Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thoughts on the ENnies nominees, Part I

With the ENnies nominees announced Friday, I figured I’d share a couple thoughts on how the nominees played out. I’ll post up Part II, with the remaining categories, tomorrow.

I put my nods in for the Gold & Silver in each category where applicable. Keep in mind these are not predictions; most of us pretty much know based on publisher followings, who’s going in favored in certain categories. I’ve also occasionally submitted my own “Shoulda Been Mentioned” line, with absolutely no regard for if that product was actually submitted to the awards or not.

Underrepresented: Eclipse Phase, FantasyCraft. Both of these should have had nominations under Best Games, if not also Best Product (FantasyCraft had a Honorable Mention in the latter).

Noticeably Absent: Usual ENnie Faves Margaret Weis Productions, Monte Cook, and Goodman Games. Are the times a’changin’, or was it just an off year?

Now, on to the actual categories:

Best Adventure: Out of this category, I am most familiar with the Grinding Gear, Stolen Land, and Peril at King’s Landing. All three were good products, but I think the first two stand out the most. I’d have picked Death Frost Doom over either, truth be told.

Gold: Pathfinder AP #31: Stolen Land
Silver: The Grinding Gear
Shoulda Been Mentioned: Stonehell Dungeon

Best Aid or Accessory: This is the category I am perhaps best-acquainted with. Out of this category, I love Campaign Coins, and my players that used them have as well. They’re a few years old, so they must have submitted based on the newer-designed coins. Gaming Paper is a simple idea that seemed to really take off at Gen Con. HeroLab is a great program, and seems to really be going. The Pathfinder GM Screen was a high-quality product. Tough call.

Gold: Campaign Coins
Silver: Gaming Paper
Shoulda Been Mentioned: The Disposable Heroes line, Precis Intermedia. Fat Dragon Games’ products, too.

Best Cover Art: Good cover art should complement a game, and make you excited about picking it up and checking it out. I have a hard time picking in this category, because I love so many divergent styles and approaches.

Gold: Eclipse Phase
Silver: WFRP: The Gathering Storm

Best Interior Art: See above—I have a generally tough time with this. Although I consider Pathfinder very well-done, the art often veers into “dungeonpunk” territory, which isn’t my favorite. Rogue Trader and Warhammer were beautiful. Not a fan of the Shadowrun art, generally.

Gold: Rogue Trader Core Rulebook
Silver: Warhammer Fantasy RPG

Best Blog: Some blogs have great content; others have a nice, useful design. The ones on the nominee list here generally have both. I am really very surprised Stargazer’s World didn’t get a nod here. Michael Wolf and his crew over the past have really stepped it up and given those interesting in a wider variety of games another quality port of call aside from Gnome Stew. I had a tremendously difficult time choosing between One Geek to Another and Newbie DM. They’d share the silver, if it were up to me, and you know what? That’s just what I’m going to do.

Gold: Gnome Stew
Silver: One Geek To Another/Newbie DM
Shoulda Been Mentioned: Stargazer’s World

Best Cartography: I love cartography. There’s just something about gaming and maps that goes hand-in-hand. 0one Games is still one of the standards in my mind, but I think I saw just about every product in this category, and they were all great.

Gold: Dungeon of Terror Personal Boxed Set
Silver: Pathfinder City Map Folio
Shoulda Been Mentioned: Castle of the Mad Archmage (I know it was pdf only and not complete during the submission guidelines, but still…)

Best Electronic Book: Rite Publishing really seemed to hit their stride this past year. 0one Games showed they aren’t just about maps, with their Great City Player’s Guide being a great entry for this perennial nominee.

Gold: To Kill or Not To Kill
Silver: The Great City Player’s Guide
Shoulda Been Mentioned: This really deserves its own post. There are some many awesome e-products out there, it’s hard to begin.

Best Free Product: Free stuff! Everyone loves free, and there’s a lot to choose from out there. Really, all of 1KM1KT could share this, and that’d be fine with me. The folks behind Wayfinder hit it out of the park this year. Still and all, I’m stunned Hexographer only managed an Honorable Mention. A love of hexmapping should be a prerequisite for any ENnies judge.

Gold: Wayfinder #1
Silver: Advanced Player’s Guide Playtest
Shoulda Been Mentioned: Again, Castle of the Mad Archmage, Hexographer, and the non-art version of the Advanced Edition Companion

Best Game: There is no doubt in my mind that Pathfinder will run away with this category, and Shadowrun or Dragon Age will likely get the Silver. While it’s difficult to argue the success of Pathfinder, I found myself more focused on older games and releases of the past few years this year. What I don’t understand on this list is how a game can be on the Best Product list, but not Best Game (Warhammer, for example). Weird, huh?

Gold: Pathfinder RPG
Silver: Dragon Age (you don’t bet against Green Ronin at the ENnies)
Shoulda Been Mentioned: Labyrinth Lord (nabbed an Honorable Mention) and Eclipse Phase.

Best Miniature Product: Gaming Paper was nominated, which is pretty cool. Some of the categories are still sort of hazily-defined, sadly. I checked out Maps of Mastery, and that seemed pretty neat as well. D&D Minis can eat it, because I don’t like their current format or quality.
Gold: Gaming Paper
Silver: Maps of Mastery
Shoulda Been Nominated: Again, no Fat Dragon Games or Precis Intermedia? Seriously?

Tomorrow is Part II!


WalkerP said...

Whoah, throwing softballs Zach! :) How about the One Page Dungeon Codex being left off of Free Product! And they really need to implement the stricture that a free product has to be a stand-alone item not a promo for a larger game. That Pathfinder piece just shouldn't be in there, I feel.

I appreciate your knowledge of a lot of the items I don't know about. Gives me some reference.

Now let's hope you come out swinging for Part II!

Zachary The First said...

Nah, no uppercuts here. I admit, I'm perplexed at some of the choices, but honestly, this year, a lot of the products are foreign to me. I don't know if that means my tastes are going further outside the mainstream, or what. :)

Let's see what Part II holds.

jaerdaph said...

Best Cartography Shoulda Been Mentioned: Castle of the Mad Archmage (I know it was pdf only and not complete during the submission guidelines, but still…)

*blushes* Thank you! It was a lot of fun working from Joe Bloch's beautiful hand drawn maps. CotMA is his magnum opus, and I'm honored to have played a small part in helping bring it to life.

Liz said...

Thanks for the kudos on Wayfinder, Zach. :D