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Spice Up Game Night with the 2016 Game of the Year Nominees

If you love board games but are looking to break out of your Monopoly and Scrabble rut, you might want to check out the recently announced 2016 Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) nominees. Since 1978, a jury made up of professional game critics and enthusiasts has handed out the prestigious German awards to the best tabletop games of the year.

The awards are divided into three categories: the Spiel des Jahres, which is the overall game of the year, the Kennerspiel des Jahres, awarded to more complex games, and the Kinderspiel des Jahres, awarded to games for children.

If the past is any indication, you’re likely to see the Spiel des Jahres winner at a game night near you soon. Past winners that have gone from obscurity to staple include Settlers of Catan (1995), Ticket to Ride (2004), Carcassonne (2000), and Qwirkle (2011).

The Kinderspiel des Jahres winner will be announced on June 20 and the Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres winners will be revealed on July 18. Take a look at the nominees below:

FOR THE "SPIEL DES JAHRES" (GAME OF THE YEAR):

1. CODENAMES

Two spymasters try to get their respective teams to contact secret agents by guessing their codenames. The spymasters must give one-word clues that point to the corresponding word on the board—and the more codewords the spymaster can manage to describe with one word, the better. But if a team guesses the codename that belongs to the hidden assassin, they immediately lose the round.

2. IMHOTEP

Imhotep makes players responsible for building the great monuments of Egypt. The first player to build five monuments wins, but obviously, it’s not that easy—it requires excavating the stone, shipping it, moving it to the construction sites, and unloading it in a certain sequence. And of course, your opponents are trying to thwart your progress.

3. KARUBA

Made by HABA, a company with a number of challenging, yet family-friendly games under their belt, Karuba is a game of exploration and treasure hunting. In it, players lay tiles to create paths, similar to players in Carcassonne. But instead of building cities or farms, explorers must journey through the jungle to find temples and gain gold, crystals, and glory.

FOR THE "KENNERSPIEL DES JAHRES" (CONNOISSEUR GAME OF THE YEAR):

4. ISLE OF SKYE: FROM CHIEFTAIN TO KING

Another tile-laying game, Isle of Skye increases the complexity by asking players to achieve four different objectives—and those objectives change each time you play. Still, although the goals change, the bottom line doesn’t: You’re the chieftain of a famous Scottish clan, and you’re trying to build your kingdom by gaining points. The winner is the player with the best kingdom, not the most money.

5. PANDEMIC LEGACY: SEASON 1

The first Pandemic (2008) is a cooperative game that pits players against four diseases threatening to eradicate the human race. (No pressure.) Pandemic Legacy takes it to another level. Depending on your actions in the game, Legacy might have you destroy certain items, place stickers on the board, write on cards, and even change the rules. There are secret dossiers and black boxes. Characters can get completely removed from the game, never to return.

As you can probably tell from that description, Pandemic Legacy is a part of a new genre of game that’s only playable once—but each game can last 12-24 sessions, so you’ll get your money’s worth. And how’s this for hype? VICE calls this “the greatest board game of all time.”

6. T.I.M.E. STORIES

Another cooperative game, T.I.M.E. Stories sends players to various points in time to solve problems. The twist: You’ll always be able to complete the mission, but if you can’t get it done in the assigned time, you’ll have to start over from the beginning to try again.

FOR THE "KINDERSPIEL DES JAHRES" (CHILDREN'S GAME OF THE YEAR):

7. LEO

Even the King of the Jungle needs a haircut. Players help Leo the lion get from his bed to the barbershop, but he encounters various distractions along the way—and the clock is ticking. If the clock strikes 8 p.m. and Leo hasn’t made it to the shop yet, he has to go back to his bed and start over. Players win if they can manage to get Leo to the barber in five days.

8. MMM!

When the cat’s away, the mice will ... try to strip the pantry of every last crumb and morsel they can find? In Mmm!, the players are the mice, who must try to fill their bellies before the cat catches them.

9. MY FIRST STONE AGE

Amazon

Also known as Stone Age Junior, this is the kiddie take on an existing grown-up game called—you guessed it—Stone Age(2008). In the same fashion as Catan, players must collect various goods to build their own settlements.

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Is There a Limit to How Many Balls You Can Juggle?
Carl Court, Getty Images
Carl Court, Getty Images

In 2017, a juggler named Alex Barron broke a record when he tossed 14 balls into the air and caught them each once. The feat is fascinating to watch, and it becomes even more impressive once you understand the physics behind it.

As WIRED explains in a new video, juggling any more than 14 balls at once may be physically impossible. Researchers who study the limits of juggling have found that the success of a performance relies on a number of different components. Speed, a.k.a. the juggler's capacity to move their hands in time to catch each ball as it lands, is a big one, but it's not the most important factor.

What really determines how many balls one person can juggle is their accuracy. An accurate juggler knows how to keep their balls from colliding in midair and make them land within arm's reach. If they can't pull that off, their act falls apart in seconds.

Breaking a juggling world record isn't the same as breaking a record for sprinting or shot put. With each new ball that's added to the routine, jugglers need to toss higher and move their hands faster, which means their throws need to be significantly more accurate than what's needed with just one ball fewer. And skill and hours of practice aren't always enough; according to expert jugglers, the current world records were likely made possible by a decent amount of luck.

For a closer look at the physics of juggling, check out the video below.

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'Puggle,' 'Emoji,' and 298 Other New Words Added to Scrabble Dictionary
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iStock

Scrabble aficionados and wordsmiths around the world will soon have some new reading material to bone up on. In celebration of National Scrabble Day today, the makers of the classic word game announced that 300 new words will be added to Scrabble’s official dictionary.

The new words will be published in the sixth edition of Merriam-Webster’s The Official Scrabble Player’s Dictionary, which will be released this fall, according to Mashable.

Here are just a few of the new additions:

Emoji (noun): A small computer symbol used to express emotion
Ew (interjection): Used to express disgust
Facepalm (verb): To cover the face with the hand
Macaron (noun): A cookie with filling in the middle
Puggle (noun): A kind of dog
Sriracha (noun): A spicy pepper sauce

Some players of the 70-year-old game may be surprised to learn that “ew” isn’t already a word, especially considering that Scrabble recognizes more than 100 two-letter words, including “hm” (another expression), “ai” (a three-toed sloth), and “za” (slang for pizza). If played strategically and placed on a triple word square, “ew” can land you 15 points—not bad for two measly letters.

New Scrabble words must meet a few criteria before they’re added to the official dictionary. They must be two to eight letters long and already in a standard dictionary. Abbreviations, capitalized words, and words with hyphens or apostrophes are immediately ruled out.

Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster, told Entertainment Weekly, “For a living language, the only constant is change. New dictionary entries reflect our language and our culture, including rich sources of new words such as communication technology and food terms from foreign languages.”

The last edition of the Scrabble dictionary came out in 2014 and included 5000 new words, such as "selfie," "hashtag," "geocache," and "quinzhee."

[h/t Mashable]

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