I would be remiss if I didn’t post an article sharing what I believe are some of the best games to give to family members for Christmas. So with Christmas a week and a half away, today I present my Christmas Gift Guide for gamers and non-gamers!
It’s always a little tough trying to decide what games your friends and family might like. Are they gamers who like strategy? Are they non-gamers that just like to hang out? It’s important to understand who you are buying for and what gaming environment they live in.
I’m breaking my recommendations into 3 categories: Party Games, Family Games, and Gamer Games. Check out the description for each to get a better idea from which category your gifts should come.
Let’s get started with “Party Games.”
“Party Games” are games played with larger groups of people in a typically social, laid-back atmosphere. They often involve guessing, shouting, and laughing. These types of games also serve to help you learn about people.
Here are some solid games you can check out:
Dixit – In Dixit one player is the storyteller. They will choose a card and make up a story or one-liner about what they see on their card. Then all other players choose a card they think matches that story. The Storyteller’s goal is to get at least one player, but not everyone, to guess the correct card. Points are awarded for the guesses and the next player becomes the storyteller.
The Resistance (and The Resistance – Avalon) – This is a social deduction game. In this game each player is either a Resistance Operative or an Imperial Spy. For three to five rounds, they must depend on each other to carry out missions against the Empire. At the same time, they must try to deduce the other players’ identities and gain their trust. Players attempt missions and either support or sabotage them. Once the Resistance or the Imperials have won three missions, they win the game.
Telestrations – This game is also known in finer circles as, “Eat Poop, You Cat!” It is basically the game “Telephone” but in this case you are drawing the phrase and then the next player writes down what they think the drawing is showing. Then the next player draws that new guess and so on. We played this the other night and one of the pictures ended up with Three Wookiees at a beauty pageant.
Wits and Wagers – In Wits and Wagers players will guess a number for the question currently being asked, like “In what year did the Edmund Fitzgerald sink?” Then all the guesses are revealed and players will bid on the guess or guesses that they think are the closest without going over. Correct answers earn more bidding chips. Wrong guesses lose the bidding chips.
“Family Games” are games for people who enjoy games but don’t want behemoths that are difficult to learn or take a long time to play. Often these games are accessible, quick to learn, easy to play, and have engaging themes. To me the word “accessible” typically refers to games that have a small decision space. Ticket to Ride, my first recommendation, is a great example of this since there are only three things you can do on your turn.
Here are my recommendations for Family Games:
Ticket to Ride – In Ticket to Ride players are competing to build the best rail network. Each player will have specific routes they need to connect. On your turn you either draw train cards, build connections with train cards, or draw new route cards. Throughout the game you will be building your network and hopefully connecting the cities on your route cards. The player with the most points at the end wins the game.
Sushi Go – Sushi Go is a fast and fun card drafting game where players are trying to score the most points with the cards they have. Each player is dealt a hand of cards. They will choose one card and pass the rest to their neighbor. Once all players have chosen they will then display their card face up. Then with the passed cards that they received they will choose another and display that as well. Each type of card has a different scoring condition. So choose your cards wisely. The player with the most points after three rounds will win.
King of New York – In King of New York players represent monsters trying to earn 20 points or be the last monster standing. Points are earned several ways. On your turn, you roll six dice up to three times, then carry out the actions on those dice. Actions include attacking other players and purchasing special monster abilities. You can also try to become the most Famous Monster in the city.
Camel Up – In Camel Up up to 8 players can participate in the camel race. On your turn you can move a camel, bet on a camel for the round, bet on a camel to win or lose the whole race, or place your track modifier. This game can get pretty chaotic and is good, light fun. I’ve never played where it wasn’t an awesome experience.
“Gamer Games” refers to games that are more strategic and take longer than family games. Often these have more complicated rules than family games. But for that gamer in your family that needs more than Ticket to Ride to quench their gaming appetite, then check out these options:
Five Tribes – This is my game of the year because it is awesome. It uses a “worker displacement” mechanic where players try to unite the five tribes. Your objective is to score points via about 8 different scoring categories. You can also obtain Djinns (Genies) that allow you to do special things. There are a lot of clever moments where players feel rewarded for making good plays. The art is fantastic and the game is fun. I highly recommend it.
Puerto Rico – This is a “classic” role selection game where players are trying to build and develop the island of Puerto Rico. Each round players will choose one role each. When they choose the role they get a bonus ability for that role, then all other players get the option to copy the main ability of the role. Players have to manage resources while building buildings, hiring workers, and shipping goods. It’s a great gamer’s game.
Concordia – This is a sort of a deck building game. Players start with a hand of cards. Each card allows a specific action to be performed. Throughout the game players can build their deck by adding cards they believe to be beneficial. The cards also represent the scoring conditions so it is good to add cards to your deck. Players will also be trying to expand their control over the map by building settlements in different regions. The box cover art is hideous but the game is fantastic!
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game – Players will choose the Imperial Forces or the Rebels. These are represented by awesome minis of the ships from the Star Wars series. Each ship will be accompanied by a pilot with unique abilities or skills. Players control the flight of their craft and then one ship at a time they will have a chance to fire on the opposing fleet. This game is a lot of fun and is very thematic. There are also plenty of expansion ships you can
waste spend your money on. Very fun game.
I hope this helped you out. If you have other recommendations, please feel free to share them in the comments. Thanks for reading and I wish you a very blessed Christmas season!