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HABA USA 2020 Game Design Contest Winners

HABA USA 2020 Game Design Contest Winners

Hello again HABA family. It’s with much excitement I get to share with you all today the finalists and winners of the 2020 Game Design Contest. Let’s get into it!

We had over 80 entrees submitted in this year’s contest, which we picked 20 amazing semi-finalists from. From those 20 semi-finalists, we selected 8 finalists to present to the final judges, the HABA Germany Games Development Team. In the end, we selected 4 winners for this year’s contest, who’s games will be sent to Germany for consideration for publishing by HABA. The winners will also receive a HABA USA Gift Card.

We’d like to thank everyone that purchased a design kit and submitted a game for consideration. This contest was definitely a highlight for us at HABA this summer! Without further preamble, we’d like to congratulate, in alphabetical order, the Winners of the 2020 HABA USA Game Design Contest.

Critter Grove

Designed by Rob Cramer

Animals have arrived on an empty island and are looking for the perfect spots to build their new homes. Whether they are nestled between mountain tops, or along a rushing river, these animals are particular about where they want to settle down. Take turns placing tiles across the landscape, searching for spaces that fit everyone's needs. Everyone wants to stick together, so you only win if you build homes for all of the animals.

A cooperative tile placement game with cute animals? We’re in. Critter Grove had a lot of replay-ability, a surprising amount of think and planning involved, but a simple ruleset that got us playing in minutes. For judging purposes, we ignored the many mini-expansions and found there was more than enough game without them. Congratulations Rob!

Game Face

Designed by Abraham Underhill

How would you feel if you spotted a rare bird? What expression would you make if your puppy chewed up your favorite slipper? Using colorful blocks, players will try to make faces that show how they would feel in these and other scenarios.

We were delightfully surprised by the range of emotions we could convey with this game’s elements, and by the conversations that the game started. This was a great conversation starter to talk about empathy, how we would feel individually about a situation, and was just fun to make silly faces with. A fun game with a simple premise, we had a blast whenever we played. Congratulation Abraham!

Moo Market

Designed by Jessica Fisher

Cow has gone to the local market to buy her friends some presents. Unfortunately, Cow is a very large animal and the market is not so very large. Do your best to guide Cow through the market, picking up gifts to purchase and trying not to knock anything over. If Cow manages to reach the end of the market and make all her purchases, you win! But if Cow gets too embarrassed, she won’t be able to buy all her presents and you’ll have to try again.

We here at HABA have never tried to navigate a socially anxious cow through a market, but after playing Moo Market, we feel we are maybe better prepared now. A dexterity game with HABA charm and an extremely unique theme, Moo Market was a game that we kept wanting to play, long after the game was put away. Congratulations Jessica!

Zoo Scramble

Designed by Ryan & Nathalie Wilson

Welcome to the Happy Animal Zoo where all the animals are loved and well cared for. The zookeepers are working hard to take care of all the animals, but they need your help to make sure all the animals are fed, and their cages kept clean to keep the animals happy. This is a family cooperative game and your goal is to make the animals as happy as possible.

We had a lot of zoo-themed games submitted this year, likely due to our helpful Zoo figure that found their way into a lot of kits, and none were as unique as Zoo Scramble. The game is straight-forward in its goal and play, with simple rules that we feel work perfectly for younger games. A cooperative game that keeps all players engaged every round, with some messy consequences when you lose, Zoo Scramble stood out above the rest. Congratulations Ryan and Nathalie!


The following games were finalists this year and definitely deserve a mention. We enjoyed all of these games and wish to congratulate their designers as well. Rockin' Ship Safari designed by Michael Fitzgerald, Hectic Harvest designed by Aaron & Amber Kempkes, Wild Zoo Chase designed by Eli and Hanna Edwardson, and Garden Thieves by Elisabeth Ploran.

A Word About the Contest

Now, sharp eyed readers might notice that all the winners this year were cooperative games. This was entirely accidental, and I didn’t actually notice that until writing this post. We had a lot of fantastic competitive games submitted and make it all the way to the finals, and we here at HABA definitely enjoy friendly competition. This year, it just so happened that these four cooperative games shined the brightest to our judges.

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.

Until next year,

T. Caires
HABA USA Games Channel Manager

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