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Spiel Des Jahres nominees pop out a new fireworks board game

New tile-laying board game Festival comes from a designer and publisher both nominated for the world's biggest tabletop award - no pressure.

Festival board game designed and published by Spiel des Jahres nominees - Scorpion Masque image showing the box art for Festival the board game

Festival is a new family-weight tile-laying board game about fireworks displays from designer Gregory Grard and publisher Scorpion Masqué – both currently nominees for ultra-prestigious Spiel Des Jahres awards – and we have high hopes it could sparkle.

Designed for two to four players aged eight and up, Festival will see you arranging firework tiles on the board to see who can put together the best fireworks displays across different major cities from around the globe, in a tight, 20-minute tile board game experience.

Designer Gregory Grard’s last game was the 2023 title In The Footsteps of Darwin, which is currently shortlisted for a Spiel Des Jahres award – considered the most significant awards in the board games industry. Meanwhile Sky Team, from publisher Scorpion Masqué, is also up for this year’s Spiel Des Jahres, and even made our list of best board games for couples – so there are some heavy expectations set on Festival’s shoulders. All that said – how will it play, you ask?

Essentially, it’s a tableau-building drafting board game similar to Azul. In Festival, players pick tiles from a selection of four colors and four different firework designs to place on their tableau – aiming to create specific pattens of pretty bang bangs to match and complete objective cards (and special ‘crowd-pleaser’ tiles), which will all score you victory points.

Festival board game designed and published by Spiel des Jahres nominees - Scorpion Masque image showing Festival the board game laid out for play including board and tiles

You’ll have two stacks of tiles in front of you, each shared with your neighbor on the corresponding side. On your turn, you can either take a tile from one stack and place it on the 3×3 grid on your board to help score an existing objective, or draw a new objective card from the middle – but not both.

And, since everybody can see everybody else’s incomplete and complete objectives, along with which fireworks they have on their board, what ensues is a constant push and pull between players tending their own garden, and deliberately nabbing prize bangers from their neighbors.

As soon as one player completes six objectives, or a firework tile stack runs out, that’s the final round – tot up all the points, and most points wins. It strikes us as a lot like the tile-jangling goodness of Azul and its sequels, and that’s absolutely a complement.

Scorpion Masqué also says Festival has been carefully designed with specific social and environmental objectives in mind; the game is reportedly totally plastic-free and uses soya-based inks, as well as committing to replanting any trees used for production. It also uses symbols along with its color coding to provide accessibility for colorblind players.

Festival’s vivid theme of bright, colorful explosions on black night sky won’t be for everyone, but it is distinctive – and the gameplay looks to include DNA from many of the best board games of recent years. We’ll be watching this one closely until it launches in late October 2024 (unless our eyes start hurting from the bright lights, anyway).

For more tabletop titles to try, check out our guide to the best strategy board games – or to follow the latest releases, bookmark our board games news page.