2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Games Part 1 of 2

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We here at GeekDad certainly love games of all types from tabletop to PC to console. 2017 was a great year for gaming and we’ve collected so many awesome games this year that we have to split this guide into two parts. Below I present the first 12 games that we really enjoyed this year. Tomorrow we’ll follow up with the rest.


Star Wars: Rebellion
The Death Star 2. How can you not love a game that includes this? Image by Rob Huddleston

Star Wars: Rebellion
Suggested By: Rob Huddleston
Mfg: Fantasy Flight Games
Price: 99.99
Purchase: Star Wars: Rebellion

Star Wars: Rebellion is perhaps the most fun of any of the Star Wars games produced by Fantasy Flight Games. And that’s coming from a self-professed fan of X-Wing Miniatures and Imperial Assault. It’s much more accessible than those others–there aren’t hoards of minis to buy and nothing at all to paint. What you get instead is a much more traditional board game (although still full of lots of minis, because it is still a Fantasy Flight Game) that allows you to relive the Galactic Civil War in a couple of hours. This fall’s Rise of the Empire added locations, characters and events from Rogue One to the game.


Vegas Dice Game
Press your luck in the ‘Vegas Dice Game’

Vegas Dice Game
Suggested By: Rob Huddleston
Mfg: Ravensburger
Price: 18.88
Purchase: Vegas Dice Game

A fun, fast, press-your-luck dice game that comes in a very cool dice-shaped box. This was one of the rare games I get to review that my kids immediately started playing non-stop, with or without me. It takes minutes to set up, minutes to learn, and minutes to play, which is part of the appeal, since in a single session you can play the game a dozen or more times.


Magic: The Gathering Gift Pack
The Magic: The Gathering 2017 Gift Pack

Magic: The Gathering Gift Pack
Suggested By: Rob Huddleston
Mfg: Wizards of the Coast
Price: 15.97
Purchase: Magic: The Gathering Gift Pack

For every fan of Magic: The Gathering on your list, the 2017 Gift Pack is an easy call. The Gift Pack includes five premium land cards, which play just like normal lands but have different artwork, three booster packs, two new, premium creatures, and a poster. The boosters are from the recent additions to the MtG world: Amonkhet, Hour of Devastation, and Ixalan. And the two creatures, which are clearly displayed at the front of the pack and thus aren’t random or a surprise, are one that generates extra token creatures to help your attacks and a 10/10 artifact creature.


Charterstone
Charterstone from Stonemaier Games – legacy gaming for the whole family!

Charterstone
Suggested By: Dave Banks
Mfg: Stonemaier Games
Price: 69.99
Purchase: Charterstone

It’s legacy gaming for the whole family! In Greengully, the Forever King has tasked you with growing colonies within the vast lands of his borders. The game takes place over a dozen hour-long sessions and is an absolute delight with surprises and all sort of additions to gameplay as the story moves on. There’s so much to do, but only one way to win in Charterstone. Read the full review.


Ex Libris
Ex Libris from Renegade Game Studios!

Ex Libris
Suggested By: Dave Banks
Mfg: Renegade Game Studios
Price: $60 (currently $40)
Purchase: Ex Libris

In a wonderful fantasy town that celebrates books above all else, you compete with your opponents for the title of Grand Librarian! The mayor will judge you on a variety of criteria in this worker placement game with some twists. It’s a challenge as your imagination runs wild in Ex Libris! Read the full review.


Hive Mind
Hive Mind from Calliope Games

Hive Mind
Suggested By: Dave Banks
Mfg: Calliope Games
Price: $30 (currently $24)
Purchase: Hive Mind

This “being different and unique” is for the birds. Thinking like everyone else and fitting in is where it’s at … in Hive Mind, at least. In this family-friendly party game, that’s a lot like Family Feud, the players who can come up with the most common answers to questions will be the winners. It’s a “Game of Beeing Alike”! Read the full review


Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire Expansion
Image: ArenaNet

Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire Expansion
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Mfg: ArenaNet
Price: $29.99-$54.99
Purchase: Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire Expansion

Whether you get the Standard version or one of the versions with in-game bonuses, the latest expansion of Guild Wars 2, Path of Fire, expands gameplay in several pivotal ways. First, you’re fighting Balthazar, the God of War. Second, mounts. Yes, you finally get mounts to ride around on, making travel even quicker. Each kind of mount has special abilities that are helpful (and, in some cases, required) for navigating around. Third, there is even more map to uncover with five new areas; this is great news for completionists. Fourth, there are also all-new elite specializations. Get it (or gift it!) in time to participate in the annual Wintersday event, coming up soon! (Note: You don’t need the Heart of Thorns expansion to play this new one. You do, however, need the base game.)


Anomia X
Photo: Jenny Bristol

Anomia X
Suggested By: Jenny Bristol
Mfg: Anomia Press
Price: $24.90
Purchase: Anomia X

With four all-new decks filled with categories more adult than in the original game (though not as NSFW as Cards Against Humanity), Anomia X‘s quick-thinking gameplay now removes its filters. You’re free to make more inappropriate references, use bathroom humor, and add in a bit of innuendo. This new version of Anomia is designed for 3-6 players, ages 17 and up. Don’t play this one with your little kids, folks. Unless you’re prepared to answer a lot of questions. To play, players flip over cards in turn, and, when two patterns match, those two players must call out something that fits the category of their opponent’s card. It’s fast-paced fun that will keep you on your toes and laughing your head off. Read my GeekDad review of another game in the series, Anomia Party Edition!


Super Mario Odyssey
“I’m every Goomba. / It’s all in me.”

Super Mario Odyssey
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: Nintendo
Price: $59.99
Purchase: Super Mario Odyssey

Before I begin, I owe you an apology, Inklings. I was so sure that your latest adventure, Splatoon 2, would be my game of the year that I called it early. And I misspoke. Super Mario Odyssey is not only the best Switch title of 2017, it’s the best video game of 2017—quite possibly the best Mario title of that character’s sizable console history! Taking full advantage of the Switch ecosystem, it plays as well on the road as it does on your television, meaning this globetrotting adventure is an ideal take-along for your real-life travels. Punch, platform, puzzle-solve, and, yes, possess enemies as Mario scours the world (and beyond) in his seemingly quest to attempt and reunite with an abducted Princess Peach. This time around it’s an adventure that’s bigger, badder, and, let me reiterate, better than any other Mario in recent memory. If you have a Switch, you owe it to yourself and your family to cop Super Mario Odyssey immediately! [Review materials provided by: Nintendo of America]


Arcade Gaming Case for Nintendo Switch
Game in style!

Arcade Gaming Case for Nintendo Switch
Suggested By: Z.
Mfg: WaterField
Price: $109
Purchase: Arcade Gaming Case for Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch cases are a dime a dozen, but most do very little to protect your sizable investment in this unique portable console. San Francisco’s WaterField Designs remedies this with their line of gorgeous, handcrafted leather bags and cases, and their latest product may be the best yet. Situated between the minimalist Cityslicker and the messenger bag-style Multiplayer Pro, their Arcade Gaming Case is ideal for everything from holiday travel to your daily commute. Composed of full-grain leather, ballistic nylon, and waxed canvas and lavishly lined for extra protection, it’s the perfect companion for your shiny new Switch. Like all WaterField products, it’s designed for versatility and to hold everything you need, but my personal preference is to stock it with my Switch and favorite pair of Joy-Cons, my matching WaterField game cartridge holder, and Nyko’s innovative new portable dock. If you’re looking for a system case that delivers on style and quality (with the added bonus of making you look like an urban sophisticate as opposed to a grown man or woman traveling with a toy lashed around your shoulder), look no further than the WaterField Arcade case. [Review materials provided by: WaterField]


Codenames: Disney Family Edition
Codenames: Disney Family Edition from USAopoly

Codenames: Disney Family Edition
Suggested By: Jonathan H. Liu
Mfg: Czech Games Edition/USAopoly
Price: $24.95
Purchase: Codenames: Disney Family Edition

One of our favorite games (winning our 2015 Game of the Year) is now even more kid-friendly, featuring characters and scenes from Disney movies both old and new. The cards are double-sided, with pictures on one side and words on the other. The key cards come in both the traditional 5×5 grid and a simpler 4×4 grid, making it easier for younger players to join in.


Forts
Two forts going at it. Image from Forts demo video.

Forts
Suggested By: Ryan Hiller
Mfg: EarthWork Games
Price: $14.99
Purchase: Forts

FORTS is a great little a physics-based RTS where up to eight players construct forts, and add weapons to take out their adversaries’ forts all in real time. While you’re trying to build your stable fort it’s getting pounded by your enemies! My family come back to this game often. Coming up with new fort concepts to counter certain weapons, and then weapon techniques to counter those fort designs. With a level editor, and built to support mods, there’s always something new in Forts!. This fast-paced and interesting game is only $14.99 on Steam.

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