Tuesday, November 24, 2020

2020 Tabletop Holiday Gift Guide


Happy Holidays! Around this time of year, I start to see lists of game recommendations for holiday gifts and they always look something like this:

Now this is a perfectly fine list... for the year 1999. (and who plays UNO with just two players?) But one of the fantastic things about the board gaming industry is how far it has come from the "roll & move" days of Monopoly and Mousetrap. 

So here's a list of ten tabletop games that will guarantee to put a smile on the face of anyone who receives it!


HORRIFIED (Ravensburger)
In this cooperative game, players work together to thwart several of the Universal Monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature of the Black Lagoon, etc.) from causing havoc in a town. This game is perfect for families as well as experienced gamers who already like Pandemic and Arkham Horror. Plus, it comes with fantastic monster miniatures!


SPLENDOR MARVEL (Space Cowboy Games)
Splendor is a game about craftsmen carefully selecting gems to construct fine jewelry. Marvel Splendor is about carefully selecting superheroes to defeat a mad Titan who selects gems that will destroy half of the universe. Regular Splendor is fine, but adding superheroes makes anything better.


If you look past it's beautiful artwork and some of the most creative box art I've seen, you'll find a tight card game that feels like a mix of Sushi Go and Guillotine - two favorites of mine.

THROW THROW BURRITO (Exploding Kittens)
This fast-paced card game plays like a mix of Exploding Kittens (which makes sense because the same creators made this), Dutch Blitz and Dodgeball. Play sets of cards and whang soft rubber burritos at each other in this silly party game.

In the grim-dark future of war, even they play Risk. This take on the classic game utilizes characters from that other miniatures game Warhammer 40K. They are almost nothing alike, but the two go together like chocolate and peanut butter.

KINGDOMINO (Blue Orange)
This tile-laying game plays much like Carcassone but without the meeples. Games are quick, light and create a beautiful little map each game. And it won the Spiel des Jahre, which means it's really good.

In this "mind-reading" party game, players try to guess the "frequency" of a topic based on clues. It's more hilarious than how I'm describing it.

Another Spiel Des Jahres winner, this time it's a sci-fi themed cooperative trick taking game where the players communicate silently to win hands.

Until we get an officially licensed "Alien" game, I think Nemesis is a great stand-in. Players scramble to achieve goals while horrible space aliens invade the ship and, usually, rip them apart. Players can get implanted with aliens or even betray each other. While this game is more dense than your average game, it always delivers a suspense-filled exciting evening!

OUTFOXED (Gamewright)
This delightful mystery game is great for players of all ages as they try to deduce which fox stole the pie. Fantastic components and charming art makes this a fun family game.

PANTONE THE GAME (Cryptozoic Entertainment)
It's my list, so I'm allowed to plug my own game. In this family party game, you take turns creating characters using colored swatches while the other players try to guess their identity. This new edition comes with more character cards!


And while you are shopping for gifts, why not consider downloading Gamemaster, the exceptional documentary film about tabletop game designers that I (and several other talented designers) are in! If you want to learn more about making games, or just want to meet some fascinating characters, I highly recommend it!

Please feel free to share this list and happy holidays everyone! May it be filled with joy, fun and games!

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