We couldn’t fit all the games into this week’s gift guide, so here are 11 more that we loved this year and think you and your giftees would love. Below I present part two of our 2017 Games Guide.
Stuffer Shack offers counters and markers to easily identify miniatures during play. The markers remind you of special conditions active on a creature. Photo by Ryan Hiller.
What do you get the Dungeon Master that has everything? Miniature counters and markers of course! These little markers, with tacky putty on the base, easily stick to your miniatures for tracking who’s who in a large scale combat. Stuffer Shack, a site primarily focused on RPG related articles, and publishing professional gaming material, used to offer great bundles with miniatures and counters. They’ve scaled back so the bundles aren’t available, but still offer the enormously handy counters and markers. Get them while they’re still available and make your gamer happy! Get twenty of each of the counters and markers, at 49 cents each, that’s just under $20. Read my review of the product.
There’s tons of content in this RPG-in-a-box.
The ‘Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Beginner Box’ is probably the best introduction to roleplaying games ever produced. The ‘Beginner Box’ does a great job easing new players into the game. There’s even an intro adventure that explains game concepts as they arise in the adventure. The box includes a 64-page Hero’s Handbook, a 96-page Game Master’s Guide, a 16-page Transition Guide to help transition players and characters into the full ‘Pathfinder RPG,’ a set of seven polyhedral dice, more than 80 full-color pawns for use as miniatures representing players and monsters, four beautiful pregenerated character sheets, and a laminated double-sided play mat. In addition to what’s in the box, there’s more official and unofficial content and adventures online. This is such a great everything-you-need-to-game in a box that I have an unopened one in my emergency earthquake kit. Read our numerous posts on ‘Pathfinder’ and Paizo.
Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire’
With Shadespire Games Workshop have moved into the small games market, making the game a perfect entry into the world of miniatures hobby gaming. Shadespire games only take 45 mins, have minimal set up time, and don’t take over an entire room, make it easily accessible.
There are currently two additional warbands as well as the core set available. The game uses cards to drive it, but the game is not a collectible card game. There are no rares and decks cannot have duplicates, so you won’t waste money hunting for that elusive killer card. The game’s small model count make it a perfect entry into the painting side of the hobby too. Shadespire is fast paced with interesting tactics supporting my styles of play, making it an excellent game for GW fans old and new. For my full review, click here.
So big, we can only show you a section of the box.
Massive Darkness ticks off a lot of boxes on a lot of lists. It’s an enormous fantasy tabletop game, with over 50 miniatures to paint (from bloodthirsty dwarves to fierce elf rangers), that has a persistent campaign setting for you to level up and grow your characters as they take on a rising evil. It’s enough to make gamers, painters, and RPG junkies very happy. Even if they already have the core game, you can grab an add on box with new enemies like the Reptisaurians, new heroes and monsters like the Bloodmoon Assassains vs the Helliphant, or all new quests and campaigns. I appreciated in my review that the game is satisfyingly cooperative. You need to balance the synergy between the various characters for a chance to survive. Massive Darkness is a fun, challenging RPG-in-a-box that will keep the gaming junkies on your list happy for a very long time.
Kingdomino & Queendomino. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu
Kingdomino won the Spiel des Jahres this year, and is one of our finalists for 2017 Game of the Year. It’s an easy-to-learn tile-laying game about building your kingdom. Queendomino is a fantastic stand-alone sequel to it, adding more complexity for gamers who want a little more of a challenge. Combine both sets for even more possibilities!
Heroes of Kaskaria by HABA.
Heroes of Kaskaria is a great intro game for young kids who are ready to graduate from ‘baby games’ but aren’t quite yet ready for very advanced games. While the game says its for six and up, my four-year-old loves it. It’s a competitive game that involves some strategy, some card drafting, and piece movement. Finding a good game for the 4-8 age range has been very difficult but we play this game multiple times every week and our whole family enjoys it. I have a full in-depth review of it coming soon!
Image: Stoneblade Games
Ascension: Gift of the Elements is the eleventh standalone version in Stoneblade’s Ascension series. In this edition, new mechanics join with old to bring a whole new series of strategies to the table. Interesting mechanics, new strategies, and beautiful art make for a great value. Players of any level will enjoy the wide array of strategies, making Gift of the Elements a great gift for your gamer geek, or a new star in your collection.
Suggested age: 13+
Play time: 30-50 minutes
Images: Tasty Minstrel Games
Orleans is an action-packed game of becoming an economic tycoon and leader. Much like a deck-building game, Orleans is a bag-building game, and improving your purse brings you closer to victory. With the Trade and Intrigue expansion, Orleans becomes ever more complex, creating new challenges for veteran players.
Suggested Age: 14+
Play time: 90-120 minutes
Players: 2-4 for base game, 1-5 with Trade and Intrigue expansion.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Assassin’s Creed Origins is the latest in the Assassin’s Creed saga and is set in Ancient Egypt. I have to admit I was skeptical at first when I heard about this latest offering but after getting to play it, I am 100% sold. They did such an amazing job with recreating the setting (sliding down pyramids is so awesome), adding in a bunch of new combat and abilities, and rendering the diversity of hair and skin, that ACO is quickly becoming my favorite of the series. The huge price spread is due to the many different versions of the game. If you want to just get the game, go with Standard Edition. If you want the best value for your money, I say go with the Gold Edition (which is what I have). Not only do you get some cool expansions, outfits, and weapons, but you also get the season pass, so its well worth it.
Outfoxed by Gamewright
Outfoxed has consistently been our favorite family game of 2017. It’s effectively cooperative Clue . A warm pie has been stolen by a fox and it is up to the players to determine which of the suspects committed the heinous deed. This is done by a combination of finding suspects and clues (clues being items of clothing found in the forest).
There is a clever little device that tells you whether the fox who stole the pie was wearing a particular item. My youngest son loves using this secret reveal box. If the clue comes up a not being worn, you can discard any suspect cards that are wearing it. Each time players are unsuccessful in finding new evidence the fox moves closer to escape.
Outfoxed teaches logical reasoning to youngsters and has been enjoyed by my children from about 4 and a half upwards. The older ones love to help out, though the game is a little easy for them. This is a great introduction to cooperative games, and a game with which tantrums very rarely occur. What better way to bring the family together during the holidays than with a piece of stolen pie?
Monopoly Gamer Edition
Monopoly Gamer takes the bones of the classic game and turns into something that feels more like Mario Kart than a battle between property barons. Thematically, the design is perfect, from the coins that you use instead of cash, to the properties named after various Mario levels, to the perfectly sculpted player figurines. Gone are the utilities and Chance cards. Here they’re replaced with warp pipes and Star blocks. Those Stars let you use your character’s special power. Coins litter the board because, in addition to a standard six-sided die, you have a power-up die that lets you throw green or red shells, ink fellow players, or POW them – all of which results in them either dropping coins on the property they’re on, leaving them for the next player to pick up (or a hungry Yoshi to inhale), or giving them to another player. Rather than keep the bank fed, the economy of the game becomes player-focused very quickly. In fact the “game economy” is barely an economy at all. Other than collecting rent, coin acquisition in Monopoly Gamer feels more like the board game equivalent of Mario Kart. And rather than kick players out for losing all their money and property, the rule book tells you to “hang in there” and lets you keep rolling. Removing player elimination is a huge change that ultimately makes the game feel more fun and less cutthroat. And Gamer Power Pack characters add even more powers and ways to play to the base game. Grab a copy and get ready to break it out the next time you have family over. It’s the perfect board game to bridge the gap between casual and serious tabletop players. Mostly because it’s so much fun (just don’t let anyone choose Luigi…that jerk).