Hobby gaming is still searching for its definitive award, but over the weekend, a crowd of game designers and industry professionals gathered to partake in the 2012 Origins Awards ceremony. Little metal statues exchanged hands. Many tweets were written. Now you're going to read about it!
The Origins Awards are presented by the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) for outstanding work in the game industry, and cover all manner of games, books, and accessories. Members of GAMA narrow a wide field down to five nominees per category, and the final results are determined by popular vote of attendees as the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH.
While often panned for a nomination process that somehow manages to overlook critically-acclaimed titles year after year, the good news here is that more often than not, the best of the nominated products took home the trophies this year. Let's take a look at who won:
Best Board Game: Dungeons & Dragons: Conquest of Nerath [MTV Geek review]
Conquest of Nerath, 2012 Origins Game of the Year, in play. Photo: Wizards of the Coast
Best Traditional Card Game: NUTS!
Best Family, Party, or Children's Game: Get Bit! [MTV Geek review]
The surviving robots celebrate Get Bit!'s victory. Photo: Matt Morgan
Best Roleplaying Game: Arcanis
Best Roleplaying Supplement or Adventure: Shadows Over Scotland (for Call of Cthulhu RPG system)
Best Miniatures Figure or Line: Storm Strider (for Warmachine system)
The fully assembled and painted Storm Strider mini. Photo copyright: Privateer Press.
Best Miniatures Rules or Expansion: Battletech: The Wars of Reaving
Best Collectible Card Game or Expansion: Magic the Gathering: Innistrad
Innistrad was a recent high-point for Magic in terms of quality, and players have recognized this. Recent Hasbro earnings calls have repeatedly cited Magic as a strong seller, with sales on an upward trend while other areas of Hasbro's game division are struggling.
Best Game Accessory: Shadowrun Runner's Toolkit
Best Game Related Publication: The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design
Best Historical Miniatures Rules or Expansion: Flames of War: Cassino
Best Historical Miniatures Figure or Line: Bolt Action WWII
Best Play by Mail or Correspondence Game: Heroic Fantasy
Vanguard Award: Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple
Of the big 3 awards (board game, card game, and family/party game), Conquest of Nerath and Get Bit! were clearly deserved winners. The only competition in that category would have been Automobile, but that game was likely handicapped by its age. The original release for Automobile from Treefrog Games came out way back in 2009, with the Mayfair Games import release arriving in Q1 2011.
It's worth noting that Get Bit! is also a slightly older game, but one that is enjoying some time in the spotlight at the moment. Get Bit! was re-released this year by Mayday Games after a successful Kickstarter campaign. However, the game was recently featured on Geek & Sundry's TableTop web show, giving Get Bit! a boost in its visibility among Origins attendees.
The surprise of the show was that the Vanguard Award made an appearance. Introduced in 2003, the award honors innovation in game design. It is only awarded on years where a worthy game is published, and there is no public nomination process involved.
Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is a unique storytelling-style roleplaying game that takes place in an original fantasy setting. The game is incredibly rules-light. In lieu of stat checks against a complex character sheet, players draw randomly from a bag of black and white stones. The results of each draw forces the plot of each story in one direction of another.
After the surprise announcement, designer Daniel Solis (who was not in attendance at Origins) took to his blog to offer thanks to the many individuals who contributed to the game, included the list of Kickstarter backers who provided the funding necessary to make Do a reality.