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The American Tabletop Awards celebrate 2020’s best board games

The United States’ version of the prestigious Spiel des Jahres

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A selection of 3D items on a game board created using triangles.
Dominations: Road to Civilization
Image: Holy Grail Games

Three years ago, a team of tabletop industry experts gathered to create the American alternative to the Spiel des Jahres, Germany’s prestigious board game awards. On Tuesday, that committee announced the winners of the third annual American Tabletop Awards. Divided into four categories — Early Gamers, Casual Games, Strategy Games, and Complex Games — they represent some of the best new releases of 2020.

This isn’t a collection of the most-hyped games to arrive on Kickstarter, nor is it a hyper-specific list of the most technically demanding Euro-style games available. The ATTAs celebrate the very best board games for fans of all skill levels. Its diverse committee is backed by a robust code of conduct, with transparency and clear provisions against conflicts of interest in the selection process.

Here are this year’s winners.

Abandon All Artichokes

Gamewright’s Abandon All Artichokes wins this year’s Early Gamers award with a light card game for ages 10 and up. The goal is to be the first player to draw a full hand of vegetable cards without any artichokes in it. Players use the other cards in their deck to weed the garden, adding artichokes to the compost heap (the discard pile) as they go. The game is also sold in a handy portable tin, making it great for car trips and small gatherings.

Get it here: Amazon

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

The award for best Casual Game this year goes to The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine, which has been racking up tons of awards — including the Connoisseur’s Game of the Year award at last year’s Spiel des Jahres. It’s a cooperative trick-taking game, meaning that players use the mechanics of traditional card games to proactively push specific cards to specific players. Everyone at the table is working from limited information, and the game is as much about clever communication as it is about sheer luck.

Get it here: Amazon


This year’s winner in the Strategy Games category is called Calico, a game about quilting and cats. Players compete against each other to match patterns on their own personal sideboard, and to attract cats to their workspace. It’s a vividly colored, wonderfully illustrated game that plays quickly — in about 30 to 45 minutes. There’s also a solo mode. Unfortunately, the wildly popular board game is currently sold out. Publisher AEG says you’ll need to wait another four to six months for the next print run.

Dominations: Road to Civilization

Dominations set up on the table to begin a round of play. Image: Holy Grail Games

Finally, this year’s winner in the Complex Games category is Dominations: Road to Civilization. Developer Holy Grail Games calls its creation “an expert, strategic Eurogame that will challenge even the most experienced players,” and judging from all the bits inside the box that’s clearly an apt description. But the concept itself — a game of global domination with no wars, no armies, and no empires — sounds bold and exciting. Underlying everything is a beautiful playing field, composed of individual triangular tiles and capped with 3D cardboard monuments.

Get it here: Amazon

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