SdJ is the Spiel des Jahres prize, the German game of the year awarded by a jury to the best new games. From this year’s shortlist, the main prize winner is Kingdom Builder, designed by Donald X. Vaccarino and published by Queen Games (always very supportive of the club). The main prize is for more family style games that have broad appeal. The Kennerspiel des Jahres is a newer award, the Critic’s prize for the harder style of game that are getting more popular. Last year the first winner was 7 Wonders, this year it’s Village, a game where you go through generations of your workers as the years pass. It’s designed by Inka and Markus Brand, and published by Eggertspiele (another generous supporter of our club).
There’s a third prize, the Kinderspiel des Jahres, for the best children’s game, often over-looked because not everyone is a parent. But for those that care, the 2012 winner is Schnappt Hubi!
Why does this matter to us? Well the SdJ is the boardgame equivalent of the Mann Booker prize (less the cheque for £50k). Normally publishers do print runs of around 5k or 10k copies for a first edition, and if the game sells well, they do more print runs over the years. A publisher told me they were thrilled when one of their small games sold over 30k copies in Germany. But the winner of the SdJ prize will sell half a million copies in Germany before the end of the first year. It’s a big deal. It’s very well known in Germany (it’s on the evening news), and if you see a game with the red Poppel on the cover (the SdJ symbol), you know it will be a solid, safe, family game with lots of value.
The SdJ prize is one of the things that’s driven high quality game publishing in Germany, and especially pushed game designers to come up with better ideas. Publishers really try to get a winner and put a lot of effort into play-testing, design and production. And we reap the benefits with so many great games to choose from. We have Kingdom Builder in the club, and Paul wisely bought Village a few weeks ago and will bring it in, no doubt.