Drum rolls at the ready and brush the dust off those tuxedos and twirly dresses! Why? Well, it’s award ceremony time! Okay, so you don’t have to get your glad-rags on, but it is a chance to celebrate some astounding games which were released in 2021!
In its 16th year, Board Game Geek (BGG) opened up nominations for its Annual Golden Geek Awards in a whopping 15 categories! Some were the same as last year, but others were new to the podium. With nail-biting decisions by geek badge/avatar owners done and dusted, the results totted up, and the winners’ badged posted, here is what the voting BGG users thought were the best games (and game related media) of 2021:
Two Player Game Winner: Radlands
Artwork Presentation Winner: Sleeping Gods
Co-operative Game Winner: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
Expansion Winner: Lost Ruins of Arnak: Expedition Leaders
Innovative Winner: Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile
Light Game of the Year Winner: Cascadia
Medium Game of the Year Winner: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
Heavy Game of the Year Winner: Ark Nova
Party Game Winner: So Clover!
(Runners-Up: Stella: Dixit Universe and Don’t Get Got! Shut Up and Sit Down Special Edition)
Print Play Winner: Gloomholdin’
(Runners-Up: RATS: High Tea and Sea and Grim(m) World: First Steps)
Solo Game Winner: Final Girl
Thematic Game Winner: Sleeping Gods
Wargame Winner: Undaunted – Reinforcements
Best Podcast Winner: Board Game Barrage
(Runners-Up: This Game is Broken and Five Games for Doomsday)
Best Board Game App Winner: Gloomhaven
(Runners-Up: Concordia Digital Edition and Railroad Ink Challenge)
Looking at the list as a whole, there’s a wide variety of game categories represented across the board. Without a doubt, however, Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile and Sleeping Gods seem to have swept the board with a whopping combo of 10 wins and runner-up placements between them!
Interestingly, The Crew: Mission Deep Sea won both Co-operative and Medium Game of the Year categories. And the beautiful Canvas held its own, just missing out on winning Artwork Presentation, Light Game of the Year, and Innovative Game. Personally, I would have struggled to choose just one in the Light GOTY category. I have played all three up for the GG in that set and Cascadia, 7 Wonders Architects, and Canvas are all excellent choices! In fact I own one, have one on pre-order, and have wishlisted the third!
Surprisingly, an expansion won best wargame, which is a hard-fought category (as you can imagine!), and a solo mode nabbed victory in the Expansion category (even though there was an exclusively solo class).
Time For Reflection
Reflecting on the results, two things are guaranteed when BGG users come together: passion for our hobby and lively (but predominantly friendly and respectful) debate. And the results of the 16th Golden Geek Awards are no different. Many agree, some do not. And others just wish Wingspan could win everything every year forever more!
But despite the subjectivity in nominating, judging, and giving out awards, they do act as a great point of reference. I know I am going to explore the Solo Game and Two Player Game winners and runners up as I haven’t played any of those (despite me being a predominantly 1-2 player gamer!). I might also be tempted to find out what all the fuss is about in Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile and Sleeping Gods . After all, with so many people rooting for them, there must be something very exciting under those box lids!
If this year is anything to go by, I can’t even imagine what the 17th Golden Geek Awards are going to have in store. We are only in May and there have been so many great releases that it is going to be a very close race for a podium finish!