In the last few days, the Spiel des Jahres winner has been announced, well done Codenames and CGE, but also The Kennerspiel des Jahres winner has been announced and it was… Pandemic Leg…
[What?.. Wait, it didn’t win!.. Well what did?.. Oh!]
It came as a big surprise to many that it won; and it has been met with mixed reactions, by the supporters of the game and the Pandemic lovers. If you have listened to our last podcast, episode 14, we talked about what we thought of all games nominated, and who we think would take home the prize.
Here are three possible reasons I believe Isle of Skye won:
- It’s a good game! – Let’s start with the obvious; that possibly this game is really good, the best of the bunch and deserves the black pawn stamp on it’s box lid. I’ve played quite a few games of this with lots of different people and enjoyed every one of them and so did many of the players. It carries many tropes of any tile laying euro game. You need to effectively place your tile/s to reward you the most points and points equal prizes. It’s language independent and has a push your luck auction mechanic, which I personally like. Finishing the game off with a slightly complicated scoring rule which will get some players a bit twisted up about (see Carracassonne farmers scoring).
Oh, and you setup the game with a set of random round scoring tiles and you randomly draw terrain tiles from a bag. This gives it ample replayability over many games with different people. Leading me onto reason 2…………
- Replayability – for years now board gamers would always look at a game and ask, “how many times can I play it before I’m bored, seen it all or there is too little strategy?” But in the last year, both pandemic legacy (PL) and Time Stories (TS) have emerged and been classed as “a disposable game”. Games that can only be played once because; 1. the game has been altered too much or 2. you, the player, have learnt the puzzles and the secrets that doing it again would only be for self-efficiency. OK, PL can be played from 12 – 24 times, but once you have completed it, then it can ‘t be played again. Well you can buy another copy, but you know the story and so the experience is gone. Like watching a good TV series and then watching it all over again, you might spot some new bits but you know the main story arc and tension and drama is diluted. TS is different in this context because you can only play the story in the box once, plus you can really only play this with the same players (trust me).
This is where IoS could have beaten both of them because you can play this as many times as you like and with who you like. You can take this to games night, play this with one group of people and then play another game with another set of players and nothing can be spoiled because there is no story, only the one you create in your head when building your clan territory.
- Financial Benefit – The section below is taken from the Spiel des Jahres website in the FAQ page:
How does the association receive revenue? The jury only receives revenue through licensing fees, which the association charges for use of their own logo for publicity purposes. If an award-winning publisher wants to advertise using the title “Spiel des Jahres”, they can do this for free. But if they want to print the “Spiel des Jahres” logo on the box, they need to pay a very small licensing fee per game sold. There are different regulations regarding licensing fees and length of use for the main awards, nominated games and the special awards. sourced from http://www.spiel-des-jahres.de/en/faq
So, I will say it, what if Isle of Skye was favored over the other two because potentially it could sell a lot more copies? In turn generating income for the association? Here’s my theory: until now no one cared about it until it was nominated, I was one of those. Compared to PL and TS who have sold copies in droves when first released, which was also aided by the hype train on both, to the point Z-man couldn’t print PL fast enough. There was no hype about IoS, just a few people picking it up and loving it or hating it. No real fuss was made. But now winning, this could make a huge difference and the publisher should be calling the printing company with a big reprint order with one small alteration on the front of the box lid.
What if, Pandemic Legacy was looked at and the consensus was that it has sold a majority of its surplus life stock, added to the rumor of a Season 2 round the corner. And this leads thoughts “how much more can it sell?” The same can be said about Time Stories, but also to the fact that the core box and the expansions can be sold on, once the current owners have no use for it.
So, was the decision made to give the award to the under-dog because you can play it many times without expansions or buying a whole new game. Was the deciding factor, Money? Like any good business, you will weigh up the pros and cons on any business deal. And this could be no exception. Each box might only bring in a few pennies but after selling worldwide it would all add up in the end.
It will sell really well now and this will be good for the designer, publisher and Spiel des Jahres Association. Maybe the fact that 2 of the 3 games nominated, are a great experience first-time round, but once you are done you can not go back and get that same experience again.
Maybe, just maybe, Isle of Skye was voted for because it was the best game out of the three.
Check out our podcast where Tom and I talk about both set of Nominees and who will win here.
What are your thoughts?
Let me know in the comments.