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The best board game in 2020 is a hidden object game in poster size

This year’s Spiel des Jahres, among the most coveted awards in the board game industry, goes to MicroMacro: Crime City. The prices were announced on Monday on social media.

If you are a fan of board games you have probably already heard of Crime City. It is the work of designer Johannes Sich and the small team at Hard Boiled Games, distributed here in the USA by Pegasus Spiele. The game has created waves in the table world since its release last year, and many openly wondered if it at all qualifies as a board game. No one can doubt its popularity; editions have been sold out repeatedly over the past eight months. Right now, the $ 29.99 game on Amazon is shelling out for $ 99.99.

So what is it? MicroMacro: Crime City? Inside the box, there is a black and white map almost four meters wide depicting a lively comic book city. Also included in the box is a set of 1

20 cards that describe 16 different crimes. It is up to the players to pore over the elaborate stage with an included magnifying glass, and solve the mysteries as they go. It is basically the physical representation of a hidden object game, a genre of video game that has been popular for many years now. It even seems to ape the black-and-white style of the very popular one Hidden folks. Given how derived the concept is, the success is in some ways surprising.

A detailed image of Crime City's map showing a masked hero jumping from roof to roof to confront a criminal and a couple riding horses in the street.

Photo: Johannes Sich

I think a lot of the popularity of Crime City has a lot to do with how fans of table games have had to adapt during the pandemic. While services such as Board Game Arena and Table simulator have proven to be great ways to find heavier games online, sometimes you just want something to put on the table at home – something tactile, an anchor activity to sit in a room with for a few hours or days at a time. It is the same type of niche that puzzles have helped to fill in the last year and a half by offering focused, almost meditative experiences for one or more people at a time.

MicroMacro: Crime City is an item that will immediately create interest for everyone at the table. You can play it alone, in a small group, work independently or together on the same crime. It is an experience that adapts to any situation, and almost any environment where you can find a large enough table.

Is MicroMacro: Crime City a great game? I really do not think so. But at least in a table setting, it feels different enough to trigger curiosity. I think the most important feature is how easy it is. Most board games require methodical study, and then some kind of performance where you teach others what you know. Here, the cognitive load required to get started is zero, and for many people it’s about everything they can muster right now.

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