Three Excellent Strategy Games to Get for the Gamer on Your Holiday Shopping List

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BGD Three Games

Here are our picks for three of the best games on sale this week that you should definitely check out.

Forbidden Stars

2-4 players ♠ 180 minutes ♠ Ages 14 & up

$70 on BoardGamePrices.com (30% discount)

Deep in the spacebound Heraklon Cluster, in a future where there is only war…

These Stars are totally off limits, man.
These Stars are totally off limits, man.

Set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Forbidden Stars is a game of warfare, arms races, and territory control. Players take on the pauldrons of the elite forces of the Space Marines, the constantly warring Ork clans, the twisted forces of Chaos, or the mystical and maneuverable Eldar.

Why is it always war? Can't we just have picnics insteaaaughh my arm!
Why is it always war? Can’t we just have picnics insteaaaughh my arm!

Unlike most territory control games, the main focus is not the destruction of your enemies, but taking objectives; however, once these objectives are taken, you no longer need to control the planet it was in, making lightning raids and deep strikes on enemy sectors more important than long, drawn out wars of attrition.

This also solves the common problem of games like Risk, where for one side to win, another must lose. Games of Forbidden Stars always leave you with options, and its unique order mechanic allows you to block your opponents from resolving their actions if you’re clever with your timing.

And look at these miniatures!
And look at these miniatures!

The factions of Forbidden Stars all have different units, attributes, unique decks of combat and upgrade cards, and thus feel completely different to play. The Eldar focus on space combat, bringing their large fleet cruisers to bear with orbital bombardments – the Orkz are unpredictable and crush with overwhelming force – while the Space Marines are indomitable in spirit and heavily armored. The Chaos forces are true to their name – often suicidally aggressive, but possessing powerful tricks to sow, yes, chaos in the ranks of their opponents.

If you’re a fan of the Warhammer 40,000 universe or are looking for a game of epic war to consume your weekend afternoons, Forbidden Stars is an excellent pick – and one to grab sooner rather than later (especially at this price), as the game will soon be permanently and forever out of print due to licensing issues. The faction asymmetry, innovative upgrade systems (where you replace sets of cards in a very slim deck) and involved combat system all come together to make a game that feels engaging at all player counts. Highly recommended.

Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King

2-5 players ♠ 60 minutes ♠ Ages 8 & Up

$28 on BoardGamePrices.com (24% discount)

Welcome to northern Scotland. It’s rolling hills and verdant greens, and the sky is like nothing else. Mountains and roads and animals and landscapes as far as the eye can see: Welcome to the Isle of Skye.

It's lovely up here, especially if you like sheep.
It’s lovely up here, especially if you like sheep.

Isle of Skye is a board game about carving out your own little niche on the island, by bidding on and placing tiles. The tiles you place, and how you place them, will score you points based on a scoring system that’s completely different every game, leading to a dynamic and fulfilling system that’s highly replayable, perfect for quick sessions in the evenings.

Image credit: Peter Dringautzki
Image credit: Peter Dringautzki

The game is not all tranquil idyll – the core mechanic is bidding, and a unique form of it. Each round every player places three tiles in front of them and secretly sets the price of each one – are mountains going to be scored this round? Increase the price of mountains so that your opponents have to pay exorbitant prices to score points.

But beware. If no one takes your offer, YOU have to pay that price to the bank – leaving the decision of just how much to charge for key tiles an interesting decision point no matter how often you play.

Image credit: Milena Guberinic

With a little bit of that Carcassonne feeling of laying out a real place, the edge of an auction mechanic, and a blisteringly short game that will leave you wondering where the rounds have gone, Isle of Skye is satisfying and difficult and beautiful in equal measure. Take advantage of the sale (one of the deepest ever) and bring this award-winning critic’s darling to your table.

Star Wars: Rebellion

2-4 players ♠ 240 minutes ♠ Ages 14 & up

$59 on BoardGamePrices.com (33% discount)

The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

I’ve used that quote before but it’s too good not to. This is Star Wars: Rebellion, and it’s the cheapest it’s ever been.

star-wars-rebellion-1
May the Force be with us.

An epic galaxy-wide conflict that spans all three movies of the original Star Wars saga, Rebellion is the story of not one but two Death Stars, all the epic space battles of the franchise (and some land ones too) and the stories of individual characters.

Send Luke on his Jedi training… or send Leia instead, because Luke has been turned to the dark side and only she can reach him. Or make Chewbacca a Jedi. It’s your choice.

Rule the galaxy as father and son.
Rule the galaxy as father and son.

In Rebellion, players go head to head (or, optionally, in teams of two) as the small, nimble Rebellion and the mighty, overpowering Empire. The former has a hidden base which the latter must find, using armadas of Star Destroyers and all the military might they can muster. The Rebellion must evade the Empire’s attempts to crush them under their bootheel, attacking at their exposed flanks and inciting other planets to rise up against the Empire – until of course the Empire blows those planets up with a Death Star.

It's a trap!
It’s a trap!

Rebel fleets can’t go toe to toe with Imperial ones, and land battles can be frenzied fights to hold on, but the narrative that unfolds over the enormous board cannot be matched. This box IS Star Wars, and it’s retelling the saga with you at the helm, planning desperate assaults against enemy positions, risking it all on one thrust of fate.

Evade their turbolasers!
Evade their turbolasers!

This is Rebellion. Are you ready to fight?

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