Board games awards

Awards for board games? Yes, just like there are annual awards for the best movies or songs, there are also annual awards for the best board games.

Winner

Awarded game = Good game

Knowing the award-winning board games is a quick, simple, and efficient way to choose a high-quality game with a high likelihood of being enjoyable and a hit at the table with your friends and family.

It’s also an excellent way to pick out a board game as a gift and get it right. Giving the best game of the year as a gift is definitely a great present.

There are many awards of different kinds, but we’re going to focus on the most prestigious one, the equivalent of the Oscars or the Grammys for the board game industry, and that award is SPIEL DES JAHRES, which, while it may sound a bit exotic, really isn’t, as it literally means “GAMES OF THE YEAR” in German.

SPIEL DES JAHRES 2021 Award Ceremony
Spiel des Jahres 2021” by Thomas Ecke für Spiel des Jahres e.V. is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Spiel des Jahres, the Oscars of board games.

This award is one of the most influential and recognized in the board game industry worldwide. It’s awarded by a panel of German board game experts and highlights titles that promote accessibility – making it easy and quick to learn how to play – as well as fun and innovation. The Spiel des Jahres award has been presented annually since 1979.

In the Spiel des Jahres, awards are given in three categories:

  1. Spiel des Jahres – Game of the Year: This is the main and most prestigious award presented to the board game considered the best of the year. This game should stand out for its accessibility, originality, and ability to entertain different types of players.
  2. Kennerspiel des Jahres – Game of the Year for Experienced Players: This category was created in 2011 to recognize more complex and strategic board games designed for experienced and passionate players. These are the games for serious gamers, although some award-winning games in this category might have fit perfectly in the previous category. It’s all very subjective and relative.
  3. Kinderspiel des Jahres – Children’s Game of the Year: This award acknowledges the best board game specifically designed for children. Factors such as appropriate age, fun factor, educational value, and the ability to promote specific skills in young players are taken into consideration during the evaluation process.

In addition to these main categories, there can also be special mentions or honorary awards given to games that excel in particular areas, such as innovation, artistic design, or specific mechanics.

Next, we’re going to list the award-winning games in the categories of Best Game of the Year and Best Game for Experienced Players since the 2016 edition.

Board games awarded in the Spiel des Jahres 2016-2023

2023

2023
Game of the year

DORFRomantik

It’s a city and landscape construction game where players place hexagonal tiles to build their own rural world, aiming to maximize their score by meeting objectives and creating harmonious landscapes.

For 2 to 6 players | Ages 8 and up | 30-50 minutes per game

Recommended for those who want to enjoy a relaxing game with a tranquil gameplay and visually pleasing aesthetics.

• Download Official Dorfromantik Rules

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2023
Best Game for experienced players

Challengers!

It’s a deck-building game with a novel duel system that allows up to 4 battles simultaneously.

1 to 8 players | Ages 8 and up | 45 minutes per game

It’s a perfect game for those with some experience in deck-building games.

Official game wesite

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2022

2022
Game of the year

Cascadia game box

Cascadia

It’s a board game that focuses on creating natural landscapes in the Pacific Northwest region by connecting habitats and animals. Players must make strategic decisions to maximize their points by fulfilling certain objectives.

1 to 4 players | Ages 10 and up | 30-45 minutes per game

It’s a perfect game to dive into the world of board games. It’s very beautiful, easy to play and explain, and also a lot of fun.

Download Official Cascadi Rules

• This game is hard to find in stores. It’s reissued and sells out quickly. You can check availability, price, and current offers on Amazon

2022
Best Game
for experienced players

Living Forest

In this game, players work together to face a forest fire. Their goal is to extinguish the flames, plant new trees, and collect magical lotus flowers to restore the power of the sacred forest.

For 2 to 4 players | Ages 10 and up | 30-60 minutes per game.

It’s a game that combines competition for points, strategic decision-making, and constant interaction with opponents. Awesome game.

Download Official Living Forest Rules (in Spanish).

• It’s a game that can be hard to find in stores. It’s reissued and sells out quickly. You can check availability, price, and current offers on Amazon

2021

2021
Game of the year

Micro Macro Crime City Game

Micro Macro Crime City

It’s a super original collaborative deduction game. Imagine a 110×75 cm map filled with drawings representing scenes where “things happen”. The drawings provide the necessary clues to solve up to 15 cases.

For 1 to 4 players | Ages 10 and up | 15-40 min per case

Perfect for deduction and logic game enthusiasts who enjoy connecting clues to solve cases.

Discover more Detective Games

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2021
Best Game for experienced players

juego Paleo

Paleo

In the Stone Age, a tribe —the players— fights for survival in a dangerous world filled with predators, scarce resources, and other natural challenges.

For 2 to 4 players | Ages 10 and up | 45-60 min per game

A cooperative game with an innovative deck-building system that appeals to those who enjoy strategy, storytelling, and unique thematic challenges.

• Download Official Paleo Rules (in Spanish).

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2020

2020
Game of the year

Pictures

Each player receives a set of components (blocks, sticks, stones…) and a card with a secret image. The goal is to use the components to recreate the image on their card so that other players can guess what it represents.

For 3-5 players | Ages 8 and up | 30 minutes per game

A game with a special, fun, and easy-to-play approach, perfect for both families and groups of friends. Encourages creativity and social interaction. 100% recommended!

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2020
Best Game
for experienced players

The Crew

It’s a cooperative game where players are astronauts investigating the possible existence of a new planet. It’s played through trick-taking with individual and team missions.

For 2 to 5 players | Ages 10 and up | 20 min per game

A must-have for cooperative game lovers. It includes 50 space missions that test teamwork and creativity to tackle unforeseen challenges… and there will be quite a few!

• Download Official The Crew Rules (in Spanish)

• This game tends to sell out quickly. Check availability, price, and current offers on Amazon.

2019

2019
Best game of year

Juego JUST ONE

Just one

It’s a team party game where players must guess a secret word. The challenge is that players must give clues for a teammate to guess the word, but with a limitation: they can only write one word as a clue, and if two players write the same word, that clue is canceled. Just one!

For 3 to 7 players | Ages 8 and up | 20-60 min per game

A perfect game for those looking for a fun party game that tests players’ creativity and communication. Very entertaining! And it works really well with groups of 6 or 7 players.

• Here’s a thorough breakdown of how to play Just One.

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2019
Best Game
for experienced players

Wingspan

It’s a strategy and resource management game where players take on the roles of bird enthusiasts and compete to build the best bird sanctuary.

For 1 to 5 players | Ages 10 and up | 40-70 min per game

Wingspan, with its beautiful art and design and intuitive gameplay mechanics, is a favorite among board game enthusiasts. Nothing more to add.

• Download the Official Rules for Wingspan (in Spanish)

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2018

2018
Game of the year

Azul

It’s a pattern-building strategy game using small, colorful Portuguese tiles. It’s a visually stunning game with a calm gameplay style and has gained immense popularity.

For 2 to 4 players | Ages 8 and up | 30-45 min per game

Perfect for playing with family or friends. Its visual appeal and straightforward mechanics have made this game highly popular among both casual and experienced players.

• Download the Official Rules for Azul (in Spanish)

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2018
Best Game for experienced players

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

Players take on the role of alchemists competing to create the most effective potions in their cauldrons. The game combines elements of bag-building and resource management and adds a “push-your-luck” mechanic that forces them to also manage the risk of each of their decisions.

For 2 to 4 players | Ages 10 and up | 45 min per game

100% recommended This game has received much acclaim from experienced players for its unique gameplay mechanics, its ability to combine strategic and luck elements, and its high replayability.

• Download the Official Rules for Potion Explosion (in Spanish)

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2017

2017
Game of the year

Kingdomino

It’s a strategy game where players build their own kingdoms by placing domino-like tiles on a board. Each tile represents a landscape with different features like fields, forests, lakes, and mountains.

For 2-4 players | Ages 8 and up | 15-20 minutes per game

Great for those looking for an easy-to-learn yet strategically deep game that reveals its depth after a few plays. A truly addictive game!

• Download Official Rules for Kingdomino

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2017
Best Game
for experienced players

Exit, la cabaña abandonada

EXIT

Exit is a board game that lets you experience the incredible thrill of an escape room session at home.

Players face new puzzles and riddles within a unique scenario and narrative, all created with great originality and quality.

For 1-6 players | Ages 12 and up | 15-90 minutes per game

A bestseller since winning this award, it now has over 20 variations on the market with three difficulty levels: beginner, advanced, and expert.

To get started with this type of game, we recommend EXIT: The Forgotten Treasure, which is Beginner Level.

Official rules for EXIT The sunken treasure

Check current prices and deals on Amazon for EXIT: The Forgotten Treasure.

2016

2016
Game of the year

Codenames

A fun word association game cleverly disguised as a spy game. We explain in detail how to play Codenames.

For 2-10 players | Ages 10 and up | 10-20 minutes per game

Ideal for groups looking for a team-based party game that requires a bit of brainpower. Very entertaining!

Detailed rules and tips for playing Codenames.

Check current price and deals on Amazon

2016
Best game for experienced players.

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

It’s a tile-laying strategy game similar to Carcassonne or Alhambra, but with some unique mechanics that make it very interesting.

For 2-5 players | Ages 8 and up | 30-50 minutes per game

Despite winning the award for the best game for experienced players, it’s not a difficult game. Its rules are easily understood, making it suitable for all types of players, even for family play.

• Download Official Rules for Isle of Skye (in Spanish).

Check current price and deals on Amazon

Having said all this, we wouldn’t be at ease if we didn’t add and emphasize that there are many games that are excellent and haven’t won this award. Just think about the Oscars, and you’ll get it. How many times have you thought that another film among the nominees you liked more than the winner? Or how many times have you seen a movie that you loved, and it wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar? Well, it’s the same with games.

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