22 July 2019
Elizabeth Hargrave's bird-themed engine-builder takes Kennerspiel des Jahres
Just One has been crowned the winner of this year’s Spiel des Jahres, as the prestigious German Game of the Year prize marked its 40th anniversary.
Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter’s inventive co-op party game involves players writing down a single word to get their teammate to guess a hidden answer based on their clues. Any matching words are discarded, so the players need to try and come up with hints that aren’t necessary obvious.
With its win, Just One trumped runners-up LAMA and Werewords. The former was a return to the shortlist for prolific designer Reiner Knizia, who has been nominated for the Spiel des Jahres over a dozen times but has only walked away with the trophy once, for 2008’s Keltis. Knizia’s llama-themed card game sees players trying to lose as many cards as they can to achieve the lowest score possible, with the option to play cards the same or one higher than the last card or freeze their hand for the round – earning unwanted points based on what’s left.
Werewords, meanwhile, is One Night Ultimate Werewolf designer Ted Alspach’s own word game, a riff on 20 Questions mixed with the social deduction of the One Night series, with one player working against the rest of the group as they ask yes/no questions to figure out a hidden word.
Also announced at the awards ceremony was the Kennerspiel des Jahres, the ‘Expert Game of the Year’ prize given to games with slightly weightier gameplay than the Spiel des Jahres’ family-friendly fare.
2019’s winner of the Kennerspiel is Wingspan, Elizabeth Hargrave’s accomplished engine-building card game that features dozens of birds based on their real-life counterparts.
Hargrave’s first major release, Wingspan received widespread acclaim on its release – including from our very own Dan Jolin, who called it “perfect” and “simply inspiring” in his review – thanks to its intelligent and accessible gameplay, stunning presentation, and deep-rooted avian theme.
Wingspan saw off competition from fellow nominees Detective, the app-connected mystery-solving board game from designer Ignacy Trzewiczek, and the more traditional city-builder Carpe Diem from noted designer Stefan Feld.
This year’s Kinderspiel des Jahres, the award for children’s games decided by a separate panel of judges celebrating its own 30th anniversary, was announced last month. It went to Valley of the Vikings (or Tal der Wikinger, in the original German), Wilfried and Marie Fort’s barrel-bowling game.