Full DJA Shortlist Press Release

The Diana Jones Award committee has a new, expanded press release about the items that made this year’s shortlist. Be sure to check it out.

7th August 2009                                                                                    For immediate release



The Diana Jones Award committee has issued a second press release to clarify and explain its reasons for choosing the five nominees shortlisted for this year’s Award. This is that press release.

The winner of the 2009 Award will be announced on Wednesday 12th August, at the annual Diana Jones Award and Freelancer Party, the unofficial start of the Gen Con Indy convention, at Jillian’s on South Meridian Street in Indianapolis. Only industry professionals may attend this event, which is generously sponsored by: CCP/White Wolf; Gen Con; Ed Healy; Hidden City Games; Mind Storm Labs; Profantasy; Janice Sellers; Stonehouse Miniatures; Super Genius Games; Paul Tevis; and West End Games.

The short-list for the 2009 Diana Jones Award is:

Dominion by Donald X. Vaccarinio, published by Rio Grande Games

Dominion, designed by Donald X. Vaccarinio, infuses the deck-customizing meta-play of collectible card games directly into the game-table experience, elegantly eliminating the highest hurdle to an otherwise compelling genre, making it convenient and accessible to a

broader audience. A wide variety of strategies bear fruit, and a wide variety of components bring replayability rarely found in a stand-alone title. As with any strong design, its rules are easy but not simple, but Dominion exceeds even other strong games in the subtle brilliance

with which it encourages speedy play and engages all players for its entire length.

4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons by Rob Heinsoo, James Wyatt, Andy Collins, Mike Mearls and Stephen Schubert, published by Wizards of the Coast

4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons advances the art of roleplaying game design while boldly reinventing an industry flagship. Its central innovation, importing the exceptions-based principles first seen in the collectible card game, speeds and clarifies play. Creature statistics achieve a compactness and ease of use rarely seen in crunch-heavy games. The new logic allows for the dispatch of long-standing rules bugaboos in the briefest of paragraphs. Recalibrated math keeps the game stable over disparate levels of play. All said, though, the conceptual repercussions of its technical achievement would mean nothing if the game wasn’t so lovingly attuned to the primal joys of kicking down doors, walloping orcs, and taking their stuff.

Vi åker jeep/‘Jeepform’

Vi åker jeep (‘We go by jeep’) is a Nordic collective that has developed an innovative and increasingly influential style of roleplaying. Taking the best from multiple styles and infusing the result with a clear-eyed and mature sensibility, Jeepform games are often deeply moving, occasionally hilarious, and always compelling. Exploring concepts like character monogamy, transparency, and even what constitutes appropriate subject matter for roleplaying, Jeepform

takes the hobby in an exciting and often challenging direction. You can learn more about Vi åker jeep at http://jeepen.org/

Mouse Guard by Luke Crane, published by Archaia Studios Press

Mouse Guard is a beautiful game. From the thought that has gone into its graphic design to the intelligence with which David Petersen’s world of medieval mice is coupled to Luke Crane’s ‘Burning Wheel’ game system, Mouse Guard is a delight to handle, read and play. Moving away from the trend of seeing the games designer as artist or auteur, it draws attention to the importance of craftsmanship and expertise at every level of the game-design process. Licensed properties bolted to existing game-engines are often a recipe for mediocrity, but Mouse Guard is a giant in its field.

Sweet Agatha by Kevin Allen, Jr. (self-published)

Kevin Allen, Jr.’s Sweet Agatha is a brilliant sandbox game disguised as a quest. For two players, it utilizes narrative elements selected by the GM and explained by the player to uncover the fate of the eponymous Agatha—whose life and environs the rulebook documents in evocative photography and elliptical notes. Evading the trap of ‘designer as GM’ so common to narrativist play, it embraces and liberates cooperative storytelling, providing mystery and beauty instead of constraints and programmed story. A first game of Sweet Agatha is a literally unrepeatable experience; a second game is as close as tabletop gaming has come to packaging a dream recalled.


The Diana Jones Award has been described as ‘the Nobel Prize of gaming’. For more information, see the website www.dianajonesaward.org or contact the committee directly: [email protected]