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2012 Award-Winning Games

A look at the board games and card games which won significant awards in 2012.


Each year, a number of significant awards are given to the best games published in that year. Here are the games that won the awards I consider to me the most significant in 2012.

1. Kingdom Builder (Spiel des Jahres)

For 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up. Designed by Donald X. Vaccarino, published by Queen Games.
In this game, players compete to expand their kingdoms according to a set of rules which change with each game. The board itself is also variable, allowing for a great deal of replay value. Kingdom Builder is for 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 45 minutes per game. The award is the second SdJ in four years for Vaccarino, who won the 2009 SdJ for the deck-building card game Dominion.

2. Trajan (IGA, Multi-Player)

Image courtesy of Ammonit

For 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up. Designed by Stefan Feld, published by Ammonit.
The IGA committee describes Trajan this way: "Trajan is set in the glory days of Rome, when Rome reached its territorial zenith under Emperor Trajan. Players must increase their influence in various areas of Roman life by military conquests, extensive building campaigns and political intrigue. Designer Feld has developed quite the reputation for creating innovative mechanisms, and Trajan is no exception. The Mancala-like mechanism for choosing actions is simply brilliant."

3. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (IGA, Two-Player)

For 2 players, ages 10 and up. Designed by Uwe Rosenberg, published by Lookout Games / Z-Man Games.
The IGA committee describes it like this: "Based on his award-winning design Agricola, this new 2-player version casts players in the roles of animal breeders. Players must breed and raise different types of farm animals, hoping to make optimum use of their pastures and develop a thriving, prosperous farm. It is a fun, challenging game for two players."

4. Village (Deutscher Spiele Preis)

For 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up. Designed by Inka Brand and Markus Brand, published by eggertspiele.
This board game from the designers of A Castle for All Seasons (2008) challenges players to have their villagers grow and prosper, choosing from a variety of jobs to raise a family and seek fortune and fame. Village also won the 2012 Spiel des Jahres Kennerspiel award, given to more complex games.

5. Trajan (Games Magazine Game of the Year)

Image courtesy of Ammonit

For 2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up. Designed by Stefan Feld, published by Ammonit.
Games Magazine's Editor at Large, John J. McCallion, in his review of the game, calls Trajan a "masterpiece" and says this "ingenious adaptation of the mechanism of Africa's classic Mancala games presents a gargantuan feast of possible actions and numerous strategies." Other games honored by Games include Decktet (Card Game of the Year), Takenoko (Family Game of the Year), Pluckin' Pairs (Party Game of the Year), Zong Shi (Strategy Game of the Year), Kerflip! (Word Game of the Year), Village (Advanced Strategy Game of the Year), and Matter (Abstract Strategy Game of the Year).

6. Coerceo (Mensa Select)

For 2 players, ages 9 and up. Designer not credited, published by Coerceo.
In this abstract strategy game, players work to enclose and eliminate their opponent's pieces. The board, made up of 19 tiles, gets smaller as the game progresses. Other games honored by Mensa in 2012 include Iota (2 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, designed by Gene Mackles, self-published), a card game in which players try to add cards to the table with three attributes (color, shape and number) which are either all the same or all different; Mine Shift (2 players, ages 8 and up, designed by John Forte, Jr., published by MindWare), a game with just three basic choices: move a jewel, rotate a tile, or shift the board; Snake Oil (4 to 9 players, ages 13 and up, designed by Jeff Ochs, published by Snake Oil), in which players try to sell each other outrageous inventions; and Tetris Link (2 to 4 players, ages 6 and up, designer not credited, published by Techno Source), based on the enduringly popular videogame Tetris.

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