HABA 2021 Game Design Contest Winners

HABA 2021 Game Design Contest Winners

This year we have over 70 entries submitted for consideration, and a good number of those featured dinosaurs. Every year we try to make the bits in the design kits unique, and this year, apparently there were a lot of dinosaurs. And there were so many unique and different dinosaur games! It’s always so amazing to see how many different ideas can come from our design kits, and this year was no exception.

To help streamline the final review process in this still-odd world, we selected 10 semi-finalists from the 70+ entries, and from those 10 semi-finalists, 2 winners and 1 honorable mention were selected! Let’s start with the winners, in no particular order.

2021 Design Contest Winners

Grow Garden Grow
Designed by Dr. Elisabeth Ploran

Designed for a younger audience, Grow Garden Grow is a game about growing flowers. Each player has a single flower they’re attempting to grow, by providing it with water and sunshine, and the first player to have their flower bloom wins the game. Dr. Ploran designed three variants for the game, that age with children as their brains develop and their skills for logic grow. While the game designed for 2- or 3-year-olds is primarily reactive, the variant for 4–5-year-olds gives more choices and requires some strategic and logical thinking on a player’s turn to ensure victory.

We particularly liked that the game was still interesting for younger players, and featured tactile components, with the players threading wooden pieces onto the flower stem to “grow” it. Simple rules with intuitive components is key for games targeting toddlers, but then the variants that use more interesting card decisions nicely grows the game for a more Kindergarten or 1 st grade level audience. A beautiful game, indeed!

Earthquake Eggscape
Designed by Sabrina and Dave Culyba

It’s a quiet afternoon in the late Jurassic as you and your fellow stegosauruses are relaxing in the shade watching over your nest of eggs. Suddenly the trees begin to sway and the ground begins to tremble--EARTHQUAKE! The shaking ground scatters your eggs all across the valley floor and the rumbling rock indicates there are more quakes coming. You and your fellow stegosauruses must brave the quaking valley to gather your lost eggs. Work together to recover as many of your family’s precious eggs as you can before the next big quake destroys the valley!

While we don’t give points for alteration in titles... we definitely enjoy them. We also really enjoyed this cooperative game of dinosaur mayhem. An institutive goal, collect all the eggs, and simple rules for movement and the progression of the game, makes Earthquake Eggscape easy to understand for younger players, but still stressful enough in the endgame to keep it interesting for adults. The game encourages working together without using extra rules to enforce player boundaries, keeping it light and quick to teach and play. An egg-cellent game!

Honorable Mention Finalist

Billy Goat’s Midnight Nibble
Designed by Abraham Underhill

The night is quiet except for the sound of munching. Munching! The goat has escaped from the barn and is grazing in the prize-winning flower garden! It will be challenging to find the goat on this moonless night. Fortunately, you have a lantern.Unfortunately, the lantern is almost out of fuel! Can you stop the greedy goat before he devours the garden?

This game caught us by surprise. It was definitely one that all judges enjoyed and wanted to play, however, it doesn’t fully meet the contest, and HABA’s, criteria for a winning game. The game is 2 players only, which we really don’t do unless the intent is for a younger children’s game or a travel game, neither of which this game is. The game also features an element of hidden movement and a good number of components to support that. We initially selected Billy Goat’s Midnight Nibble as a semi-finalist because the game seemed solid, and we were interested in trying it and seeing if the HABA Development Team felt it could be developed or molded into something more fitting for the HABA line. Specifically, we wanted to see if we could see a way to simplify the hidden movement elements of the game to work for HABA’s target audience, which is more in the 6 and up range, if not the 8 and up, focusing on casual or non-hobby gamers.

In the end, after several games and judging sessions, we were left with the uncomfortable truth that the game is too good as it is, and to modify it to work within HABA’s line would change the game too much from what we all liked about it. Because HABA Design Contest Winners are always selected to be considered for publishing as a HABA game, we did not feel it was right to select Billy Goat’s Midnight Nibble as a winner, as we have no intention to modify the game to work within HABA’s line of games – it just wouldn’t be fair to the game, or the contest. But we want to make sure that Abraham’s design was recognized as being intuitive, fun, and unique. We had a great time playing Billy Goat’s Midnight Nibble and we wish Abraham luck finding a publisher for this game.

A Word About the Contest

We tried something a little different this year with a partnership with Omari Akil and the creation of the Game Designing series ( https://youtu.be/MJK7_ZGG2Ys ). We enjoyed working with Omari on these videos and helping support new designers during the contest in a more constructive way. If you have thoughts or opinions on how we can improve the contest for future years, we’d love your feedback.

As in years past, we appreciate everyone that submitted their designs. It takes a lot of work and courage to create something and send it off to be judged, and we are so happy you trusted us with your creations. We consider you all a part of the HABA family, and we’re so happy so many of you make us apart of yours.

Happy Designing!

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