Published on November 29th, 2013 | by Across the Board Games Staff2
All I Want For Festivus Is…
The gift-buying season is now officially upon us! Whether you celebrate the holiday season with friends, family or both, we’re here to provide you with some awesome gift ideas for the board gamer in your life. If you know of any good deals online, please feel free to share them below in the comments. Let’s all come together in the spirit of buying games and saving money!
For those of you who might be new to the board game circuit, we’ve also compiled some of the articles we thought might be helpful for you. If you or the one you’re buying for is new to board games, you might want to look at getting one of the Top 5 Board Games For Beginners. Deck builders are also one of the single most popular game types at the moment, so you might also want to check out our recommendations for the Top 5 Deck-Building Games. If your board gamer of choice likes Tolkien, you might also be interested in the Top 5 Lord of the Rings Board Games. Maybe you’re just looking for a stocking stuffer? We have reviewed several board games that are under $20 and have been recommended by our staff. And as always, if you are looking for specific recommendations, feel free to tweet at us @board_crossing, we would be more than happy to give suggestions.
Firefly: The Game -Rich
Call me a slave to the franchise if you like, but with the show canceled, there was clearly a gaping hole in the world that could only be filled by friends telling new stories in this wondrous and exciting universe. The movie was sequel-less, the comics infrequent (albeit very enjoyable), and the RPG was too heavy for casuals. Needless to say, when Firefly: The Game was announced it took all my worldly effort to fight off a stroke.
The game makes you the captain of your own Firefly vessel, putting together a crew, maintaining your ship, putting together a web of connections, and taking what jobs you can to further the unique story to each game. The game feels and plays like a Flying Frog clone, which if you know me is a high compliment. The mechanics and rules are pretty simple, and the quality of the components and execution of the theme is excellent. The game plays 1-4 people, but facilitates teams of 2 to a ship very well and takes about 2 hours to play, but will vary depending on the story chosen.
Many references to the show, coupled with deeper insight into the Firefly universe and fun gameplay shot this item to number one on my X-mas list. I highly recommend it to any fan of Firefly. And at $50 it is in the middle to high price range, but you can get it for about $42 with free shipping by the holidays.
My only complaint is that it doesn’t come with it’s own plastic dinosaur. So if you really want to make your Whedonite at home’s holiday shiny, be sure to get them one of their own. Happy holidays!
Caverna aka “Agricola 2: Electric Boogaloo” -Raj
Sequels are everywhere in entertainment. Movies, video games, even popular books have sequels. In board games that is unheard of, but here we have that rare sequel that everyone has been waiting for. Caverna is Uwe Rosenberg’s new take on his famous game, Agricola. In Agricola, you are building up a farm, raising livestock, growing your family, and then (hopefully) feeding them every so often. It’s one of the highest-ranked games on Board Game Geek. Caverna takes Agricola, replaces the farmers with dwarves, makes feeding a little easier, and uses building tiles instead of cards. Your dwarves can forge weapons and go on expeditions, and you can now have dogs. Dogs! From previews it looks like all the fun of Agricola, but less stressful and a bit cuter. Agricola is Ocarina of Time, Caverna is Wind Waker.
It’s still a complex Euro game, though, where each decision is agonizing in its own way. However, if you want something to help you exercise what brain cells you have left after three glasses of your uncle’s special eggnog this holiday season, head to your friendly local game store and pre-order Caverna right away.
A Socialist Worker Uprising -Luke
I kind of cheated this year for Christmas, I already backed a Kickstarter that I knew would launch around the holiday season. It was an attempt to forestall people asking me what I want for Christmas, though apparently that didn’t work too well. (Wait, whose article idea was this anyways?) The game that I’m most anticipating is Jamey Stegmaier’s newest venture: Euphoria. In this worker placement game you must be careful in issuing your dystopian propaganda because even a small misstep could mean your workers rebel against you. The idea that your worker tokens in a game could be dissatisfied by their tyrannical fascist overlords and rebel is the coolest board game mechanic that I can think of. It’s such a perfect blend of meta-humor and genuine thematic mechanics that I have to support it. If you’re worried about being able to get a hold of it because it was Kickstarted, never fear: Jamey has said that there will be a retail version of the game as well.
As for something that I’d want someone to buy for me now… that would have to be the new Argent: The Consortium board game currently on Kickstarter. The game is a worker placement/ engine building game with high level art production and asymmetric starting points, so I’m already hooked. The artwork is done in a beautiful manga water color style and the rules seem to be just the right complexity for my tastes. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more as the Kickstarter progresses.
There are many games I would be excited to receive as a gift, but the one game that excites me most right now is Ste Curran and Holly Gramazio’s Karaokards, set for a December release. A Kickstarter game from the U.K. (which I came across thanks to Nicole’s “November Kickstarter Update“), Karaokards seeks to upgrade the already fantastic karaoke box experience.
I’m a fairly frequent karaoke-goer and agree with Curran and Gramazio’s assertion that it’s easy to get into a rut as people often sing the few songs they know they can do well every time they go out (not that I would do that of course, he says as he uncomfortably shifts his collar). Karaokards seeks to push you out of your comfort zone by giving you a number of cards, such as “artist that starts with ‘b’,” “song about falling in love,” and “song out of your vocal range,” and in order to score the most points you want to use as many cards in your hand as possible on a single song. This is a much more interesting randomizer than opening the book without looking in hopes of you find something you like on the flipped-to page, and it forces you to not care about choosing only “cool” songs or about how well you can sing a particular selection (as if most of us can sing well anyway!).
Karaokards already has expansions that stick within certain genres and also provide different rule variants (as yet unexplained) which might give the game some interesting additional flavors. The base-set also provides a rule variant that sees the cards used as a simple table game, but that’s hardly as interesting as shaking up the karaoke experience.
A Vacation to Kyoto and Tokyo -Nicole
I wrote a lot a couple weeks ago about my favorite game for the holidays and group parties is Mascarade: a Mafia-inspired card game that fits 12 people and is easily enjoyed by young and old. While everything I mentioned about that game is true the game I want as a Christmas gift is something completely different. These past few months have been crazy busy and between the day job, writing articles, playing games and managing my freelance projects on the side, I haven’t had a real vacation in over a year. I’m hoping that waiting under the tree for me this year is a little mini-packaged vacation to Japan. I am referring of course to the zen master of board games: Tokaido. I first played Tokaido at Geek Girl Con 2013 and amidst all the hustle and bustle I found peace in this game. Based on the actual Tokaido road in Japan, players are “competing” to have the most enjoyable vacation ever, but not in the National Lampoon style of enjoyment. Points and a pleasurable vacation come from collecting souvenirs; meeting other travelers, visiting spas; capturing breath-taking views of the Tokyo/Kyoto landscape and enjoying authentic meals at the inns along the way. I highly recommend picking up Tokaido for $60 and always having that mini-vacation at your fingertips if you ever need a moment of zen.