Do you need inspiration for what to get your board game obsessed loved one? Or, are you using Christmas as an excuse to introduce a friend to the wonderful world of tabletop gaming?
Whatever your budget, and whoever you’re shopping for this Christmas we’ve got goodies that are bound to bring joy and spread Christmas cheer. For gifts under $20, we have some stocking stuffer suggestions you can find here.
Great gifts don’t need to break the bank. Our options for less than $30 are great for kids and those who are new to tabletop gaming. Here are some affordable choices to help them start building their gaming collection!
This simple game packs a punch. Stored snugly in a small, circular tin lie 55 round cards. Each card has eight symbols and no matter which two cards you pull from the deck, one symbol will always match.
For the basic Spot it! game, reveal one card, then another. Whoever spots the symbol in common on both cards claims the first card, then another card is revealed for players to search, and so on. Whoever has collected the most cards when the 55-card deck runs out wins. Aside from the base game, there are 4 other ways to play all revolving around spotting the matching symbol first. You can even come up with your own variations!
Spot it! pocketable size makes it great gift for those who want something they can carry on-the-go. Whilst its simple premise suggests it’s tailored for kids, we think it makes a fantastic party game for adults too!
Another small but mighty game, Sushi Go! is a step-up from Spot It! requiring a little more strategy. Perfect for a fast game on road trips, the game’s mechanics and rules are simple so that anyone can learn quickly. In Sushi Go!, you are eating at a sushi restaurant and trying to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by.
Sushi Go! is a card-drafting game where the main game mechanic is selecting a card from a hand and passing it on to the next player. Players score points for collecting the most sushi rolls or completing set tasks.
This is a classic game with a low barrier to entry that is perfect for new gamers or anyone who is just starting to build their collection.
Spinning, button bashing, chickens. What more is there to say? A reprint of the popular kid’s game from the 1990s, a battery-powered motor placed in the center of the table rotates a boom with a little plastic plane. Four radial arms lead out to the players’ barns and the chickens they’re trying to protect. Each barn has a little lever, which is used to knock the rotating plane away from your chickens and hopefully into someone else’s. When only one player has chickens remaining, he or she wins the game. Very silly, a little chaotic, and very addictive.
There are virtually no rules to learn making it the perfect game for kids. Although it could also be a great gift for adults with the game recently making a comeback as a popular drinking game for millennials in Europe.
Another pocketable game that offers hours of gameplay. In Love Letter, the noble Princess is looking for an ideal partner and confidant to help with her royal duties when she one day assumes the throne. You must prove your worth and gain her trust by enlisting allies, friends, and family of the Princess to carry a letter of intent to her. Can you earn the Princess’ trust and become her confidant?
The whole game is played by just drawing and discarding cards. Playing one card at a time, players use their character’s special abilities to deceive and outwit their opponents and become the last standing player to successfully deliver their letter to the princess.
Love Letter is the type of game that is easy to explain, but best taught with a practice round. This is a great pick for the loved one who is down for a little bit of competitiveness and complexity in gameplay. There will definitely be rounds that get the adrenaline running!
Here are our gifts for the more dedicated tabletop gamer. If they’re missing any of these from their collection, be sure to slip them underneath the tree this December.
Can a game that requires no talking still be fun? Yes!
Introducing, The Mind. A card game whose small box fits in your hand, you’ll work with players to play cards into the discard pile in ascending order, but you cannot communicate with one another in any way as to which cards you hold. You simply stare into one another’s eyes, and when you feel the time is right, you play your lowest card. If no one holds a card lower than what you played, great, the game continues! If someone did, all players discard face up all cards lower than what you played, and you lose one life.
The Mind makes for a hilarious game sessions as players try to share their thoughts with eye twitches, side glances, and strictly no words! It’s perfect for all ages and its compact size make it great for kids to bring to school, or a companion at parties.
In this beautiful tile-laying game, players are either the Land or Sea (or the Cartographer in a 3 player game) taking turns to place 2 double-sided hex tiles containing a mix of land and sea shapes. The rules can be learnt quickly and by the end of the game, you’ll have a gorgeous map sprawled across your table.
The strategy of the game involves careful tile placement to score from as many land or sea areas as possible, while minimising your rivals’ opportunities to score from the tiles you play. Whilst simple on the surface, there’s a level of depth with bonus points, stealing, and the unseen side of the tiles.
This game is perfect for couples but can be bumped up to 3 or 4 players. If you know someone who loves tile-laying games like Carcassonne, be sure to grab this one for them!
If you know any kids who are budding tabletop enthusiasts, this is the perfect gift for them! Zombie Kidz Evolution is the first “legacy”-style game for kids. What that means is the game is designed to change permanently over the course of gameplay. This type of board game is meant to be played over multiple sessions, usually with the same players, with rule changes that stick throughout the entire course of the campaign.
In the game, the young players are at school when zombies start to attack, infiltrating the entryways, then barring the way to classrooms. Players move through rooms and entryways to eliminate zombies and keep the zombie reserve full. The rules are very simple and easy for kids to learn and play.
The legacy-style of the game makes it the perfect gift for families with younger kids. Zombie Kidz Evolution is the perfect for regular family board game nights until they finish the campaign!
Zombie Teenz Evolution is the sequel to Zombie Kidz Evolution. It has slightly different rules and adds a bit more strategic thinking to its gameplay. It is a standalone game with a different set of rules, so you don’t need to have played the first game to jump into the second. This is another cooperative legacy-style game making it best played with the same group over multiple gaming sessions.
Aimed at kids who are a little older, players will have to work together to find and prepare four ingredients to make the antidote that will change the zombies back to their human form.
Both Zombie Kidz and Zombie Teenz are great introductory legacy-style games. We’d recommend Zombie Teenz as a gift for families with young kids who are ready for a little extra challenge in their gaming session.
For the really special ones… (Above $100)
You’ve hit the premium tier on our list! These are for the loved ones who deserve a little extra splurging. Here are our games for the dedicated collector and pro board game player.
Wingspan is one of those games that just keep selling out. It is a medium weight game that takes around 40-70 minutes to play. In it, you are bird enthusiasts, researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves.
Wingspan is classified as an engine-building board game. This type of game usually has players starting with very simple abilities that they build on to create unique powers to compete with other players. With over 170 birds illustrated by Natalia Rojas and Ana Maria Martinez, the game is not just a joy to play but incredible to look at.
If they’ve already got the base game, you can’t go wrong with adding a little Aussie-spirit and grabbing them the Wingspan: Oceania Expansion. Or you can opt to grab them the European Expansion. Each expansion includes new birds from those regions who bring different abilities to the original game.
A game with the cutest critters around! Aside from being gorgeous, Everdell’s complexity lets it accommodate for casual gamers and those who live and breathe board games. Players are transported to the charming valley of Everdell, beneath the boughs of towering trees, among meandering streams and mossy hollows, home to a civilization of forest critters. The time has come for new territories to be settled and new cities established, and you will be the leader of a group of critters intent on just such a task. There are buildings to construct, lively characters to meet, events to host all led by you!
Everdell is a game of dynamic tableau building and worker placement. Tableau building games allocate players and “area” where they build-on or add resources to. Many tableau games don’t involve much interaction between players so we wouldn’t recommend it for somebody who mainly enjoys party games, but it’s a great option for a mid-weight gamer with just enough complexity and strategy to keep them hooked!
A legacy-style game that is not for the faint of heart, Gloomhaven is the gift to get avid role-playing fans. This is a game with a persistent and changing world that is ideally played over many game sessions. It’s best for the special someone who has a dedicated gaming crew committed enough to gather for regular sessions and see their journey through to the end. Each mission takes around 1-2 hours so we’re not kidding when we say committed!
Players will take on the role of a wandering adventurer with their own special set of skills and their own reasons for travelling to this dark corner of the world. Players must work together out of necessity to clear out menacing dungeons and forgotten ruins. In the process they will enhance their abilities with experience and loot, discover new locations to explore and plunder, and expand an ever-branching story fueled by the decisions they make.
Again, this game may be too heavy for a casual gamer, but for anyone who love roleplay and dungeon crawls, Gloomhaven is one of the best!