Table Top

2018 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 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.

Family/All Ages Games

Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game

Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game
Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game

In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game, by USAopoly, you and your fellow dwarfs do what you do best — mine for gemstones. It’s off to work you go, as you press your luck as you collect valuable gems from the mine and earn bonus points by discovering gem combinations from Snow White objectives.

Collect as many gems as you can to trade in for Snow White pie points. Beware of your friends as well as the dangers that lurk in the mine that could force you to return home empty-handed. Have the most pie points after five days in the mine, and you win!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game is based on the popular Quartz gameplay by Passport Studios. This is a great little game for many ages and skill levels, and it can play up to 7 players! The components are very well made. The gemstones are chunky and colorful, which make it even more enticing to reach in the bag and pull them out. If you have a Disney fan on your shopping list, this game is a sure hit.

Game Statistics:

  • 3-7 players
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $34.95

Most Wanted

Most Wanted, by North Star Games, is a very simple western-themed game designed to rustle-up notorious friends and family around the table. All you need is a hankering to take risks, the guts to double-cross, and the desire to bluff a man out of his saddle.

Most Wanted
Most Wanted

Most Wanted blends the strategic risk-taking of a wild-west poker game with the simple thrill of being a notorious outlaw. Playing the highest card – or bluffing with the worst – could mean the difference between a successful train robbery or spending time in the slammer.  Players can repent at church to make a new start, or even work some honest labor (gasp!) for bail money. Be the first player to reach 13 points and claim the dubious honor of being MOST WANTED!

Most Wanted is a great game for the holidays, because it is great for large groups. It keeps everyone involved at all times (even when it’s not their turn). It only takes about 15 minutes to play with 2 players, and about 30 minutes with 8 players.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-8 players
  • Age Range: 10+
  • MSRP: $34.99

Drop It

Drop It, by Kosmos Games, is a visual puzzle game by veteran designers Bernhard Lach and Uwe Rapp. This colorful, inventive family games frequently mentioned as one of several people’s “must have games”.

Drop It
Drop It

I must admit, at first glance, I thought Drop It was a simple party game. It is easy to learn but deceptively mind-boggling! One at a time, each player drops a shape into the vertical game board’s drop zone. Players earn points for the highest level that their shape reaches when it lands and extra points for touching bonus circles. But be careful: Don’t break a landing rule! The shape you dropped is not allowed to touch matching shapes or colors after it lands. If you break a landing rule, you will go away empty-handed. The winner is the player or team with the most points at the end.

Drop It is a game that is surprisingly simple in concept and design, but definitely more challenging than it seems. It takes time to really deconstruct your next move, thinking ahead to what shapes and colors you and that your opponent still have left. While the landing rules are simple, they aren’t so easy. It is a game that is appealing to a wide audience, as it is easy enough that anyone can play. It takes a minute to teach, and the game can begin. There are also variants to Drop It that will adjust the difficulty of the game, and add a little diversity to the gameplay.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 Players
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $29.95

The Tea Dragon Society

The Tea Dragon Society
The Tea Dragon Society

Discover the ancient art form of Tea Dragon care taking within this enchanting world of friendship and fantasy. In The Tea Dragon Society, by Renegade Game Studios, create a bond between yourself and your Tea Dragon that grows as you progress through the seasons creating memories to share forever.

Each player’s deck represents their own Tea Dragon. From turn to turn, players will choose to draw a card, triggering effects and strengthening their position, or buy a card, improving their deck or scoring points.

The game takes place over four seasons, starting in spring and ending in winter. At the end of winter, the player who has the most points is the winner.

The game art is amazing. It is based on the Oni Press graphic novel The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • Age Range: 10+
  • MSRP: $20.00

Pantone: The Game

Pantone: The Game, by Cryptozoic, is a simple-to-play competitive party game. Create representations of characters from pop culture using only color swatches with endless opportunities for creativity and fun! Pantone requires at least two players, but can be enjoyed by as many as you can fit around the table. So it is a great family game for gatherings.

Pantone: The Game
Pantone: The Game

When we are children, there is a feeling of wonder and accomplishment that comes from visual recognition, being able to identify someone or something with just a look. Pantone: The Game recaptures this feeling in a competitive and fun game in which players try to recognize characters from pop culture who are represented only by abstract arrangements of colors. The colors are inspired by Pantone™, the world’s leading color expert.

When you are the Artist, you choose one of your Character Cards and design a representation of that Character using only color swatches. When one of the other players guesses your creation, you both score points! If no player can guess the Character during a round, a Hint is given at the start of the next round. Each Character Card lists four Hints, with each one reducing the number of points awarded to both the Artist and the player who guesses the Character. The winner is the player who has the most points after each player acts as the Artist three times.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-20 players
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $30.00

Light-to-Midweight Strategy Games

Samurai Jack™: Back to the Past

Samurai Jack: Back to the Past
Samurai Jack: Back to the Past game components

Based on the fifth and final season of the animated series, Samurai Jack: Back to the Past picks up the title character’s mission to return to the era before the reign of his adversary, the evil demon Aku. Jack’s friends accompany him along a path, comprised of various locations from the series, to defeat villains and finish with the most honor. Winning requires utilizing allies, traits, and weapons while guarding Jack’s sanity, taking players on an unpredictable ride that mirrors the story-rich episodes revered by critics and loved by fans.

Samurai Jack: Back to the Past is published by Project Raygun and USAopoly. It is designed by Andrew Wolfe, who is known for other popular titles including Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War, and Munchkin Adventure Time. It features custom sculpted figures for Jack, Aku, Ashi, and other characters from the series.

For more details, check out my in-depth game review for Samurai Jack: Back to the Past.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-5 players
  • Age Range: 13+
  • MSRP: $34.95

Thanos Rising – USAopoly

Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War

Do you have a fan of Marvel and the Infinity War movie on your list? Then I have the game for you! This game is incredibly fun, easy to learn, and great for a wide range of ages.

Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War, by USAopoly, is a cooperative dice and card game for 2-4 players. In the game, players will recruit heroes and assemble a team to face off against Thanos and his villainous forces in an effort to thwart him from accomplishing his master plan – collecting all six Infinity Stones to power the Infinity Gauntlet and wreak havoc on the very fabric of reality. The game ends in a defeat if one of three things occurs: Thanos collects all six Infinity Stones, Thanos defeats ten or more Heroes, or Thanos defeats ALL Heroes on one player’s Hero team. However, if the Heroes defeat enough Villains (seven in an easier game, ten in a more difficult game) then they win!

For more details, check out my in-depth game review for Thanos Rising: Avengers Infinity War.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • Age Range: 10+
  • MSRP: $49.95

Legendary: Marvel Studios Phase 1

Legendary: Marvel Studios Phase 1
Legendary: Marvel Studios Phase 1

Here is another great Marvel themed game for the gamer on your list. Legendary: Marvel Studios Phase 1, by Upper Deck, is great for the seasoned gamer that enjoys deck building games, but accessible enough for the casual fan that is just being introduced to the deck building mechanic.

Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the global theatrical phenomenon known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this limited-edition addition to the Legendary family of deck-building card games features star-studded, action-packed, iconic imagery pulled directly from Marvel’s phase one collection of movies. In this game, you are leading fan favorite Marvel Super Heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor to trounce Super Villains! This limited-edition release is 100% compatible with all previous Legendary Marvel releases, theatrical or comics based, for countless combinations of seamless scenarios.

Legendary: Marvel Studios Phase 1 is a semi-cooperative deck-building game for up to 5 players. There is also a solo variant when players want to squeeze in a game on their own. Players choose a team of heroes to fight against a Mastermind and the Villains aligned with them. Players win the game if they successfully attack the Mastermind four times. They lose if the Mastermind is able to complete their Scheme, or if the Villain deck runs out. Imagine each scenario where heroes battle villains in an overall scheme or story arc, and it is much like a story told on the pages of a Marvel comic book!

For more details, check out my in-depth game review for Legendary: Marvel Studios Phase 1.

Game Statistics:

  • 1-5 players
  • Age Range: 14+
  • MSRP: $49.99

Reef

Reef
Reef

Observe the growth of nature’s most beautiful and exotic natural structure: the coral reef. Found primarily in the Indo-Pacific region, it has taken reefs thousands of years to grow. Over that time, they have mesmerized marine life and created amazing aquatic ecosystems. Prepare yourselves to do the same… and open your eyes to the beauty of the oceans.

In the game Reef, players take on the role of the reef itself, alternating turns in which they carefully select the colors and patterns in which to grow and expand—the more beautiful the reef, the more points they score!

Reef is designed by Emerson Matsuuchi, (best known for designing the Century series) and is the first title published by Next Move Games, a spinoff of Plan B Games. Next Move Games focuses on LITE themed abstract games with DEEP strategy.

For more details, check out my in-depth game review for Reef.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $39.99

Star Trek/Star Trek: The Next Generation Fluxx

Star Trek Fluxx
Star Trek Fluxx

Fluxx, by Looney Labs, is a shelf staple when it comes to games. This card game is easy to learn and play, and there is a multitude of different versions to choose from. One of the latest releases is for the Star Trek franchise. But what makes these releases different, is that you can now mix together two different sets and play them together with the Star Trek Fluxx Bridge Expansion.

In Star Trek Fluxx, set a course for the final frontier with Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the original series crew. Take command of the Enterprise, and face Creepers like Klingons, Romulans, and the terrifying Doomsday Machine.  You might even find yourself playing Fizzbin or Venting the Warp Core to explore new worlds and collect the Keepers needed for victory! Star Trek Fluxx will take you where no card game has gone before!

Game Statistics:

  • 2-6 players
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $20.00

Star Trek: The Next Generation Fluxx is The Next Generation Trek Edition of the Ever-Changing Card Game! Beam yourself aboard the Enterprise-D for a game! Join Picard, Riker, Data, and the rest of the TNG crew, to gather the Keepers you need for victory – but don’t let Creepers like Q or the Borg keep you from your mission! With new cards like Darmok and the Rule of Acquisition, this version of Fluxx will take you into the 24th Century!

Game Statistics:

  • 2-6 players
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $20.00

Star Trek Fluxx Bridge Expansion

The Bridge Keeper lets you take control of either Enterprise, and a host of new Goals let Kirk meet Picard, Spock meet Data, and the Past meet the Future!

Game Statistics:

  • 2-6 players
  • Age Range: 8+
  • MSRP: $5.00

Spell Smashers

Spell Smashers is the new “monster-battling, loot-collecting word game” by Renegade Game Studios. Play as adventurers setting off on your quest to rid the world of all evil (and become rich and famous in the process). With your vocabulary as your greatest weapon, combine your letter cards to spell words and smash fearsome monsters.

Spell Smashers game
Spell Smashers game

A game of Spell Smashers consists of 7 rounds, with 3 phases each round. First, players prepare their words for battle. Second, each player battles the monsters in initiative order. Third, players collect new quests and visit a building in the town to help prepare them for battles in future rounds.

At the end of the 7th round, players tally their VPs, and the one with the most VPs wins!

For more details, check out my in-depth game review for Spell Smashers.

Game Statistics:

  • 1-5 players
  • Age Range: 12+
  • MSRP: $45.00

Mid-to-Heavyweight Strategy Games

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game – Portal Games

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game, by Portal Games, is a fully co-operative, immersive, detective experience. This is a game of wits and deduction, a full game night experience – a single game session can last up to 3 or more hours. It is also rules-light, meaning, that the most powerful tool at your disposal is your team, your imagination, and your own mind.

Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game

In this challenging, story-driven game for 1-5 players, you will play as group of Antares National Investigation Agency members. You are going to tackle five different cases and solve them in order. Each of them affecting the next. Together they will form a campaign that will put your skills to the test.

If you are looking for a modern detective simulator, this is the game for you. Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game brings classic, card-based, puzzle-solving gameplay into the 21st century with the introduction of online elements. You will gain access to the online Antares database that contains data about suspects, witnesses, and documentation from arrests and trials related to your case. Use every tool at your disposal to solve these crimes – consult the Internet, check the facts and constantly discover new clues. You are not playing a detective; you ARE a detective!

Game Statistics:

  • 1-5 players
  • Age Range: 16+
  • MSRP: $50.00

Terraforming Mars: Colonies

Terraforming Mars: Colonies
Terraforming Mars: Colonies

If you have an avid gamer in your life, they more than likely have played Terraforming Mars. This is a shelf staple that is a favorite for many gamers. Each year, Stronghold Games releases new expansions in the Terraforming Mars line, the latest of which is Terraforming Mars: Colonies.

Colonies lets players visit the outer solar system. It features tiles that build colonies to send trade fleets in pursuit of minerals and resources. These colonies may greatly improve income and possibilities in achieving that higher goal – the terraforming of Mars. Colonies includes new cards and corporations and can be combined with any expansion and variant.

Game Statistics:

  • 1-5 players
  • Age Range: 12+
  • MSRP: $29.95

Everdell

Everdell, by Starling Games, is a streamlined worker placement game that features a detailed world realized through stunning artwork. Utilizing a tableau-building mechanic, players will work to build a city of critters and constructions.

Everdell
Everdell
Your workers are necessary for the expansion and success of your city. You will be deploying them to various locations in Everdell in order to gather resources, draw more cards, host Events, or perhaps to embark on a Journey. Resources are then used to build Critters and Constructions to form your city. But, if you build certain Constructions, the corresponding Critter may be added to your city for free. So, there is a balance in finding the synergy to build our city as quickly and efficiently as possible, all while trying to beat your opponent to complete special events for additional points. But be careful – your city can only hold 15 Critters and Constructions. So you don’t want to run out of space before building the best city and maximizing points.

Everdell is easy to learn, yet offers satisfying strategic depth and endless replayability.

Game Statistics:

  • 1-4 players
  • Age Range: 14+
  • MSRP: $47.99

Paper Tales

Paper Tales
Paper Tales

Experience centuries of fantasy kingdoms in Paper Tales by Stronghold Games. Transform characters and buildings in each period based on your developments and the age of your heroes. Write a new legend of the rightful ruler who brought unity to the rival kingdoms!

Paper Tales is a simultaneous card drafting game. Each turn, players draft units that they recruit into their kingdom. Units determine the players’ ability to shine in battle, generate income, construct buildings, and earn legend points. New units need to be drafted as your units grow older using the game’s unique Unit Aging System!

Build a comprehensive strategy, adapt the shape of your realm according to opportunities, and make history in Paper Tales!

Game Statistics:

  • 2-5 players
  • Age Range: 12+
  • MSRP: $44.95

Root

Root, by Leder Games, is undoubtedly one of the hottest games of 2018. If your gamer doesn’t already have this one, it is a must!

Root: A Game of Woodland Might and Right

Root is a game of woodland might and right. Stalk the woods as one of the Vagabonds, seize the initiative with the Eyrie birds of prey, rule over your subjects as the Marquise de Cat, or command the Woodland Alliance to create a new order. With creatures and cunning, you’ll rule a fantastic forest kingdom in the ultimate asymmetric game of adventure and war.

Root is the next step in our development of asymmetric design. Each player in Root has unique capabilities and a different victory condition. Now, with the aid of gorgeous, multi-use cards, a truly asymmetric design has never been more accessible.

In Root, the players drive the narrative, and the differences among the roles create unparalleled interaction and replayability. And keep an eye out… the Riverfolk expansion is releasing in January. This will add two additional players, bringing the count up to 6. As well as a solo mode for the game.

Game Statistics:

  • 2-4 players
  • Age Range: 10+
  • MSRP: $60.00

 


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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 over 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).

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