It’s not up on the DJ website yet but the nominees are:
* Catacombs, a board-game by Ryan Amos, Marc Kelsey and Aron West, published by Sands of Time Games
* The Dresden Files RPG by the Dresden Files RPG Team, published by Evil Hat Productions
* Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space, a board-game by Mario Porpora, Pietro Righi Riva, Luca Francesco Rossi and Nicolò Tedeschi, published by Cranio Creations
* Fiasco, an RPG by Jason Morningstar, published by Bully Pulpit Games
* Freemarket, an RPG by Luke Crane and Jared A. Sorensen, published by Sorencrane MRCZ
Freemarket is no surprise; it’s not just a clever marrying of roleplaying principles and post-scarcity principles (since the two overlap) but it sells as a box full of wacky cards and chips, trying to smash apart what people think of as RPGs, and without drowning in thousands of bits like other games.
Fiasco is also no surprise. It’s a lovely working of the random-plot-generator idea from the 80s (made cool again in games like In A Wicked Age), combined with a theatre-sports like mechanic of offers and acceptances. And by cleverly branding itself as the game of “shit hits the fan” films, it’s carved a totally separate media niche – and so successfully I’ve seen it being advertised in mainstream catalogues. Smallville was the indie game that looked like a regular RPG, but Fiasco is the indie game that looks like a board game.
Dresden Files over Smallville? That one I don’t get. But I’ve never been a fan of FATE, it’s just another generic system with a fun tagging mechanic. And nothing I see in the Dresden RPG makes it feel very noir. Smallville is arguably a show with a much greater and deeper fan base too.
I know nothing of the other two board games. So I’m off to Board Game Geek (winner of last year’s DJ) to find out more.