Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Origins Awards: Nominees Are Up

As you may recall, I really like the Origins Awards some years. Other years, it's an exercise in irrelevancy.

The complete list of nominees can be found here.

I do think these awards are flawed. I've discussed this before. Tom Vasel has an excellent rant about it here.

So here are the categories about which I feel qualified to have an opinion:

Best Roleplaying Game:

Abney Park’s Airship Pirates - Cubicle 7 Entertainment - "Captain" Robert Brown, Peter Cakebread, Andrew Peregrine, Ian Sturrock, Ken Walton
Arcanis - Paradigm Concepts - Eric Wiener, Pedro Barrenechea, and Henry Lopez
Ashen Stars - Pelgrane Press - Robin D. Laws
Leverage: The RPG - Margaret Weis Productions - Cam Banks, Rob Donoghue, and Clark Valentine
The One Ring - Cubicle 7 Entertainment - Amado Angulo, Marco Maggi, Dominic McDowall-Thomas, Francesco Nepitello

Two nods for Cubicle 7 here. This is an excellent list with some truly amazing games. In fact, I don't dislike ANY of these games. But I'm disappointed that one of the games which was on the Shortlist didn't make the final cut. Bulldogs is really good.

And why is Leverage on the list, but not Smallville? Leverage is good. It's really really good. But Smallville is mind-blowing. It really is.

Airship Pirates is fun, but I'm not fond of the Heresy Engine (the system that drives it). But that is, of course, an issue of taste.

Ashen Stars is really good - I've become a huge fan of the Gumshoe system. I own all of the Gumshoe games, and have not regretted a single purchase anywhere on the line.

The One Ring is also very good. Its design pays clear homage to both old-school and indie game design concepts that is faithful to the source material. One of the best games of the last year - no question.

And, even though I prefer Smallville, Leverage DID blow my mind the first time I read it.

Who should win?  Tough one. I'd say either Leverage or The One Ring.
Who will win? My money is on The One Ring.
Best Roleplaying Supplement or Adventure

Bookhounds of London (for Trail of Cthulhu) - Pelgrane Press - Kenneth H. Hite
Dragon Age, Set 2 (for Dragon Age) - Green Ronin Publishing - Steve Kenson, T.S. Luikart, Chris Pramas, and Jeff Tidball
The Great Clans (for Legend of the Five Rings RPG, 4th Edition) - AEG - Shawn Carman, Rob Hobart, Brian Yoon
Monster Vault (for Dungeons & Dragons, 4th Edition) - Wizards of the Coast - Rodney Thompson, Logan Bonner, & Matthew Sernett
Shadows over Scotland (for Call of Cthulhu) - Cubicle 7 Entertainment - Stuart Boon

Again, one of the shortlisted books didn't make it, probably because it's harder for retailers and distributors to get: The Fiasco Companion (for Fiasco).  Honestly, I think it's a better product than anything else on this list. Not that I dislike this list, either - again: there are some great books on this list.

Who should win? From the provided list? Either Shadows Over Scotland or The Great Clans
Who will win? Monster Vault. There are just too many D&D players at Origins for a non-D&D title to reliably win awards.

Best Board Game

Conquest of Nerath - Wizards of the Coast - Richard Baker, Mons Johnson, & Peter Lee
Automobile - Mayfair Games - Martin Wallace
Hibernia - Closet Nerd - Eric Vogel
High Noon Saloon - Slugfest Games - Cliff Bohm & Geoff Bottone
Pastiche - Gryphon Games - Sean D. MacDonald

Here's what's sad: This is the category about which I care the most, and I ... I don't care about any of these games. Or any of the shortlisted ones. See Tom Vasel's rant (linked above) for a better list of nominees.

Who should win? Eclipse.
Who will win? Conquest of Nerath. Again: Wizards of the Coast.

Best Traditional Card Game

Cthulhu Gloom - Atlas Games - Keith Baker
NUTS! - Wildfire LLC - Matthew Grau
Red Dragon Inn 3 - Slugfest Games - Geoff Bottone, Jeff Morrow, and Cliff Bohm
Star Trek Deck Building Game - BANDAI - Alex Bykov
Struggle for Catan - Mayfair Games - Klaus Teuber

I'd have included the (shortlisted) The New Era in place of the Star Trek Deckbuilding Game, but this is otherwise a pretty good slate of card games, even of three of the five are effectively rehashes or new editions.  Cthulhu Gloom is ... a standalone expansion to Gloom.  It's fun, but not groundbreaking or astounding.  Red Dragon Inn 3 is ... a standalone expansion to Red Dragon Inn. Again: Fun, but not astounding.  Star Trek Deckbuilding Game was ... meh. I was hugely disappointed when I opened the box and it was about two-thirds foam and was only one-third filled with cards. Bandai didn't just hint that they were planning expand this one, they practically screamed it in your face.  Struggle for Catan is a new edition of the two-player Catan: The Card Game, which I liked a great deal.

CORRECTION: I was just informed via e-mail that Rivals for Catan is the new edition of of the card game. I knew that, too. Oops. While I enjoyed Rivals for Catan, I was so-so on Struggle for Catan. I've adjusted the "Who should win?" for this category to reflect the change, as well.

Who should win? Struggle for Catan. Red Dragon Inn 3. I'm a fan of the series, and it's fun.
Who will win? Either Struggle for Catan (even non-board/card gamers know the Catan name) or Star Trek Deckbuilding Game (again: name recognition).

Best Game Accessory

Dungeon Tiles: The Witchlight Fens - Wizards of the Coast - Peter Lee & Jason Engle
Dice Earrings - GameScience - GameScience
Dungeon Masters Keep - Gale Force Nine - Gale Force Nine
Munchkin Zombies 2: Armed & Dangerous - Steve Jackson Games - Steve Jackson
Shadowrun Runner’s Toolkit - Catalyst Game Labs - Elissa Carey, Rusty Childers, Cole Davidson, Mark Dynna, Adam Jury, Robyn King-Nitschke, Adam Large, Drew Littell, Elizabeth Nold, Brandie Tarvin, Peter Taylor, Malik Toms, Michael Wich, Russell Zimmerman

This continues to be one of my favorite categories to write about, because it's the Kitchen Sink Category. Don't know where else to stick a product that you think deserves recognition?  It goes under Best Game Accessory.  They really should open up a "Best Cultural Additive" category or something similar. Seriously - Earrings vs. Tiles vs. the Shadowrun GM Screen vs. Munchkin Zombies 2?  I realize that there isn't an "expansion to board or card game" category, but ... wow.

I have no idea who should (or will) win this one.

Best Game-Related Publication

Cliffourd the Big Red God - Atlas Games - Kenneth H. Hite & Andy Hopp
The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design - Open Design LLC - Mike Selinker with Rob Daviau, James Ernest, Matt Forbeck, Richard Garfield, Dave Howell, Steve Jackson, John Kovalic, Richard C. Levy, Andrew Looney, Michelle Nephew, Paul Peterson, Lisa Steenson, Jeff Tidball, Teeuwynn Woodruff, and Dale Yu
Designers & Dragons - Mongoose Publishing - Shannon Appelcline
Untold Adventures - Wizards of the Coast - Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick, Kevin J. Anderson, John Shirley, Jay Lake, Sarah Zettel, and many more.
Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons - Wizards of the Coast - Shelley Mazzanoble

This category is ... books about gaming and ... Cliffourd the Big Red God.  The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design is phenomenal. So is Designers & Dragons. 

Who should win? Either the Kobold Guide to Board Game Design or Designers & Dragons.
Who will win? Either Cliffourd the Big Red God or Untold Adventures


and that's about all I have to say about this year's Origins awards, other than Congrats to the nominees.


  1. Anonymous9:21 AM

    I really want to try the Leverage RPG.
    – Dawn G.

  2. It is really good - I just preferred Smallville. Leverage is more approachable by the general public than Smallville, which is probably why it got the nod instead.

  3. I bet the fact that Leverage the TV show is still in production, and Smallville isn't, was a huge factor.

    Personally, I think Monster Vault doesn't belong on this list. Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale does. But MV1 was largely retread and restatting, except for the inclusion of pogs. MV2 is packed with decently original ideas and inspiration.