Holiday Gift Guide #3: Board and Tabletop Games

Gift Guide Tabletop Games

It matters little if the games are made of cards, paper, cardboard, or just imagination. What matters are times spent together as a group and memories formed of those times. We seem to have a difficult time getting together to play games, but when we do we always have fun. Here are a few of the games we’ve all enjoyed playing. Some take tens of minutes, and some take many hours. Whatever your time schedule, there’s sure to be a game below that you can enjoy with your family and friends.

Die Fighter
Space Cadets: Dice Duel: Die Fighter

Raucous fun, split-second decision-making, spaceships, and lots of dice: that’s what you get when you play Space Cadets: Dice Duel. The new Die Fighter expansion lets you add two more players, or cut it down to a two-player dogfight, plus it adds new technology cards that let your team specialize your abilities. Read my full review here, and get the base game and the expansion from Amazon. (JL)

Pathfinder ACG Skull & Shackles
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles

My top game from last year got a sequel this year, with pirates! The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is a mix of role-playing themes and card play. The new version has ramped up the difficulty level, and although it’s taking us more attempts to complete each scenario, we’re still having a blast. It offers cooperative play for 4 players, or get the Character Add-on Deck to go up to 6 players. Buy it on Amazon. (JL)

Machi Koro
Machi Koro

A quick-playing game that took me by surprise at Gen Con this year, Machi Koro lets you build a little town, playing the odds to generate income (or take it from other players). It’s easy to learn and has a good mix of luck and strategy. The Machi Koro Harbor Expansion should be available soon, too, so keep an eye out for that. Read my full review here, or buy it from Amazon. (JL)

King of New York

This stand-alone sequel to King of Tokyo improves on the dice rolling, player elimination game. This time, the monsters have invaded the city that never sleeps and, unlike Tokyo, there’s room for everyone in the Big Apple. Monsters invade the boroughs and again set out to gain victory points. This time, you can also gain points for destroying buildings and gaining celebrity. The big prize is Manhattan and it’s a battle to get there, but the first to 20 VP will be King of New York.

Buy it at Amazon. (DB)

Five Tribes

In the land of 1001 nights, you and your competitors fight to gain influence over the five tribes and grab control of the sultanate. Five Tribes is a short list candidate for many players’ game of the year because it is an entirely different game every single time you play it. There are many ways to win the game and the game is constantly evolving. It’s easy to learn, but tough to master. For an in-depth description, read a full review.

Buy it at Amazon. (DB)

King’s Forge

In a contest to become the next blacksmith for the king, players compete to gather resources and forge items to impress the king. The game is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and perfect for families, plays pretty quickly and (best of all) involves lots of dice rolling. Like any good game, there are many ways to accomplish your goals. So even if someone has stolen your move, there’s usually another way to accomplish it … at a greater cost. I bought this at Gen Con and ended up playing it a lot. I especially enjoyed my add-on purchase of the “Unnecessary but Totally Cool Game Board.”

Buy it at Game Salute or jump in on the last day of their next Kickstarter. (DB)

Council of Verona

Backstab your foes and try to get ahead in this fantastic card game set in Romeo and Juliet‘s Verona, Italy. Will the lovers be united? Will the families betray each other? It is within your power to affect the outcome. Buy it from Amazon. (JW)


Brought to us by the amazing and talented John Kovalic, this game challenges you to encode phrases with the shortest number of characters possible, and then decode those phrases made by others. It’s trickier than it sounds! Buy it from Amazon. (JW)

top trumps docTop Trumps

Much to the chagrin of my friends in the UK, my family can’t get enough Top Trumps. These perfectly pocketable packs of playing cards remain our go-to travel toy, and, with themes ranging from Star Wars to childhood staples like dinosaurs, there’s always more fun to be had. The simplistic gameplay – deal out the deck and take turns challenging players based on your highest card stat – helps reinforce reading and math skills, and if you’re not careful you might just learn something. Our current favorite is the TARDIS collector’s tin that celebrates Doctor Who‘s greatest heroes, villains and adventures!

[Review materials provided by: Top Trumps USA] (Z.)

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3 thoughts on “Holiday Gift Guide #3: Board and Tabletop Games

  1. Karma (I think it’s by the company that makes SET) is a great little game that we play as a family a lot. I’ll be giving this game to my sister’s kids for the holidays. It’s a great mischievous strategy game that even keeps my teens laughing (and putting their phones down for once). I think I got mine at Barnes and Noble.

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