Board Game Gift Guide 2012

Board Game Gift GuideBoard games provide great gifts for anyone on your list. They provide a great opportunity to unplug from the electronic world and have some fun while being very social. There is a world of board games out there from the traditional Monopoly or Yahtzee games that most people only know about. To help you figure out what other games are out there, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite games in different categories. So take a look and find the right gift for anyone on your list.

  • Classic Board Games – These are games in our all time favorite lists. Games that belong in anyone’s game library regardless of any other factors.
  • Cooperative Board Games – These games are for people who like the cooperative experience. If your group likes to work together towards a common goal, then start here.
  • Party Games – When you have 6 or more people together and are looking to have some fun, party games are what you are looking for. Less serious and more about interaction
  • 2 Player Board Games – Sometimes it’s just you and a friend. These games are meant to be played with only 2 people.
  • Games for the Miniatures Fans – A very well sculpted miniature piece is a thing of beauty. These games are for people who like moving little figures around a board.
  • Eurogames – Incredibly popular, eurogames rely heavily on the interaction and the winner is usually determined by victory points, rather than conflict.
  • Thematic Games – Games where you can just immerse yourself in the theme. These games tie in very well with their source material.

Choose your favorite category and get shopping today.


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Classic Board Games:

 

Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan Box ArtThe Settlers of Catan is one of the most popular board games in the world and is probably most Americans first experience with a “eurogame.” Each player takes on the role of one of the islands inhabitants. You must build up your settlements and roads by using the islands 5 resources (wood, wheat, sheep, ore and clay). The game features very easy to learn mechanics and a healthy dose of player interaction via the importance of trading resources. Do the best job colonization the island and you win.

Dominion

Dominion Box ArtDominion is a very unique game that started the “deck building game” explosion a few years ago. Each players starts with a small, identical deck of 10 cards. Throughout the game, you build up your deck by “buying” cards from 10 stacks in the center of the table. Players must have a careful balance between useful in-game cards and victory point cards. With easy to learn mechanics, quick playing time and lots of variation due to the 25 different “buy” cards, Dominion is an easy choice for anyone.

Carcassonne

Carcassonne Box CoverCarcassonne takes almost no time to setup. Carcassonne is a tile laying game that has players trying to earn victory points as the build out the game board throughout the game. Each turn, a player draws a tile and adds it to the game board. A player can claim cities, roads, farms and monasteries to earn them victory points when they are complete. The rules are simple, the turns quick and the game is accessible to anyone.

7 Wonders

7 Wonders Box CoverI’ve already give 7 Wonders a glowing review here on Board Game Quest. It’s a unique card game that has you building your civilization by playing cards from your hand each turn. However you have to pass your hand of cards after every round, which will constantly change your strategy. Read the review for the full lowdown on the game, but the game play is very unique, has a quick playing time and expands all the way up to 7 players with no loss of quality.


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Cooperative Board Games:

 

Pandemic

Pandemic Box CoverIn Pandemic, the players must work together to find a cure for a disease that has broken out in the world. It’s a race against time, where each player must use their individual strength to help the team eradicate the 4 diseases. While the game has fairly simple rules, the game is actually hard to beat. This keeps you coming back again and again to try and kick some disease butt.

Space Alert

Space Alert Box CoverSpace Alert is unique in that it’s a real time, cooperative board game. We’ll be reviewing it soon here, so keep an eye out in the future. To get you started, players are crew members on a space ship. They have to survive for 10, real-time minutes. During this time, a CD will give audio notifications on what’s happening to your ship. The players have to deal with the threats before time runs out. After the 10 minutes are up, the players find out how they did. As cooperative games go, it’s very unique in that one player, can’t try and dictate actions of the other players. Everyone has to work together or the ship will not survive.

Elder Sign

Elder Sign Box CoverThe ancient god has awaken. In Elder Sign, players must work together to defeat an ancient evil that has awakened. Each player takes on the role of a specific investigator, each with their own strength. Using a series of die rolls, you must try and collect enough elder signs to lock away the ancient one before he awakens and devours everyone. Elder Sign is a great cooperative game that has some nice variation and easy to learn rules. It takes a little bit of time to figure out all the symbols and dice, but once you do the game runes very smoothly.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Sentinels of the Multiverse Box CoverEveryone wants to be a superhero. It’s just natural. You can read our full review of Sentinels of the Multiverse here. To give you a quick rundown, the players each take on the role of a superhero and do battle together to defeat a chosen arch-villain. Each superhero has their own strengths and battle deck. Turns consist of playing cards to either hurt the villain or help your allies. With great artwork and quick turns, this is a good addition or any board game or comic book fan.


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Party Games:

 

Jungle Speed

Jungle Speed Box CoverIn this game, players each start with a deck of various symbols. One at a time, players will go around the table flipping over their cards. If the card you flip matches the card of someone else at the table, you must be the first of your fellow matching player to grab the “totem” in the middle of the table. Grab it first and the loser must take all the cards you’ve flipped up so far. There are also harsh penalties for accidentally knocking the totem over or grabbing it without cause, so be warned. Jungle Speed is a face paced game with a lot of excitement. Be careful to not have anything breakable nearby. Bodies have been known to go flying.

Dixit

Dixit Box CoverThis is a game where it helps to know how your opponents think. Dixit comes with a deck of beautifully illustrated cards. On a turn, the storyteller gives a clue (be it a sentence, single word or even just a noise) about his chosen card. Then, each player secretly choose a card from his hand that best matches the clue. The storyteller then places all the cards face up and the player must try and guess which card was the storytellers. The storyteller gets a point for each correct guess, as long as not everyone guesses. He also will get penalized if no one guesses his card. So the player must walk the fine line of being descriptive, but not too descriptive. Simple, fun and imaginative, Dixit is great for any group.

Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity Box CoverIf you have friends that are not easily offended, then Cards Against Humanity is for you. One of our first few game reviews here on Board Game Quest, Cards Against Humanity is a lot of fun to play. You can read the full card game review here. The basics of the game have players choosing cards from their hand that match the statement of the judge’s card. Have your card chosen by the judge and you win the point. The rules are very simple, yet the fun of the game comes in the hilariousness of the cards. The makers behind Cards Against Humanity pull no punches in their card choices. As long as your group of friends are not easily offended, I guarantee you will have a lot of fun with this game.


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2 Player Games:

 

Lost Cities

Lost Cities Board GameThis two player card game has players bring to mount a profitable expedition to one or more of the five different “lost cities”. The game play is pretty straight forward. You have a hand of colored, numbered cards that you play on an city. This represents your progress towards that city. Make enough progress and you’ll score some victory points. However, if you don’t make enough, then you’re going to lose a lot of points. Players play 3 rounds and the one of the most points is the winner. Easy rules, very accessible and has been called the “wife game” in gamer circles. (for what it’s worth).

Jambo

Jambo Box CoverA 2 player buying and selling game is the heart of Jambo. This is mostly a card game where you try and buy wares at a cheap price and sell them for a higher price. Throughout the way, players will gain valuable action and item cards that will give them new options on their turn. Game play is more in-depth that Lost Cities, but still simple enough to be accessible by even non-gamers.

Stronghold

Stronghold Box CoverThis is the heaviest game of this section. While the rules says 2-4 players, it’s really a 2 player game. The 3-4 player version just divides the castle in half. But it seems like there is little benefit to playing that way.
In Stronghold, a castle is under siege and a player takes on the role of the attacker or the defender. The defender has to hold out long enough to get enough victory points to win. While the defender has a small amount of soldiers, the attacker has an unlimited amount. The attacker will spend their turn equipping soldiers, building siege engines and getting ready to attack while the defender will spend their time repairing walls and training their limited amount of soldiers in the hopes of holding out as long as possible. Very thematic with some in-depth rules provide a great 2 player experience.

  • Players: 2 (2-4 officially)
  • Time: 120 minutes
  • Price: $43 – $65

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Games for the Miniatures Fan:

 

Gears of War

Gears of War Board GameThis game could also fall into the Cooperative category. Based on the hit Xbox 360 video game series, Fantasy Flight Games did a great job translating this to a board game. Our full review on Gears of War is here, but to get you started, players will be taking on the role of one of the COGs from the video games series. Each game, players pick a mission and set out to achieve their objective. The game uses cards for player actions, as well as health. Run out of cards in your hand, and you die. If everyone goes down, the game wins. It’s a very interesting mechanic that will have a player thinking if they really want to play that card. The miniatures are very well sculpted and the game is very enjoyable to any fan of the genre. Fans of the video game series will really enjoy this one.

Descent: Journeys into the Dark (Second Edition)

Descent Second Edition Box CoverWhile Gears of War is a Sci-Fi expedition, Descent is a fantasy dungeon crawl game. Up to 4 players take on the role of the heroes while one player controls all the monsters as the Overlord. This new, second edition, has rules for campaign play and has greatly sped up the play time. You can now get 2-3 games in the span 1 game took in the first edition. The basic turn has the players taking 2 actions (usually a move or an attack) before the Overlord gets to move his monsters. If the heroes compete their specific quest objective, they win. If not, the Overlord is the winner. The game comes with uniquely sculpted hero and monster figures and custom dice. The perfect game for any dungeon crawl fan.

Chaos in the Old World

Chaos in the Old World Box CoverThis game is probably the most unique of the miniatures games. While the minis are not the big focus of the game that the previous two are, it is a great game non-the-less. Reviewed here on Board Game Quest earlier in the year, we give a great detailed explanation on how to play. Each player takes on the role of an ancient god trying to corrupt the world towards their specific dogma. The miniatures take on the role of the players minions/cultists. Players will use them on their turns to spread their influence and do battle with other players. The game is one of the more unique ones we’ve played in that it has 4 different ways for the game to end. A great gift for anyone who loves strategy games or is a fan of the Warhammer universe.


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Eurogames:

 

Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep Board GameWhile the theme might make you think this is a fantasy game, it’s actually more of a eurogame. This is one game that, while a great game, the theme feels really tacked on. We went more in depth with that in our full review of Lords of Waterdeep. That all being said, Lord of Waterdeep is still a great board game. Each player takes on the role of a Lord in the city of Waterdeep. On you turn, you send your workers out into the city to do your bidding (take actions). These range from recruiting adventurers, constructing buildings, collecting money or playing intrigue cards. The game is fairly easy to pick up and has been a hit with gamers and non-gamers alike. The game is supposedly based in the Forgotten Realms setting. For those who don’t read a lot of fantasy literature, the Forgotten Realms are a popular series of fantasy novels put out by Wizards of the Coast. If you are not a fan of the Forgotten Realms series at all, you can safely ignore this game’s theme and still thoroughly enjoy it. For any fans though, the flavor text and artwork will help push this game into the must buy category.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Box CoverLong standing as one of the best Eurogames ever made, Puerto Rico tasks the players with running a plantation on the island. The game involves a healthly dose of action choosing and resource management. You must plant fields, construct buildings, produce and sell goods all on the path towards victory. The player that can ship the most goods will earn the most victory points and win. The rules are not difficult to learn, but more involved than a game like The Settlers of Catan. However, the in-depth game play is very satisfying to anyone looking for a deeper eurogame experience.

Kingdom Builder

Kingdom Builder Box CoverReviewed here earlier in the year, Kingdom Builder is probably the lightest eurogame on this list. The rules are incredibly simple. Each turn, you draw a card and place up to 3 settlements on that specific terrain. You must place new settlements adjacent to existing ones if possible. And that’s it. Once all the settlements are placed the game is over and the player with the most victory points is the winner. Now the game takes a few twists and turns via the extra action tokens that can be earned. And the victory point conditions will change every game as you always draw 3 out of a stack of cards. Even with its simple rules and quick game play, this is still a great game. The simple rules will help introduce non-gamers to the eurogame genre.


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Thematic Games:

 

Mansions of Madness

Mansions of Madness Box CoverFor the gamer that enjoys investigation, strange happenings and fighting off nasty monsters than look no further than Mansions of Madness. Set in the Call of Cthulhu universe (the same universe Elder Sign plays in), Mansions of Madness has the players taking on the role of investigators on a quest through an old mansions. One player will take on the role of controlling the game and the monsters. Mansions of Madness has some great components and game play. However, the setup time is a bit long, and if you mess up during setup, it could mess up the whole game down the line.  Despite these minor faults, game is still a ton of fun and plays similar to any other game with a team of players vs 1 opponent (Descent, Doom, etc…) If you are ok with the lengthy setup, then you’ll probably love this one.

Mage Knight

Mage Knight Box CoverMage Knight is a difficult game to categorize. It is part eurogame and part adventure game. Players take on the role of a Mage Knight, working their way across the land. You explore and try to conquer the land as you play, increasing your Mage Knights’ power. The game combines elements of an RPG, traditional board game and deck building game. It’s very unique in that respect.
The rules themselves are quite heavy and this is not recommended for the casual player. But for the fantasy enthusiasts, this is a great little gem that’s sure to bring a lot of enjoyment. The game immerses itself in the rich Mage Knight history will give the player a starring role in the action.

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica Box CoverBattlestar Galactica (or BSG to its fans) is one game that really just immersive itself in the games theme. While you don’t have to be a fan of the TV show to enjoy this game, if you are, you will love this game! Fantasy Flight Games really took the heart of the show and put it in a board game. The players take on the role of the humans, trying to keep the evil Cylons at bay as they make a desperate run towards Kobol (and win).
Hands down, the best part of the BSG board game is the intrigue. At the start of the game, every player is secretly dealt a loyalty card that says if they are a human or Cylon. If they are a Cylon, they will be secretly working against the humans until they are finally revealed. This leads to a lot of mistrust, accusations and a whole lot of fun. The humans have a feeling of helplessness and being kicked around the whole game (much like in the TV show).
This game is a lot of fun and perfect for any fan of the TV show.

 

 

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