The American Tabletop Awards have announced 2022’s slate of winning board games, placing honours on Lost Ruins of Arnak, Cascadia and several other recent titles.
Now in its fourth consecutive year, the ATTAs award board games in four distinct categories of rising complexity - Early Gamers, Casual Games, Strategy Games and Complex Games. Winners in each category are accompanied by two other nominated titles and two recommendations from the judging committee.
Nearly all of the prestigious tabletop awards are based in the UK or Europe, such as the Spiel des Jahres and the As d’or. One of ATTA’s goals is to broaden that offering while also focusing on titles published in the Western hemisphere.
Lost Ruins of Arnak took home the grand prize in the Complex Games category. The island-exploring board game designed by Elwen and Mín found a strong and passionate audience who enjoyed searching for treasure, fighting monstrous guardians and researching the treasures found in the jungle depths. This isn’t the first award for Lost Ruins, as it won the Deutsche Spielepreis and the vaunted honour of Meehan’s 2021 game of the year.
Spirit-focused engine-builder Bitoku and the mechanics-rich Origins: First Builders earned recommendations from the judges, while Ryan Laukat’s newest board game Sleeping Gods joined Leder Game’s Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile on the nominated list. Please send your condolences to Matt Jarvis, whose review of Oath found it unforgettable.
Cascadia, designed by Randy Flynn and published by Flatout Games, won the Strategy Game award for its “impeccable strategic gameplay”, according to the judges. They also commended Beth Sobel’s artwork depicting the landscapes, biomes and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. Players must manage the habitats of salmon, hawks, bears and more as they attempt to score the most points in this competitive game of tile and token placement that also landed on our list of best tile-placement board games.
Nominations in the strategy category went to Garphill Game’s city builder, Hadrian’s Wall, and Brew, a dice-based area control game published by Pandasaurus. The committee awarded recommendations to the engine-building auction title Furnace and Genotype, which transforms Punnett Squares and pea genetics into a worker placement game.
The Casual Game award went to John D. Clair’s Cubitos, in which players build up a pool of dice that are rolled to generate resources, movement and special actions. Fairly approachable from a difficulty angle, the tension comes from the ever-present threat of pressing luck, rolling blanks and killing a player’s streak.
The other casual games taking home a nod include recommended titles Whirling Witchcraft, an engine-builder that awards punchy play and The Crew: Mission Deep Sea. This followup to the Dicebreaker crew’s favourite set-taking card game - Quest for Planet Nine - delivers more of the original, which is definitely not a bad thing. The nominees are Summer Camp and the 2021 As d’Or winner 7 Wonders: Architects, which Meehan said fails to meet the standards of its namesake.
The Early Gamers category focuses on an oft-overlooked (or undervalued) section of the hobby - games for the younger crowd or those just entering the tabletop space. Gamewright’s bright and colourful citybuilder Happy City, which manages to translate a dense mechanic without sacrificing too much depth for more experienced hands. The judges also complemented its focus on citizen happiness instead of money as an explicit goal.
Dexterity games Crash Octopus and Kabuto Sumo both nabbed a recommendation from the judges, while Block Ness and Hammer Time earned nominations. A full list of the awarded board games, along with information on the committee and selection criteria can be found on the American Tabletop Awards’ website.