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ALL THE JAHRES

James Wallis replays the winners of the Spiel des Jahres in order

Name a train game that won the Spiel des Jahres, the most important games award in the world. Ticket to Ride, right? Everyone says Ticket to Ride, except that one person at the back who’s saying Colt Express. Everybody’s played Ticket to Ride; it’s one of the great gateway games. Nobody says Railway Rivals and, frankly, that’s a tragedy.

Back in 1984, Railway Rivals was the second British-designed title to take the SdJ, putting the UK’s average after six years at a solid 33%. Welsh designer David Watts had been selling the game through his own company Rostherne Games since 1973, packaged in a distinctive cardboard tube containing maps, counters, dice and pens, but in 1980 Schmidt Spiele released a German edition, Dampfross, which brought it to the attention of the SdJ jury. Games Workshop followed up with a revised English edition in 1985, but it’s been out of print in its native tongue for more than 25 years. How did this jewel of British game design become so neglected?

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