort, which I hardly call a medium-weight game.
  • Heavy GotY: None of the 10 nominees played.
  • Print & Play: None of the nominees played.
  • Solo Game: None of the nominees played.
  • Thematic Game: None of the nominees played (are you sensing a theme here?). Too bad that Moonrakers (IV Games) didn’t make it through the nomination process….
  • Wargame: Finally, a category in which I played at least a few games. Here I played Atlantic Chase (GMT Games 2020 but not released until 2021 – strange), The Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle Games), and Undaunted: North Africa (Osprey Games). I at least recognize all the other nominees!
  • Zoomable Game: Huh? None of the 10 nominees played.
  • Best Podcast: I regularly listen to So Very Wrong About Games and occasionally Five Games for Doomsday.
  • Best Board Game App: For digital implementation of a board game that totally ignores Vassal or TableTop Simulator. Of the 12 nominees I only played Root (Dire Wolf).

So, what does this list of nominees tell me? First, I guess I’m not part of the “in” crowd because I missed so many apparently awesome games. Second, I guess I need to take Fort to game gatherings because it is cute art in a medium-weight card game. Third, if I want to introduce hobby boardgamers to 2-player conflict strategy (aka “wargames”) then The Shores of Tripoli or Undaunted: North Africa is a good bet. Lastly, I apparently don’t play the right “popular” wargames any way.

That’s OK, I’ll stick to my War Engine.

Personal Quick Take – 2018 Spiel des Jahres Nominations

The 2018 nominations for the coveted Spiel des Jahres Awards are now public. Thank goodness for BoardGameGeek to provide a translation from German to English for me!

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, Azul should 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.

Personal Quick Take – 2018 Origins Awards Nominees

As found on the ICv2 website:

The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design (AAGAD) released the list of games nominated for 2018 Origins Awards. The Awards will be presented during the annual Origins Awards Ceremony, held on Saturday, June 16.  The Academy added a category to the seven from 2017, Roleplaying Supplement, bringing the total to eight.  The nominees were selected by the Academy; the winners will be selected by a jury of professionals.  Origins Game Fair attendees will vote for Fan Favorite winners at the show.

As a wargamer, I understand the the Origins Awards are not really my cuppa tea. For the longest time the Charles S. Roberts Award was all I cared about, but those ended in 2012. Since then, the Golden Geek Awards on BGG.com have been what I watch, but its really hard for me to get behind that award given that the demographic playing “war games” on the BGG sub-domain is quite different than players on ConsimWorld. Consequently, there are no “war games” of interest to me amongst the nominees.

All that said, I am kinda interested in the Origins Awards from a family gaming perspective. I regret to say that I have not played a single one of the 12 Board Game nominees. Card and Collectible games are not my thing so it is not surprising that I have not played any of those 20 games. I like miniatures but shy away from the cost, meaning the four games in that category are more unknowns to me. I guess this means I failed to qualify as a card-carrying COTN (Cult of the New) member or suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

I admit my roleplaying interests are narrow (usually sci-fi) and I am not surprised that my favorite Cepheus Engine publishers are not recognized. Shamefully, I see Mongoose Publishing somehow got their money-grabbing Traveller Starter Set on the list. I am heartened though by the diversity of other titles and publishers on the Roleplaying Game and Roleplaying Supplement lists.

Gaming Accessories? Looks like the Academy still has to decide what really goes into this category. I see everything from box inserts to game expansions. A firm definition of “gaming accessory” appears to be lacking.

Of course, who am I kidding? These days game awards are less professional recognition and more fan service. Look no further than the fact Gloomhavenwon six of 13 categories in the 2017 Golden Geek Awards. I consider it lucky that 878 Vikings – Invasion of England (Academy Games, 2017) was the 2017 Golden Geek Best Wargame Winner.

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Courtesy Academy Games