Announcing: The 2020 Laurel Nominees

Well, here we are for the next annual Laurels of the Republic! The Laurels are our way of highlighting and rewarding some of the best games of the last year among their respective gamer archetype categories. Just like our reviews, the Laurel nominees are broken down not among traditional categories or our personal favorite games, but rather along these six archetypes. Each of them caters to a different philosophy of what you prefer in their gaming experiences, both accentuating and celebrating the variety of play styles that exist within board gaming overall. (If you’re curious, you can find out your archetype preferences here.)

After poring over hundreds of titles, months of research, and more playthroughs than we can count, it is finally time that we present our findings. We apologize it’s taken a bit longer than normal this year, but regrettably extensive setbacks and limitations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year delayed our vetting process significantly. But no longer! And so, without further ado, here are the 2020 Laurel nominees:





Beyond the Sun Bonfire Calico
Dominations: Road to Civilization Maracaibo MonsDRAWsity
Empyreal: Spells & Steam Praga Caput Regni The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
High Rise Tekhenu The Search for Planet X
My City Viscounts of the West Kingdom Trails of Tucana




Board Royale: The Island Cosmic Frog Curious Cargo
Dune: Imperium Forgotten Waters Dwellings of Eldervale
Moonrakers Lost Ruins of Arnak Imperial Struggle
Unicorn Fever Paleo Mezo
Vampire: The Masquerade – Heritage Pandemic Legacy: Season 0 Super Fantasy Brawl


Starting on May 4th, stay tuned to the site as we begin a month-long series of articles where we will elaborate on how each game earned their spot, reveal the honorable mention runner-up, and announce the coveted winner of its category.

Until then, let the speculation begin!

How We Determine Eligibility Requirements

You may wonder how we determine cutoff criteria for game eligibility of a given year. In short, it mostly boils down to availability. We follow three rules:

  1. Games deemed to be purely reskins or new editions / versions of older games without substantial (20% or more) changes to the rules are not eligible for consideration.
  2. For Kickstarter games, consideration is based on when it starts being shipped to US backers and is irrespective of when the campaign itself started or ended. If backers start receiving their copies in January, then it’s eligible for that year.
    • We do reserve flexibility on this rule. For instance, in cases when games ship in late December of the previous year  or deciding to evaluate games from well-established publishers using Rule 3 instead if they’re largely leveraging Kickstarter as a preorder system.
  3. For all traditionally published games, eligibility starts from when it becomes available in the US via wide-scale or direct retail distribution. In practical terms, for example, this often means annual Essen Spiel releases aren’t eligible until the next year’s award cycle. Many games only available via import or a single website (i.e. the BGG Store) may not be eligible at all.