UPDATE: We have released our 2014 Board Game Gift Guide. You can check it out here!
It’s that time of year again. The holidays are approaching and you have to decide what to get for that gamer in your household. Well never fear, the minds at Board Game Quest are here to help you out! We’ve put together our 2013 Board Game Gift Guide to help you navigate the thousands of board games out there and to help you find that perfect gift. Whether your special gamers is a fan of the Eurogame genre or likes fighting it out with well-sculpted miniatures, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also expanded our offerings this year by added two new categories. You can click on any of the links below to jump to that category or just start browsing the whole list. Enjoy!
Classic Board Games: These are games that have stood the test of time and can easily find a place in any gamer’s collection. We’ve added two new offerings to our “classic line” this year.
Cooperative Board Games: For players that like to work as a team versus the game, these are games that demand cooperation and teamwork.
Party Games: When you have a group of people over and just want to socialize, then you probably want a party game. Easy rules, highly interactive, and great fun.
Two-Player Games: Sometimes it’s just the two of you. Luckily, there are still many great games for you to choose from that play with only two.
Eurogames: These games are usually more abstract and have minimal player conflict. If you enjoy collecting victory points more than attacking your opponent, these are the games for you.
Thematic Games: These games usually have a solid theme and some great components. Many miniatures games will fall into this category. These are usually more conflict driven games.
Kids Games: For the little gamer in your household. Most are easy to learn and nice alternatives to Monopoly or Life.
Stocking Stuffers: Games under $20. Sometimes you just need a little something extra for that person on your list. Easy on the budget but still fun to play.
Classic Board Games
Ticket to Ride
The first new addition to our lineup of classic board games is Ticket to Ride. Easily one of the most accessible Eurogames on the market today, Ticket to Ride has sold over a million copies to date. Players are trying to build train routes on a map of the US and Canada between major cities. The simple game play makes this one quick to learn and fast to play. If you are familiar with card games like Rummy or Gin, then Ticket to Ride should be an easy transition for you. Ticket to Ride has also spawned a number of expansions including a version set in Europe.
Making our gift guide for cooperative games in 2012, Pandemic moves into the classic category this year. Players take on the roles of scientists trying to cure the world of four deadly diseases before all of mankind is wiped out. Pandemic is one of the most popular cooperative board games on the market today and requires players to use their unique abilities and work together to save the world. Pandemic is easy to learn but can be hard to win, which helps give the game high replay value.
The Settlers of Catan (review)
The 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 island’s inhabitants and must build up their settlements and roads by using the island’s five 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. The Settlers of Catan is a gaming staple that belongs in every player’s collection.
Dominion is the game that started the “deck building game” explosion a few years ago. Each player starts with a small, identical deck of ten cards. Throughout the game, you build up your deck by “buying” cards from ten stacks in the center of the table. Players must have a careful balance between buying useful in-game cards and the ever-important victory point cards. With easy to learn mechanics, quick playing time and lots of variation due to the twenty-fivedifferent “buy” cards, Dominion is an easy choice for anyone. Dominion also has many expansions out to add to its replay value.
7 Wonders (review)
7 Wonders is 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. The game play is very unique, has a quick playing time and expands all the way up to seven players with no loss of quality. 7 Wonders is easily one of my favorite games and one I can play again and again.
Carcassonne is a game with almost zero setup time because you build the game board as you play! Carcassonne is a tile laying game that has players building out roads, cities, monasteries, and farms to try and score the most victory points. Each turn, a player draws a tile and adds it to the game board. If the player completes one of the aforementioned features, they can score victory points if they own it. The rules are simple, the turns quick, and the game is accessible to anyone.
Cooperative Board Games
Legends of Andor
For a fan that enjoys a good story, Legends of Andor fits the bill. Players each take on the role of a hero trying to save the world of Andor from the approaching evil. Highly thematic, this game comes with five different scenarios for the players to cooperatively tackle, each of which his filled with a rich story. One of the great things about the Legends of Andor is that no one will need to read a rule book as the game teaches you how to play. Players can jump right in and get started.
Forbidden Desert (review)
A follow-up to the popular cooperative game, Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert takes everything I loved about Forbidden Island and builds upon it. Players have escaped that sinking island only to have crash landed in the desert. Now they must work together to find the four parts of an an ancient flying machine and escape the desert before they are all buried alive or die of thirst. Forbidden Desert has some fantastic components and demands cooperation from the players to survive. If you found Forbidden Island just a little too easy, then Forbidden Desert is the game for you.
Escape: Curse of the Temple
For something a little different, take a look at Escape: Curse of the Temple. This cooperative game is actually played in real time as the players have ten minutes exactly to escape the temple. The game comes with a CD soundtrack that plays during the game to act as a timer. Players will be furiously rolling a set of dice as they move throughout the temple, unlocking gems, and hunting for the exit. The rules are very simple and quite unique. If you are looking for something different, yet casual, Escape: Curse of the Temple is worth a look.
Wits & Wagers:
Wits & Wagers is a trivia game where players must try and come up with the correct answer, and then bet on who they think is actually right. The nice thing about Wits & Wagers versus other trivia games is that every answer is a number. Be it a year, a sports stat or some other numerical value, this allows every player to at least take a guess at the correct answer. And since you bet on which answer you think is right, you don’t even have to know the correct answers to win!
While Wits & Wagers is the betting game for numbers-based trivia, Say Anything falls at the opposite end of the spectrum. Say Anything is a game where players must quickly write down an answer to a hotly debated question (such as “What is the worst reality show of all time”). Then, players bet on which answer the question asker will choose as the best. Say Anything is a fun, lighthearted game that has a great amount player interaction and even a little deduction.
What do you get if you take the game of telephone and mash it up with Pictionary? Telestrations! In this game, everyone starts with a word and has to draw it. Then, all the drawings are passed to the next player, who must guess the word that was drawn. Then, the following player must draw what the previous player guessed. This will create some fun and humorous situations as the drawings deviate more and more from the original word. Best played with a large number of players, bring out Telestraations for those times when you have a large group.
Two-Player Board Games
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
If you haven’t heard of it, Agricola is one of the most popular worker placement games out today. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a two-player version of Agricola that tasks players with running a small animal farm. Players must spend their limited actions to build up their farm and breed their livestock in the most efficient way possible. The game play is intuitive, competitive, plays quickly and is great fun. A couple of expansions have also been released for Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small to help add in the replay value with different buildings to use.
While it hasn’t over taken Magic: The Gathering as the premiere two-player card game, Netrunner is a better game in my opinion. Set in a futuristic, cyberpunk world, Neturnner features unique, asymmetrical game play where each player plays the game somewhat differently. One player takes on the role of the corporation, trying to protect their servers and advance their agendas, while the other player is a hacker trying to break in to those same servers and steal the agendas. The game play in Netrunner features much interaction, bluffing, and strategy. With a ton of expansions out already, the replay value in Netrunner is extremely high and its addictive game play will have you coming back for more again and again.
Memoir ’44 (review)
As far as war games go, they can be incredibly long, rules-heavy and only for the most dedicated of gamers. Days of Wonder changed all of that when they came out with Memoir ’44. Using Richard Borg’s very accessible combat card system, Memoir ’44 is a light, scenario based war game for two players set in World War II. If you know someone that might be interested in dipping their toes into the war game genre, this is a great starting spot. Memoir ’44 is easy to learn, plays fast, and has many expansions already out there.
Viticulture puts players in the role of running a pre-modern Tuscan vineyard. While that may not sound like the most gripping of themes, it’s actually a fantastic game. Viticulture was one of my surprise hits of the year and features some amazing components, easy-to-learn rules and some unique game play. Being a light-to-medium weight worker placement game, Viticulture is very accessible and plays very smoothly. Down time is minimal and there seems to be many paths to victory. With an expansion due to debut in the spring of 2014, this one is worth checking out.
In Suburbia, players are trying to build out their specific borough in the city by shrewdly managing their money and buying the right locations. Surburbia does a great job of keeping the players balanced during the game as the more you improve your borough, the harder it will be to maintain. This can help prevent run-away leaders and force players to not expand their reach too quickly. With a ton of variety in the game goals and tiles available to the players, Suburbia boasts a good amount of replay value with the games feeling different each time you play.
Relic Runners (review)
The newest line to the Days of Wonder collection is Relic Runners. Days of Wonder has long since been know for accessible games with high component quality. And Relic Runners fits that mold to a T. Players take on the role of explorers in the jungle, hunting for ancient treasures. Relic Runners has easy-to-learn rules, quick game play with minimal down time, and some of the best components you’ll see in a Eurogame. The theme is also somewhat new and very enjoyable.
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (review)
Pathfinder attempts to take familiar elements from the tabletop Role Playing Game of the same name and bring it into a card game setting. Each player takes on the role of one of the heroes from the Pathfinder universe. In this campaign-style game, players must work together to defeat the villain in each scenario. The game is best played over a long campaign, as your character will build up skills and abilities form game to game. The actual game is pretty easy to learn and the campaign aspect makes it a great choice for someone looking for a game to play many times over.
Legendary: Marvel Deck Building Game (review)
In this semi-cooperative game, players take on the role of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent that is trying to recruit superheros from the Marvel universe to help defeat an arch-villain. I say that Legendary is semi-cooperative because players must work together to defeat the evil henchmen and minions in this game. If the Mastermind’s scheme is not stopped, all the players lose. However, if they can defeat the Mastermind, then the player with the most victory points will be the winner.
In Fleet, players are running a fishing boat company. While it wasn’t the most compelling of themes for me, the game play is actually really solid. Fleet is a great game that has players starting off very small and poor, then quickly builds up their resources by winning auctions for fishing licenses and playing the right boat cards. Fleet has a quick play time and is fairly easy to learn. If you like “engine building” games, then Fleet is worth checking out.
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures (review)
If you want a game with the sexiest looking components imaginable, then the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures game is for you. These ships look absolutely fantastic. In this game, each player chooses to represent either the Imperials or the Rebel Alliance. Players then build squadrons of ships from many of the iconic Star Wars space ships (assuming you’ve bought a few expansion packs). The game play itself is easy to learn and will have you zipping through space blowing up your enemies in almost no time at all. If you are shopping for a Star Was fan, then buy this one today. It’s worth the cost for the miniatures alone.
Mice and Mystics (review)
Mice and Mystics makes a great family game. Each player takes on the role of a mouse hero in this cooperative board game. The players must work together to accomplish the scenarios goals as they explore the house and battle spiders, rats, and other bad guys. Much like Legends of Andor, one of the strengths of Mice and Mystics is the amazing story it tells. Combine that with some fantastic components and you have a game that will entice many members of your family.
It’s not much of a stretch to say that Zombies are very popular right now. Zombicide takes the players and drops them into a world where the zombies are at the top of the food chain. Players each take on the role of a unique survivor and must work together to hold back the undead hordes and accomplish the scenario’s objective. With a ton of well-sculpted zombie minis, Zombicide will scratch that itch when you just want to slay hordes of the undead. If they could make Left 4 Dead the board game, this would be it!
Click Clack Lumberjack (review)
Dexterity games can be both fun and challenging at the same time. In Click Clack Lumberjack, players are attempting to debark a plastic tree. They must hit the tree with an axe in attempt to knock the bark off without toppling the tree. Click Clack Lumberjack can actually be a lot of fun for both adults and children. The nice-looking components can help to keep people’s attention while the game play provides a good amount of entertainment.
Three Little Pigs
Based on the fairy tale of the same name, The Three Little Pigs has players rolling dice to try and build up their houses out of straw, wood, and brick. If a player rolls enough wolf symbols, they can attempt to “blow down” one of their opponents houses. Much like in the fairy tale, the stronger you build your house, the more it will withstand the wolf. With some high quality components and easy-to-learn game play, The Three Little Pigs should make a great family game. Extra points for the box shaped like a story book.
Zombie Kidz (review)
A family-friendly zombie game that’s also cooperative? Sign me up. Zombie Kidz tasks the players with stopping the zombies from overrunning a cemetery. While this is a zombie game, the artwork and the rules make it very family-friendly. In addition to that, it can teach kids some valuable life lessons as the must work together as a team to hold back the undead horde. Zombie Kidz also boasts a small size, which helps to make it very portable.
“Stocking Stuffers” (Under $20)
Love Letter was the game that helped to ignite the micro-game genre. This very quick game plays in only a couple of minutes, but it’s incredibly addictive. The rules can fit on a single playing card, but the game requires a bit of bluffing, deduction, and strategy. For a price of under $10, it’s hard to find a better value for your gaming dollar than Love Letter.
Known as the Dicey Dungeon Delve, Dungeon Roll exploded onto Kickstarter this year to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars. This fun little game has the players rolling dice as they attempt to work their way through a dungeon. The game is really an abstract dungeon crawler, but the game play is simple enough to make this one a great filler game. Tasty Minstrel Games also gets props for the packaging of Dungeon Roll; the treasure chest box will help this one to make a great gift.
Sometimes you just can’t find someone to play with, for those times there is Friday. A solo adventure, this deck building game has the player stranded on a desert island and they must learn to survive in the wild if they are going to make it out alive. The player must build up their deck until they can take on the pirates and escape the island.
There you have it, our 2013 Board Game Gift Guide. We hope that helps you spread a little gaming cheer this holiday season. If you are still looking for some ideas, then check out our 2012 Board Game Gift Guide with some alternative suggestions. Do you have some ideas we missed? Let us know in the comments below.