Brian was invited to join the CBC Radio Active team to showcase some of his recommendations on this season's most popular stocking stuffer games!
Check it out:
Jessica: Well, today we are diving back into the world of board games and suggesting some award winning gift ideas because who doesn't want to give a gift that's already been applauded for in several other arenas. Brian flowers is the owner of Table Top games in our city. And he joins us every week for our holiday games column. Hi, Brian.
Brian: Hey, how's it going?
Jessica: I'm good. So what awards are we talking about here?
Brian: This is the big one, the it's called the Spiel de Jahres, it's the German Board Game award of the year. And it's the one that all the other awards are kind of compared against.
Jessica: Okay, in terms of the the categories, what kind of categories do they have? Because this is I understand, like the Oscars of the games.
Brian: Yes. So the Spiel is the big one. Is the Spiel de Jahres. There's the Kennerspiel des Jahres for Kids Game of the Year and the Kinder Spiel de Jahres sorry. And for the for the kids game of the year and Kennerspiel des Jahres for the kind of Connoisseur Board Game of the Year.
Jessica: What's a connoisseur board game of the year?
Brian: They tend to be a bit more complicated, a little more in depth. They're not just going to be like Ticket to Ride, they're gonna be like wingspan if anyone's heard of that one.
Jessica: Okay, what kinds of things would they be looking at to actually figure out what's the best game because you're literally not comparing things that are too too similar? Like every game is a little bit different.
Brian: Yeah, like, you can't just go by just how fun it is. But then they compare has to come out in German, which is kind of a little stickler, but it has to have a really good rulebook, it has to be pretty easy to teach and learn. And usually it has some sort of new innovation or new twist on games that people have not done before.
Jessica: Does there tend to be a lot of games that want to be up for this award? So then they will specifically make a German version?
Brian: Yeah, well, most, most of the really good board games are coming out of Europe and Germany in general, but just released over there, and they're gonna, that's where they are usually born.
Jessica: Does award winning mean it's always a good game?
Brian: Good is subjective. It depends on entirely on what kind of games you like. But it's tough to go wrong. If you see that schoolyard symbol on a board game, Little Red Ribbon.
Jessica: Oh, I see it on the on the box that you've got in front of us. I think this is the first one we're looking at in terms of who won big this year. But the the actual little award logo you're looking for, it's like a little unicorn.
Brian: No, that's actually the company.
Jessica: Oh okay.
Brian: Sorry. It's usually like that's why I like it that it's this is a German board game. So they, Pegasus Games.
Jessica: Oh, got it, that means games. Okay. Let's talk about this one that I'm clearly looking at Dorfromantik.
Brian: Yeah, Dorfromantik. It's pretty unique in that it used to be a video game, or it was a video game. So they they released it as a board game version. It's cooperative. So everyone's working together to build their own map out of tiles, and the game has different segments to it. So as you play more games, it'll unlock more of the game. So it basically comes with its own expansions.
Jessica: Would this be considered like a best game or connoisseur game?
Brian: This is this is the the best game of the year. Yeah, or the whole Spiel winner of the year, and it's one you can't go wrong with.
Jessica: So exactly how how does this work? And how easy is it to play?
Brian: It's if it helps teach the game to you as you play it. So it has those extra components. But the core of the game is everyone is on your turn, you get a tile and you add it to your board. And you're going to get points based on how well you place the tiles. And as the bat board grows, you'll add more spaces and it'll request more things of you. So maybe you need to make a bigger field or a bigger little town.
Jessica: I like the art on it kind of it has a nice like Sound of Music vibe with a big windmill and things that are going on the beautiful landscape.
Brian: Yeah, the I like how the art is just sort of this impossible scenario of a giant hexagon with the windmill just coming down.
Jessica: Oh, yeah. There is a hexagon. Okay, I see that now.
Brian: Yeah, it's something that wouldn’t happen real life, but it does a very good job of conveying what the game is about.
Jessica: And now every winner, of course has its runners up. Who else plays really well, this year?
Brian: Yeah, the this is the one I've been playing the most personally is a Next Station, London. So this is a totally different type of game where everyone gets their own sheet of paper with different segments of London on it, and you're going to get your own colored pencil crayon. So you are pink this round, and you flip a card over and you have to draw a pink line to the next train station based on the symbol that flipped over.
Jessica: Let's take a peek inside. I'm so curious about the art because the box is so pretty. Yeah, all the different colors, the pink and the blue. Oh, you've got like little underground cards.
Brian: Yeah. So these ones are the ones that flip over. They'll just have a square or anything tile or split or a triangle or a Pentagon or whatever. But the main thing you're drawing on are these these cards so they look nice, bright little cards and you are drawing across the river and trying to get to different zones and trying to line things up to get the most points.
Jessica: That is cool. It looks halfway between a lottery ticket and a metro map.
Brian: Very lottery ticket actually, so there is a big scoring area at the bottom to see how well you did. Yeah.
Jessica: Okay, so I feel like that would be a really good one that people are really into urban planning. I'm looking at some people in my life specifically. What do you love about that game?
Brian: Just the mix. It forces you to make a bunch of choices you try and like usually you only have two choices you can go to like which triangle you want to draw to, but they keep spidering out. So one mistake early or one change of choice early on will drastically change how your game plays out and you don't know what's coming up. So it'll feel fresh every time.
Jessica: And I understand too, that it's a good pic if someone in your life is really into trains, because there are also a lot of games that are booked trains,
Brian: So many games. It's very, again, a very German thing or European thing. They have tons of trains, and they just make for a good thing to focus on for a board game. They're very interesting. You have to pick up and deliver things or move passengers around or make new routes. And they just lend themselves to making a lot of games about them.
Jessica: I have to check that one out. Let's talk about the previous year winners that really stuck out for you.
Brian: Yeah, the Cascadia is the the one that we've been doing very well with for since 2022. It's basically building a little chunk of Alberta. So the Pacific Northwest looks like that.
Jessica: It looks like the Rockies on the box.
Brian: Yeah, it's tough to find a game with a moose on it. Like that's just nice. And it basically shows off the Rockies. But it is another tile game, but you're just adding you're playing against everyone else. And you're adding a tile and an animal piece to your board each round. And the animals are gonna get points in their own way. But you'll also get points for how well you lay up your tiles. So it's kind of two puzzles working together at the same time.
Jessica: This kind of reminds me of a now haven't played full Catan. But I've played to player Catan does it have a similar vibe to that?
Brian: Aside from the hexagon tiles? No, that's, that's totally different game. There's no trading, there's no dice. There's no resource collection. It's much more simplified. So you each turn, you just get a tile, plop it down and you slowly grow your board. If you've played Catan too much and you start making your own custom maps that might feel in that sort of realm. Like I don't want I don't want a big regular round board. I want to crazy long line.
Jessica: Well, Brian, thank you for all these suggestions. And I gotta say they are beautiful. If people are thinking of getting these for gifts, they're really, really quite stunning.
Brian: Thank you so much.
Jessica: Brian flowers of Table Top Board Games Cafe. He will be joining us every week for the next month to talk game recommendations for the holidays. And next time we catch up we're talking games for the whole family.