This year’s Cardboard Edison Award winner simulates pioneers staking land claims in the rush for the American West

Crowded Frontier has won this year’s Cardboard Edison Award, which aims to highlight the best in currently unpublished board games.

The game, designed by Myles Wallace, sees players using worker placement, area control and resource management to outdo other pioneers travelling west to stake claims on prime real estate.

Crowded Frontier designer Myles Wallace

One award judge described Crowded Frontier’s resource collection system as “some kind of magic trick”, while others praised its puzzle of having to weigh placing workers to get resources while also lining them up with where you want to build houses.

Crowded Frontier fought off competition from more than 330 other entries to win this year’s award in what is an increasingly crowded field, with the number of entries up more than 35% compared to 2023’s competition.

Fourteen finalists competed for the prize, with two runners-up awards going to Snowy Peaks, designed by Yuri Morroni & Gabriel Toschi, and Cart’nage, designed by Loïc Lamy.

Snowy Peaks tasks two players with playing cards to co-operatively get their climbers to a mountain summit, while Cart’nage has players use dominoes to construct buildings and then activate them to throw or flick tokens in an attempt to destroy other players’ constructions.

This year’s winner Wallace was a runner-up in the 2023 Cardboard Edison Award with Swords Over Scotland, which sees players competing to unite Scottish clans in the 14th century via the combination of area control and bingo.

Cardboard Edison was launched in 2012 as a board game design studio and hub, which has expanded from a well-read industry blog into a vast repository of information for board game designers.

The award was launched by Suzanne Zinsli in 2016, with the help of fellow Cardboard Edison founder Chris Zinsli.

Previous winners have included Octopus Scramble, which was signed up by Sit Down!, Winter, which has been published by Devir, and Umbra Via, which has been published by Pandasaurus Games.

Last year’s winner Diatoms, in which players take on the role of Victorian naturalists growing microscopic mosaics from algae, went on to raise more than $63,000 from over 1,400 backers in a Kickstarter campaign last September.

Almost 60 board game industry professionals were part of this year’s panel, including UNPUB managing director and 9th Level Games CEO Heather O’Neill, Flamecraft designer Manny Vega, and Paverson Games CEO and Distilled designer Dave Beck.

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