Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Origins Awards

The Academy announced the 2011 Origins Awards Nominees last week.

It's ... odd for me.  Their list demonstrates their nomination process remarkably well. The process goes like this:

A small number of "hobby game professionals and knowledgeable enthusiasts" assembles a short list of games for each category. Then each category is voted on by retailers at the GAMA Trade Show. The top five from each category become the final nominees. Those final nominees are voted on by attendees at Origins.

In other words, excellent games may be on the short list but if they don't sell well, they probably won't become a nominee.

This is why Gamma World is on the list, but Smallville isn't.

There are more indie RPG's on the list this year - but that just means that more indie games are selling. Which is good.

So here are my thoughts, category by category - and keep in mind that my record at choosing winners isn't great:

Best Roleplaying Game:
Smallville needs to be on this list. It is (no question) the single best RPG product I have seen since Legend of the Five Rings first blew my socks off more than a decade ago.

That said, the list is ... pretty good. The Dresden Files RPG is very good, and deserves to be on this list. I've heard good things about Dragon Age. Fiasco is really neat. Gamma World is ... it's okay. DC Adventures is yet another d20-rooted Mutants & Masterminds product.

My projected winner: Dresden Files.

Best Roleplaying Supplement:
I think every game in this category deserves to be here. This is a category with five very strong contenders, and I don't know that I could have picked any better (having said that, however, I'm going to get a comment with a better choice). A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide is solid. The Advanced Player's Guide for Pathfinder is pretty good (for my money, it's the weakest link in the category). The Sixth World Almanac was a surprisingly-good Shadowrun book (I love the game, but its recent releases have been a bit ... uneven in quality). If you have Dresden Files, then you probably already have Our World.  I don't even think of it as a supplement.  And Sunward for Eclipse Phase continues the Hard SF with Horror Elements reign of the game (and it is amazing).

My money is on Our World - but Sunward is a very close second to my mind.

Best Board Game:
This is a category with some definite hit-or-miss. Castle Ravenloft is good. Defenders of the Realm is (by all accounts) a solid game - I haven't played it, though. Fresco is fun. Lords of Vegas just left me cold. Nuns on the Run. Really?

Where is Innovation? Or Earth Reborn?

My money is on Castle Ravenloft.

Best Traditional Card Game:
Some good games, but some glaring omissions, too. Ascension is good. Hex Hex XL is a lot of fun. Back to the Future: The Card Game is ... eh. I don't know the other entries.

But where is Gosu?  Where is 7 Wonders? Either of these is better than Back to the Future.

I'd like to see Hex Hex XL win, but Ascension will probably take it.

Best Family, Party, or Children's Game:
The only one of these I'm familiar with is Wits & Wagers Family Edition. And I like it. The entire Wits & Wagers series has been really good.

Best Gaming Accessory:
This has always been a strange category. This year, the nominees include a primer for miniatures painting, tile sets for RPG's, terrain pieces for miniatures gaming, terrain for Battletech, and a combination dice bag/stuffed animal. I have no idea what was overlooked for this category - did anyone create a gamer-focused line of pencils this year? Are my d20 Shoelaces lacking an award?

My money is on the Cthulhu Dice Bag, only because it has name recognition.

Best Miniatures Rules:
Two games I've never heard of, two new editions, and a technical readout for Battletech. I just don't care about this category this year. Sorry. If I were at Origins, I wouldn't vote in this category due to not knowing the nominees well enough.

That said, the smart money is on Hordes.

Best Historical Board Game:
Warlords of Europe, Catan Histories - Settlers of America, Conflict of Heroes, and Panzer General: Allied Assault. Unfortunately, the voters will be the "general public" of Origins - Catan has name recognition outside of wargaming, and will probably take it. But Conflict of Heroes is the better game. By far.

Best Game-Related Publication:
No Quarter Magazine - Privateer Press' house organ. All Warmachine and Hordes all the time. Hamlet's Hit Points was a really amazing little book for me. Family Games - the 100 Best is supposed to be a very intersting read - I have yet to read it, however. Shadowrun: Spells and Chrome is (near as I can tell) only available as an e-book - on Kindle or as a PDF. I can't say definitively that this is the first time a digital-only publication has been nominated for an Origins award, but I think it is. And I don't know World at War: Revelation.

So where is Kobold Quarterly? It's better-written than No Quarter, and supports multiple games (Pathfinder, D&D 4e, and - with Issue #17 - Dragon Age).

Either way, I suspect that Family Games - the 100 Best will win. I'd prefer it if Hamlet's Hit Points won. I will only be disappointed if No Quarter wins.

1 comment:

  1. Game enthusiasts use trade shows better, since they rely on print and digital media to showcase their interests.