SDJ Buzz: Recommendations 2021

First of all, congrats to the winners of this year’s awards – Dragomino won the Kinderspiel des Jahres, MicroMacro Crime City won the Spiel des Jahres, and Paleo won the Kennerspiel des Jahres. If you’ve been following along with my coverage, you’ll note that I got all three of those correct. That’s a rare accomplishment for me, so yay!

One of the cool things the des Jahres awards all do is to have a recommended list on top of their nominees. So people who are interested in finding more games always have more than just the three nominees. I always like to cover these because sometimes you find stuff that’s more interesting than the nominees – possibly too niche, but still deserving of recognition. Now that we know all of this year’s winners, we’ll take a look at these. We’ll start with the Kinderspiel recommended list.

image by BGG user autosave

Dream Catcher (Laurent Escoffer/David Franck, Space Cow) is a game where you’re trying to beat nightmares with stuffed animals. A nightmare comes out, and everyone chooses a stuffy to try to cover it. If you’re successful, you get dream tokens based on the size of the stuffy – the smaller the stuffy, the more you’ll get. Nightmares are drawn out of a pillow, which is cool. Seems like a cute spatial perception game.

image by BGG user Beowulf

Hipp Hopp Hippo (Stefan Kloß/Anna Oppolzer, Schmidt Spiele) is a game where you’re trying to move monkeys from one side of the river to the other, jumping off the backs of hippos. Each turn, you roll a die to move your monkeys and another to move the hippos, which may dive. Never mind how vicious hippos are in real life, and how they probably wouldn’t tolerate this. There’s not a lot of information about this one, so I don’t really have a gameplay opinion.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Inspecktor Nase (Reinhard Staupe, NSV) is a cooperative deduction game where one player is trying to lead players to a target card. They roll a die and use that symbol to try to help players know which one not to remove. This repeats until hopefully the players find the correct card. It sounds a bit like an even more streamlined version of Similo, except with dice instead of cards.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Käpt’n Kuller (Kirsten Hiese, Schmidt Spiele) is a game about pirates trying to decide how to divide their loot. Basically, you’re rolling a ball down a tube into some gems and trying to knock them off the platform in order to score. At least, that’s what I’m guessing – there’s not much English information, and I’m basing this off a German video on BGG. Looks fun, although probably a choking hazard.

image by BGG user Beowulf

Memo Friends (Goula) is a memory game. There are 20 challenges in the game, showing different set ups of an owl, a fox, a bear, a tree stump, and a toadstool. This looks like a game for very young children that in the end may be more like a puzzle than a game. But, the components seem cool.

image by BGG user raphael7

Swip’Sheep (Yann Dupont, Djeco) is a game of attacking sheep. Each player gets three cards, one of which they keep and the others they pass to their neighbors. Wolves then attack opposing players, and you get a card stolen if you don’t have a dog to defend yourself. Then you score for all sheep you have in your hand. It seems a little like Cash n Guns (which I don’t like) for kids.

image by BGG user Djeco

Tapikékoi (Romaric Galonnier/Laurent Toulose, Djeco) is a memory game where you’re trying to figure out what has been stolen from the house while the family slept. Players take turns being the family or the thieves. The thieves steal stuff at night, and the family has to decide what they all were. If they miss something, the thieves keep it. It’s kind of a dark theme for a kid’s game.

Moving on now to the Spiel recommended games:

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Biss 20 (Lena Burkhardt/Günter Burkhardt, Drei Magier Spiele) is a counting game. Players must, in sequence, count up to 20. That’s it. Oh, but in each round, a rule changes. Two numbers get switched. You have to wave instead of saying a particular number. You stand up instead of saying a number. Etc. This sounds like it would be a blast to play in an educational setting, or even for improv as you try to do it as fast as possible. I’m not sold on its quality as a game yet, though.

image by BGG user captainLucky

Chakra (Luka Krieža, BLAM!) is a game where you’re trying to harmonize your chakra. You have seven chakras, and you’ll be trying to fill them with the right color gems. The game is quite pretty, and I’ve tried in on, though I didn’t ever really get the hang of what I was doing. Still, a nice creative theme that people seem to be enjoying.

image by BGG user AEGTodd

Point Salad (Molly Johnson/Robert Melvin/Shawn Stankewich, AEG) is a card game where the object is to score lots of points using vegetables. On your turn, you either take two veggies or a scoring card. Scoring cards give you points based on the veggies you have. It’s a brilliant game, and I’m honestly a bit surprised that it didn’t get an outright nomination – I probably would have had this one winning. But a recommendation is nice too.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Switch & Signal (David Thompson, KOSMOS) is a cooperative train game where players are trying to coordinate deliveries without wasting much time. You’re trying to set up your trains to move the maximum amount, so there’s some luck pushing going on. It looks like a super cool game that I hadn’t heard of before. I’ll need to seek this one out.

image by BGG user TheOneTAR

The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land (Thomas Sing, HABA) is a mystery game where players are trying to figure out who has been sabotaging rides at a theme park. It’s not cooperative, players are racing to figure it out. This is apparently the third in a series, which I haven’t heard of before. But it looks interesting.

And finally, the Kennerspiel recommended list:

image by BGG user Action Phase

Aeon’s End (Kevin Riley, Gong Studios) originalyl came out in 2016, but just got a German version, and that’s what got recommended. It’s a cooperative deckbuilding game where players are trying to put together a team that can defend a fantasy world. I got to play this once, and it was fun, though 75% of the players didn’t know what they were doing (me included) and we got creamed. But it’s been very popular, and I think it’s a good recommendation.

image by BGG user elbove

Barrage (Tommaso Battista/Simone Luchiani, Cranio Creations) is a game about the battle for hydroelectric dominance. It’s a dystopian game worker placement game where players are trying to build dams and control the rivers, which is the only energy source left. It’s a cool looking game that I’ve been hearing about since before it came out, and one I’ve wanted to play for some time.

image by BGG user LeMammouth

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion (Isaac Childres, Cephalofair Games) is a prequel to Gloomhaven that was more streamlined than the original. There are 25 scenarios, and players are fighting through maps in the scenario book to accomplish their missions. I still haven’t played the original game, but I’m looking forward to trying it out sometime in the future. For me, I’d rather play the big version, but this one seems to be a good way to get more casual audiences into the system.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Riftforce (Carlo Bortolini, 1 More Time Games) is two-player game where the goal is to control the different elements in a sci-fi world. It seems like a fairly quick card game, but to be honest, I haven’t looked into it too deeply. Something about the theme doesn’t appeal to me.

And that’s it for this year’s dJ recommendations. Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately – hopefully, it’s going to pick up soon. But, special programming note, there will be no Kickstarter Blitz this month. I may be discontinuing it entirely, but just thinking about trying to put it together in the next three days is stressing me out, so I’m just not going to. I do have some other reviews and things coming up, so stay tuned! Stay safe out there, and thanks for reading!

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