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Board Game Gift Guide 2017



As I’m sure almost all of you know, board games make the absolute best gifts. It’s a scientifically proven fact. And as we embark upon this year’s holiday season, I’m sure many of you are ready to get your shopping out of the way, rather than compete with the masses at the last minute. Well were here to help. Welcome to our 2017 Board Game Gift Guide.

Because board games are awesome, and we know board games, we’ve waded through the thousands of games out there to put together our annual gift guide for you. We read the rules, play the games, and do our best to highlight three standouts in 9 different categories. Whether you are shopping for the alpha gamer on your list or just something to play with the family, we’ve got you covered. Happy Shopping!

Click any name to jump to that category:

Classic Board Games: These are board games that have left their mark on our hobby. If you are looking for a good place to start, this is it. These are amazing board games that have been enjoyed for a long time.
Cooperative Board Games: Sometimes players want to work together as a group and enjoy a sense of camaraderie. When teamwork and overcoming a challenge is your goal, then you want a cooperative board game.
Party Games: Not necessarily a game for a party, but something casual, easy to learn, and usually full of a good amount of social interaction.
Two-Player Games: The perfect choice when it’s just the two of you. Whether it’s you and a friend, or simply you and your spouse, a 2 player game will fit the bill.
Euro Games: These are games that pass on the direct conflict and focus more on acquiring victory points. There are many games that fall in this category, from light to heavy games, and should appeal to a broad amount of gamers.
Card Games: Card games are usually fairly easy to take on the go with you, yet offer enough variety that you can find almost any level of complexity you desire. Plus, their lack of minis and expensive components usually makes them more budget friendly.
Thematic Games: When you don’t want to hunt for victory points, but instead, want a game that sucks you in with its great theme. These games usually have great components and engaging game play, sometimes with direct player conflict.
Family Games: These games will have a family friendly theme and mechanics that are very accessible. Easy to learn rules and minimal downtime are hallmarks of the family game.
Stocking Stuffers: These are great games that won’t break the bank; all under $20. These are perfect when you want just a little something extra for the gamer in your life.


Classic Board Games

Ticket to RideTicket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is easily one of the most accessible Euro games there is and has sold millions of copies so far and already spawned a number of expansions. In Ticket to Ride, you are trying to build train routes on a map of the U.S. and Canada between major cities. The highly accessible game play makes this one quick to learn and fast to play. If you have played card games like Rummy or Gin, then Ticket to Ride should be an easy transition.

2-5 Players • Ages 8+ • 60 minutes • $37Get Your Copy


Pandemic Box CoverPandemic (review)
In this award-winning cooperative board game, players are a team of scientists trying to cure the world of four deadly diseases before they destroy the world. Pandemic is one of the most popular cooperative board games and has long since become a staple in every gamer’s collection. Pandemic is easy to learn and very challenging to win, which helps give the game high replay value.

2-4 Players • Ages 13+ • 45 minutes • $30Get Your Copy


The Settlers of Catan Game BoxCatan (review)
The Settlers of Catan (now just known as Catan) is the granddaddy of board games and is probably most Americans’ first experience with a “Euro game.” In this game of trading and construction, players must build up their settlements and roads by using the island’s five resources. The game features very easy to learn mechanics and a healthy dose of player interaction via the importance of trading resources. Catan is a game that every gamer will probably play at least once and is probably one of the ultimate “gateway games.”

3-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 90 minutes • $37Get Your Copy



Dominion Box ArtDominion (review)
Dominion is the founder of the deck building genre and probably the most versatile of all these types of games. Each player starts with a small deck of identical cards. Throughout the game, players will improve their deck by buying cards from the stacks of cards in the center of the table. Players must have a careful balance between buying useful action cards versus the victory point cards that will win them the game. With easy to learn mechanics, quick playing time and lots of replay value, Dominion is an easy choice for anyone. Dominion also was able to claim the #1 spot in our Top Ten Deck Builders list.

2-4 Players • Ages 13+ • 30 minutes • $30Get Your Copy



7 Wonders Box Cover7 Wonders (review)
7 Wonders is a fantastic card game that introduced us to the card drafting (pick and pass) genre. In 7 Wonders, after you select your card, you then pass your remaining hand of cards to the player sitting next to you. The game play is very unique; it has a quick playing time, and expands all the way up to 7 players with zero loss of quality or added game time. 7 Wonders is easily one of our favorite games and one we’re always willing to play.

2-7 Players • Ages 10+ • 30 minutes • $33Get Your Copy


Carcassonne Box CoverCarcassonne (review)
Carcassonne is a tile-laying game with almost no setup time because you build the game board as you play! In Carcassonne, players are building out cities, roads, monasteries and farms to try to score the most victory points. Each turn, a player will draw a tile and add it to the tiles already played on the table. If the player completes one of their buildings, they score victory points for it. The rules are simple, the turns quick, and the game is very accessible.

2-5 Players • Ages 8+ • 45 minutes • $25Get Your Copy




Cooperative Board Games:

Unlock ReviewUnlock! (review)
The escape room genre has quickly stormed the board gaming world. Over the course of the past year or so, we have had a number of escape room games released. Of those, Unlock! has been our favorite so far. While nothing can truly recreate the tactile experience of being locked in a room, Unlock! does a good job of providing engaging puzzles for the players and the integrated app is smartly used to act not only as a timer, but also provide audio clues.

2-6 Players • Ages 10+ • 60 minutes • $15Get Your Copy



DeadlineDeadline (review)
This cooperative crime solving game ended up being a surprise hit for us this year. Deadline combines a healthy dose of crime sleuthing with some solid hand management game play. In Deadline, players will be trying to solve increasingly harder cases (the game comes with 12 in total). Deadline can be even more fun once you start getting “in character” and treating it like a thematic experience.

2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60 minutes • $33Get Your Copy



Pandemic: Reign of CthulhuPandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
While there have been tons of Pandemic offshoots, Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu has been one of our favorites (outside of the Pandemic: Legacy games). Instead of trying to cure diseases around the planet, players are investigators trying to stop a group of cultists from overrunning the town of Arkham. While Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu builds off of the core mechanics from the original Pandemic, but it’s definitely unique enough to stand on its own.

2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 45 minutes • $40Get Your Copy


2016 Recommendations 2015 Recommendations
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle Pandemic: Legacy
Star Trek: Panic Temple of Elemental Evil
TIME Stories Mysterium



Party Games:

Rhino Hero: Super BattleRhino Hero: Super Battle (review)
Publisher HABA Games had its work cut out for them when they decide to release a follow up to the much loved Rhino Hero, but they succeeded. Rhino Hero: Super Battle adds new mechanics in the form of in walls with different heights, player battles, and hanging spider monkeys, all without sacrificing its entertaining and accessible nature.

2-4 Players • Ages 5+ • 15 minutes • $30Get Your Copy



New York SliceNew York Slice (review)
This “I slice, you choose” game has players dividing up pizzas in a set collection game that’s guaranteed to have you craving this glorious food. As with any party game, learning to play New York Slice is very easy and this one even scales up to 6 players with minimal downtime. There is enough game play and variety in here to keep things fresh even after repeated plays.

2-6 Players • Ages 8+ • 30 minutes • $25Get Your Copy



Happy SalmonHappy Salmon
It’s hard to watch people playing a game of Happy Salmon and not shake your head at how ridiculous it looks. And that’s because it is. Happy Salmon, is loud, silly (bordering on dumb), but once you let go and actually give it a try, it’s hard to keep yourself from smiling. This is one of those games where you just have to play it and not care how goofy you look.

3-6 Players • Ages 5+ • 2 minutes • $12Get Your Copy



2016 Recommendations 2015 Recommendations
Ice Cool Two Rooms and a Boom
Junk Art Codenames
Captain Sonar Rhino Hero



2 Player Games

If you are a fan of classic abstract strategy games like Chess, then Onitama should be on your radar. It’s a game of perfect information where you are trying to eliminate your opponent’s pieces, or reach their throne with your main pawn. The key is, there are 5 movement cards in the game, and you will be sharing those with your opponent, so whoever can strategize the best will win.

2 Players • Ages 8+ • 15 minutes • $20Get Your Copy


Star Wars DestinyStar Wars Destiny (review)
This year, publisher Fantasy Flight Games released a 2 player core set of the Star Wars Destiny Collectible Game. While you will eventually want to buy booster packs, this core set has everything 2 players need to get into the game. Star Wars Destiny combines familiar CCG card play with a healthy dose of dice rolling (and they dice are really nice looking). If you enjoy deck construction, dueling, and Star Wars, this is your game.

2 Players • Ages 10+ • 30 minutes • $25Get Your Copy


Codenames: DuetCodenames: Duet
Since its debut a few years ago, Codenames has taken gaming groups by storm. This clever word game has teams trying to guess secret words on a grid using only obscure clues. However the game has always required at least 4 players…until now. Codenames: Duet is a 2 player only version of the game that turns it from competitive to fully cooperative.

2 Players • Ages 11+ • 15 minutes • $16Get Your Copy



2016 Recommendations 2015 Recommendations
Agility Tides of Time
Star Wars: Rebellion Noir
7 Wonders: Duel WWE Superstar Showdown




Great Western TrailGreat Western Trail (review)
Alexander Pfister has veritably taken board gaming by storm winning back to back Kennerspiel des Jahres awards. In the past year, publisher eggertspiel and Stronghold Games couldn’t resist one of his titles. This time, it’s cow-wrangling in the old west. Great Western Trail has a wild large constructed rondel mechanism where players are creating spaces to visit as well as slowing down other players’ progress. It feels unique and complex, but playing round after round just draws you in.

2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 120 minutes • $50Get Your Copy



Cottage Garden
With the success of Uwe Rosenberg’s Patchwork, the concept of Tetris-esque plot construction gets the 4 player treatment in another calm, pastoral package here. Players will be laying out blocks of flowers to complete gardens with victory points of two metrics to keep score. For those that love spatial puzzles and want something competitive, Cottage Garden is full of planning ahead for just the right pieces to fall into place.

1-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 60 minutes • $45Get Your Copy



Lorenzo il MagnificoLorenzo il Magnifico (review)
Perhaps the Euroest Euro in the list is a worker placement, dice manipulation, resource management, and tableau building game. It may sound like a stew with too much thrown in, but Lorenzo il Magnifico hits everything just right. It’s got that enjoyable kind of frustration from not being able to do enough round to round. For anyone who loves a good challenge, this is a game that tests the economically minded with each play.

2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 120 minutes • $47Get Your Copy



2016 Recommendations 2015 Recommendations
Quadropolis Viceroy
Potion Explosion Discoveries
Isle of Skye Between Two Cities



Card Games

Coal Baron Card GameCoal Baron: The Great Card Game (review)
This game may sound like the lump of coal that no one likes, but in truth, it’s one of the best card game implementations of a board game you will ever find. The challenges in allocating a set of workers is deep and fulfilling to the degree that it makes the board game irrelevant. The choices of worker placement are exceptional and really draw players into the game’s mechanisms. For those who don’t care too much about theme, Coal Baron: The Great Card Game is a definite winner.

2-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 60 minutes • $30Get Your Copy



Pocket MadnessPocket Madness (review)
While this card game has a Lovecraftian theme, you don’t have to be a fan of the Mythos to enjoy it. Pocket Madness employs some “rummy like” mechanics that help make it easy to get to the table with just about anyone. Players will be playing sets and runs of cards with the goal of eliminating all the cards in their hand. Players will also be able to use portal cards to give them special, one time use powers, which helps keep things really interesting.

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 30 minutes • $17Get Your Copy



Ex Libris
Ex LibrisIf you like your worker placement games with a side of organizational tendencies, then Ex Libris is the game for you. Worker placement mechanics combine with a unique tableau-building mechanism that rewards careful planning and alphabetical ordering. Ex Libris creates a game that is has enough depth to satisfy Euro enthusiasts, but accessible enough for gamers that prefer a lighter experience and even for players new to the hobby.

1-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 60 minutes • $40Get Your Copy


2016 Recommendations 2015 Recommendations
Paperback Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
Mystic Vale Arboretum
Lotus Sushi Go!



Thematic Games

Wasteland Express Delivery ServiceWasteland Express Delivery Service (review)
Publisher Pandasaurus Game have really created something special with Wasteland Express Delivery Service. Not only does the game have amazing production values, but it’s a really fun pick up and deliver game. Players take on the role of truckers in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, trying to complete jobs and delivers supplies to the various towns. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself as you drive these great looking truck minis around the wasteland.

2-5 Players • Ages 13+ • 90 minutes • $70Get Your Copy



First MartiansFirst Martians
It will probably take a few games of First Martians to really get a feel for the system. However once you do, the game really brings home the theme if isolation and you against the odds. You are the first astronauts on Mars, and of course everything keeps going wrong. You and your fellow astronauts have to work together to keep your hab functional while you compete your mission, and it won’t be easy. With both stand-alone missions and also a campaign, First Martians has a ton of content on the Red Planet.

1-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 90 minutes • $45Get Your Copy



AdrenalineAdrenaline (review)
While a few games in the past have tried to recreate the First Person Shooter (FPS) experience on our tabletop, none have really succeed…until now. Adrenaline takes the fast paced nature of a FPS video game and not only brings it to our tabletop, but does it with a bit of eurogame flair. The turns in Adrenaline are quick; there are tons of guns, and lots of player death.

3-5 Players • Ages 12+ • 60 minutes • $43Get Your Copy



2016 Recommendations 2015 Recommendations
Star Trek: Ascendancy Star Wars: Armada
Xcom: The Board Game Rum and Bones
Mansions of Madness Xia: Legends of the Drift



Family Games

Slide BlastSlide Blast (review)
Slide Blast is one of the best gateway tile laying games I’ve played in a while. The rules are very light, but the fresh theme and casual game play has made this a great game to play with both adults and kids. Even though the rules are super simple, there is still a lot of strategy to be had in the game as you try and build the longest waterside in the park.

2-6 Players • Ages 6+ • 20 minutes • $25Get Your Copy



KingdominoKingdomino (review)
Winner of the 2017 Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year) award, Kingdomino has been all over the tabletop world lately. As you might expect from the name, Kingdomino is a unique take on the old Dominos tile laying game. Yet instead of numbers, you are building a kingdom of different types of terrain. It’s simple, fun, and quick playing.

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 15 minutes • $15Get Your Copy



PhotosynthesisPhotosynthesis (review)
Another game that looks as good as it plays, Photosynthesis has you placing and growing trees in a shared forest. The 3D trees make for a visually appealing game, and the sun mechanic will not only have players strategizing on how best to place their trees, but how they can screw over their fellow players in the process.

2-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 45 minutes • $35Get Your Copy



2016 Recommendations 2015 Recommendations
Adventure Land Flick ‘Em Up
Lanterns Coconuts
Karuba Gravwell



Stocking Stuffers

HerbaceousHerbaceous (review)
This beautiful and simple card has players growing and planting herbs in their garden. As you might expect, the rules in Herbaceous are fairly simple for this small card game. It plays best with 3-4 players and has a great press-your-luck feel to it as you can only put herbs in each of your 4 planters once. You definitely have to make each collection count.

1-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 15 minutes • $17Get Your Copy



Tides of MadnessTides of Madness (review)
A two player only card drafting game, Tides of Madness is a follow up to the wildly successful Tides of Time card game. Yet publisher Portal Games was able to improve upon the original by adding a clever madness mechanic that can actually cause you to lose the game instantly if you go insane. I definitely prefer this one over the original.

2 Players • Ages 10+ • 20 minutes • $12Get Your Copy



Avalanche at Yeti MountainAvalanche at Yeti Mountain (review)
There are serious gamers and then there are silly gamers. Skis, yetis, tech upgrades, and an avalanche are the heroes of this silly gamer’s game. Avalanche at Yeti Mountain may seem like a throwaway title, but the game contained herein is anything but. There are a lot of choices to digest and anticipation of choices from other players is the key to winning. If you’re ski-happy family needs a filler game over some hot cocoa, check out Avalanche at Yeti Mountain.

1-5 Players • Ages 8+ • 15 minutes • $12Get Your Copy



2016 Recommendations 2015 Recommendations
Three Wishes The Grizzled
Bottom of the Ninth Pairs
The Game Welcome to the Dungeon


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