Shopping can be one of the more difficult responsibilities of the holiday season, and for adult humans that don't know what to buy their board-gaming loved ones, it can take a real toll on your mental health. There are thousands of board games available. How do you pick one that they're going to love?! I'm Bebo, and I'm here to help you decide what tabletop games to buy for your loved ones, and explain why each one makes a great choice! All of these games are available now in friendly local game stores, so stop by your favorite store and pick them up. As gifts*, of course.
Treasure Hunter, for 2-6 players, was designed by Richard Garfield, well-known for his work on King of Tokyo, Netrunner CCG, RoboRally, and many other board and card games. Treasure Hunter takes us to a land where we must outsmart our opponents and gather more treasure than anyone else. This the easiest to learn of these three games suggested, so if the person you're looking to buy for isn't a hardcore gamer, this might be the best choice.
Mistfall is a game for 1-4 players, ages 12 and up, and It plays in about two hours. While Mistfall is not for the faint of heart, and requires a bit of reading, it will leave its players with an experience to be remembered for a lifetime. This game is fully co-operative, so you'll be working together through an adventure set in a fantasy world of mystery! If you're looking for a game to satisfy the person in your family that has been gaming their whole life, this is absolutely the pick for you!
Imperial Assault - Ah, the game for the Star Wars Fan in your life. Imperial Assault plays 2-5 players in about an hour and a half. This game offers two distinct games of battle and adventure. In the campaign games, you play through a cinematic tale set in the Star Wars universe and in the Skirmish game, you and a friend compete in a head-to-head, tactical combat. If you have two relatives that love a good fight to the death, this might be the pick!
Animal Upon Animal - in 2015, I purchased more HABA games than by any other publisher. Many think of HABA as a maker of great games for children, yet most of them are actually family games, and can be appreciated by people of all ages—especially when played with children!
Animal Upon Animal is a game that plays 2-4 players in just 15 minutes. In this game, each player will roll the dice and either place two animals onto the stack of animals, pass one of their animals to another player for them to place, or place an animal on the table, extending the base for other players to build upon. If any pieces fall while you are building, you get up to two of them back. The first player to have used all of their animals wins the game. After the kids head to bed, consider adding alcohol to this game to improve it.
You can buy the game (not the alcohol) right here.
Terror in Meeple City - Formerly known as Rampage, this game is all about destruction. Any old school video gamer in your household is going to be taken with this game, as it successfully recreates a video game feel with a new and immersive game experience that's language independent and can be enjoyed by the whole family. It plays 2-4 players in about 45 minutes and should be fairly easy to learn and teach.
Abyss + The Kraken Expansion - Abyss is a favorite family game of mine because it's easy enough to teach my mother, and challenging enough to keep my very clever 22-year-old little brother engaged and interested in the gameplay. As soon as you're done playing, everyone will want to play, which is reasonable, as the game only takes about an hour to play. Abyss is set in a world underwater, and features some of the most stunning artwork you'll ever see in a board game. It plays 2-4 players, ages 14 and up.
Age of War - Okay, so the name doesn't scream family game, but I assure you, when you're looking for a game that plays 2-6 people, this is one of the first games you'll think of after you've made this purchase. Age of War plays in about 20 minutes and can be taught in less time than that. The rules are simple, and the game is fast-paced, making it the perfect game to play between holiday activities at your family gatherings.
Medieval Academy - Referred to as a Family+ game, this is a game where each player takes the role of a squire and attempts to outdo the others in scoring chivalry points! To achieve this goal, during the six turns of the game, the players must wisely draft cards and play them at the right time to move their discs up the training tracks. It plays in 30 minutes and is recommended for ages 8 and up.
Dead of Winter is my favorite game to introduce people into the world of modern tabletop games. Dead of Winter's immersive gameplay really demonstrates that board games are more than Monopoly and Candy Land. It's a story-telling, co-operative game where players must work together to survive the winter, fend off zombies, and resolve crisis after crisis every step of the way. You can pick this game up at any friendly local game store thanks to Plaid Hat Games, who recently reprinted this smoking-hot title.
The Grizzled is easily the most-played game in my 2015 collection. All players must work together to survive World War One, traumas and all: provide support for your fellow soldiers, communicate clearly and make it out alive. This challenging game will have you playing over and over again, increasing your odds with every play. It plays 2-5 players in about 30 minutes.
Order it here.
Fuse - Fuse is a real-time, cooperative game for 1-5 players. All players must work together to beat the clock that's set to just 10 minutes! In Fuse, you must defuse bombs which are represented by a card which needs a certain combination of dice in order to defuse it. It's a simple task: maximize the potential of your dice between all of the players, but the catch is that you only have ten minutes and there are more than 20 bombs on your ship. You'll barely have time to yell at your grandma as she steals the red die that you need! For your less anxious family members, this game is a
Cosmic Encounter has been a beloved game since 2008. In this game, each player is the leader of an alien race. On their turn, they become the offense. The offense encounters another player on a planet by moving a group of his or her ships through the hyperspace gate to that planet. The offense draws from the destiny deck which contains colors, wilds and special. He or she then takes the hyper-space gate and points it at one planet in the system indicated by the drawn destiny card. The offense Vs defense ships are in the encounter, and both sides are able to invite allies, play an encounter card, and play special cards in an attempt to tip the situation in their favor. If you want to never speak to your family members again, or maybe you're trying to pit two people against each other, this is the game for you!
Zombie Dice - Zombie Dice is the perfect small box game for any family. It's entirely language independent, and it's as simple as rolling a few dice! With a MSRP of just $13-$25 depending on what version you decide to purchase, it's hard not to pick up this game. It fits perfectly in a stocking, and can be taught in under 5 minutes! Also highly recommended is the Zombie Dice 2: Double Feature expansion, as it adds quite a bit of fun!
Mafia De Cuba - Are you looking to learn which of your friends has been lying to you for the last 10 years? Do you want to find out just how manipulative and evil Grandma can be? Mafia de Cuba is the game for you. Interrogate your friends, find your diamonds, or let someone else play the godfather and choose to take their side or steal right from under their nose. Mafia De Cuba plays best in large groups making it the perfect holiday game. You can play with 6-12 players and it plays in just 10-20 minutes, depending on how much your family likes to debate.
Tokaido - There's nothing quite like taking a long, walking journey across the countryside, meeting new people and experiencing new things. In Tokaido, you do just that. Tokaido plays 2-5 players in 45 minutes, making it the perfect post-meal game, as it's also very low stress and incredibly easy to learn. It's recommended for ages 8 and up, however, with a little assistance, younger kids could play given that it is language independent, as are most Antoine Bauza games.
Eldritch Horror - Do you have a mystery solver in your family? Perhaps someone who is always trying to solve other people's problems? Eldritch Horror might be the perfect gift for them. In Eldritch horror, all players must work together to solve mysteries, gather clues and protect the world from an ancient one—an elder being intent on destroying our world. Each ancient one comes with its own unique deck of mystery and research cards, which draw you deeper into the lore surrounding each loathsome creature!
Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn - Everyone knows at least one true card player. Every year, you have to face the fact that you can't afford to buy them all the Magic cards in the world. However, you can buy them this self-contained card game that has a similar feeling. This might be something they wouldn't have purchased themselves, making it the perfect game for you to buy for them. It plays 2-4 players, making it more versatile than most standing 2-player card games. Keep in mind that this is a game for older players, as it requires the ability to read cards and comprehend complicated mechanics.
Quantum (2nd Edition) - In 2013, my boss dispatched me to my first Board Game Geek convention in Dallas / Fort-Worth, Texas. My mission? Demo games for Passport Game Studios. Upon arriving, I had given all the games a play or two, and the one I could not get enough of was Quantum. I claimed the game for the rest of the convention and spent 5 days straight playing it. Even after more than 150 games of play, I got home and played another couple dozen games with my friends. This game is wonderful, clever, abstract and highly repayable, and plays as well with 2 players as it does 3 or 4.
You can get it here.
Welcome to the Dungeon - Who doesn't love a fast-paced, bloody battle full of backstabbing and trickery? This push-your-luck game for 2-4 players will have everyone laughing so hard it hurts. Adventurers take turns daring lesser-equipped party members to go into a dungeon, while with every turn, everyone is filing the dungeon with monsters. This is a great game for family or friends, and only costs about $15, so make sure you bring it as a gift to parties as well!
* GameWire highly recommends buying games for yourself. We have the joy of games so should you.