Welcome to the 2018 Zatu Selections - our very own board game awards. For Component of the Year, our writers have chosen the game pieces which they feel were of a high quality, unique, aesthetically pleasing and served purpose within their game.
Tom H - Coimbra (Dice Holders)
Coimbra is a dice-drafting board game from designers Flaminia Brasini and Virginio Gigli, set in Portugal during the Age of Discovery, circa 15th-16th century. A theme that sits alongside a plethora of other games, you might think, but what sets it apart is the gorgeous, almost-neon artwork from Chris ‘Azul’ Quilliams. It pops like a trip to an Italian gelato parlour.
Matching the strong colour palette are the twee little dice holders (four per player). Once dice have been drafted, they sit in these holders to show which belong to which player, because pip values are vital come the end of the round. Each one looks like a crenellated battlement tower, perhaps mimicking sections of the castle that dominates Coimbra’s box art and the left-hand side of the playing board.
The devil is always in the detail. These crenellations sit a couple of millimetres raised, so the dice sit snug inside. There is no chance of anyone knocking the table and them scattering. Also, these didn’t need to look like turrets. They could have been simple little trays. But they are, and as result it’s easy to imagine as if the dice are standing watch atop of rival towers, like soldiers glaring at each other, about to duel. Which is essentially what they are about to do, to earn you the cards you want to acquire.
So not only are they practical, they look funky and they subconsciously deliver a dose of theme to players every time they place one down in numerical order. That’s why they get our nomination for Component of the Year.
Will M - Adrenaline Team Play DLC (Green Skulls)
I’m a sucker for good components – if a board game has beautifully crafted minis, wonderful dice or an elegant board then it has my interest – whether it keeps my interest obviously depends on theme and gameplay, but here I’m going to tell you about my favourite overall component of 2018.
Overall, Component of the Year comes from the long-awaited expansion for the Euro arena skirmish game, Adrenaline, which came out earlier this year (read my review). What instantly caught my eye with this expansion were the five transparent green skulls that are given to opponents of the lizard character Sprog as he spreads his deadly venom onto them. These are the exact same sculpt as the red killshot skulls but that matters little to me – they look great in green!!
Throne of Games - Coimbra (Dice Holders)
A good component needs to be three things:
- It needs to serve a practical purpose within the game.
- It needs to be of good quality to withstand multiple uses.
- And ideally, but less importantly, it needs to have a thematic tie-in.
In a period in hobby board gaming where components seem to be increasingly about the biggest, most detailed, most expensive miniatures, or the most over the top first-player marker, or the piece most likely to fool a small child into thinking they may be candy, we need to get back to the roots of the true purpose of a good, unassuming game component. I present to you... The little plastic dice holders in Coimbra!
In this dice drafting strategy game designed by Virginio Gigli and Flaminia Brasini, and published by Eggertspiele, players must choose dice from a central pool based on their number and colour and place them in the town or castle areas on the board. With all players doing the same, how will people remember what dies they placed? Enter these cute little sets of plastic dice holders in the shape of castles that are in each player's colour.
Now, not only can you identify the dice that are yours, but you can't accidentally knock them to a different face, that's two practical uses in one! Add to that their thematic tie in with their castle styling and the fact they are easily going to withstand more games than you will ever play, and I believe these little dice holders are the best component of the year.
Simon L - The Berries in Everdell
There were a number of, not great, but a number of games had pieces that sprung to mind for Component of the Year 2018. For me the Component of the Year belongs in the same game as the Worst component of the year. The piece is the berry and the game Everdell.
The rubber feel to the berries in Everdell are brilliant. One of the top five components I've every come across them. Due to the "stalk" they do not roll (much), the pieces are soft and smooth, and they're lovely to touch. Many players love playing with them, perhaps even trying to gather that resource in the game for such as reason!
The game also has a large tree, which you erect and place cards on. This, whilst appearing practical, and whilst the cards didn't fall off, I found was over the top. Yes, the three dimensional elements saves some space, it's a lot of game to set-up. I can see why they added it to the game, it is highly attractive and at Essen Spiel in Germany (October), attended by 180,000 board gamers annually (and making the front pages of national newspapers), I was playing Planet by Blue Orange, prior to the general public being allowed in. The chime of 10am when and there was a large rush as fans of the game sprinted the length of hall three to queue and buy the game. The queue doubled the length of where we were playing and they quickly sold out, within minutes, daily.
Tom G - Rocket in Forbidden Sky
I eagerly snatched up my copy of Forbidden Sky at the Tabletop Gaming Live event back in 2018, the premier of the game in the UK and I didn’t hang about in getting it open, trying it out at one of the gaming areas there!
Much to my surprise, when I finally won for the first time, the little rocket that you must escape on suddenly lit up and blasted a launching sound! I had purposefully avoided looking at details of the game online to avoid any spoilers and this was one such detail I had no clue about! It seems like such a simple and almost childish addition to a great game, but it just added that extra value for me!
The game, that sees players working to escape a base in the sky while avoiding lightning and the strong winds, plays fantastically well and this component just makes it that little more worthwhile playing when you win! I feel like a child eagerly watching the little ship blast off! Either way, this was a complete surprise for me and one that I think deserves Component of the Year.