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Major board gaming awards are now recognizing the best ‘Zoomable’ games

Forgotten Waters from Plaid Hat Games takes home the first Golden Geek for remote play

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Parrots fly around a wild, fantastical tropical island. Image: Plaid Hat Games
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The 15th annual Golden Geek Awards were announced on Sunday, and they include an entirely new category for tabletop games you can play on a video conference, such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. It’s further evidence that the ongoing global pandemic is changing the way we play, and that will undoubtedly feed back into how games are made going forward.

The Golden Geeks are organized each year by the community at Board Game Geek, perhaps the largest collection of tabletop fans in the world. This list of awards was very different than previous years, especially since there was no single winner for Board Game of the Year. Instead, the decision was made to break that honor up into three different categories — Light, Medium, and Heavy. It’s a move mirrored by The American Tabletop Awards. We’ve included a list of all the winners below.

But the biggest change by far was the addition of the Zoomable Game category. The winner was Forgotten Waters, a game designed by Isaac Vega, J. Arthur Ellis, and Mr. Bistro. It was published by Plaid Hat Games, and is closely related to another of that company’s award winning games called Dead of Winter.

What makes Forgotten Waters so perfect for playing remotely is that the cooperative game gives each player their own objectives, and their own paper sheet to track them with. You can even download the materials you need straight from the Plaid Hat website. There’s also a companion app with full voice acting, and even a full-fledged “remote play assistant” to drive the action inside a web browser.

Best of all, the game is currently in good supply. You can find it at the publisher’s website, at your friendly local game store, and online at places like Amazon.

Here’s the complete list of all of this year’s winners, plus links out to where you can find them on Amazon.

2-Player Game

Undaunted: North Africa

Artwork Presentation

On Mars

Card Game

Dune: Imperium

Cooperative Game

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion


Wingspan: Oceania Expansion


MicroMacro: Crime City

Light Game of the Year

MicroMacro: Crime City

Medium Game of the Year

Lost Ruins of Arnak

Heavy Game of the Year

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

Print and Play

7 Wonders Duel: Solo

Solo Game

Under Falling Skies

Thematic Game

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion


Imperial Struggle

Zoomable Game

Forgotten Waters

Best Board Game App


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