Well, Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, first off. Hope you guys are having a relaxing Sunday.
The judges are all busy as can be. There's been one last Master List sent out, to double-double check everyone has everything, and that no products have fallen through the cracks. There's some lively discussion going on in most categories, and I think each category has at least one or two items that are close to "sure-fire" picks. Myself, I know I'm carrying a torch for a few products with a slim chance of entry, based on the discussion I've seen so far. But, that's how we do it, right? You argue passionately for the products you feel are most deserving, you vote, and see what comes of it all.
I know I've mentioned a lot fo products I've really enjoyed this year--from well-known products like Kenzer's Aces & Eights and Green Ronin's Pirate's Guide to Freeport to smaller-press entries like the Epic RPG, Thousand Suns, and Two-Fisted Tales. There have been mild surprises, like how great the rules are in a game titled Ninja Burger. And I still don't have my mind nearly made up on a lot of games. Best Game is especially hard, because you have to look at each area that makes up a game--writing, production, rules, etc.--and see how it is overall as a game. If its weak in presentation but amazing in the writing department, does that strength trump that weakness? You really have to look at the overall game, and not be blindsided just because you love element X or Y--though those singular elements may well be enough to put it over the top.
In the end, it still comes down to, "Does It Bring the Awesome?" The problem I'm having right now in some categories is not enough slots to hold all the products that warrant a "yes" on that....