Golden Geek Predictions 2016

The Golden Geek Awards 2016 have just had their lists of nominees published so I thought it would be fun to embarrass myself fully by trying to predict how the votes will fall! The Golden Geeks are Board Game Geek’s annual gaming awards, voted for by supporters of the site. Since almost no one will have actually played every game in a category and from what I’ve heard sometimes people don’t vote according to objective quality of candidates – I mean board games – these awards are often something of a popularity contest. But that has value too and the breadth of awards available offers the rest of us a great list of games to try out over the coming year. Not that I’ve caught up on last years winners yet. Or the year before’s. But never mind! Let’s have a look and see who’s up this year!

I’ll be explaining what games have caught my attention this year (from the sub set I’ve played) and then guessing who will actually take the prize. Because, weirdly, not everyone does what I tell them!? Bizarre.

Board Game of the Year

Arkham Horror: The Card Game*
Captain Sonar*
Clank!
The Colonists
A Feast for Odin
Flamme Rouge*
Great Western Trail*
Inis*
The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition*
Mechs vs. Minions
Quadropolis*
Scythe*
Star Wars: Rebellion
Terraforming Mars*

Played: 9/15

My choice: this is certainly a tough decision. While I love Flamme Rouge, I think Great Western Trail and Arkham Horror The Card Game just fit into my preferred style of game that little bit better. And of the two, I’m going to go with Arkham Horror, for achieving what can only be described as a masterclass of story and theme driven design.

Scythe box art

Who will win: I’m going to say Scythe here! I think it’s just that much more widely played a title, and with the recent expansion hitting tables just in time to reinvigorate people’s love for the game, I reckon that will be enough to take it. Terraforming Mars in second!

2 Player Game

13 Days: The Cuban Missile Crisis*
Agility
Arkham Horror: The Card Game*
The Blood of an Englishman
Hanamikoji
Hands in the Sea
Hero Realms
Odin’s Ravens (second edition)
One Deck Dungeon
Star Wars: Destiny
Star Wars: Rebellion
Stronghold (2nd edition)
Tak
Thunder & Lightning
Tides of Madness

Played: 2/15

My choice: oh dear, only 2 played! But those 2 have both been superb. 13 Days is an excellent game, a lighter, more accessible Twilight Struggle that is still incredibly deep. It was one of my top games from 2016, but Arkham Horror, already my pick for best overall game, shines at 2 player! So I do have to pick it again.

Star Wars Rebellion

Who will win: I’ll be honest here and say that I haven’t even heard of a couple of these nominees but I’m going to arrogantly assume then that they probably won’t win. I’m seeing this as a toss up between Star Wars Rebellion and Arkham Horror… But I have to pick one! Argh let’s go Star Wars! It’s number 5 on BGG for a reason right?

Artwork and Presentation

Arkham Horror: The Card Game*
Evolution: Climate
Flamme Rouge*
Inis*
Islebound
Kanagawa*
Kodama: The Tree Spirits*
Lotus
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition*
Mechs vs. Minions
Pandemic Iberia*
Scythe*
Star Wars: Rebellion
Vinhos Deluxe Edition
World’s Fair 1893*

Played: 9/15

My choice: the one category where actually playing the game isn’t so important and I’ve played loads of them! Clearly I like a pretty box. The obvious answer to this is Scythe, but this is about presentation too and that suggests to me rewarding a game that utilises it’s art as more than just window dressing. For me, that means my pick is Kodama: The Tree Spirits, where you place cards to literally grow a tree across the tabletop! It’s a uniquely lovely mechanic that is intimately associated with the game’s artwork, and for that reason I feel like it deserves this title more.

Scythe box art

Who will win: Scythe. Obviously Scythe! Have you seen that art?

Card Game

51st State: Master Set*
Archaeology: The New Expedition
Arkham Horror: The Card Game*
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game*
Clank!
Fabled Fruit*
Fuji Flush*
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Hero Realms
Honshu*
Kodama: The Tree Spirits*
Millennium Blades
Mystic Vale*
Star Wars: Destiny
Sushi Go Party!*

Played: 9/15

My choice: well it has to be Arkham Horror really doesn’t it? The one issue with a best overall game and then multiple overlapping categories is you do end up picking the same game for multiple prizes (see the 2015 winners for the ludicrous Pandemic: Legacy effect!). Fabled Fruit is an intriguing experience, Honshu is excellent and Kodama, again, is lovely. But I’m sticking to my tentacled loyalties here.

Arkham Horror Card Game

Who will win: I think this is the one that Arkham Horror will win. Although Star Wars Destiny has garnered as much an enthusiastic uptake so I see a close fight between the two. Although maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part, it is Star Wars after all…

Cooperative Game

Aeon’s End
Arkham Horror: The Card Game*
Beyond Baker Street*
Black Orchestra
Dead of Winter: The Long Night
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Legendary Encounters: A Firefly Deck Building Game*
London Dread*
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition*
Mechs vs. Minions
One Deck Dungeon
Pandemic Iberia*
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu*
Project: ELITE
Star Trek Panic

Played: 7/15

My choice: well… It’s going to have to be Arkham Horror again! It’s a fantastic experience at 2 players! Although it’s not as good with 4 and I really enjoyed my one play of Pandemic Iberia… No, sorry, sticking to my revolver.

MEchs Vs Minions

Who will win: ooo… Mechs vs Minions! That went down a storm from what I’ve heard! Maybe I should have considered it for earlier awards…! But no! No retcons. Let’s go with the utter luxury of Mechs vs Minions! (It’ll be bloody Pandemic Cthulhu now, won’t it?)

Expansion

7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon*
Alchemists: The King’s Golem
Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk
Concordia: Gallia / Corsica
Dead of Winter: The Long Night
Deus: Egypt
Dominion: Empires
The Grizzled: At Your Orders!
Istanbul: Letters & Seals
Oh My Goods!: Longsdale in Aufruhr
Orléans: Handel & Intrige
Pandemic: The Cure – Experimental Meds
Russian Railroads: American Railroads
T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons
T.I.M.E Stories: Under the Mask*

Played: 2/15

My choice: well, I don’t feel like I could pick a TIME Stories expansion here as the game is its expansions. So while Under the Mask was an excellent case (probably the best I’ve played by virtue of having a sensible story and setting for once) I’m going to pick 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon, an expansion I reviewed last year and really enjoyed. It seemed to do everything a good expansion should, changing up how you approached the game in an interesting way.

7 Wonders Duel Pantheon

Who will win: given I’ve only played 2 of these and barely scratched the surface with many of the base games this is gonna be another tough award to predict! Expansions are even harder because my default response is probably no one much has played this yet, but I have that response to all of them. The exception being Dead of Winter The Long Night, which as a stand alone title will have brought in a lot of new players… But probably put off a fair number of owners of the original Dead of Winter with a lot of duplicate components! I think on weight the massive popularity of 7 Wonders Duel will have done its expansion wonders (do you see what I did there!?) so Pantheon is my prediction for this award.

Family game

Animals on Board
Clank!
Codenames: Pictures*
Cottage Garden*
Dream Home
Fabled Fruit*
Flamme Rouge*
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Ice Cool
Imhotep*
Junk Art
Kingdomino*
Oceanos*
Quadropolis*
Via Nebula*
World’s Fair 1893*

Played: 10/16

My choice: I was not expecting to have covered so much of this category! What a nice surprise! A shout out for the super slick Kingdomino but my pick here is one of my favourite games from last year, Flamme Rouge! Such an elegant racing game that shifts the focus from distance travelled to efficient management of your stamina that is so perfect for its cycle racing theme. Love it!

Clank

Who will win: so many of these games are well regarded and I’ve enjoyed almost all the ones I’ve played, but sadly I’ve not had chance to play many more than once. I suspect the big name of Codenames will carry Codenames Pictures to victory but Ice Cool has a lot of proponents, but did it sell well enough amongst the BGG audience? I’ve not seen it in action much in the UK whereas I have others, but then I don’t play with many families. Clank! However has seen an appropriate amount of noise recently though so I think I’m going to pick that. God, I’m suffering from AP for just a light, fun article!

Innovative

Adrenaline*
Captain Sonar*
Clank!
Cry Havoc*
Fabled Fruit*
Ice Cool
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition*
Mechs vs. Minions
Millennium Blades
Mystic Vale*
Pyramid Arcade
Roll Player
Scythe*
SeaFall
Vast: The Crystal Caverns

Played: 7/15

My choice: It’s good to see Adrenaline on this list as an ingenious combo of euro game mechanics with the most ameritrash theme possible, and those two elements work together perfectly. Fabled Fruit is possibly one of the most unique games in terms of its “legacy” implementation, but the rest of the mechanics are those of regular card games. I think, after much umming and arrring, that I’m going to pick Captain Sonar. I like Adrenaline more, but Captain Sonar has put together the most unique experience of the games on offer here I feel.

Scythe box art

Who will win: ah, the most misunderstood (in my snooty opinion) award of the lot. This should award uniqueness, but I’m sure it’s going to award the most popular (if Pandemic Legacy’s win last year is anything to go by). I want to say Captain Sonar will take it if it has been popular enough, but I think Scythe will despite not being “innovative” enough in my (snooty, arrogant) eyes. It’s a tremendous achievement but leans a little too heavily on the existing ground work of games like Terra Mystica and Kemet for my tastes.

Party Game

America*
Captain Sonar*
Codenames: Pictures*
Dead Last
Happy Salmon
Ice Cool
Insider
Joking Hazard
Junk Art
Secret Hitler*

Played: 4/10

My choice: I loved my one play of Secret Hitler, but since it’s so similar to The Resistance, I’ll go once again with Captain Sonar. America is an excellent trivia game though.

Codenames Pictures

Who will win: errrrrr I have no idea…! Screw it let’s cover my bases and say Codenames Pictures? I really don’t know how people will vote here!

Print and play

1572: The Lost Expedition
30 Rails
Haze Islands
Mini Rogue
Star Trek: The Dice Game

Played: 0/5

I’m going to skip the print and play award as I am completely disconnected from that community right now, sadly. Random prediction: Haze Islands!

Solo game

Aeon’s End
Arkham Horror: The Card Game*
Bios: Genesis
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game
The Colonists
Comanchería: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire
Dawn of the Zeds (Third edition)
Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar
A Feast for Odin
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition
Nautilion*
One Deck Dungeon
Scythe
Silent Victory: U.S. Submarines in the Pacific, 1941-45
Star Trek: Frontiers
Terraforming Mars

Played: 2/16 (as a solo game)

My choice: The wet and wonderful Nautilion. It’s a lovely solo game and I think deserves recognition for that when I’ve already given Arkham Horror so much love. Plus, Arkham is just better with 2, an experience shared, especially for the first time through a story. And your choice of investigator makes a big difference at one player. Nautilion is built as a solo game, and it works wonderfully in that to,e, with an almost infinitely extendable difficulty with all its mini expansions (included in the game!)

Feast For Odin

Who will win: the solo gaming community is a niche within a niche and that will likely have a big effect. I’ve heard that A Feast For Odin is an incredible solo game from a few sources, but I don’t know whether it will have the widespread popularity to win. Scythe is in the list again, but maybe not that many Scythe lovers will have played it solo? Assuming that would stop them voting for it. I think A Feast For Odin can have my prediction!

Strategy Game

The Colonists
Cry Havoc*
Evolution: Climate
A Feast for Odin
First Class: All Aboard the Orient Express
Great Western Trail*
Guilds of London*
Inis*
Lorenzo il Magnifico
The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire
Mechs vs. Minions
The Oracle of Delphi*
Railroad Revolution*
Scythe*
Star Wars: Rebellion
Terraforming Mars*
Vinhos Deluxe Edition

Played: 8/17

My choice: you mean Arkham Horror isn’t an option? Well then! It will have to be my favourite big box of recent months, Great Western Trail! I thoroughly enjoy this every time I play. It combines a relatively simple, constrained choice each turn, with a long term build up that never looses sight of its theme. A wonderful game!

Scythe box art

Who will win: if I’m right about Scythe winning best overall game, then it’s inevitably going to take best strategy game too. Terraforming Mars has a good shout too. Based on BGG rankings, Great Western Trail isn’t quite as likely. Though based on BGG rankings alone I should be predicting Star Wars Rebellion to be dominating, but it’s not so cult of the new anymore and I think that hurts its chances. So Scythe (although maybe I should hedge my bets and say Terraforming Mars…?)

Thematic Game

Adrenaline*
Arkham Horror: The Card Game*
Captain Sonar*
Clank!
Conan
Cry Havoc*
Dead of Winter: The Long Night
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Mansions of Madness: Second Edition*
Mechs vs. Minions
Millennium Blades
The Others*
Scythe*
Star Wars: Rebellion
Vast: The Crystal Caverns

Played: 7/15

My choice: well, come on, it has to be Arkham Horror The Card Game! Such a masterfully thematic, story driven experience which captures the theme of Lovecraft’s work better than any game I’ve played previously.

Star Wars Rebellion

Who will win: Scythe has a good shot here with that wonderful world, although I don’t feel it fully captures it as well as it could have (see my review for more details why). Despite what I said for strategy games, Star Wars Rebellion may do better here, because I reckon stories (and by extension theme) stays with you far longer than your mechanical appreciation of the strategy. From what I’ve heard, Rebellion is as close to perfect a Star Wars game as can be found. That’s why I reckon it might just swing it here.

War game

Comanchería: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire
Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal – The Pacific 1942
Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar
Hands in the Sea
Last Blitzkrieg
Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection
Silent Victory: U.S. Submarines in the Pacific, 1941-45
Silver Bayonet: The First Team in Vietnam, 1965 (25th Anniversary Edition)
Talon
Warfighter: The WWII Tactical Combat Card Game

Played: 0/10

I think I’ll leave this one up to fate. I have no experience with war games and no feel for how this will go! Random pick? Comanchería! Why not?

Podcast

Blue Peg, Pink Peg*
Board Games Insider*
Brawling Brothers Boardgaming Podcast
CARDBOARD! with Rich Sommer
Ding & Dent
Dukes of Dice
Flip the Table
Heavy Cardboard
Low Player Count*
Ludology*
Perfect Information*
Punching Cardboard
Rahdo Talks Through
Rolling Dice & Taking Names
Shut Up & Sit Down: The Podcast!*
The What Did You Play This Week Podcast Thing

Listen to regularly: 6/16

My choice: dear oh dear it’s like picking between your friends this isn’t it? Blue Peg Pink Peg is always a joy to listen to, a generic reviews podcast with a fun group of presenters, healthy banter and the refreshing opportunity to hear a woman’s opinion on games too. Board Games Insider is the unique combination of two publishers, Stronghold and Portal, representing very different companies from opposite sides of the gaming world and featuring their insightful views on the board game industry. Low Player Count focuses on 1 and 2 player games, a unique field that many games try yet often fail to cater for effectively. This type of gaming isn’t really my focus but I enjoy dipping in and out from time to time. Ludology is the long running game design podcast from designers Geoff Engelstein (whose recent titles The Fog of War and The Dragon and Flagon were both highlights of Essen for me!) and Mike Fitzgerald (who has some great titles that I’ve never had chance to try) offering wonderful discussions about the practicalities, theory and philosophy of game design. Great stuff. Perfect Information blends deep, meaningful and pretentious analysis with utterly puerile humour to great something truly unique in board game podcasting. I think that, on balance, and for being consistently fascinating, I’ll support Ludology!

Who will win: Shut Up and Sit Down. All but guaranteed. They are even releasing regular episodes now! And if I wasn’t supporting the underdogs, they’d probably get my vote too as I just thoroughly enjoy their content (in all forms). They’re basically the reason I got into this blog writing gig in the first place!

So there you have my predictions for the (board game related) Golden Geek Awards. If you are a board game geek supporter, definitely go throw your support behind your favourite titles of last year (through this link). But before you go, be sure to drop me a comment for what games you think will win this year!

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