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Board Game Gift Guide 2018

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The bells are ringing, snow is falling, and the whole house smells like pine needles. That’s right, the holidays are upon us. And as you all know, it’s a scientifically proven fact that board games make the best gifts. However, when it comes to board games, gamers are definitely not in a shortage of choices. With thousands of new games being released every year, how do you know which ones are worth your attention?

That’s where we come in. Whether you are shopping for the die-hard gamer in your life, or looking for a game to play with your family, we’ve got you cover. We’ve shaken our magic eight ball, consulted the oracle, and brought you our 2018 Board Game Gift Guide. So sit back, relax and let us do the heavy lifting for you this year.

Click any name to jump to that category:

Classic Board Games: These are board games that have, in one way or another, 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 something to play with your spouse, a 2 player game will fit the bill.
Euro Games: These are games that eschew direct conflict and focus more on acquiring victory points. There are many games that fall in this category, from light to heavy, and the eurogame can 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 miniatures 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.


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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 across major cities on the board. The highly accessible gameplay 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

 

 


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Cooperative Board Games:

Detective: A Modern Crime Board GameDetective: A Modern Crime Board Game (review)
For fans of procedural crime shows like Law and Order or CSI, Portal Games brings us Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game. In Detective, players work together to solve a series of crimes. What makes Detective unique is the integrated website where players can log evidence, read interrogation transcripts, and look up information on potential suspects.

1-5 Players • Ages 16+ • 120-180 minutes • $36Get Your Copy

 

 

The tale of OrdThe Tale of Ord (review)
Thinky, clever, and well made, The Tale of Ord is the king of narrative puzzle games for code-breakers and clue unravelers looking for a real challenge. Tightly woven story and quality components create an immersive setting. Different types of puzzles will challenge everyone in your group. Hours of gameplay that never feels stretched out. You’ll need your thinking cap on for this one.

1-4 Players • Ages 16+ • 12+ Hours • $165Get Your Copy

 

 

Spirit IslandSpirit Island
Winner of our BGQ Award for Best Cooperative Board Game last year, Spirit Island is a complex, cooperative game that will challenge players to work together to repel invaders to the island. Each player controls a unique spirit that is not only highly thematic, but grows in power over time. Spirit Island boasts a ton of replay value, and that’s not even including the available Branch and Claw expansion. Spirit Island is one of the deepest and best coop games to come out in a while.

1-4 Players • Ages 13+ • 90-120 minutes • $55Get Your Copy

 

2017 Recommendations2016 Recommendations
Unlock!Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
DeadlineStar Trek: Panic
Pandemic: Reign of CthulhuTIME Stories

 


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Party Games:

DecryptoDecrypto
If you ever wanted to be a spy, you might enjoy Decrypto. In this party game, players break off into two teams and try to send coded messages to their teammates. As the clue giver, you have to carefully give messages to your partners and hope that they can figure out what you mean. However your opponents are listening carefully, and if they break your code, they get the points.

3-8 Players • Ages 12+ • 15-45 minutes • $20Get Your Copy

 

 

Word SlamWord Slam
In Word Slam, two teams compete against one another simultaneously trying to get their teammates to guess a secret word. However they can only use the 105 cards that come in the box. No speaking, or gestures allowed. You can use as many cards as you want, but the first team to guess the word, earns the point.

3-10 Players • Ages 12+ • 45 minutes • $25Get Your Copy

 

 

Ice Cool 2Ice Cool 2
Ice Cool made our gift guide a few years ago, and this stand alone expansion brings it back into the limelight. Ice Cool 2 (playable both with and without the original game) brings the same penguin flicking fun to your tabletop with revised rules and a new play mode. This new race mode is probably my favorite way to play the game now, as players split into teams and race to collect their fish.

2-4 Players • Ages 6+ • 30 minutes • $30Get Your Copy

 

 

2017 Recommendations2016 Recommendations
Rhino Hero: Super BattleIce Cool
New York SliceJunk Art
Happy SalmonCaptain Sonar

 


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2 Player Games

War ChestWar Chest
Publisher AEG debuted War Chest at Gen Con this year and we’ve enjoyed each game we’ve played so far. In this abstract strategy game, each player controls four different units as they try and control locations on the board. Every unit is unique, and drafting units at the start of the game helps up the replay value, allowing each game of War Chest to feel just a little bit different. The rules are very easy to learn and the gameplay is incredibly engaging.

2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 30 minutes • $35Get Your Copy

 

HolmesHolmes: Sherlock and Mycroft
This set collection game will have two players facing off to collect the most clues over the course of the game. Each round in Holmes: Sherlock and Mycroft will have a new person from the lore of Arthur Conan Doyle’s world arrive to give players another option on their turn. This great mechanic helps ease new players in as they start with limited options that expand out each day.

2 Players • Ages 10+ • 20 minutes • $25Get Your Copy

 

KeyForgeKeyForge: Call of the Archons
Fantasy Flights Game’s new “every game unique” concept is attempting to take the dueling game genre by storm. Every deck in KeyForge is 100% unique, with no deck building or adjustments allowed. You buy a random deck, and face off against an opponent to be the first to forge 3 keys. It’s a great concept that seeks to make the dueling games (Magic: The Gathering) way more accessible by not requiring players to “keep up with the meta” or buy expensive rare cards.

2 Players • Ages 14+ • 15-45 minutes • $40Get Your Copy

 

 

2017 Recommendations2016 Recommendations
OnitamaAgility
Star Wars: DestinyStar Wars: Rebellion
Codenames: Duet7 Wonders: Duel

 


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Eurogames

CoimbraCoimbra
When it was released a couple years ago, Lorenzo il Magnifico was an exciting, if somewhat traditional, Euro-game with a combination of dice rolling and tableau building. A spiritual sequel can be found in Coimbra, which amps up the production value as well as the dice mechanism. Distinguished from Lorenzo, Coimbra is more of a dice-drafting machine with movement on tracks as the reward. If you enjoy your Eurogames like you enjoy your granola (crunchy and dry), Coimbra is a great choice.

2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-90 minutes • $50Get Your Copy

 

 

EndeavorEndeavor: Age of Sail
The retail version of Endeavor: Age of Sail is now in stores, a deluxified and refined version of Endeavor from 2009. This magnificent game not only brings back a classic, it does it in style with all the right improvements. The basic gameplay is simple but engaging while the overall strategy can change from game to game due to the incredibly variable setup. This medium Eurogame also features a healthy dose of direct interaction.

2-5 Players • Ages 13+ • 60-90 minutes • $75Get Your Copy

 

 

LowlandsLowlands (review)
At first glance, readers may see a similarity between Lowlands and Agricola. The twist here is an almost semi-cooperative element to avoid the ill effects of weather. If the communal dikes in the game are not prepared, then multiple players could be affected. The deep strategy in building your farm is sure to appeal to gamers familiar with some of the hot worker placement games. However, the added interaction here creates something new to cause a different type of interaction in the game. Earning Board Game Quest’s highest rating, Lowlands is simply superb.

2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 60-120 minutes • $55Get Your Copy

 

 

2017 Recommendations2016 Recommendations
Great Western TrailQuadropolis
Cottage GardenPotion Explosion
Lorenzo il MagnificoIsle of Skye

 


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Card Games

VillainousVillainous (review)
A Disney-themed card game, Villainous will put players in control of an iconic Disney villain trying to achieve their nefarious goal. As an asymmetrical card game, each player is going to approach the game just a little bit differently as each villain has not only their own decks and realm, but goals as well. Prince John, Ursula, and Jarfar are just a few of the characters players get to be evil with in Villainous.

2-6 Players • Ages 10+ • 60 minutes • $35Get Your Copy

 

 

House of DangerChoose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger (review)
As a kid, I spent countless hours reading the Choose Your Own Adventure novels. Being able to set the pace of the story and make decisions was a clever idea at the time. Publisher Z-Man Games has brought this concept to our tabletops with House of Danger. In this solo/cooperative game, players will advance through different chapters of the story, making choices, collecting items, and trying to unravel the mystery of the House of Danger.  

1-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 60 minutes • $25Get Your Copy

 

 

Legendary X-FilesLegendary Encounters: X-Files
I’ve long been a fan of the Legendary game system, with my first game being there Marvel Deck Building game. The Encounters version of the game brings a more thematic experience to the Legendary system and after playing Alien Encounters, I was hooked. Legendary Encounters: X-Files is the newest offering in the game line, allowing players to jump into the shoes of their favorite agent to investigate the X-Files.

1-5 Players • Ages 14+ • 60 minutes • $40Get Your Copy

 

2017 Recommendations2016 Recommendations
Coal Baron: The Great Card GamePaperback
Pocket MadnessMystic Vale
Ex LibrisLotus

 


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Thematic Games

Arkham HorrorArkham Horror: 3rd Edition
The classic game of horror and investigation has returned with a new 3rd edition. The town of Arkham Massachusetts is once again in peril and it’s up to the players to work together to uncover the mysterious happenings around the town. Arkham Horror: 3rd Edition lets fans of the Cthulhu Mythos fight familiar monsters, cultists, and deal with the usual madness and terrors. This one isn’t to be missed for fans of all things Cthulhu

1-6 Players • Ages 14+ • 120-180 minutes • $60Get Your Copy

 

 

Seal Team FlixSeal Team Flix (review)
A combination dexterity and tactical movement game, Seal Team Flix, not only has the greatest pun name ever, but will drop players into the shoes of a team of a Navy Seals. Your mission will be to try and stop a group of doomsday terrorists. Seal Team Flix does a great job of simulating the enemy actions in this cooperative game, and the flicking element really meshes well with the tactical nature of the combat.

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

 

 

VengeanceVengeance (review)
This is a dice and fighting game set in a neo-noir world for 1-4 players whose heroes are seeking bloody revenge on bosses and their gangs who violently wronged them. This highly thematic game mirrors a revenge film. The game progresses through 1-3 acts which consist of montages and combat rounds. Most gamers would really enjoy Vengeance because it’s highly thematic but also because lots of fun.

1-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-120 minutes • $70Get Your Copy

 

 

2017 Recommendations2016 Recommendations
Wasteland Express Delivery Service Star Trek: Ascendancy
First MartiansXcom: The Board Game
AdrenalineMansions of Madness

 


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Family Games

The Quest for El DoradoThe Quest for El Dorado (review)
The Quest for El Dorado meshes up a racing game with some deck building elements. Each player is trying to be the first to get their explorer to the fabled city of El Dorado. Starting off with a simple deck of 8 cards, players can use them to move across the different terrain types, or instead of using cards for movement, they can be spent to buy upgrades from the market. This grants players more powerful actions in the future. The Quest for El Dorado is easy enough for even non-gamers to play, but interesting enough to keep any gamer glued to the table.

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

 

 

GizmosGizmos
Gizmos is an engine building game where players are trying to build the most efficient…well engine. Each round, players will be plucking marbles from a chute and using them to craft upgrade cards, which makes all their future actions more efficient. The goal, of course, is to acquire the most victory points by the end of the game. This accessible game is a must own for fans of the engine building genre.

2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 45 minutes • $30Get Your Copy

 

 

The ClimbersThe Climbers (review)
Part of Capstone Games “Simply Complex” line, The Climbers is both easy to learn and a ton of fun to play. The goal is simple, try and get your climber to be the highest in the tower. However up to three other players are also competing against you for the same accolade. Each turn, you’ll move blocks in the tower, and hopefully climb a bit higher. While The Climbers can be a bit mean at times, that doesn’t stop it from being a great family game.

2-5 Players • Ages 8+ • 45 minutes • $35Get Your Copy

 

 

2017 Recommendations2016 Recommendations
Slide BlastAdventure Land
KingdominoLanterns
PhotosynthesisKaruba

 


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Stocking Stuffers

PiepmatzPiepmatz
Who would have thought that a game about feeding birds at a birdfeeder would be so enjoyable. This surprise hit for us from Gen Con has players collecting sets of birds to earn victory points. Piepmatz can be a really thinky game, as the card you play each round can have ripple effects, not only earning you victory points, but potentially forcing you to take bad cards as well. The size of the box may be small, but the gameplay has a lot of depth.

2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 30 minutes • $15Get Your Copy

 

 

Fox in the ForestFox in the Forest
This two player only game is a great twist on the trick taking genre. Every round, players are trying to win tricks, however you don’t want to win too many of them. If you get too greedy, you’ll actually end up losing points instead of gaining them. And to make things even more interesting, half of the cards in Fox in the Forest have a special ability, which helps stop the gameplay from getting to samey. Fox in the Forest is probably one of the best trick taking games out there.

2 Players • Ages 10+ • 30 minutes • $12Get Your Copy

 

 

Harvest DiceHarvest Dice (review)
Winner of our BGQ award last year for Best Family Game, Harvest Dice is a roll and write game that will have players growing crops and trying to earn victory points. Harvest Dice combines dice rolling, drafting, and set collection into a neat little packages that’s fun to play at your gaming table or even on the go. It’s low price and accessible game play make it a great gift option for just about anyone out there.

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ • 15-30 minutes • $14Get Your Copy

 

 

2017 Recommendations2016 Recommendations
HerbaceousThree Wishes
Tides of MadnessBottom of the Ninth
Avalanche at Yeti MountainThe Game

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