Sunday, December 4, 2016

2016 Board Game Gift Guide

I was putting together a holiday tabletop gaming gift guide, but it was starting to feel like every other list on the internet: Ticket to Ride, Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Qwixx, Pandemic Legacy Season 1. All great games you should play. You probably already own them all. I do.

So then I thought about making a gift guide based on some of the great new games that came out in 2016: Scythe, Vast, Secret Hitler, World of Yo-Ho, The Last Friday. But I realized I haven't played too many games that came out in 2016. And many of these are still hard to find or not available to the average consumer.


So I decided I would highlight games that were made by board game designer friends of mine. These are all great games but more importantly, great games made by great people. If you want them to keep making games, please buy a copy or two.

Designer: Rob Davieau
Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Rob Daviaeu is best known for designing the game-changing Risk Legacy. If you don't know what a Legacy game is, it's where the game reflects the evolving state of the ongoing game each time you play. Rob describes this game as "Indiana Jones on the high seas" which sounds pretty cool to me.

Buy Seafall at

Designers: Sen-Foong Lim and Jay Cormier
Publisher: Pretzel Games

Sen-Foong and Jay are the dynamic duo of board game design. They've released several games this year, but Junk Art is their most intriguing. Don't be fooled by how simple it looks. It may resemble Jenga, but it has 50 different game variants.

Buy Junk Art at

Designer: Gil Hova
Publisher: Formal Ferret Games

Gil's The Networks was the surprise hit of this year. I'm not surprised as it is a clever idea that lends itself naturally to a board game. In the Networks, you run your own TV station. You start with three awful public access programs and snatch up new shows, stars and advertisements. You start to assemble blocks of programming and  determine how long the shows run for as they gain viewers. The game is filled with lots of fun parodies of TV shows.

You can get a print and play version at Formal Ferret's website
Get the expansion at

Designer: Geoff, Sydney and Brian Engelstein
Publisher: Stronghold Games

The Engelsteins are some of my favorite people in board gaming and their Dragon and Flagon is a great family game about a bar fight. D&F is boisterous pre-programmed bar brawling game has fantasy archetypes (wizards, fighters, monks, pirates, etc.) battling it out for a magical brew that bestows super-powers. Chairs are thrown, chandeliers are swung from and there's lots of chaotic silliness. Plus if you are a fan of HeroQuest's tiny furniture, then this game is for you.

Buy the Dragon and Flagon on
Designer: Kevin Wilson
Publisher: IDW Games

This game kills two birds with one stone for me. The publisher, IDW Games, has picked up my own game Rayguns and Rocketships (coming soon!), and Erik Burnham, my old Shooting Star Comics buddy who sometimes writes the current TMNT comic book. The minis are gorgeous in this campaign-style skirmish game and if you like games like Descent or Star Wars Imperial Assault, then you will like TMNT:SOTP

Buy TMNT: SOTP at the IDW Store

Designer: NA
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games

My pals over at Steve Jackson Games have been making great games for a long time. Even if you don't like Munchkin, I suggest giving their new Marvel version a try. It uses some great Marvel art and it somehow feels a more appropriate use of the Munchkin play system than even the original game. Plus there is already one expansion out featuring Marvel Knights heroes Luke Cage and Dr. Strange.

Buy Marvel Munchkin at
Designer: Mike Selinker and friends
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast

Mike was the lead developer of BAHOTH - which happens to be one of my all-time favorite games. When he announced that an expansion was coming out, us fans of the original were justifiably excited. The new set features a few new room, omens, items and 50 new haunts written by a who's who of game designers and a few creatives from other mediums. Keep in mind that you need the base game to play it.

Buy Widow's Walk Expansion on

Designer: Adam Poots
Publisher: Kingdom Death

I don't know Adam Poots personally, but I could not leave this game off this list. His Kingdom Death: Monster is called a "boutique cooperative nightmare horror game" and everything about it definitely fits that description. The miniatures are of amazing detail and the game play is strong (I played a demo at Gen-Con this year) Everything I've heard and read and seen about this game is the highest quality. Beware, this game is not for everyone - the subject matter is extremely dark, mature and even sexual - but you cannot deny it is extremely captivating.

I missed the original Kickstarter in 2013 (pesky cancer) but followed it's rise ever since it raised over 2 million dollars. It has some of the highest ratings of any game on Boardgamegeek. The only way to buy the base game was through the gray market (where it was selling for over $1000 on ebay) but Poots has created a second chance Kickstarter campaign - a 1.5 version with some new rules updates but essentially a second edition - which as of his writing has 33 days to go and has raised over $7 Million dollars. It will probably end up being the highest grossing Kickstarter in history. The game itself is very expensive ($350 for the Gold Lantern Level which includes the base game and the "Gambler's box" add-on) but it is, as some have called it, the "Ferrari of board games." If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 Kickstarter (live now!)
Kingdom Death website (which sell some minis and expansions)

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