As it’s December, and Christmas is just around the corner, I decided to put together a Top 10 gift ideas list for games that I would personally recommend as great gift purchases for Christmas 2014!
I hope that this list will point you in the right direction if you’re struggling to find that fun, interesting, or different gift for your loved ones!
So here goes:
Lord of the Blogging… Tom Randell Recommends:
Designed by: Alan R. Moon
Published by: Days of Wonder
Ticket to ride is one of those classic gateway games that every gamer should have in their collection. The beauty of this title is in it’s simplicity! Once you know how to play the game then you can teach virtually anyone how to play it in five minutes or less.
It takes about an hour to play the full game so it’s perfect for playing between finishing that plate of turkey and waiting for a mid-afternoon Christmas movie!
Players collect cards that they then use to claim different tracks on the board. The aim of the game is to score more points by own the routes between various locations listed on ticket cards. The game can be played peacefully, letting players build up their routes, or aggressively, taking tracks to deliberately block your opponent. It’s entirely up to you!
The other fantastic thing about Ticket to Ride is that it comes in many different forms, the main ones being – the standard US edition, the Deluxe US edition, Europe, Nordic Countries and Marklin. They’re all very similar but each has it’s own unique elements and there’s even a whole host of expansion boards for it if you fancied building train tracks across Asia.
Despite the seemingly dry theme, this game is excellent for bringing non-gamers into the hobby because it’s fast and every can understand the theme driving it. You won’t get that with many of the Sci-Fi games out there!
Designed by: Théo Rivière
Published by: Iello
I first played this over in Seattle earlier in the year. It’s a beautiful little game that I find extremely underrated! The artwork is fantastic, and it’s pretty quick to play! The fun takes place over a series of rounds that are made up of two distinct phases:
- The first phase has you collecting cards and managing you hand in order to win ninja stars.
- The second phase has you using your star to carry out various actions in a very light worker placement way.
The aim of the game is to work out which big bad boss, your facing selected at random, and then defeat them!. In order to do this, you use your actions to work out who you are NOT facing! The whole game hangs together nicely and I really enjoy the depth that comes across in such a simple game!
Top 10 Gift Ideas #08. Star Realms
Designed by: Robert Dougherty and Darwin Kastle
Published by: White Wizard Games
If you’ve read Paul’s post about Star Realms you’ll know all about this game. But, if you’re not a gamer then you probably won’t have a clue about this wonderful little 2-player game.. I would suggest that Star Realms is the game to buy for anyone who is already into gaming and likes a Sci Fi theme! It’s a very inexpensive game and with the base set coming in at just under £14 it makes for an excellent stocking filler or Secret Santa gift.
Star Realms falls into a category of games known as the deck builders. You start the game with the same deck of cards as your opponent but as you play through each turn you use those cards to acquire others from a row of available cards. Once you’ve done this, the acquired card joins your deck and you can use it later in the game. This makes your deck unique to you!
Star Realms is a head to head fight to the death with cards that represent the starships, fighters, outposts and bases of four very different factions. It plays extremely fast with games usually lasting no more than 30 minutes once you know the rules!
Top 10 Gift Ideas #07. Camel Up
Designed by: Steffen Bogen
Published by: eggertspiele, 999 Games, Ediciones MasQueOca, Filosofia Édition, Hobby Japan, Lautapelit.fi, Lucrum Games, Pegasus Spiele, uplay.it edizioni and Z-Man Games
This is one that Nigel enjoyed so much he wrote a post about it! It’s a great little game that falls in the mid-range of board game prices. It only takes about an hour to play, but the times I’ve played it everyone enjoyed themselves!
The idea behind Camel Up is that you’re at a Camel Race and you’re betting on which of the camels will win the race. Not just that though! You can bet on who will lose it too!
Throughout the course of the game you make bets, use a fantastic pyramid dice device and place tokens on the board to influence the performance of the different coloured camels. Interestingly though, when a camel moves into a space with another camel, it climbs up onto its back. That’s where the name comes from you see! The camel at the top of the stack is considered in the lead and if a camel lower down the stack moves it carries the lazy camels on top of it! Poor camel…
Each game I’ve played of this has been a very close thing. We’ve had camels coming from nowhere to win it, camels who’d been in the lead falling to the back of the pack at the last minute. It’s fast and fun and even my, non-gaming, Mum likes it!
Designed by: Mike Elliott and Eric M. Lang
Published by: WizKids Games
I’ve posted about this game recently so check that out for a more complete overview of this one!
I’m a Marvel fan and because of that, this game is one of my favourite dice games out there. The starter pack is a fantastic stocking filler, or Secret Santa gift, and will provide plenty of fun to whoevers lucky enough to get it! If they like the game then they can buy expansion boosters to increase the number of dice and cards they have to play with. But, if they’re not that into it then the base set provides plenty of stuff to enjoy on its own.
Like Star Realms, Dice Masters let’s you build up your own unique forces and clash with your opponent over the course of around thirty minutes. The major difference here is that instead of building a deck of cards to fight with, you acquire dice to put into a bag and then roll to attack you opponent. There’s more to it than that but if you’re interested in rolling loads of dice then you can check out my post about the previous version (Avengers Vs X-Men) for more gameplay details.
The big thing for me with Dice Masters is the theme, I love Marvel and some of the artwork on the Dice Master cards is great. You can select your own characters to take into a battle and you can form your own teams! Ever wanted to team Magneto up with Thor? You can do that here!
Top 10 Gift Ideas #05. 7 Wonders
Designed by: Antoine Bauza
Published by: Repos Production, ADC Blackfire Entertainment, Asmodee, Asterion Press, Galápagos Jogos, Gém Klub Kft, Hobby Japan, Kaissa Chess & Games, Lautapelit.fi and REBEL.pl
Ok, so this is the first on the list of what I would call a gamers game. It’s a civilisation building game where you draft cards into your civilisation to build it up and score more points than your opponent. It’s played over three rounds and takes about an hour to play once you know the rules. There’s three boxed expansions out there Cities, Leaders and Babel and a Wonders pack to add some extra variety to the game. As a standalone game the base set is brilliant with extremely easy to learn rules but a lot of depth and decision making to be had.
Played over three ages, 7 wonders has you lay out a set of cards, in front of you, that provide resources to build new cards, science, points, trade abilities and military strength. At the end of the game you work out how many points you have and the person with the most wins the game.
7 Wonders is a lightweight civilisation builder that will suit many people, but if you’re looking for a more complex civilisation game then I can recommend Imperial Settlers for a 1 to 2 hour playtime, or Clash of Cultures if you have longer than that!
Designed by: Vlaada Chvátil
Published by: Czech Games Edition, Albi, Heidelberger Spieleverlag, HomoLudicus, IELLO, Magellan, Playgo Hungary, Quined White Goblin Games, REBEL.pl, Red Glove, REXhry and Rio Grande Games
I’ve added a few games to this list for their total fun value, and this game is nothing if not fun!
Played across three rounds you build and send spaceships out on a journey across the galaxy. Your mission… to truck goods from A to B… without having your ship destroyed!
Each round of Galaxy Truckers is made up of two phases.
Phase one: Frantically rummage through the different spaceship parts (tiles) that are sat around at the space dock. You’re trying to find connectors, life supports, shields, lasers and engines to build the perfect space truck(???) .Basically, everyone is competing for these parts in real time so you better act fast. Once you find a part you like, you add it your ship and frantically look for more parts in the hope that one of the other players doesn’t have it. When your time is up, you inspect each others ships in preparation to depart on your journey. If you’ve built any of the ship wrong, it gets removed and you’ll be heading into space with a less than perfect haulage vehicle!
Phase Two: A series of cards are drawn that determine what events occur on your journey. These events range from collecting stock to ship to your destination, taking control of abandoned ships, fighting pirates and random meteor showers. With many of the events there is a chance that your ship will take damage… lots of damage! In fact if your ship ever takes enough damage to split it in half, you’ll have to pick which side to keep for the rest of the journey and which to abandon!!!
The main reason that I recommend this game is because of the fun you can have as a group the real-time building element is exciting and there’s always plenty of opportunity for laughter as someone’s ship is battered by meteors and unceremoniously turned into space debris!
Designed by: Kristian Amundsen Østby
Published by: Queen Games and REBEL.pl
Another game added to the list purely because of it’s fun value! This is not a strategic game! This is a frantic 15 minute, non-stop dice rolling race to survive.
The idea behind Escape: The Curse of the Temple is that you are a group of adventurers who are exploring an ancient temple. Suddenly you trigger an ancient booby trap and the temple starts to seal itself with you inside! There’s a 15 minute sound track that goes with this game and this governs when the temple has sealed you inside forever. Funnily enough, your goal is to escape…
The board starts off with just one tile, on which all of the adventurers are gathered. Each player takes a set of identical dice and rolls them frantically in the hope of rolling specific symbols. For example, rolling two walking men lets you expose a new time from the tile draw stack and add it to the board. As the adventurers start to spread out frantically rolling dice to explore new areas, they uncover more of the temple, for example they might find a room that lets you activate gems. You can only escape the temple safely if you activate enough of these gems though! Of course, activating them requires specific symbols to be rolled on the dice and adds to the intense yet fun nature of the game.
You might be sat there thinking that rolling dice is pretty simple and that you could beat the game easily. Well good luck to you I say! Each die has a black mask symbol, if you roll that then that die is locked until you roll a yellow mask symbol which unlocks it. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen people stuck in a room with all their dice locked calling for help! Of course, you can, and MUST help! You have to make your way back to the room where the player is trapped and roll a yellow mask to let them unlock some dice… Sound a bit more difficult? Well add to that, the interval moments which occur every so often during the soundtrack…. The pace of the music increases and everyone has to return to the starting tile before a gong sounds or else they lose one of their dice for the rest of the game!
My description may sound complex, but in reality this is a really easy game to learn. On Christmas day I’m sure it will keep you entertained for hours and people not playing will be drawn away from the Indianna Jones and the Temple of Doom rerun to join you in a real temple! I’ve linked to the base game in this list, but if you can afford the extra money the Big Box Edition is well worth every penny for all of the expansions that come with it!
Designed by: Justin Kemppainen, Corey Konieczka and Jonathan Ying
Published by: Fantasy Flight Games
I think this is going to be one of the biggest games to come out this year. It’s due out any day now but Nikki and I recently got to play it and wrote a preview post all about it!
I just want to make this clear – this is a heavy game, in both complexity and weight! It’s aimed at gamers! I’m not recommending this for first time gamers or casual gamers who like the odd game of snap. No, this is a recommendation for anyone who already loves games, especially thematic experience and campaign games! I’m also recommending it for anyone who like games and happens to be a Star Wars fan!
If you want to know more about the gameplay, check out my preview post because I’m serious when I say this: This is going to be the most sought-after board game this year!
If you want a chance to win a copy of this fantastic game then check out our Facebook competition before it closes!
Designed by: Justin Oh
Published by: DG Games, Gemblo, Inc. and Mayday Games
Here we are! Right at position number one! The game that stands out to me as the best gift recommendation for Christmas 2014 and it’s a game I hadn’t played until only a few weeks ago! Click Clack Lumberjack, or Tok Tok Woodman as it’s also known, is a fantastic dexterity game involving a tree – made up of lots of plastic pieces and an axe with which you hit the tree…
The idea of the game is to use your axe to remove the bark of the tree without knocking off the central chucks of trunk. The bark pieces are attached to the trunk sections in such a way that you need to tap the trunk sections out of alignment with the rest of the tree to allow the bark section to slide out of the groove holding it in place. Players take it in turns doing tapping the tree and, at the end of the game, the player with most bark pieces wins.
You may be wondering why I would recommend a game about chopping down trees as my number one pick! In fact – I asked myself that very same question when I was writing this…The simple answer is… Family and friends…
For me the Christmas period isn’t about all of the commercial stuff that goes on out on the high-street or on TV – it’s about family, friends and spending time together… Click Clack Lumberjack helps bring groups of people together. The gameplay is simple enough that children will pick it up easily and play time is so quick that you’ll get several plays in across the space of an hour.
When I first sat down to play this I was in a bar at Insomnia53. We started playing early in the evening but by the time we’d finished we had a crowd of people stood around watching us as we hacked and chopped at this small plastic tree… We started a tournament mid-way through the session and when the winner emerged there was an almighty cheer from around the bar… This game brings people together… and that is what Christmas is all about! Treat your family to a copy of this for Christmas and I very much doubt you’ll regret it!
Found Something Interesting??? I Hope You Enjoy It!!!
So there you have it, my Top 10 gift ideas for board games 2014. I can’t wait to see how this list changes over the next year, but until then Merry Christmas and good luck with the rest of your Christmas shopping!!!
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Driven Instructional Designer by day, board game fanatic by night! Tom has a long background in eLearning design and is a strong believer that story and narrative are crucial to creating excellent learning and gaming experiences. A passionate blogger, game reviewer and play tester, he enjoys spending his time playing games of all genres.