The Spiel des Jahres is a german award which translates to “Board Game of the Year”. Starting in 1979, it is the most prestigious board game award in the world. It is like winning the best picture Oscar each year. This is the list of Spiel des Jahres winners.
SEE ALSO: Full list of Mensa Select Games | Best Games of The Decade 2010 – 2020 | When Are Board Games On Sale?
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QUICK SPIEL WINNER LIST
Pictures (2020), Just One (2019), Azul (2018), Kingdomino (2017), Codenames (2016), Colt Express (2015), Camel Up (2014), Hanabi (2013), Kingdom Builder (2012), Qwirkle (2011), Dixit (2010), Dominion (2009), Keltis (2008), Zooloretto (2007), Thurn and Taxis (2006), Niagra (2005), Ticket To Ride (2004), Alhambra (2003), Villa Paletti (2002), Carcassonne (2001), Torres (2000), Tikal (1999), Elfenland (1998), Mississippi Queen (1997), El Grande (1996), Settlers of Catan (1995), Manhattan (1994), Call My Bluff (1993), Um Reifenbreite (1992), Drunter und Drüber (1991), Adel Verpflichtet (1990), Café International (1989), Barbarossa (1988), Auf Achse (1987), Top Secret Spies (1986), Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (1985), Railway Rivals (1984), Scotland Yard (1983), Enchanted Forrest (1982), Focus (1981), Rummikub (1980), Hare and Tortoise (1979)
2020 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Pictures is a quick-playing family game with very simple rules. Form the image on your secret picture card with one set of components, either shoelaces, color cubes, icon cards, sticks and stones or building blocks in such a way that the other players guess what image you have pictured.
2020 RUNNERS UP: (1) Nova Luna (2) My City
2019 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Just One is a party game where players work together to discover as many mystery words as they can. Find the best clue to help your teammate. Be unique, as all identical clues will be thrown out. For 3 – 7 players, games are a quick 20 minutes.
2019 RUNNERS UP: (1) L.A.M.A. (2) Werewords
2018 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Azul is the abstract tile-drafting puzzle strategy gem. In Azul, using Portuguese tiles you need to design a cathedral for the king and you are fighting against other players to get the best combinations of tiles. By strategically creating clusters of tiles, you can get some big points and ultimately a victory. For 2 – 4 players, games run 30 – 45 minutes.
2018 RUNNERS UP: (1) Luxor (2) The Mind
2017 Spiel des Jahres Winner
It is classic dominos meet civilization-building. In Kingdomino, you are a Lord seeking new lands in which to expand your kingdom. You must explore all the lands, including wheat fields, lakes, and mountains, in order to spot the best plots, while competing with other lords to acquire them first. For 2 – 4 players, games will run 15 – 20 minutes.
2017 RUNNERS UP: (1) Magic Maze (2) El Dorado
2016 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Codenames is the party game that remains an industry standard. You take a big group and split into two teams. One rep from each team gives a one-word clue to his team to get them to guess multiple cards from a grid that is hiding your spies while also being careful not to select any of your opponents. For 6+ players, games are a quick 15 minutes.
2016 RUNNERS UP: (1) Imhotep (2) Karuba
2015 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In Colt Express, you play a bandit robbing a train at the same time as other bandits, and your goal is to become the richest outlaw of the Old West. Each turn people have action cards to play all while bandits are moving away from you on the train you are on (you can shoot people in adjacent cars). For 2 – 6 players, games run 30 – 40 minutes.
2015 RUNNERS UP: (1) Machi Koro (2) The Game
2014 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In Camel Up, players bet on five racing camels, trying to suss out which will place first and second in a quick race around a pyramid. When you bet matters in strategic ways and it all results in a whole lot of family or adult fun. A best board game of the year for sure. There are dice to roll and cards to get as you build up. For 2 – 8 players, games run about 20 – 30 minutes each.
2014 RUNNERS UP: (1) Concept (2) Splendor
2013 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Hanabi is a cooperative game in which players try to create the perfect fireworks show by placing the cards on the table in the correct order. A deck of cards consists of fireworks with values 1 – 5 and with a color. Using these, you all need to put everything in a series of rows where nothing is duplicated. A simple but deep game on the list of Spiel des Jahres winners. For 2 – 5 players, games run about 25 minutes.
2013 RUNNERS UP: (1) Augustus (2) Qwixx
2012 Spiel des Jahres Winner
This is a strategic territory control game based on the ancient board game “Go”. The board and the objectives change every game so you can play over and over again. Figure out how to work around the rules to place your pieces in those strategic spots that are going to give you the best points. This best board game of the year winner has a fantastic app as well. For 2 – 4 players, games go about 45 minutes each.
2012 RUNNERS UP: (1) Eselsbrücke (2) Las Vegas
2011 Spiel des Jahres Winner
This is a fun abstract puzzle game for the whole family. Players begin the game with 6 blocks. The start player places blocks of a single matching attribute. The blocks must all be played in a line and match, without duplicates, either the color or shape of the previous block. Players score one point for each block played plus all blocks adjacent. For 2 – 4 players, games run about 45 minutes. This was the year that the list of Spiel des Jahres winners was extended to include an additional “experienced” category.
2011 RUNNERS UP: (1) Forbidden Island (2) Asara
2010 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Dixit is the game of visual storytelling. One player is the storyteller for the turn and looks at the images on the 6 cards they have. Choosing one, they make a sentence. Each other player selects the card in their hands which best matches the sentence and gives the selected card to the storyteller. It really gets the imagination flowing. For 3 – 6 players, games are about 30 min.
2010 RUNNERS UP: (1) Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age (2) Fresco (3) A la Carte (4) Identik
2009 Spiel des Jahres Winner
The game that started the “deck-building” genre. You start with almost nothing and slowly buy better and better cards to your deck to eventally draw and use. Dominion is set against a medievel backdrop, buying things like knights and markets to get those big combos. For 2 – 4 players with games lasting a little over 30 minutes a throw.
2009 RUNNERS UP: (1) Pandemic (2) FITS (3) Finca (4) Fauna
2008 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Players play cards to move their playing pieces along various stone path options. Everyone has cards and you use them to build up and move down the chosen path. A game ends when someone reaches a specific milestone which triggers the final scoring taking in all sorts of stuff. A point to point movement, hand managment game for 2 – 4 players. Will go 30+ minutes.
2008 RUNNERS UP: (1) Stone Age (2) Witch’s Brew (3) Blox (4) Suleika
2007 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In Zooloretto, each player uses small, large, wild, and exotic animals and their young to try to attract as many visitors as possible to their zoo. The zoo must be carefully planned as before you know it, you might have too many animals and no more room for them. This tile placement, set collection game is for 2 – 5 that will last about 45 min.
2007 RUNNERS UP: (1) The Thief of Baghdad (2) Jenseits von Theben (3) Arkadia (4) Yspahan
2006 Spiel des Jahres Winner
THURN AND TAXIS
In Thurn & Taxis, players build post office routes across Bavaria and the surrounding regions, collecting various bonus points. The board shows a map of all the cities, with roads leading from each one to some of its neighbors. That game has it all from Card Drafting to Hand Management to Network and Route Building to Set Collection. For 2 – 4 lasting about 60 min.
2006 RUNNERS UP: (1) Seeräuber (2) Aqua Romana (3) Just 4 Fun (4) Blue Moon City
2005 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Niagara is set in the not particularly safe world of rushing waterfalls. Long ago jewels were hidden and you are out to find them. First to five wins. River speeds change and events happen that make it not so easy. Collect the rights sets and navigate yourself to vicotry. For 3 – 5 players of all ages. Games are going to be around 30 – 45 minutes.
2005 RUNNERS UP: (1) Verflixxt (2) Around the World in 80 Days (3) Jambo (4) Himalaya
2004 Spiel des Jahres Winner
TICKET TO RIDE
In Ticket To Ride, players sit in front of a map with many possible train routes running accross it. Players get secret point A and point B “route” cards. You need to try and connect those using colored train pieces you collect. Side note, Ticket to Ride might be the most popular game on the list of Spiel des Jahres winners. For 2 – 5 players, running 30 – 60 minutes.
2004 RUNNERS UP: (1) Saint Petersburg (2) Maharaja: The Game of Palace Building in India (3) Ingenious (4) Dawn Under
2003 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In Alhambra, players are acquiring buildings to be placed within their Alhambra complex. This is a tile placement game mixed with resource management, set collection and all those normal strategy goodies. Collect resources to build city tiles and get points. A very well balanced and deep strategy game that is not too intense. For 2 – 6 players. 45 – 60 min per game.
2003 RUNNERS UP: (1) Clans (2) Die Dracheninsel
2002 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Villa Paletti is an architectural rush to the skies. A rare game from the “dexterity” category where you are stacking things and being carefull not to knowck anything over. Though this is a great game for kids, the dice rolling and needed pattern building add some great strategic density. For 2 – 4 players with games lasting about 30 minutes.
2002 RUNNERS UP: (1) Puerto Rico (2) TransAmerica
2001 Spiel des Jahres Winner
The euro-classic that popularized the “tile laying” genre is the great Carcassonne. Players draw and place a tile with a piece of southern French landscape on it (road, castle, cathedral, grass) in a way that makes sense. You have a limited number of workers and the goal is to strategically claim the stuff that is going to yield the most points. For 2 – 5 at a cool 45 min.
2001 RUNNERS UP: (1) Zapp Zerapp (2) Das Amulett
2000 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Torres is an abstract strategy game of resource management and tactical movement. Players are attempting to build up castles and position their knights to score the most points each turn. Players have a limited supply of knights and action cards that allow special actions to be taken. For 2 – 4 players with games running 60 minutes.
2000 RUNNERS UP: (1) Carolus Magnus (2) Citadels
1999 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Tikal is a game of exploration within the Central American jungles in search of lost temples and great treasure. Players send their team of explorers into the jungle, exposing more and more of the terrain. Along the way, you find temples that require further bigger and better stuff. For 2 – 4 players, games are a bit longer at 90 minutes or so.
1999 RUNNERS UP: (1) Union Pacific (2) Giganten
1998 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Elfenland is set in the mythical world of the elves. A group of fledgling elves (you) are charged with visiting as many of the twenty Elfencities as they can over the course of 4 rounds. To accomplish the task they will use various forms of transportation such as unicorns, rafts or pigs. For 2 – 6 players with games running about 60 minutes.
1998 RUNNERS UP: None
1997 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In Mississippi Queen, players race their paddleboats down the Mississippi, picking up passengers along the way. But onboard coal supplies are limited, so each ship’s acceleration and maneuvers must be carefully planned. Twists are revelead as the game goes on. For 3 – 5 players, games will last about 45 minutes each.
1997 RUNNERS UP: None
1996 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In El Grande, players take on the roles of Grandes in medieval Spain. You draft “knights” into your court and subsequently move them onto the board to help seize control of regions. After every third round, the regions are scored, and after the ninth round, the player with the most points is the winner. for 2 – 5 players with games taking a long 60 – 120 minutes.
1996 RUNNERS UP: None
1995 Spiel des Jahres Winner
SETTLERS OF CATAN
In Settlers of Catan, players try to be the first one to ten points by building settlements, cities, and roads. On each turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players collect these resources (cards)—wood, brick, sheep, grain, or stone—to build up their civilizations. For 3 – 4 players with game durations around 45 minutes. This game on the list of Spiel des Jahres winners that is still played today is responsible for ushering in modern boardgaming.
1995 RUNNERS UP: None
1994 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In Manhattan, players construct a skyline of skyscrapers over several districts, or city blocks, of Manhattan Island. Ultimately, each player seeks to have built the tallest buildings in the most city blocks of the Island. It is all about area control and hand management. For 2 – 4 players with games running around 45 minutes each.
1994 RUNNERS UP: None
1993 Spiel des Jahres Winner
CALL MY BLUFF aka LIAR’S DICE
Liar’s dice is a class of dice games for two or more players requiring the ability to deceive and to detect an opponent’s deception. each player has a set of dice, all players roll once, and the bids relate to the dice each player can see (their hand) plus all the concealed dice (the other players’ hands). It is a great mix of things for 2 – 6 players at a quick 20 minutes a game.
1993 RUNNERS UP: None
1992 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Translates “By the Width of a Tire,” this game covers a Tour de France-type of bicycle race. Each player takes control of a four-member racing team, and the goal is to score as many points as possible for the whole team. Movement is primarily handled by dice, however a limited card set partially replaces die results. For 2 – 4 players with games going 60 – 90 minutes.
1992 RUNNERS UP: None
1991 Spiel des Jahres Winner
DRUNTER AND DRÜBER aka WACKY WACKY WEST
In Wacky Wacky West you and your fellow townfolk place track tiles, street tiles, and river tiles hoping to destroy your rivals’ buildings. Every time someone tries to build over a precious outhouse, the town votes! You try to enlist your supporters to vote with you to stop or encourage the play of certain tiles. For 2 – 4 players with games at 30 – 45 minutes each.
1991 RUNNERS UP: None
1990 Spiel des Jahres Winner
ADEL VERPFLICHTET aka HOITY TOITY
Players buy or steal various pieces of junk in the form of cards, trying to form the largest and oldest collection. Built on a ‘rock-paper-scissors’ mechanism, this game gives all players a couple of choices each turn. The trick is in guessing what your opponents are likely to do, and planning your choice accordingly. This entry on the list of Spiel des Jahres winners was designed by Klaus Tauber. For 3 – 6 players with games running about 45 minutes.
1990 RUNNERS UP: None
1989 Spiel des Jahres Winner
This game revolves around the placement of multi-national customers in a restaurant. The board shows many different tables, each with four chairs around them. The tables are grouped by nation, so the Chinese like to sit with other Chinese. Abstract Strategy, Hand Management, Pattern Building and Tile Placement. For 2 – 4 players, with games lasting 45 – 60 minutes.
1989 RUNNERS UP: None
1988 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In Barbarossa, wizards are devoted to the creation of riddles and riddle solving tournaments. Players using modeling clay to make objects that can be guessed by the others. You then take turns to move around the board either by rolling a die or spending gems to choose a move. The spaces landed on determine actions. Either the other players receive victory points, or you can ask a letter of an object. For 3 – 4 players at about 60 minutes a game.
1988 RUNNERS UP: None
1987 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In Auf Achse, players are delivering loads of commodities to various European cities. Supply cities and demand cities are determined through card play, and players attempt to get delivery contracts by bidding against one another. Movement is accomplished by rolling a die and then moving little rubberized trucks around an abstracted map. For 2 – 6 players with 60 minute games.
1987 RUNNERS UP: None
1986 Spiel des Jahres Winner
TOP SECRET SPIES aka HEIMLICH & CO.
The game board in Heimlich & Co. is an oval movement track, with points allocated to the various spaces. Seven differently colored “spies” are placed on the board. On a player’s turn, he rolls a dice, then moves any combination of characters forward that number of spaces. The newly-moved spies then score points based on their new location, but you don’t know player colors. For 2 – 7 players and 30-minute games.
1986 RUNNERS UP: None
1985 Spiel des Jahres Winner
SHERLOCK HOLMES: CONSULTING DETECTIVE
In Sherlock Holmes CD, you are presented with a mystery to solve, and it is then up to you to trace the threads of evidence through the byways and mansions of 19th century London. You will interview suspects, search the newspapers for clues, and put together the facts to reach a solution. For 1 – 8 players, it is going to take 1 – 2 hours.
1985 RUNNERS UP: None
1984 Spiel des Jahres Winner
This is a classic simple railway racing game, where you draw the railway lines on hex-board, using a pen and wipe off board. The game goes through phases; initially you draw tracks and earn money for linking cities. When a number of cities are joined, you start racing, the cities being chosen randomly. The races are simple dice-rollers and the 1st & 2nd place get prize money. For 2 – 6 players, games are about 90 minutes long.
1984 RUNNERS UP: None
1983 Spiel des Jahres Winner
In Scotland Yard, one of the players takes on the role of Mr. X. Their job is to move from point to point around the map taking taxis, buses or subways. The detectives (players) move around similarly in an effort to move into the same space as Mr. X. not really knowing all locations. For 3 – 6 players with games lasting approximately 45 minutes. Fun fact, out of all the best board game of the year winners, this had the most designers.
1983 RUNNERS UP: None
1982 Spiel des Jahres Winner
One treasure is hidden under each tree in the forest. As you move from tree to tree, you get to peek at the treasures you find. Can you remember where each one is hidden? When the king asks where one of the treasures is, players race to reach the castle with the right information. A kid’s adventure game for 2 – 6 players. Games last about 30 – 60 minutes.
1982 RUNNERS UP: None
1981 Spiel des Jahres Winner
FOCUS aka DOMINATION aka DEATH STACKS
This early winner on the list of Spiel des Jahres winners has been published and republished under many names. Focus is an abstract strategy game in which players attempt to make moves and capture pieces in such a manner that their opponents have no moves remaining. A 3D puzzle ball game for 2 – 4 players that will run about 45 minutes.
1981 RUNNERS UP: None
1980 Spiel des Jahres Winner
Similar to the Rummy (cards) – you try to get rid of all your tiles by forming numbers into runs of 3 tiles or more, or 3 to 4 of a kind. The colors of the numbers on the tiles are like card suits. This game starts slow, but when the players start putting more and more tiles in play, the options for your upcoming turns can become more complex. For 2 – 4 players with an approximate 60-minute play clock. This is a best board game of the year still played today.
1980 RUNNERS UP: None
1979 Spiel des Jahres Winner
HARE AND TORTOISE
Hare and Tortoise is a cunningly designed race to the finish in which your fuel (carrots) needs to get you just to the finish line. You also have three lettuce cards you must spend during the course of the race. The farther you move, the more carrots you spend, and there are a variety of ways to gain or lose carrots as you go around the track. It’s fifty years old and the first-ever, congrats to this pioneer on the list of Spiel des Jahres winners. For 2 – 6 at 45 minutes.