Hey everyone! We’re just a few days away from Christmas, so long overdue for a Gift Guide. Oh well…better late than never. Jeremiah, AJ, and Firestone have each come to the table with 5 can’t-miss games, in a number of categories, for the gamer in your life. Or yourself. So let’s get to those games!
Gamer’s Game: Everdell
Everdell burst onto the scene and immediately turned heads because of its amazing art and components. But it turns out it’s more than just a pretty face. This game is smooth, thematic, and fun—who wouldn’t want the Evertree under the Christmas Tree?!
You can snag a copy here!
2-Player Game: Hanamikoji
Last year 7 Wonders Duel was all the rage in 2-player games—and rightfully so. But there’s a new sheriff in town: Hanamikoji, a simple and elegant game that’s just amazing. My wife loves it, my gamer friends love it, and you’ll love it. Hanamikoji packs in a ton of gameplay and fun in a tidy 10-15 minutes. Stuff a stocking with this game and be the hero this Christmas!
Gateway Game: Star Realms: Frontiers
So I thought to myself, Do we REALLY need more Star Realms cards in our collections? And the answer is YES. After playing Star Realms: Frontiers I was sold. Play it as a normal game of Star Realms (with entirely new cards!) or use the sweet solo/co-op cards to try and best the game. Star Realms has stood the test of time as one of the best deck-builders, and it only seems to get better with each addition to the franchise!
Stocking Stuffer: Space Base
Okay, admittedly this is for a big stocking… This engine-builder from AEG crept up on everyone and was like “Hey! You thought Machi Koro and Valeria: Card Kingdoms were good? Watch this!” (Both of those games are good—especially Valeria; if you don’t own it, consider that a bonus entry from me!) BUT there are some really fun, clever mechanics in Space Base, and I think it’s a touch more accessible to the casual gamer. Not that gamers won’t enjoy it, because they will!
Family Game: Dungeon Raiders
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of 2018 was the new edition of Dungeon Heroes! I REALLY enjoyed the first one but the changes they made to the game (components, setup, etc.) make this really good game FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC! I’m in love with it. So, so, so many wonderful back-stabby moments, followed by, “OH CRAP, I now need your help” moments! So good. This dungeon crawler should crawl its way under your tree on the 25th!
Gamer’s Game: Thunderstone Quest
I never stop talking about this game! It’s by far my favorite deck-builder because it mixes gaining points, killing bad guys, and an immersive fantasy theme. Thunderstone Quest is packed with strategic decisions that make this game heavier than other deck builders without losing an ounce of fun.
Stocking Stuffer: Exit Games
Exit received a hotly debated Kennerspiel des Jahres In 2017. Whether it was deserved or not, this game definitely deserves a spot in your stocking. These games are fantastic little brain teasers that always pack a big punch when it comes to puzzles and theme. I’ve played six of them and have yet to be disappointed. Exit is a perfect gift when you have a few extra bucks you need to spend on someone.
Family Game: High Society
This 2017 reprint has hit my table time and time again. Bidding and bluffing has never been this fun as you try and gain the most valuable members of high society. But don’t be caught without money or you’ll be kicked out of the elite circle. My gaming group loves this game, but all of my non-gaming friends love it too, which makes it a great family/gateway Christmas gift.
2-Player Game: Tides of Time
This little game is played over three rounds, with players going back-and-forth drafting cards into their tableau to play off one another to gain victory points. If you like card-drafting, building-scoring, and engines, “Tides of Time” is for you. Not only is this game quick and extremely fun, it is has some of the most beautiful card artwork I’ve ever seen. Not sold yet…? Check out Tides of Cthulhu instead.
Accessory: Broken Token Castles of Mad King Ludwig Insert
There are few games more fun to play, and more frustrating to set up, than Castles of Mad King Ludwig. But The Broken Token takes care of that with their beautifully designed Castles of Mad King Ludwig insert. Not only does it house the base game, but the expansion as well. This insert is a must have this Christmas season if you love this game as much as I do.
Stocking Stuffer: Decrypto
I think Codenames is an amazing game—an instant classic. And I think Decrypto is better. You’re trying to convey a code to your team, while keeping the other team from stealing the code. There’s so much room for cleverness here. And it’s so dang cheap! I will play this game any time, anywhere.
I didn’t want there to be any overlap on the list. But there’s just no other recent 2-player game that grabbed us quite like this one. It’s fast. It’s clever. It’s great.
Azul has everything you look for in a family game. First, it’s just flat-out gorgeous. Second, it’s got gameplay that’s easy to explain and understand. Third, that gameplay might be simple, but it’s full of interesting decisions. My favorite way to play is 4-player in partnerships. I can’t wait to bring this out with family over the holidays.
Gamer: Brass: Birmingham
I always liked the original Brass, and when I heard Roxley Games was making a “sister” game, I thought it might be an okay, if lesser, game. Instead, I think I actually like it better than the original. It’s less scripted. It’s more dynamic. It plays well with just 2. And it might be the best economic game ever. I think it will eventually supplant its older brother on the Geek. And it deserves to. And that’s without even mentioning how GORGEOUS this game is. The artwork is amazing. And if you can score the Iron Clays money chips, it’s worth it! Roxley Games has stormed onto the scene with this production.
Gamer’s Game: Spirit Island
The vast majority of my gaming is done with gamers, so you get a bonus gamer’s game. It took me a few games to come around on this co-op. It’s more complex than most co-ops, and it’s really best to have someone to walk you through your first couple of games. But I’m on board. Fully. This is my favorite co-op game, and I haven’t even tried all of the Spirits yet. The interplay of Spirits. The tense play. The feeling of walking on the edge of a knife. This game is amazing.
Well there ya go: 15…well, 14…games for you to consider this Christmas. As always, ,thanks for reading! And have a great Christmas!