Shopping for geeks at the holidays is hard, luckily we’re here to help! Alot of people think board games live and die with Monopoly and Clue, and that’s a real shame. There’s a whole plethora of fantastic games out there just waiting to be played, wonderfully crafted and ones that appeal to any age group and interest. Below is a list of our favorite games from 2012.
Whether the geek on your list is a Sci-Fi fan or a Fantasy nut, likes role playing or just rolling dice, there’s something on this list that they’d love to see under the tree!
Star Wars: X-Wing The Miniatures Game
Board games can sometimes be a hard sell. Abstract cubes represent soldiers, cards are resources, etc. No such problem with Star Wars: X-Wing The Miniatures game. For the Star Wars fan on your list this one couldn’t be any clearer. Player vie for victory though space power using little painted models of the ships from Star Wars.
Guiding their X-Wings,Tie fighters, and more they seek to our maneuver and outflank their opponents to get the opening they need to take a shot and take them out. Using simple pieces to move and determine shooting distances, the game is all about dogfighting in outer space which could make it the perfect fit for that Sci-Fi fan that might not like games with hundreds of pieces.
The core set includes everything you need to get 2 players up and running, and expansion sets with more ships and rules can be added to up the stakes. Just watch your giftee move their awesomely detailed ships around the kitchen table, making the sounds from the movie while they do. Pew-pew-pew indeed!
Not many boar dgames do a great job of bringing our imaginations to the forefront, and making us rely on them to find our way to victory. Dixit: Journey not only does that but turns the game into a huge social storytelling circle in the process.
The game consists of oversized cards with weird, strange, ethereal artwork on them. Each round one person plays storyteller, picks one of their cards and gives the other players a clue about it. A story, a sentence or maybe just a word. All the other players then choose a card of their own to match the storyteller’s tale. Cards are shuffled, flipped, then players try and guess which card is the storyteller’s. But the clue can’t be to clearcut since no points are awarded if all or none of the players pick the original card.
The game is best when played by a group of spirited imaginative people, but it’s a wonderful game for family gatherings and with kids too. Something to get their minds racing. We reviewed an earlier edition of the game here.
Lord of the Rings: Nazgul
So, a little over a decade ago you probably saw all manner of commercials for this movie called “The Lord of the Rings.” It was arguably one of the best movie adaptations from a novel, and a phenomenon in nerd fantasy culture. If you have someone in your life that was obsessed with it, or is excited about the impending release of “The Hobbit” you should snag The Lord of the Rings: Nazgul for them this Christmas.
The twist here is you get to play the game as the evil Nazgul, minions of the Dark Lord Sauron. For a change the players get to be the bad guys trying to stop the “heroes.” This is a facet of a lot of games based on movies that are not explored enough.
Nazgul mixes the story of Tolkien created middle earth in a semi cooperative game creatively, making it a fun game to play since everyone wins or loses together. But, if the players win, one of them get to win more (trust me, its a thing.)
Have someone on your list that is into playing the kinds of card games that requires them (or their parents) to buy pack after pack of cards, hoping to get one or two new ones they need? Building a good deck is an artform, though can get expensive.
There’s a genre of game that’s sprung up in response to this. Called deck-building, where “buying” cards is all in-game. You use cards in your hand to “buy” cards on the table and add them to your deck, meaning everything you’ll ever need is in the box! They’re well known for being replayable, since the deck you build to try and win will be different all the time.
We’ve had medieval, horror, and sci-fi based games like this but in Legendary the Marvel comic characters get their turn. Spider-Man, Hulk and more are represented by cards and you “recruit” into your army (deck). Got a gamer on your list that just loves their comics? This one is a two-fer.
Lords of Waterdeep: A Dungeon & Dragons Game
Lords of Waterdeep is very loosely based on the decades old Dungeons and Dragons game. Don’t worry, previous knowledge is unnecessary to have a blast playing this game. That said, the theme is still a solid enough to please even the most veteran D&D player.Three to five players will be deep in the throes of completing quests while also trying to stop their opponents from from doing the same quickly in their first game.
Wizards of the Coast did a great job with this game. Everything from the straightforward rules, to replayability (get your money’s worth by never growing bored of this one) and even the box is the best we’ve seen for a game with so many high quality components to keep track of.
Lords of Waterdeep won or was nominated for a half dozen awards. It shows. Trust us, the geeks on your list will love this one. It’s been a staple during our game nights all year long. Full review here.
Cards Against Humanity
If you listen to our podcast, we frequently talk about this game. It’s a site-wide favorite to bust out at parties and every time we introduce it to someone, they immediately turn around and buy it. But, what is it? Let me explain.
A group of people sit around with a hand full of “white cards” that can be played as answers to a “black card” that one person has drawn. The black card may pose a question or have blank spaces that need filling in. For example, an actual black card in the game is “During sex, I like to think about __________.” It is up to the other people playing to anonymously submit answers that the person holding the black card will then pick as their favorite.
If you haven’t already guessed, the game is not for people who are easily offended or have delicate sensibilities. The dirtier your submission, the better. If you’ve got a group of friends or family that likes to get a bit raunchy and rowdy, Cards Against Humanity will be a huge hit.
Ever wonder what it would be like if you took a bunch of Internet memes, made them into a competitive card game, and set it loose upon the world? Well, you’re too late, because AEG already made the game, and it’s called Smash Up.
Pit Pirate Ninjas against Zombie Robots, or Wizard Tricksters against Dinosaur Aliens – or any combination you can think of! (It turns out Zombie Dinosaurs can be really fun, and that Robot Wizards is basically the worst combination you can get.) And with expansions coming soon, you can add in even more fun to the game!
Playable with two to four players, this fast-paced card game can easily take up an entire afternoon, as you fight for control of the different bases for points. Your decks are broken up into Minions and Actions, and you take on the enemies headfirst. This is the perfect gift for your board gamer who wants something portable, fast, and fun. Full review here.
One of the things that draws people into a lot of online computer games is the feeling of persistence. The feeling of having a hand in shaping the world. It’s a feeling sorely lacking in boardgaming, since once you’re done playing it gets all folded back up into the box and next time gets set up the same way. Wouldn’t it be neat if that were different?
Risk Legacy is the same combat and conquest game that Risk has always been, but it changes over each game you play. It’s played as a campaign of 14 games, with each one having a meaningful impact on subsequent plays. If you win one of the games you sign the board then get a reward, like naming a country that will give only you bonuses later on. The game includes sealed boxes and packs that get opened when certain events take place, with new cards, stickers for the board, or other elements to change it. When they say games matter, they mean it. Tearing a card cause the game tells you to feels like sacrilege to a gamer, but it’s strangely liberating.
It’s Risk, but not like your gamer knows it. And it’s a gift that entertains and changes while it’s being played!
Resistance: Second Edition
A repeat from last year’s list! New edition, same awesome game. Enjoy games where you get to look into your friends/families eyes and lie your tail off? That’s the goal of The Resistance, where everyone is working together to complete missions, except the spies who secretly want the team to fail. But who are they? Figuring that out is the point of the game.
To start each player is dealt a card that tells them they’re either a resistance fighter or a spy, which is kept secret for the entire game. Every round a different “commander” nominates people to go on a mission and the whole group gets to vote on the selected players. Those players then decide whether to play “success” or “fail” cards face down. Cards are collected, shuffled and turned over. Success or failure depend on the cards handed in, but determining who played what is tough. Be sure to bring your best poker face to hide the truth from the other players and let the accusations fly!
The game is similar to Werewolf or Mafia, in that not everyone is what they seem and looks can be deceiving. The game is helped greatly by animated groups of players that don’t mind casting wild accusations at each other or able to cross their heart and hope to die that they are not a spy (while crossing their fingers behind their backs). Gets better the more beers are consumed.
We really hope you find something on this list that would be the perfect fit. But if not, we’re happy to try and help find something else your target might like. If you find something on our list that you end up buying, PLEASE come back and tell us how it goes! Unless it goes badly, them maybe keep it to yourself
Like we said at the top, shopping for geeks can be hard… but hopefully something in our gift guide is a good fit. Please leave us a comment or send us an email and we’ll help you out! We’ll do our best to try and find you the perfect gift!
Know something we missed or use our list to pick out a gift? Let us know in the comments!