Wow. The thing about cutting wayyyy back on your gaming budget and not messing around as much with games you’ll never play anyway is that you have less of an idea about what the New Hotness is.
I imagine there are many gamers who know precisely what’s going on with all the ENnie Awards nominees this year, but I really don’t. As in, not even 20% of them. Of course, a big part of the ENnies is getting the word out on products the judges feel are excellent, so maybe that’s ok.
Honestly, unless something can be ported to the games I’m likely to run or is system-generic, the reality is I’m probably not going to look at it. Again, I don’t doubt the excellence of many of these products, just the usefulness of this to me personally. Let’s look at it, category by category:
I have not read any of these items, though I heard good things about Paizo’s entry from one of my Pathfinder buddies.
I’ve heard of the Dungeon Tiles set and Vornheim, but didn’t check out either. I actually have checked out the Hero Lab, Gaming Paper, and Eclipse Phase entries. Out of those, I really liked the utility of Gaming Paper Adventure Maps.
Best Cover Art
The only one I really can recall from this list is Eoris Essence, since there was so much hype leading up to the release. Honestly, this category doesn’t matter much to me as it used to.
Best Art, Interior
0-fer, with the exception of the Pathfinder entry.
Now this is a category I can follow! I usually check out all these blogs, except Critical Hits (although I do check in on Chatty DM’s portion of that site regularly). Thistle Games is newer to me, but at least I’ve heard of it. I still believe Gnome Stew is the best blog out there for Game Masters.
Another wash, except for Gaming Paper.
Best Electronic Book
Best Free Product
OK, here we go! BattleTech, Old School Hack, and Paizo—I’ve checked all those out. I thought all three were pretty cool in their own way.
I have actually played Icons, which I liked. I’ve read parts of Dresden, but have only played a short demo.
Best Miniatures Product
Negatory, except for the Honorable Mention. However, I am immensely skeptical of any list not including the products of Fat Dragon Games (assuming they entered). I’m in the market for some cheap, good-looking pre-made minis products at Gen Con, though!
Best New Game
Icons and Dresden, again. Stars Without Number was excellent, and a fun campaign. A Taste For Murder is a great name for an Agatha Christie novel, though!
I really don’t have time to listen to podcasts much right now, but my normal podcasts aren’t really represented here (except for Atomic Array now and again).
Best Production Values
Dresden, again. I heard L5R was purty, though.
Best RPG Related Product
Batting .000 here.
Icons and Dresden once more. Enjoyed Icons. From what I read of Dresden it might be a little heavier than I like, but I’d have to check out some more actual play.
Pathfinder’s Inner Sea World Guide is the only one I’ve checked out. Personally, I think Greyhawk should win every year, even though the line is for now cast aside.
Pathfinder comes through again!
We at last come to a category where I am generally familiar with all the sites listed. Kudos to each of them—I would hate to have to pick from this category!
Gatecrashing and Dresden.
Product of the Year
Pathfinder and Dresden. Outside of that….
The judges of the ENnies definitely get a ton of free gaming books, which is a nice compensation for their time, but it’s still a heck of a responsibility to read and decide on so many products. Cheers to them for their efforts—I’m just not sure how relevant it is to me. I don’t have the time, money, or interest to try umpteen new systems right now. The stuff I do like is by and large not represented. I might not exactly be on the cutting edge of the hobby anymore, but I’m finding more and more I don’t mind.
My favorite things from the past couple years? Joe Bloch’s Castle of the Mad Archmage, which was free. Ditto with much of the classical D&D advice I’ve ported to my Castles & Crusades rules and overall philosophy. Jared Sorensen’s Parsely Games, which cost me 99 cents apiece. Stuff Clash Bowley writes. Gnome Stew’s (Engine Publishing) Eureka, which wasn’t nominated. Stars Without Number, which did get an Honorable Mention at least.
It doesn't mean the ENnie choices are bad; we've just gone in different directions, which means they've lost some relevance to my gaming.