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Will it be the dark horse of this year’s SDJ Awards?

Last month, the annual SDJ announced the candidate list. Nowadays, SDJ awards have become the vane of the board game circle. Many people judge the standard of a game to see if it has won various board game awards, not to mention the SDJ game that was carefully selected by German players.


This year’s SDJ Award nominations include The Adventures of Robin Hood, Small Town: Vice City (available in China) and Zombie Teenz Evoluton.


The criteria for the SDJ Award: The nomination game should be with fun and the audience should be broad. This year, the word-of-mouth of The Big Case in a Small Town is very explosive. I wonder if it can win the SDJ?

Nominations for the Kinderspiel des Jahres Award are Mia London, Dragomino (a children’s version of Domino Kingdom) and Storytailors.

The Kennerspiel des Jahres award that board game players care most about will be born between Stone Age 2.0: Prehistoric Tribes (Paleo), Lost ruins of Arnak and Fantasy Realms (Fantasy Realms). The last two games can be purchased in China.

About Stone Age 2.0, we introduced it in last year’s article. The SDJ in the past two years has become more and more confusing, especially the Kennerspiel des Jahres Award. I feel that the strategy and difficulty have decreased. But today we are going to talk about the most championship-like game The Gone, Lost ruins of Arnak.


Since its release, it has been hanging on the BGG hot list, and I have always been very curious about its origin.

Explore uncharted territory

The Lost Ruins of Anak is a funny exploration and adventure game. Players will act as members of the expedition team and explore the ancient and mysterious ruins during their travels: Arnak Ruins. In terms of mechanism, this is a game that combines DBG (card building) + worker placement.


The designers of the game Mín and Elwen are a couple. Before becoming designers, they worked as game testers for a long time. This position also provides them with a lot of help, so that they have a better understanding of the core mechanics of the game and the preferences of the players.


DBG+ with worker placement game is neither too much or too little, but Arnak is better in the streamlining of the game mechanism and the clarity of the process. At the beginning of the game, each player will start with six cards in hand, namely: two dollars, two compasses, and two fear cards. The first player has an advantage, and the second player has supplies.


In each round, the player could choose one of the following 7 main actions: First, you can choose ① to release a job in a known area ② to unlock a new station. Each player has only two workers,so use them carefully.

Later, when you unlock the new station, you can perform the action of ③killing monsters. At this time, you have entered the area to explore Arnak. These hidden areas are silently guarded by patron saints.


You can pay the corresponding resources for fighting monsters, and reward five points and the resources of the guardian god. Of course, you can also choose not to fight monsters, you will get a fear card and a pair of shoes. Here is also a method commonly used by DBG: score reduction at the end of the game, dirty card library.

Then, if you still have money (or have saved money), you can perform the actions of ④buying cards and ⑤playing cards. The blue card is an artifact card, you need to pay with a compass, and you can act immediately after purchase. The brown card is the equipment card, representing the tools or carriers that can be used in the expedition.

Finally, there is another important mechanism in the game: ⑥ Climbing the track. There are three types of inscriptions: gold, silver and bronze. In the process of climbing the track, you will also be rewarded by the assistant. The last action you can choose is ⑦Pass.


When the five rounds are completed, the game is over. The player with the most points wins.

Total game score = track score + panel space score + monster score + card score-fear score

As a DBG+worker placement game, how does the designer combine the two? Mín gave us the answer. “In the action, we must solve a key problem: in the worker placement game, you choose an action in a round; but in the DBG game, you play combo through a combination of cards, which has a cascading effect.


However, in our game, we can’t let the player have a whole hand of cards, but we can only do the action of placing workers; on the other hand, we can’t let a player play all the cards and place all the workers. This is the point that needs to be balanced. Therefore, we decided to “compound” the action: Players can only perform one action per round, and they can play a card based on the effect, or they can choose to go to a new place to “archaeology”. “

Stunning fine art

Although only won the 2020 Golden Geek’s best art nomination, the art of Anak does not lose many award-winning games at all. Here, what you see is a magnificent world, and this is not a simple DBG or industrial game.

Compared with the nominated game for the Kennerspiel des Jahres Award this year, the art style of Arnak is the most distinctive. The game artist (Milan Vavroň) also drew illustrations for Magic Knight and 1824: Austro-Hungarian Railway.


Not only that, the hieroglyphs in the inscriptions purchased by the players in the game were all created by Mín.

Initially, Mín had a long conversation with the art team. They brainstormed and discussed the appearance of the island and the people who once lived in Anaque: their way of life, beliefs and the stories they portrayed.

When Ondřej Hrdina began to draw illustrations, Mín began to compose a story called The History of Anaque and to visualize the ideas through pictures. After constructing the framework, all that remains is to fill in the details. We describe the geography, climate, flora and fauna of Arnak Island and people’s way of life…

Mythology and religion are an important part of culture, and you can notice in the artworks they left behind: cultural relics, places and stories depicted on the walls.

Overall, I like this game very much. As young designers, Mín and Elwen did not simply design a “dual mechanism” suture monster game, but built an overhead historical background (very high degree of completeness), combining the advantages of DBG and industrial release, the layout is clear, the game process is not cumbersome, the rules are normal and not complicated, and each mechanism has bright spots. This is indeed an award-winning board game.


The 2021 SDJ will be announced on July 19th. Can Arnak, which has won four nominations and a trophy from the Golden Geek, win this battle?

Interactive topic: Who do you think will be the winner of the Kennerspiel des Jahres Award this year?


Post time: Jul-01-2021