• Messe Essen
  • 05. - 08. Oct. 2023

innoSPIEL Winner

Friedhelm Merz Verlag and the city of Essen award the prize innoSPIEL for special innovations in the world of family and board games.


Winner innoSPIEL 2021

innoSPIEL 2021 goes to GHOST ADVENTURE by author Wlad Watine, published by Pegasus Spiele.

In GHOST ADVENTURE the designer has created the game of his dreams. The spinning top as a play figure is not a mere gadget, but a real innovation. Together, we are constantly challenged to pass the top from board to board, to assess the remaining momentum of rotation and to steer it with skill. Communication is important to take the right game board at the right time and coordinate actions. It is spectacular when we need to throw the spinning top up using the game board to continue the adventure on the back of the board.

The well-conceived comic-style manual immediately leads into the topic and provides intuitive and speedy access to the game. The great illustration and design add to the overall package. A game for the whole family, where nobody gets bored. At times, GHOST ADVENTURE feels like a smartphone game with a balance sensor that you suddenly have in your hands for real.

GHOST ADVENTURE by Wlad Watine, Pegasus Spiele, 1-4 players, from 8 years, 15-30 minutes duration.


Winner innoSPIEL 2020

innoSPIEL 2020 goes to ROOT by author Cole Wehrle, published by Leder Games and Quality Beast.

ROOT is a successful asymmetrical game that combines several game genres on one board with excellent equipment and design. It is not only a strategy game but also a majority game, Eurogame, trading and deck building game. ROOT as a game plays completely differently in each guise, but the game designer always interlocks all the mechanisms in a virtually perfect, artistic way.

In ROOT, each player has their own goal, their own rules, uses identical game material in their own special way and interacts with fellow players in different ways. The likes of these completely different playing styles of the individual factions have never been seen before on the gaming table, but nevertheless result in a harmonious whole and a perfect feel to the game.

ROOT – A GAME OF WOODLAND MIGHT AND RIGHT by Cole Wehrle, Leder Games/Quality Beast, 2-4 players, from 10 years, 60-90 minutes duration.

Winner innoSPIEL 2019

innoSPIEL 2019 goes to AB DURCH DIE MAUER by author Jürgen Adams, published by Zoch Verlag.

AB DURCH DIE MAUER combines a classic memory mechanism with an innovative use of magnetism. Three sliders are embedded under the rotating playing surface, and they sometimes give the ghosts a hold, sometimes they pull them through walls, sometimes they just leave them standing.

This demands spatial imagination from the players, who want to bring their beautiful play figures to the right dressing room.

How AB DURCH DIE MAUER manages to create the illusion that the ghosts really do float through walls – that’s what convinced us.

AB DURCH DIE MAUER, by Jürgen Adams, published by Zoch Verlag, 2-4 players from 7 years and older, ca. 20 minutes duration.


Winner innoSPIEL 2018

innoSPIEL 2018 goes to COOL RUNNINGS by author Olivier Mahy, published by Ravensburger Spieleverlag.

COOL RUNNINGS impresses above all with its innovative game material, something we have never seen before: The game figures are real ice cubes that are supposed to reach the goal in a race before they are completely thawed out. This is already a challenge at normal temperatures, but in this game the dear fellow players are allowed to sprinkle salt on our frosty game pieces at every opportunity, blow warm air against them or keep them warm in their hands for a few seconds. Whoever melts before the target loses.

How these ice cubes are actually played is incredible fun. It’s creative and innovative and can also become quite a mess. We are thrilled that the ice is not just a gag in the game, but central to the gaming experience and fun.

COOL RUNNINGS appeals to many senses, we feel the cold, the melting ice, and we see how the cubes get smaller and smaller. And not only that: hours before the game, when we prepare the game figures in the freezer, the anticipation of the game begins.

COOL RUNNINGS is a wonderful, ice-cold game, suitable for many different target groups, not only for cool strategists.

COOL RUNNINGS, by Olivier Mahy, published by Ravensburger Spiele, 2-4 players from 8 years and older, ca. 30 minutes duration.


Winner innoSPIEL 2017

MAGIC MAZE by Kasper Lapp from publisher Pegasus Spiele gathers together an elf, a dwarf, a barbarian and a magician in the “Magic Maze” shopping mall. These four characters need equipment for their next great adventure but they don’t have the money to pay for it. They have no option but to steal the stuff. This is not so easy: the shopping centre is a well-guarded labyrinth and the exits are no easier to find than the equipment needed. Time is short.

MAGIC MAZE is a collaborative real-time game in which all players play together against the game itself. The heroes are controlled by 1 to 8 players. To achieve their goal, they must work hand in hand. They have to overcome escalators to unlock new areas of the shopping mall and turn the hourglass over at just the right moment to win more time for the journey through the mall.

The innovative feature of MAGIC MAZE is that any of the players can move any of the figures at any time but only in certain directions. Special actions are available to individual players, for example teleportation to certain spaces on the board.

Another innovative feature is that the most of the time, players are not allowed to speak to each other. This effectively stops alpha players from assuming command over the whole of the game. A clever rotation principle also ensures that each individual is included and able to use special rules – sometimes to a lesser and sometimes to greater extent.
The rules of the game are introduced progressively, first the basic rules and then additional rules. This means that each group of players develops its own individual speed of learning the game. The versatile base tiles allow a new shopping mall to develop again and again for each new game. This means the challenge remains fresh. With a low entry level MAGIC MAZE nevertheless manages to develop depth and a long-lasting challenge.

Goal of the Danish author Kasper Lapp with his first work MAGIC MAZE, was to publish a co-operative game without alpha players . In this he has succeeded, with much creative energy, incredible attention to detail and with great depth to the game.

MAGIC MAZE by Kasper Lapp, Pegasus Spiele, 1-8 players aged 8 years and above, 3-15 minutes duration.