Although not perfect, the Dice Tower Awards seem to be one of the better sets of board/card gaming awards out there (imperfection #1: total blind spot when it comes to CCGs like Magic/L5R and miniatures games like WH40K/War Machine). That and the Golden Geek Awards from the various Geekdo websites, really. Well, the 2011 winners have now been announced (yes, that’s 2011 – unlike most awards they actually let at least a little time pass before deciding on the winners, so that there’s a little more time for people to play games and for longer-term opinions to form). Thankfully, Quarriors! did not convert any of its multiple nominations into a win.
I won’t just list all the winners here, since you can follow the links. Mostly a good set of choices (maybe not what I would have picked, but mostly reasonable). There are two that I’d like to comment on, however. First, best art. The winner was the Lord of the Rings LCG. Now, it’s not that this game doesn’t have good art. But, when listening to the Dice Tower episode interviewing the LotR art director and how such a big deal was made out of the process they had to go through with all the art, all I could think about was how every decent CCG has to go through this process with every single expansion. This was one area where the blindness to CCGs seemed pretty blatant – Magic and L5R constantly churn out art quality that is way higher than almost any board/card game out there. But they aren’t even considered for this award, apparently for no reason other than their sales model is CCG instead of LCG.
The award that raised my eyebrows was handing Best Wargame to A Few Acres of Snow, a deckbuilding/wargame mix. It’s an asymmetrical two-player game that is completely broken once you know what you’re doing – one side basically can’t win. I can’t tell you which wargame should have won (I join most of the Dice Tower voters in not being plugged into that particular subsection of the hobby), but I don’t see how the very best wargame of the year could be a game that is entirely nonfunctional once you actually know how to play it.
That’s only 2 out of 13 categories, however, which is a much better hit rate than something like the Origins awards, which often seem to have no connection to what good games actually came out that year. So it’s worth checking out the awards (and nominees) list if you’re looking to see what you might have missed from last year.