THE BOARD GAME JURY AT FASTAVAL
Each year at Fastaval a committee is assembled to decide which of the Designer Board Games premiering are nominated and win the Otto awards. For many participants it can be difficult to see through the process of reading, evaluating, and shortlisting the scenarios, and how much work and effort the jury put into being fair and balanced to both the scenarios and the writers. In the following text will meet the jury and read about the judging- and the evaluation process at Fastaval.
Board Game Jury 2024
Head of the jury
Steen Bach Hansen
Steen's enjoyment of board games is wide-ranging, where he either gets lost in complex board games that challenge the player and require dedicated focus or simple board games that provide a basis for chatting and laughing. And in the time he has been at Fastaval, he has more often been found playing board games than role-playing games.
When it comes to complex games, Steen is particularly fond of games where there are multiple paths to victory and where there is the possibility of surprising each other or changing the situation in the game precisely because there are multiple paths to victory. Steen is particularly fond of Ameritrash and Eurogames.
When it comes to games where the focus is more on socializing and laughing, it needs to be games that can balance simplicity in rules with socializing, where the game is the focus without requiring all the attention from the players, where games like Alias and Cards Against Humanity can keep Steen entertained for hours.
Indicative of the range of Steen's interest in gaming, his two favorite games at the moment are Twillight Imperium and Hero Quest with his nephews and nieces.
Tue has always liked playing board games. As a child he played multiple games simultaneously with his friends against an invisible opponent, who, to the surprise of everyone, always seemed to lose. Later in Tues life, spells were drawn from decks and masterfully cast against each other in Magic the Gathering or other card games.
After an unintentional break from board games, Tue was introduced to the first real board game - Dungeon Lords. Even though Tue got his ass kicked, it still opened his eyes for a completely new genre, and consequently evenings filled with board games became a recurring event in Tue’s life.
Overall Tue prefers the heavier euro games, like Gaia Project, Brass Birmingham or similar, where he takes great pleasure in developing a strategy that’ll hopefully come into fruition. Tue enjoys asymmetric games, but also likes it when an otherwise locked game opens up for new strategies to achieve victory.
For over a decade, Anne has been a happy “random con-goer”, with her primary focus being to play as many board games as possible before the bar-live begins. After dipping her toes into being a game guide last year, Anne has now been enticed to join the board game jury, which she sees as a new and exciting approach to board games.
She loves trying out new games, but she also has a deep affection for old favorites like Terraforming Mars, Lords of Waterdeep, and Carcassonne (as long as you don't build into her city!). With her regular board game group, Anne has become enamored with co-op legacy games such as Pandemic Legacy and now Gloomhaven, as the story and progression from game to game pique her curiosity, and the joy of winning is shared by everyone at the table.
When it comes to learning new games, Anne gladly takes on the role of reading and explaining the rules, as she finds a special joy in spreading knowledge of good board games to friends and family.
Pax may not be a seasoned board game veteran yet - but that's only because they haven't been around that long. Pax regularly gets involved as a player and designer for events of all types - from the Aarhus Board Game Festival to test events at the local cafe.
As a designer himself, Pax looks at games with an analytical eye and appreciates elegantly designed games with good flow and short waiting time between turns. However, many interesting decisions are the primary key to Pax's heart. Favorites range from Wingspan and Ares Expedition to Gaea Project and Dune: Imperium.
Pax has been a lifelong gamer, growing up on Ant Hill, Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering. When they moved out, the board game collection was by far the most important thing, and that's the way it should be, in Pax's eyes. They are very excited to be a judge and to see all the games reach their potential.
In Kathrine's family, they enjoyed playing board games on Friday evenings. So, when she picked up the tradition as an adult, she was filled with nostalgia and passion. She has been an active Fastaval organizer for several years. Last year, she was the head judge, but this year the torch has been passed, and Kathrine is taking on her third, and for now, final year as a judge.
Kathrine, in many ways, is a mainstream board gamer, and she despises reading rules. On the other hand, she loves it when storytelling, player interaction, and mechanics go hand in hand. Even the simplest board game can ignite her enthusiasm, as long as there's a method to the madness.
Her taste in board games is both broad and mainstream, with a clear preference for accessible Eurogames. Currently, her favorite shelf houses diverse games like Ganz Schön Clever and Dune: Imperium.
The jury chairman is found at Fastaval the year before and is selected as a starting point by the former jury chairman. The chairman of the jury then appoints a jury consisting of a total of 5 members, including the chairman himself. These members are selected to create a varied and balanced jury with both game designers and players as well as people with different tastes in board games.
Before the board games are handed in, the jury holds meetings where, among other things, they agree on the process and how the Otto categories are interpreted.
When the rules are submitted in the month leading up to Fastaval, they are read by the jury and this is where the first impressions can be formed of the material.
During Fastaval, the jury will partly play the games themselves so that each game is played by at least two of the jury members. In addition, there is communication with players and designers after the proceedings to get a better impression of the games. In addition, the judges will collect feedback sheets from the players which will be important for the final decision.
On Saturday, the jury will lock themselves in all day to find out who will be nominated and who will win. The assessment takes place against the background of the written rules combined with the jury's and other players' impressions of the game played, including the feedback notes.
On Saturday evening, the lists of the nominees will be published both physically at Fastaval and digitally on the website and other digital media.
On Sunday, the designers will have the opportunity to get the feedback sheets back while the judges make the final arrangements before the final announcement of the winners on Sunday evening.
The winners and nominees will be selected based on the definition of the Ottos that can be found here. These definitions are discussed in the jury before the games are handed over. The games are largely judged on their own terms. For instance, a company game is judged on whether it actually creates social interaction and not so much on strategic depth.
All the games will be thoroughly discussed to make sure that you get around all the nooks and crannies and that all arguments are turned and twisted. This is not just a simple vote.
After Fastaval, the jury starts writing feedback to all the participating designers. It is intended that the feedback can both be used to improve the game with a view to possible Further development and development of new games for Fastaval or elsewhere.