Spiel Spotlight - Pictures and The Crew

The biggest board game award in the world makes news every summer. This year’s nominees for the illustrious Spiel Des Jahres are as interesting as always. Level One Game Shop is excited that two of our favorites, The Crew and Pictures, won this year’s Spiel Des Jahres!

Level One Game shop is proud to carry or have carried the other nominees, as well. Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale by Jordy Adan and The King’s Dilemma by Lorenzo Silva, Hjalmar Hach and Carlo Burelli are favorites. We’re happy to see them nominated for the Kennerspiel “connoisseur” award. For now, let’s explore why The Crew and Pictures won their Spiel Des Jahres awards!

Pictures 

Pictures by Daniela and Christian Stöhr and published by longtime German publisher PD-Verlag, won the Spiel Des Jahres for 2020. This version of the award is intended for light, easy games that are suitable for people of all ages. Winners of this award are excellent for families to enjoy together. Pictures fits into this description deftly. The rules are simple, but inspire creativity, social interaction, and just the right amount of challenge amongst players.

The game is centered on a 4-by-4 grid of photos in the middle of the table. Each player is secretly assigned one of those photos. Then, each player uses their set of objects to describe their photo as accurately as possible. Before players reveal their secret assignments, players guess which photo belongs to whom. The player who got the most correct guesses from other players wins! The twist is, the sets of objects are very limited. You may have to describe your photo with only building blocks, a grid of colored cubes, or only a pair of shoelaces! Creativity and intuition are the keys to victory, but guessing other players’ sculptures is part of fun as well!

Pictures plays 3 to 5 players, recommended for players ages 8 and up. The game completes in about 20 to 30 minutes after 5 rounds. 

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

The Crew was designed by Thomas Sing, published by German powerhouse game publisher Kosmos. It won the Kennerspiel award, reserved for more complex or challenging games that dedicated hobbyists would love. The Crew combines a few different styles of games into one easy-to-play package that doesn’t skimp on the challenge.

The design of The Crew is a co-operative game where all the players are on the same team, and win and lose together. This is similar to co-ops like Pandemic or Hanabi. However, the challenges the players face come in the form of a trick-taking game, like Hearts or Spades or Rook. This makes The Crew a cousin to Fox in the Forest Duet, but with a couple of key differences.

Firstly, The Crew can accommodate up to 5 players. Secondly, The Crew is “mission-based.” This means that the objective can and will change each game. The game comes with a ladder of successively more-complex missions. Each mission has different objectives and adds different twists to the trick-taking formula.

Like other card-based co-operative games like Fox in the Forest Duet and Hanabi, communication rules are very important. Most of the time, players can’t indicate what cards they have in hand. They must intuit their next move based on what their friends played previously, or play cards that others can hopefully play around.

The Crew not only tests players’ ability to plan and sequence plays, but also the ability to coordinate with allies effectively. The scaling difficulty of the different missions allow any group of players to come together and have fun, and also provide replayability for experienced groups. The Crew hits so many positive notes in its design, it’s no wonder it’s an award winner.

See why Pictures and The Crew won their Spiel Des Jahres awards!

Level One Game Shop strives to carry not just popular games, but hidden gems that players can discover. When games we pick to carry win prestigious awards, the staff at Level One can’t help but to feel some pride. Check out why we thought Pictures and The Crew were our picks, and why they’re now award winners!

Find out more about The Crew and Pictures at BoardGameGeek!

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