Legendary game designer Reiner Knizia, who had been largely shut out at the German board game awards, won both Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) for Keltis and “Best Children’s Game” for Wer War’s.  A decade ago the Spiel des Jahres  prize, which is given out to the leading board and family games, was of less importance to the American game market than the various Deutscher Spiele Preis awards, which are given out at the Essen Game Fair to the best RPGs, wargames, CCGs, etc.  But the increasing sales of sophisticated European style board games such as Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne, both of which won the Spiel des Jahres, have elevated the importance of this prize, which is awarded annually by a jury of German board game critics.  ICv2 has learned that both the Spiel des Jahres and “Best Complex Game” award winners are heading Stateside.


Reiner Knizia, a prolific designer of board and card games who surprisingly had never won the Spiel des Jahres before (though he did receive a “Special Prize” in 2001 for his Lord of the Rings board game), finally got the award for Keltis.  Keltis was originally designed as a board game version of the Lost Cities Card Game that Knizia created in 1999, but was changed to a more abstract game by Kosmos, which published it as Keltis.  Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games, the publisher of the original Lost Cities Card Game, has informed ICv2 that Rio Grande will publish the game as originally conceived by Knizia here in the U.S. as the Lost Cities Board Game in the fall.


This year the Berlin jury gave out a special award for the “Best Complex Game,” which went to Agricola, designed by Uwe Rosenberg.  Agricola is a turn-based board game in which players start out with a wooden shack, a spouse and very little else.  Z-Man Games will be releasing the English language version of this complex, massive, and ingenious game, which contains 360 cards, 300 wooden components, 50+ tiles, 9 boards, and tokens (MSRP $70.00) in July.


Many gamers believe that Reiner Knizia should already have won several Spiel des Jahres awards by now—but at least he won two awards this year—his Wer War’s, an electronic board game from Ravensburger that helps kids develop their deductive powers took the “Best Children’s Game” honors.  Unfortunately the game, in which an electronic device dispenses clues to the players, is highly language dependent, and there is no English language version at this time.