What it’s Like to be on the Jury for the Spiel des Jahres

spiel-des-jahres-logoI had the pleasure of having dinner with Tom Felber tonight. Tom is on the jury for the Spiel des Jahres – the coveted, annual board game award from Germany – and he explained what it’s like to be a member of the jury – and it’s quite interesting! Sen got to meet him when he was in Toronto at Snakes and Lattes and Sen wrote a very interesting post on what it takes to win a Spiel des Jahres award. In this article I’m going to explain what it’s like to be on the jury for the Spiel des Jahres!

1. Criteria to join

First of all, to be on the jury you need to be a journalist who writes reviews professionally for board games. Writing for a blog or a podcast doesn’t count either. It has to be for an established publication. Tom writes reviews for the equivalent of the NY Times for Switzerland (he said it out loud, but not in English!). The reviewer has to be 100% independent from the board game industry. They can’t even have any family members that make money from board games in any way. Finally, you need to publish in the German language in order to on the jury! Makes sense since the award originated in Germany and the rest of the jury all speak German.

He mentioned that while some people drop out of being a member of the jury over time, they will accept new members onto the jury as long as they meet the criteria and are then voted in by the other jury members.

2. Play a lot of games

Over the course of the year, a jury member has to be aware of pretty much every game that is released in Germany. To win the award the game needs to be released in Germany and have a German rule book. Still, this is over 500 games every year that they have to be aware of – AND play! Tom attends conventions like Essen Spiel and Nuremberg – but for him they aren’t the fun-time extravaganza that us gamers would have. Instead he spend 30 minutes at each booth that has a new game and has the new games explained to him. He does this over and over – for 4 days! I didn’t know this – but apparently there is a secret room at Essen full of just the new games that are being released! This is only open to the press and it makes it a lot easier for them to see all the games!

Tom has a location that is just for game playing – and storage! He has open invites to the public to come to this location and play games. He has 25-30 of these game nights per month! Whaaa! That sounds like heaven to me! :-) 

3. Narrow it down

felber

Tom Felber (right) at Pizza Ludica – a board game restaurant in Vancouver!

The members of the jury all have access to a private forum where they chat with each other and recommend games they’ve played throughout the year. In May though, each member must create a list of their top 15 games that they like. Then all the members of the Jury get together for a 4-5 day conference. They will play these 50-60 games together and then figure out a way to reduce that to a list of the top 15 games. They vote for each game and if they get more Yes than No – then it’s in.

However – they are also keen to include a wide variety of games in their recommended list. So they always try to include a party game, a 2-player game, an abstract game, a cheap game, an expensive game etc… So if they get to their top 15 but realize that they don’t have a party game yet – then they go back through their games and find a party game to add – and one of the other games to remove. Lots of ‘arguments’ can occur at this conference as some believe strongly in some games, while others might feel the opposite! They keep going until 100% of all members agree on the final list. 

Then each member writes down their top 3 games for Spiel des Jahres and for Kennerspiel des Jahres (SdJ is the award for the best game and KSdJ is the award for the best, more advanced game!). Whichever games get the majority of votes will be the games that are nominated that year!

4. Play more games and the winner is chosen!

Now that the nominations have been announced, the jury members play only the nominated games for the next month and a half! Usually upwards of 50 times each! That’s insane! 

Then it’s time for the day of the award. A couple hours before the actual televised (in Germany) ceremony, the members of the Jury get together and they vote on which game will win. So up until an hour or so before the award is given out – no one literally knows who will win the award! Wow! 

5. Financing Spiel des Jahres

So looking over this again you can see that Tom and other jury members play over 500 games a year and spend almost every day of the year playing games (which sounds awesome, but remember how many bad games there are out there too that they have to play!). And they do all this …. for FREE! That’s right – they earn no money from Spiel des Jahres for this. They are complete volunteers and are involved because they believe in the purpose of the Spiel des Jahres award – to increase awareness and acceptability of board gaming everywhere! That completely floored me. 

But the Spiel des Jahres still has expenses – mostly in attending events and having some presence or awareness at events, or festivals. They get this by charging the publishers 2-3% of retail to place the Spiel des Jahres logo on their box. This is worth it for a publisher because a Spiel winner can expect a minimum of 200,000 sales in the first year after winning!

So there you have it – that’s what it’s like to be on the jury for the Spiel des Jahres. Very interesting stuff! Thanks Tom for the enlightening evening!

-Jay Cormier

Video review of This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 Of Us!

ThisTown-logoWell looky here pardner! We got our first video review of This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 Of Us! The game Academy has posted their video review – along with a bit of a walkthrough so you can see how it plays.

Some comments that stood out for me:

  • It’s fun, it’s quick, it’s a good filler
  • Nothing not to like about this game
  • If Tasty Minstrel sells this on their website, order it, order it, order it!

Video of Belfort winning the Geekie Award!

We now have the very embarrassing video of Belfort winning the Geekie award! It’s not embarrassing because we won – that’s frickin’ awesome – no it’s embarrassing because no one showed up to collect the award!! Check out this video at 3 minutes to see what I mean!! Still – it’s amazing that we won and we’re both very happy – though miffed that we didn’t attend!!

Geekie Award for TableTop Games

-Jay Cormier

Reviews of all of our games keep coming in!

Reviews seem to be popping up all the time for one of our games so we thought we’d share wheat people are saying about all the Bamboozle Brother games recently. Check out these great comments! Really makes me happy to see so many people enjoying the game we’re making! Thanks for the kind words everyone!

ThisTown-logoThis Town Ain’t Big Enough for the 2-4 of Us

  • Recommendation: Yes! Games won’t take longer than 15 minutes, max, if that. For what it is, it is an excellent little game. If you were panning for gold, this game would be a real gem. – Kevin Garnica
  • A really fun tile laying microgame. Plays fast and has interesting moments. I really liked how you score points based on how many symbols your OPPONENTS have in the same town. Very creative. Worth checking out. – Andrew Bellavie
  • This is an EXTREMELY good/fun game for the price. Impressed with the “bones” of this one.- Xenothon Stelnicki
  • Great lunch time game and filler. Simple rules and plays well at all player numbers. Can add multiples of the game to make the game longer. – Pat Gagnon

butwaitboxBut Wait There’s More

  • Once you’ve had a taste of “But Wait, There’s More!” you’ll never want to go back to the relatively lacklustre fun of games like Apples to Apples and Snake Oil again. The genius of this game lies in the fun of the pitch – you have a little bit to go on from your hand of attributes & some randomness when you draw from the deck, and it’s all 100% hilarious and fun. Best of all, everyone gets a pitch for the item each round and then everyone votes on what they thought was the best pitch – a nice touch to make sure everyone’s participating and having fun. Highly recommended! – Nicole Hoye
  • One of the very few party games I enjoy – at all. And it’s freaking hilarious. – Sean Ross
  • Can’t wait! I love this game!!! I laugh until I cry every single time I play…- Tim Sowers
  • Played this Saturday night at Gen Con with a full table of 10. One of the best gaming experiences we had all weekend. We fit in two complete games in under an hour (and that included the time it took to learn the rules) and everyone had a great time. This was an easy buy and I’d have bought the game on the spot were it ready. – gescott01

Tortuga-BoxTortuga

  • Tried this at GenCon 2014 and really enjoyed it. – Arthur Rutyna
  • This one was a very fun time for us. Sure, there’s not a lot of strategy going on here but, the mechanics make for an enjoyable game. I like how the treasures move from the island to Tortuga throughout the game depending on how many crew members or boats you have available to you. We were a little confused at first but, really got into the swing of things and enjoyed ourselves. The best part to me were that the scores were super close, with the winner only winning by one point and the loser only losing by three. As I said, this is a very fun game! – Joseph Peterson

The new cover will now feature the Game of the Year stamp from Dice Hate Me!

Belfort

  • Had low expectations due to its fantasy setting, but it is surprising fun game to play. Another one where I feel every game I have played was time well spent. It has become a staple in my top 10. Expansion(s) have only enhanced it. – Bob Nash
  • Belfort is a very good worker placement game. I like how the points are score in this game. The guilds available being different each game adds a lot of replay value. The production of this game is one of the best that I have seen. The rules, the boards, the player aid, the cards and ressources (each with a different shape) are all great. – Dominic Morier
  • The theme and mechanics combine for a really good game. – James Hatfield
  • What a wonderful worker placement. It has lot going on, but it all seems to blend together seamlessly. The card drafting and area control are not to be overlooked. Overall, one of the best WP games I have ever played. – Brian Thomson

Bex-coverBelfort: The Expansion Expansion

  • This is my all time favorite so its a Always Wanna Play List for me – Adrian C
  • Great expansion for Belfort. When I buy this, I don’t see myself playing without the expansion anymore. – Miguel García

 

 

Train of Thought box artTrain of Thought 

  • This is such a great idea, having players guess a word but by only being able to speak 3 words and with having to incorporate the previous answer to explain the next. We loved this and for any fans of party word games, this is a winner. – Joseph Peterson

But Wait There’s More hits its Kickstarter Goal!!!

butwaitboxHappy Tuesday people – we did it (and by we, I mean you!!). Our newest game that’s on Kickstarter right now has achieved its humble goal of $3000 today! Huzzah! That’s really fantastic! My hope is that we make it to the $6000 goal since that will unlock a 6th player – which includes another company card as well as more voting cards.

If you have backed it already – hey, thanks so much! We’re very excited about this game and the potential it has in the market. Please continue to share and tell people about it because now you’re going to get MORE stuff if we reach some stretch goals!

If you haven’t backed it yet – why not? Even non-party game fans have had a great time with this game. We’ll be sharing some reviews this week about the game (see below for a fantastic audio review from the Party GameCast).

Again – thanks everyone!! Woo hoo!

Continue to share this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/toyvaultinc/but-wait-theres-more

-Jay

Fantastic Audio Review of But Wait There’s More!

butwaitboxThis is great! After winning the Geekie award for Belfort we then get this audio review of our Kickstarter game, But Wait There’s More! They really loved it and demoed a round! They said they would take it to any party and they all seemed to really enjoy playing it!

Great quote: “This could be the big SALES game” – just like Pictionary is the big DRAWING game. Wow – that would be great!!

Click on the pod symbol after clicking this link!

Thanks to The Party Gamecast for the great review!!!

-Jay