Turns out there was some brouhaha over in the States over the weekend. The blogosphere has already gone over the awards news and especially the ENnie winners have been thoroughly picked over, but many seem to forget that the ENnies weren’t the only awards presented at the convention.
The Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming
First of all, there was the Diana Jones Award, still my favourite of all gaming scene awards, mostly for reasons of its origin story. The nominees this year were a couple of indie RPGs I’d never heard of, Kagematsu and Montsegur 1244, Fantasy Flight Games’ most excellent board game Chaos in the Old World and the website BoardGameGeek. Pretty much the only thing I don’t like about the award is their slowness in updating the website after the winner has been revealed. Instead, we must go over to the LiveJournal of Robin D. Laws for our award news – and the winner is BoardGameGeek!
I can’t comment on the RPGs, since I’ve never read them and probably couldn’t comment even if I had, but BoardGameGeek is certainly a worthy recipient of the perspex pyramid. When I every now and then go through my brief stints of board game geekery, they’re an invaluable resource for all sorts of nifty things.
The Indie RPG Awards
Then there’s the award for, well, indie games. The definition of “indie” is a big vague, but I figure it’s a bit like pornography – I know it when I see it. The Game of the Year is… Kagematsu, also a nominee for the Diana Jones Award. Well, I guess it has to be good, now. Kenneth Hite’s Day After Ragnarok for Savage Worlds got Supplement of the Year. I haven’t really kept an eye on the indie RPG scene, mostly relying on RPG.net to attract my attention when something comes out that I might find interesting. Usually, this translates as “what caused the biggest flamewars this year”, but there is the occasional game that strikes me as actually being interesting to play. This year’s winner of Best Support, Jason Morningstar’s Fiasco, is one. It’s a game about planned crimes that go disastrously wrong, in the spirit of films like Fargo and The Way of the Gun. Advertising a game as recreating Coen Brothers movies is actually a pretty good way to get my attention, and having it win awards is a good way to get me to buy it.
The ENnie Awards
And then there’s the big one, and it’s much like Joseph Browning commented last year – getting nominated is the victory. The winners can be pretty reliably determined, it seems, by asking two questions: Does WotC have a major presence among the nominees? If the answer is “yes”, they win. If the answer is “no”, Paizo Publishing wins. This does not apply to the Best Adventure category, which Paizo wins anyway. The nominees are picked (mostly) for quality, while the winners are determined by publisher loyalty. Paizo is especially skilled at this, while WotC is just big enough that they don’t need to be. It’s the problem with an award like this. It’s pretty much impossible for the voters to be familiar with all the nominees, so they pick the stuff they’re familiar with.
I mean, I like Paizo and all, but this is getting ever so slightly ridiculous. Let’s compare with my nominations post from last month. Annoyingly, the ENnies haven’t yet got their website updated, either, but there is no shortage of lists of winners, thanks to the intrepid bloggers present at Gen Con.
For the art awards, my picks for best cover art were reversed, in that Eclipse Phase got silver and Pathfinder Bestiary got an unsurprising gold. I voted Rogue Trader for silver in interior art, but it went to Shadowrun 20th Anniversary Edition. In cartography, Pathfinder City Map Folio won and Aces & Eights: Judas Crossing came second. Interestingly, WotC’s Revenge of the Giants didn’t even place. I think there needs to be a critical mass of nominated products before the publisher loyalty thing starts to really affect the final standings.
No great surprises anywhere, though I’m slightly disappointed that Rogue Trader didn’t win Best Production Values, since the book is clearly put together better than Pathfinder RPG. Not that PFRPG is in any way shabby work, but FFG just dominates in that area. Would’ve been nifty to see The Grinding Gear win something for Best Adventure, but Raggi just doesn’t have enough name recognition yet.
Interestingly, Jeramy Ware’s Judge’s Pick Award went to Fiasco, and Day After Ragnarok won gold for Best Setting.