Spiel des Jahres Challenge 2015

February 5, 2015


It’s February (already!) and with every new year comes new resolutions – many of which will never be fulfilled. A number of board game challenges have been issued recently to give a sense of purpose and/or direction to our game plays. There was the 10×10 Challenge which challenges gamers to play 10 games 10 times each within a year. I openly admit the 10×10 Challenge is hard for me to participate in due to my constant need to play new and exciting things. The newest challenge I’ve seen is the 50 in ’15 which challenges you to play 50 different games in 2015. This challenge is more befitting to me as a card carrying member of the “Cult of the New.” In January alone, I have already logged 22 unique games.

While I value the merits of those challenges (and will be attempting both) I wanted to do something a little bit different. Something that I hope will broaden my board game horizons and provide me with more insight into our hobby’s past and how it has affected the renaissance we are experiencing today. The challenge to myself this year is to play each Spiel des Jahres winner from the last 20 years and blog about my experiences on the table. A few of these games lit the spark which became the flame of my obsession. I’m curious to delve into some of the other “classics” that may have introduced earlier adopters to the awesomeness that is board gaming.

I will dub this the Spiel des Jahres 20 in ’15 Challenge (or SDJ20 for short). I have played a number of the more recent winners, at least once, but there are still many of the older revered games left unexplored. I know many of these are OOP or hard to come by but I hope through the numerous conventions  I will be attending (with their large board game libraries) I can remedy this. In a hobby full of dogmatic stances, at some point in the future, I would like to do a year-by-year comparison of the nominees (and recommended list) to see if I personally agree with the jury’s decision. For now, I will start with playing and blogging about the winners.

The established rules are simple:

Spiel des Jahres 20 in ’15 Challenge

  1. The SDJ20 games (listed below) must be played between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015.
  2. While playing the games only once counts (possibly due to limited availability), multiple plays are encouraged.  The order that the games are played does not matter. Previous plays (prior to January 1, 2015) do not count.
  3. I will write a first impressions blog (or full review if I play enough) about each game that includes an overview of the game along with my initial likes and dislikes using criteria similar to that of the jury:
  • Game idea (originality, playability, play value)
  • Rules design (structure, clarity, understandability)
  • Game materials (features, workmanship)
  • Layout and presentation (box, game board, rules)

Done! Simple as that. If you’d like to play along too, the more the merrier.

First up is Camel Up, a game that I have played numerous times over the last month. For a look at my thoughts check out our recent review (here) and my “Top 5 Games of 2014” (here). Spoiler: I love it.

Stay classy, and keep your game(s) tight!

 Spiel des Jahres Winners 1995-2015



Camel Up*

by Steffen Bogen
Publisher: eggertspiele

Camel Up Cover



by Antoine Bauza
Publisher: Abacusspiele

Hanabi Cover


Kingdom Builder*

by Donald X. Vaccarino
Publisher: Queen Games

Kingdom Builder Cover



by Susan McKinley Ross
Publisher: Schmidt

Qwirkle Cover



by Jean-Louis Roubira
Publisher: Libellud

Dixit Cover



by Donald X. Vaccarino
Publisher: Hans im Glück

Dominion Cover



by Reiner Knizia
Publisher: Kosmos

Keltis Cover



by Michael Schacht
Publisher: Abacusspiele



Thurn und Taxis

by Karen und Andreas Seyfarth
Publisher: Hans im Glück

Thurn und Taxis Cover



by Thomas Liesching
Publisher: Zoch Spiele

Niagara Cover


Ticket to Ride*

by Alan R. Moon
Publisher: Days of Wonder

Zug um Zug



by Dirk Henn
Publisher: Queen Games

Der Palast von Alhambra


Villa Paletti

by Bill Payne
Publisher: Zoch Spiele

Villa Paletti



by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Publisher: Hans im Glück




by Wolfgang Kramer und Michael Kiesling
Publisher: FX/Ravensburger




by Michael Kiesling und Wolfgang Kramer
Publisher: Ravensburger




by Alan R. Moon
Publisher: Amigo



Mississippi Queen

by Werner Hodel
Publisher: Goldsieber Spiele

Mississippi Queen


El Grande

by Wolfgang Kramer und Richard Ulrich
Publisher: Hans im Glück

El Grande


Settlers of Catan*

by Klaus Teuber
Publisher: Franckh-Kosmos

Die Siedler von Catan
Source: spieldesjahres.de* denotes games that I have played prior to Jan 1, 2015


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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/PODCAST CO-HOST : Allow myself, to introduce myself. Boardgaming since the womb, I have an unsound infatuation with buying, playing, discussing, photographing, and writing about boardgames. As a boardgame aesthetics enthusiast (say that 5 times fast) you'll typically find that I spend a large majority of the game examining the design, art, and components. I prefer strategic eurogames but will play just about anything these days (except Arkham Horror). And I love Pearl Jam.