Table Top

2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Tabletop Games Edition

Holiday Gaming Gift Guide

Tabletop Gaming Gift Guide

Are you a gamer that would like to introduce gaming to the kids in your life? With the market now flooded with board games, are you not sure where to start? As the holidays rapidly approach us, we have compiled a list of introductory games in this handy holiday gift guide. It is organized by age and skill level, giving ideas on the hottest new games that are most appropriate for the kids (big or small) on your shopping list.

 

Young Children (Preschool Age)

Silly Street

This holiday season brings a game that combines cognitive skills with character-building for the 4-7-year-old crowd. Silly Street is a board game that is the perfect fit for those who are looking for a game that gives children the opportunity to not only build cognitive skills but to also foster character and creativity in kids.

Brought to you by Wannaplé, Silly Street has the mission to “build confidence, reduce obesity & ADHD, develop creativity & empathy, and teach social boundary awareness, problem-solving skills, resilience, and build grit.”

Silly StreetPlaying Silly Street can help kiddos with all kinds of things like social skills, communication, creativity, resilience, and confidence. Awesome!

Silly Street includes many types of play: dramatic, communication, creative, interpretive, competitive, teamwork. It helps to build character traits like confidence, grit, adaptability, communication, and creativity.

Silly Street is a multiple award winner, including the Mom’s Choice Award (Gold in the toys, games & puzzles category), Tillywig Toy Award (Best family fun award winner) and Dr. Toy (Dr. Toy’s 100 best children’s products award).

Game Statistics:

  • 2 or more players
  • 15-20 minutes
  • Age Range: 4-7
  • MSRP: $17.99

 

Cat & Co. Meow Meow

Cat & Co Meow Meow, by HABA, is a cheerful classic card game for 2-4 children, ages 4 and up. Playing time is 10-15 minutes. In Cat & Co Meow Meow, you play as four little kittens competing in an amusing race for the best spot in the basket.

Cat & Co. Meow Meow
Cat & Co. Meow Meow

Each player will be dealt a hand of 5 cards. These cards will be colored and have an animal picture on them. The object is to be the first to play all of your cards into the discard pile by matching the color of the card or the animal portrait on the card. The first player to get all their kittens in the basket wins. But be careful, drawing the wrong card may cause you to lose a turn, draw extra cards, or discard cards.

Includes instructions for playing with younger children and several variations on how to play for keeping the game fresh and new.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • 10-15 minutes
  • 3+
  • MSRP: $7.99

 

My First Carcassonne

From Marco Teubner comes this adaptation for children of Carcassonne by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede. In My First Carcassonne, children can discover the great city of Carcassonne with this clever tile-placement game for 2 to 4 players, aged 4 and up.

My First Carcassonne
My First Carcassonne

My First Carcassonne maintains the same core game design that makes the original Carcassonne a classic while eliminating the need to count high scores. Simply place the tiles and as many of your pawns as you can. Tiles are placed next to any other tile that is already placed on the table. The new tile that is placed must connect to at least one side of the tiles that are on the table. The tile cannot only touch the corner of a placed tile.

The kids of Carcassonne are illustrated on the tiles. There are kids in each of the four pawn colors. Whenever a road is closed by placing a tile, players place their pawns on each kid matching their color that is illustrated on that road.  A closed road means that both of its ends are closed off by a house, a pond, etc. A road that loops onto itself is also considered closed.

The game ends when a player is able to place their last pawn on the tiles. That player is the winner! In some rare cases, the tiles will have all been placed before a player is able to place all of their pawns on the tiles. In such cases, the game ends when the last tile is placed, and whoever has placed the most pawns is the winner. In case of a tie, there are many winners.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • 20 minutes
  • 4+
  • MSRP: $34.95

 

1, 2, 3 – Hex Herbei!

In 1, 2, 3 – Hex Herbei!, young sorcerer’s apprentices have to set forth alone through the dark enchanted forest for their big test. Fortunately, clues about the right path appear in the magic ball — but the sorcerer’s apprentices have to be quick and look very closely because the player who can conjure up the clues will move ahead one step closer to their destination. The player who first finds the path to the sorcerer’s secret room is the quickest to pass the sorcerer’s exam.

1,2,3-Hex Herbei
1,2,3-Hex Herbei

1, 2, 3 – Hex Herbei! is a captivating game from the get-go for 2-4 players. It is a competitive game where everyone plays at the same time. Each player is a young magician with a crystal ball. To advance their figure to the next stage of the path, they must spot one of the items on that path in the crystal ball by grabbing their crystal ball and searching to find one of the four items before anyone else can do the same. When a player finds an item, they advance on the board, then all players change seats. During each round, the young magicians are looking for something new as each crystal ball contains only one of the four items shown on each section of the path.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • 10 minutes
  • 4+
  • MSRP: $34.99

 

Acrobat

Acrobat is an exciting game of skill and dexterity by Janod. Acrobat is a lot like Jenga meets Twister and can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Acrobat
Acrobat

Players take turns rolling the dice and strategically placing their acrobats on the spotty board to build the tallest tower–but be careful not to let it collapse!

Game Statistics:

  • 2-8 players
  • 15 minutes
  • Ages 5-10
  • MSRP: $17.99


 

Early Elementary School Children

Ticket to Ride: First Journey/Ticket to Ride: First Journey (Europe)

Ticket to Ride: First Journey takes the gameplay of the Ticket to Ride series and scales it down for a younger audience. Players collect train cards, claim routes on the map, and try to connect the cities shown on their tickets. The first player to complete six tickets wins! Alternatively, if someone has placed all twenty of their trains on the game board, then whoever has completed the most tickets wins. Ticket to Ride: First Journey (Europe), features the same gameplay as the first Ticket to Ride: First Journey game, but with the players claiming track in Europe instead of in the United States.

Ticket to Ride First Journey
Ticket to Ride First Journey

The game board shows a map of the United States or Europe with certain cities being connected by colored paths. Each player starts with four colored train cards in hand and two tickets. Each ticket shows two cities that players will try to connect with a contiguous path of your trains in order to complete the ticket. On a turn, players either draw two train cards from the deck or discard train cards to claim a route between two cities. When claiming a route, the discarded cards must match the color and number of spaces on that route (e.g., two yellow cards for a yellow route that’s two spaces long). The ticket is then revealed, placed faced up for scoring, and a new ticket is drawn. If a player can’t connect cities on either of their tickets because the paths are blocked, they can take an entire turn to discard those tickets and draw two new ones. In the Europe variant, if one of the westernmost cities (Dublin, Brest, Madrid) is connected to one of the easternmost cities (Moscow, Rostov, Ankara), that player may claim a special cross-continent ticket for extra points.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • 15-30 minutes
  • Age Range: 6+
  • MSRP: $34.99

 

Catan Junior

Catan Junior is for families with children ages 6-9. Simplified building rules, child-oriented trading, and a more innocuous robber equivalent called the “Ghost Captain” provide access to the world of Catan games.

Catan Junior
Catan Junior

Catan Junior takes families to a place quite different from Catan as we know it. There are no “settlers” around here. Instead, the players slip into the role of pirates who build their hideouts – called pirates’ lairs – all over the islands and set sail to find new places and build more pirates’ lairs there.

Although Catan Junior contains some simplified rules so that 6-year-olds can participate without any difficulty, it is still unmistakably a Catan game. Catan Junior is not just a game for kids but a genuine family game, to be enjoyed by adults and young children alike.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • 30-40 minutes
  • Age Range: 6+
  • MSRP: $30.00

 

Blitz Champs

Created by two-time women’s tackle football gold medalist and national champion, Adrienne Smith, Blitz Champz is a fun and competitive card game that teaches and tests football knowledge, strategy, and those oh-so-important math skills.

The goal of Blitz Champz is to be the first player to score 21 or more points. Players can score points by using Offensive Cards, Defensive Cards, or Continuation Cards, all of which correspond to moves and plays in football.

Blitz Champz
Blitz Champz

Every player starts with five cards, dealt face down. When it is each player’s turn, they draw a card from the Draw Pile. Then they must discard a card by performing one of the following three actions: Playing an Offensive Card, Using a Defensive Card, or Placing a Continuation Card in the Discard Pile. If the Continuation Card is any of the following: First Down, Pass Completion, 5-yard Run or Blitz – the player must complete the required action listed on the card. Once a player has taken one of the above three actions, play continues with the next player drawing a card from the Draw Pile and taking one of the three actions.

Gameplay continues until a player achieves 21 or more points. Once a player reaches 21 or more points, the next player has one turn to bring that player back down to 20 points or less. If this is not achieved, the player with 21 or more points wins the game.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-6 players
  • 15 minutes
  • 7+
  • MSRP: $19.99

 

Pictopia: Harry Potter Edition

Pictopia: Harry Potter Edition is the ultimate Harry Potter picture-trivia family game by Ravensburger. Showcase your knowledge of J.K Rowling’s Wizarding World when you encounter 1,000 picture trivia questions featuring the beloved characters, extraordinary places, magical creatures, and enchanted objects from the epic Harry Potter movies.

Pictopia - Harry Potter Edition
Pictopia – Harry Potter Edition

Pictopia: Harry Potter Edition is a game of teamwork — with a competitive twist! Sometimes you work together and other times answer alone, but you wager your points every time. How much you wager depends on how well you know the pictures on the card — before you hear the question! Along the way are guess-my-answer questions that reveal how much you know about the other players.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-6 players
  • 25-45 minutes
  • Age Range: 7+
  • MSRP: $25.99

 

Upper Elementary/Middle School Age

Century Spice Road

Century: Spice Road is the first in a series of games that explores the history of each century with spice-trading as the theme for the first installment. In Century: Spice Road, players are caravan leaders who travel the famed Silk Road to deliver spices to the far reaches of the continent for fame and glory. Each turn, players perform one of four actions:

Century: Spice Road
Century: Spice Road
  • Establish a trade route (by taking a market card)
  • Make a trade or harvest spices (by playing a card from hand)
  • Fulfill a demand (by meeting a victory point card’s requirements and claiming it)
  • Rest (by taking back into your hand all of the cards you’ve played)

The last round is triggered once a player has claimed their fifth victory point card; then whoever has the most victory points wins.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-5 players
  • 30-45 minutes
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $39.99

 

Zooloretto Duell

In Zooloretto Duell, two players compete to have the best zoo. Players draft cards, adding a card to one of the piles or taking a pile. They score points for having the majority of animals in a species when a specific number of this species is in the zoos. The game includes six different species. Some of the animal cards have symbols triggering special actions when a player takes a second card of this species with the same symbol:

  • Heart: The player takes a baby animal of that species, if available.
  • Card: The player looks through the discard pile and takes a card of their choice.
  • Lightning bolt: The player must take a -1 point marker.
Zooloretto Duell
Zooloretto Duell

If a player collects a symbol a third time, the special action is not carried out; instead, the player discards the card and takes a -1 point marker.

Some cards have food stalls, which give you money if you have the same symbol (pretzels, soft drinks, or ice cream) twice. This money can be used to steal an animal from the opponent or get rid of all -1 point markers. The first player to have all different types of stalls scores bonus points.

The end of the game is triggered after the sixth in-game scoring or when the “last round” card is revealed. After the endgame scoring, the player with the most points wins.

Game Statistics:

  • 2 players
  • 20 minutes
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $19.99

 

Meeple Circus

Let the show begin!

Meeple Circus
Meeple Circus

You have only one goal in Meeple Circus: entertain the audience. The competition is tough, but you can create the most amazing circus by proposing incredible acts! Acrobats, horses, and many accessories are at your disposal. Be sure to undertake a good rehearsal, then with your remarkable dexterity, you can give them the show of their lifetime. Once the circus music starts, all eyes will be upon you!

In short, Meeple Circus is a dexterity game in which you do what all gamers do when setting up a game: Pile up your meeples!

Game Statistics:

  • 2-5 players
  • 45 minutes
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $39.95

 

Fluxx

Doctor Who Fluxx
Doctor Who Fluxx

Fluxx, by Looney Labs, is the famous card game with ever-changing rules. It starts out with the simplest of rules: draw one card and play one card. But each turn introduces new rules and new goals to achieve to win the game, quickly make things chaotic(ly fun)!

The beauty of Fluxx is that there are multiple iterations of the game. While the core gameplay is the same, there are versions with different themes and varying difficulty, so you can find the right one for your gaming crew. From Firefly Fluxx to Zombie Fluxx, Batman Fluxx to the latest Fluxx release, Doctor Who Fluxx, there is sure to be a theme of interest. For Fluxx games with educational themes, check out Math Fluxx and Chemistry Fluxx. I find that Fluxx is the best gateway game in my collection. It’s easy to teach, easy to learn, and easy to interest a variety of players.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-6 players
  • 5-30 minutes
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: varies ($16.00-$20.00)

 

Zendo

Zendo
Zendo

Zendo is a new game by Looney Labs (creators of Fluxx) in which the inductive logic of one player, the Master, creates a rule that the rest of the players, as Students, must figure out. Players take turns arranging game pieces and building structures to test the rule and figuring out if they follow the secret rule (a good model of the scientific method). The first player to officially guess the secret rule wins.

Zendo is a re-release 2003 Looney Lab classic. After years of refinement and playtesting, they are releasing this new vision of the game. Zendo is also a 2005 Mensa Select Winner. The Mensa Select seal indicates that a game is original, challenging and well-designed.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-6 players
  • 15-60 minutes
  • Age Range: 12+
  • MSRP: $40.00

 

Codenames: Disney Family Edition /Codenames: Marvel

Codenames: Disney Family Edition
Codenames: Disney Family Edition

In USAopoly‘s popular series of social word games, Codenames, two teams compete to see who can guess all of their words correctly first — but those words are hiding in plain sight. The game board consists of a 5×5 grid that includes the words of the other team, neutral words, and an assassin that will cause you to lose the game immediately if you guess it. One person on each team is a Spymaster and only these two know which words belong to each team. Spymasters take turns giving one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team — and everyone wants to avoid the assassin.

Codenames: Disney Family Edition combines the hit social word game with some of Disney’s most beloved properties from the past 90 years. The two Cluemasters give one-word clues to help their teammates identify the Disney characters, locations, and items from the game grid. Including both pictures and words, it’s family fun for Disney fans of all ages.

Codenames: Marvel Edition
Codenames: Marvel Edition

Codenames: Marvel Edition encompasses the Marvel Universe including Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers and Doctor Strange. Opposing teams, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra, compete to be the first to identify all of their team’s ‘field agents’ from the game board. A must-have for Marvel fans of all ages.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-8 players
  • 15 minutes
  • Age Range: Disney 8+, Marvel 9+
  • MSRP: $24.95

 

The Quest for El Dorado

The Quest for El Dorado is a deck-building/racing board game. Each player starts with the same combination of cards which comprise their deck. During their turn, they use these cards to move their player piece along the expedition to the finish line, purchasing new and better cards along the way which improve their deck and better progress them on their journey.

The Quest for El Dorado
The Quest for El Dorado

The Quest for El Dorado is a fun and exciting racing game that will appeal to a wide audience. With a recommendation of ages 10 and up, it is an excellent game for younger audiences or a gateway game for those just getting into board gaming. Its wide appeal to any age or gamer level should earn it a spot in any game library for that reason alone.

The biggest positive about this game has to be the replayability value. The game comes with multiple board tiles that are two-sided, so the number of configurations of the game board are numerous. Designers were also mindful of two-player games, adjusting the rules so that each player has 2 playing pieces of the same color that are racing to the finish. This allows for a new layer of strategy in the race to the finish line. There is also a “cave variant” that allows you to explore caves, which are represented by cave tokens stacked on top of the cave spaces.

Be sure to check out our in-depth review of The Quest for El Dorado, which also includes a gameplay video.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • 30-60 minutes
  • Age Range: 10+
  • MSRP: $34.99

 

Pictopia: Marvel Cinematic Universe Edition

In Pictopia: Marvel Cinematic Universe Edition, from Ravensburger, Marvel fans assemble to test their knowledge in this action-packed picture-trivia card game.

Pictopia: Marvel Cinematic Universe Edition
Pictopia: Marvel Cinematic Universe Edition

There are 200 questions from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with trivia about Earth’s mightiest heroes, the greatest Guardians of the galaxy, and all realms in between. Players earn tokens for each correct answer, and tokens build up over time for even bigger payout. The first player to collect enough tokens in their Personal Scoring Pile is the winner.

This is a really fun game, especially for the die-hard fans of the Marvel films. With four questions per card, there is good replayability value with this game. 

For an extended look at Pictopia: Marvel Cinematic Universe Edition, check out our Marvel Cinematic Universe: Board Game Edition article.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-6 players
  • Age Range: 10+
  • MSRP: $44.99

 

Charterstone

Charterstone, by Stonemaier Games, is a competitive legacy game scaled for 1-6 players. What is a legacy game? You may see that $70 price tag and wonder what is so special about a legacy game. Legacy games are board games that change over time based on the outcome of each game played and the choices players make. They will make physical changes to the board game by marking the cards, placing stickers over the board, destroying components, opening sealed packages included in the game, and so on.

Charterstone
Charterstone

In Charterstone, players construct buildings and inhabit a shared village. Building stickers are removed from cards and permanently added to your charter on the board, becoming action spaces for any player to use. Thus, a few available buildings soon grow into a bustling village with dozens of actions.

Because Charterstone is a legacy game, the journey through its many secrets will last 12 games, but it doesn’t end there. The completed village will be a one-of-a-kind, variable worker-placement game. Or an optional recharge pack can be purchased to reset the board and play a second campaign.

Game Statistics:

  • 1-6 players
  • 60 minutes
  • Age Range: 10+
  • MSRP: $70.00

 

Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a green strategy board game by Blue Orange Games. Players plant and shape the ever-changing forest by planting trees and harnessing energy from the sun.

Trees grow through their life-cycle, from seedling to full bloom to rebirth, collecting points as their leaves collect energy from the revolving sun’s rays. Players must carefully pick where they plant and sow new trees, as trees in planted the shadows of larger trees are blocked from light, and from points.

Photosynthesis Game
Photosynthesis Game

Photosynthesis is one of the most sought-after and highly-regarded games of the year, which is no surprise due to its realistic gameplay and beautiful graphics.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • 30-90 minutes
  • Age Range: 10+
  • MSRP: $39.99

 

Pre-Teen to Teenage

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

Last year, USAopoly released Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, a cooperative deck-building game branded with the popular Wizarding World franchise. They did a good job making it a challenging and immersive gameplay experience. Seven successive game adventures offer increasing difficulty as players battle villains and unlock new abilities, secrets, and challenges.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

The most notable part of the gameplay is the gradual increase in difficulty in levels, taking players through years 1-7 and teaching them the mechanics of deck-building along the way. For this reason, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is my favorite way to introduce a newbie to deck-building, and I can also lure Harry Potter fans to game night with this game. USAopoly recently released The Monster Box of Monsters expansion, which brings us our newest hero, Luna Lovegood, and four all-new adventures, including venturing into the Forbidden Forest.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • 30-60 minutes
  • Age Range: 11+
  • MSRP: $49.95 (base game)/$29.95 (expansion)

 

Clank! In! Space!

Clank! In! Space! is the latest stand-alone installment of the Clank! A Deck Building Adventure series of deck-building games by Renegade Game Studios.

What sets the Clank! games apart from other deck-building games is the inclusion of a game board that players traverse along collecting artifacts. In the original Clank!, this is a two-sided board. But in Clank! In! Space!, it is a modular board with double sides that can be reassembled in numerous configurations, which contributes to high replayability. There is also a bag of “clank” that builds up and attracts the enemy from which you are taking the artifacts from, provoking an attack. The goal is to escape with the treasure, and your life, and earning more points than your opponent along the way.

Clank! In! Space!
Clank! In! Space!

The components are cool, the modular game board is amazing, but my favorite part of the games is the card art. There are several characters that you encounter along the way that can be added to your team (a.k.a. your deck). These characters are fun nods to popular characters from famous science fiction TV shows and movies. It was fun to figure out which of our favorites they were giving a nod to as we were playing the game.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • 60 minutes
  • Age Range: 13+
  • MSRP: $60.00

 

A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch

A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch, is a new stand-alone strategic game of resource-gathering and trading based on the classic Settlers of Catan. A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch is set in the bountiful world of Westeros. The battle to defend the Realms of Man is grounded in the engrossing world of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and adapted for Catan by Klaus and Benjamin Teuber for Fantasy Flight Games.

A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch
A Game of Thrones Catan: Brotherhood of the Watch

The objective is the same as in the original Catan; the first player to achieve ten victory points wins the game and becomes the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. But this is not as easy as it sounds. The area surrounding the Gift can be treacherous, and Wildings from the north are preparing to breach the Wall to enforce their own rules of honor, which often conflict with the laws of Westeros. Each player may recruit up to seven brothers from the prisons of Westeros to don their specific color and man their section of the Wall. When the Wildings attack, each player must use their guards to fend off the onslaught.

However, if the Wildlings breach the wall three times throughout the game, an alternate victory takes place. The game will end immediately, as the Brotherhood of the Night’s Watch can no longer delay their decision. The player commanding the most guards holding their posts on the Wall gains the title of Lord Commander and wins the game.

Game Statistics:

  • 3-4 players
  • 60 minutes
  • Age Range: 14+
  • MSRP: $79.95

Social Media logo PatreonFollow Word of the Nerd on

Social Media logo FacebookSocial Media logo TwitterSocial Media logo TumblrSocial Media logo InstagramSocial Media logo YouTubeSocial Media logo PinterestSocial Media logo Google Plus

Social Media logo Twitch

Bringing out YOUR inner nerd!

About the author

Shanon Connelly

(a.k.a. “Super Muffin Girl”) is an avid board gamer, cosplayer, and all around nerd girl. She has been cosplaying for 10 years, attending several conventions every year. She recently started a YouTube gaming channel, “Time to Play!”, which previews and reviews board games. Follow Shanon on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@supermuffingirl).

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Jinx 300x250

Tweets From The Nerds!

Hulkbuster Build-A-Figure Review This is my first attempt at doing a product review. I used one of pinterest.com/pin/1657888300…