2020 SdJ Recommendations

With the winners of the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres about to be announced tomorrow, it’s time to take this space to look at the recommended games – stuff that did not get nominated, but that the jury still wanted to highlight. We’ll start with the Kinderspiel recommended games.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Go Slow! (Felix Baukemann, LOGIS) is a racing game where the goal is to be the slowest. On your turn, you play a card that could move yourself or another snail, but snails in the back will push other snails. There’s not a whole lot of English information out there, but it does look fun for kids. It’s got a 3D track and chunky wooden snails. The game is for ages 4 and up.

image by BGG user HABA1

Hans im Glück (Peter Wichmann, HABA) is the name of a German publishing company, but apparently also this game. It’s a game about trading – you roll dice, then trade some of your chips to get the next animal. Ultimately, you’re trying to get the four-leaf clover by trading everything. There’s even less English information about this one, and I don’t really know what to think. HABA does some good work, however, and it did get a recommendation, so there you go.

image by BGG user Djeco

Magic School (Jonathan Favre-Godal, Djeco) is a cooperative game where players are young apprentices who want to be Grand Sorcerers. You have to work together to accomplish 10 different quests, which involve matching magical items to their owners through what appears to be a kind of memory game. Again, there’s not a lot of English information, which is a common problem with KidJ games, so I don’t know what else to say.

image by BGG user HilkMAN

Puzzle-Memo (Günter Burkhardt, Drei Hasen in der Abendsonne) is another memory game, but this one has a puzzle element. When you flip up a tile, you’ll see if it fits on the bottom row of a picture. If not, you place it face down at the top of the board. As you play and the bottom fills up, you’ll be able to play above the bottom row as long as there are tiles beneath it. Your goal is to try to complete animals, and this scores you points. The scoring pieces stack, and if someone is on top of you when you score, they score as well. Again, not much English info, but at least there’s a more full description of the game at BGG. Seems like a nice game, but there are a LOT of pieces, and I can imagine that might be frustrating for people with poor memories.

image by BGG user punkin312

Slide Quest (Nicolas Bourgoin/Jean-François Rochas, Blue Orange Games) is a game with English information! Even an English edition! The idea of the game is that you’re trying to complete quests with your knight by sliding it around on a board. There are four levers around the edges, and you bump the board in different directions to change its angles. It reminds me of Loony Quest, except with dexterity instead of drawing, and also because it’s cooperative. This is a game I’ve been interested in checking out before, and I’m glad it got a recommendation.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Zombie Kidz Evolution (Annick Lobet, Le Scorpion Masqué) is a cooperative legacy game for kids. You’re rolling dice to place zombies, then running around the school to try to lock all the doors. As you win, you earn stickers, and can start opening envelopes that add new powers and rules to the game. Looks fun, although my daughter watched a play through with me and didn’t think it looked like something she wanted to try.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Zoo Run (Florian Siriex, LOKI) is an animal game where players are trying to release animals from a cage before the zookeeper gets to them (cooperative) or win a race (competitive). Each player gets three cards, and lines them up to form whatever complete animals they can in order to release those animals or move forward on the track. It seems a little deterministic, but fun for kids.


Now, for the Spiel des Jahres recommended games:

image by BGG user Grim_Tidings

Colour Brain (Big Potato) is a party trivia game. Each team has a set of eleven color cards. A question card is flipped up, and players have to choose the colors that answer the question. Points are scored based on who else got it wrong. Seems like a clever way to structure your trivia game, but not enough to really make me want to play.

image by BGG user Dewit_Ankama

Draftosaurus (Antoine Bauza/Corentin Lebrat/Ludovic Maublanc/Théo Rivière, Ankama) is a game that I actually own! It’s a dinosaur drafting game game where players pick from a set of wooden dinosaurs and place it on various scoring areas. To me, it’s like a roll-and-write without any rolling or writing. I really enjoy it – there are two boards you can use for variety, but really it’s a nice, easy, quick drafting game with cool wooden dinos.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The Fox in the Forest (Joshua Buergel, Schwerkraft-Verlag) is a two-player trick-taking game. It’s built on fables and fairy tales, with different characters that appear to change the rules slightly. You want to win a lot of tricks, but not too many or you’ll score no points and your opponent will score. I like trick-taking games, and this is one that has been interesting to me since I first heard about it.

image by BGG user @3pod

Kitchen Rush (Vangelis Bagiartakis/David Turczi, Artipia Games) is a cooperative real-time game where players are simulating a high pressure kitchen. The game utilizes hour glasses as your workers, which are used to take orders, prepare dishes, serve dishes, get groceries, wash up, and take payment. I’ve heard good things about this one, and every time I hear about it, I wonder how it compares to Wok Star.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Little Town (Shun Taguchi/Aya Taguchi, IELLO) is a city building game where you collect resources by placing workers, then build stuff with those resources. Sounds pretty simple, but buildings provide special abilities that anyone can use if they pay, so it looks like there’s a lot of strategy in placement.

image by BGG user HeidelBAER_Games

Spicy (Győri Zoltán Gábor, HeidelBÄR Games) is a game about a spice eating contest between big cats that turned into a bluffing game. You’re playing cards face down, possibly lying about what you played, and trying to outwit your opponents. Doesn’t really look that interesting to me, but the art does look kind of cool.


Finally, let’s look at the Kennerspiel recommended list:

image by BGG user shem84

Paladins of the West Kingdom (Shem Phillips/SJ Macdonald, Schwerkraft-Verlag) is the second game in the West Kingdom trilogy. It’s a twist on worker placement where players get different kinds of workers that they can send out to increase different attributes – faith, strength, and influence. The higher you go, the more stuff you can get, and these increase your final score. It looks like a very interesting game, and one I do want to play sometime.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Res Arcana (Thomas Lehmann, Sand Castle Games) is an interesting hand management game from the creator of Race for the Galaxy (among other games). In this one, you get dealt an eight-card deck from which you will try to build the necessary resources to get Monuments or Places of Power that will score points and win the game for you. This is another one that has been on my radar since I first heard about it, and people seem to really enjoy playing it.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Underwater Cities (Vladimir Suchý, Delicious Games) is a card placement game where you try to place cards in certain areas to maximize their potential. Your goal is to build up your underwater city, connecting different areas and scoring lots of points. It looks very creative and well done. Suchý is one of those designers whose work I need to explore more – of his ludography, I’ve only played Last Will, and I liked it. His other games almost always seem like a lot of fun.


That puts a bow on this year’s dJ coverage. The Spiel and Kenner awards are being announced tomorrow (July 20), and just as a recap of the nominees:

  • For the SdJ, the nominees are My City, Nova Luna, and Pictures. My prediction is My City.
  • For the KedJ, the nominees are Cartographers, The Crew, and The King’s Dilemma. My prediction is The Crew.
  • Hedgehog Roll won the Kinderspiel back in June, which I got wrong since I picked Foto Fish (Robots was also nominated).

Thanks for reading!

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