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Board Game Gift Guide 2006

Welcome to BoardGameGeek, a worldwide community of folks who love board games! Together we've played pretty much every game ever made, and we've worked together to produce this list of great gift ideas for you this holiday shopping season.

A board game is one of the best presents you can give. Many other gifts can only be enjoyed by one person, but board games bring friends and family together. They provide more hours of fun than any book, DVD, or pair of socks you can find. There's a game on this page that's right for anyone on your list!

Click here to see the latest edition of this Gift Guide (2010).

Games for all ages

Blokus




Blokus might have the simplest rules of any game on the market. Put your pieces on the board, touching your other pieces, but only on the corners. Try to get all your pieces on that board. That's it! But you will forever be experimenting with new tricks and strategies to expand your territory while hemming in your opponents'. If Blokus is a hit with your recipients, they may also like the two-player edition, Blokus Duo, or the new Blokus Trigon with triangular instead of square pieces.

  • Players: 2 to 4 (especially good with: exactly 4)
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up (in our experience, 6 and up)
  • Availability: Target, "All" Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $23-$30
  • Review by Mike Romigh

For Sale




You've probably never had this much fun buying and selling real estate. For Sale is one of many "auction games" on the market today, in which players place bids on valuable game items (here, cards that represent real estate properties). For Sale combines this auction with a few unique twists that lead to a tense and fun experience that is always over too quickly. Expect to hear people say, "Let's play again!"

  • Players: 3 to 6 (especially good with: 4 to 5)
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up
  • Availability: Most Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $10-$20
  • Review by Jon Ben

Hey, That's My Fish!





A cute but strategic game in which each player tries to have his or her penguins eat the most fish. It is easily adaptable for children as young as four but can be fun for people of any age -- even adults (really!). Who can resist penguins hopping across ice floes?

  • Players: 2 to 4
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up
  • Availability: Online, Local Game Stores, Barnes & Noble
  • Price: $16-$25
  • Review by Tom Vasel

TransAmerica



 

A simple but thoughtful railway game for gamers and non-gamers alike. Each player has a set of 5 cities strung across the US that need to be connected by rail. Players place either 1 or 2 rails each turn. The player who can make the best use of the other players' networks is generally victorious.

The aMAZEing Labyrinth





This game is amazing! Literally! A moving maze, and who doesn't love mazes? Even younger children will be able to begin figuring out how to slide the tiles and make paths. But best of all, adults will find this game challenging and fun too. The Amazing Labyrinth has the potential to be enjoyed by people of all ages, young and old.

  • Players: 1 to 4
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up (but playable with 5 and up)
  • Availability: Online, Local Game Stores
  • Price: ~$20
  • Review by Jay Moore

Party Games

Party games are fun, light games designed to be played by a festive, boisterous group.

Apples to Apples





Apples to Apples consists of two decks of cards: Things and Descriptions. Each turn, the current referee selects a Description and players try to pick, from the cards in their hands, the Things that best match that Description. The referee then chooses the Thing that appeals most and awards the card to the player who played it. The unusual combinations of Things and Descriptions are humorous to the extreme, and will quickly have the entire room in an uproar. The first player to earn the specified number of cards wins. For younger children, there's Apples to Apples Kids.

Balderdash





Balderdash is a bluffing game based around the definitions of obscure words. Players take turns to read out a word from a card, and the other players must make up fake definitions. All the definitions, including the real one are then read out and the players must make a stab at guessing which is the correct one. Points are awarded for those for get the right definition and for those whose fake definitions managed to fool other players. The heart of the game is that the real definitions are usually startling or amusing, and so the fake ones tend to be too, leading to an often hilarious game. There are expanded editions of this game like Beyond Balderdash which offer bluffing categories beyond words.
  • Players: 3 to 6, or more with team play
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Ages: 12 and up
  • Availability: Target, Toys R Us, Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $26-$36
  • Review by Geoffrey Steenberge

Wits & Wagers





Take everything you know about trivia games and throw it out. Wits and Wagers is a trivia game that you can win without ever knowing a single correct answer! In this game, every team gets to submit a guess for every question, then use their poker chips (included) to place bets on the answers they think are closest. Rely on your own knowledge, or just bet on which of your friends you think knows the most -- but wait, are they bluffing? Bring out the excitement of a Vegas-style casino in your own home, and don't leave anyone feeling left out of the fun.

Time's Up!





Time's Up! is a party game for teams of two or more players (best with teams of two). The same set of famous names is used for each of three rounds. In each round, one member of a team tries to get his teammates to guess as many names as possible in 30 seconds. One of the most popular party games!

  • Players: 4 to 18
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Ages: 12 and up
  • Availability: Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $18
  • Review by Tom Vasel

Two Player Games

Great for couples. Note that, while the games in this section are designed especially for two players, many other games in this guide are good choices for two. Check the "Players" information under each game entry.

Hive




Looking for a quick strategic game? You've come to the right place with Hive! In this highly addictive game, the board takes shape as you and your opponent lay down your pieces. Each player controls an identical army of bugs, each with its own unique movement. Can you place and move your pieces so that you surround your opponent's queen bee before he surrounds yours?

  • Players: 2
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up
  • Availability: Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $23-$30
  • Review by Derek Gallacher

Lost Cities




Even those who think they have tried everything will have to admit that Lost Cities is an exciting, unusual two-player card game. It's quick, it's simple, it's tense, and it's addictive! The play is simple: You put down numbered cards in sequence on one of five "expeditions." But once you start an expedition, you must keep adding cards to it - or else risk losing more points than you gain! All the while, your opponent may be holding onto the card you want, trying to build up his or her own expeditions. In Lost Cities, the finish is usually so tense that you'll want to play just one more game ... and another!

Memoir '44




Memoir '44 is a historical board game where players face off in some of the most important battles of World War II. You'll need a mixture of good strategy, effective card play, and luck to win. The 15 included "scenarios" help ensure that this game will be played and replayed, with something new happening each time. The 144 amazingly detailed army miniatures make this game a beautiful game to look at too! Both children and adults will find something to love about this simple yet engaging war game!

  • Players: 2
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up
  • Availability: Online, Local Game Stores
  • Price: $34-$50
  • Review by Tom Vasel

Stocking Stuffers

Little. Cheap. Different.

Loot





Who doesn't love pirates? This multi-player card game combines great gameplay with terrific artwork. Try to gather more treasure ships than your opponents, but watch out for the other pirate captains! Very portable, easy to learn and replayable. Best with at least 3 players.
  • Players: 2 to 8
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Availability: Target, Wal*Mart, Local Game Stores, Online
  • Review by Tom Vasel

No Thanks!





Take the card, which costs me points but earns me chips? Or pay a chip, which I have precious few of? That seemingly simple decision is the entire heart of the game of No Thanks. The rules can be explained in just a few seconds but you'll be honing your strategy over dozens and dozens (and dozens) of plays.
  • Players: 3 to 5 (especially good with: 3 to 5)
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Ages: 8 up
  • Availability: "Some" Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $7-$10
  • Review by Tom Vasel

Circus Flohcati




Decide how far to press your luck trying to collect the highest possible cards in each of the colors or sets of three cards. Turn over another card and see if it is better, but if it matches the color of a face-up card, you lose your turn instead!

  • Players: 3-5
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Ages: 6 up
  • Availability: Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $7-$10
  • Review by Jeff M

Treehouse




Beautiful plastic pyramids make up this simple game. Roll the special die and perform the action on your set of pieces to make it match the goal. Can't do it to your own set? Do it to the goal instead, so that you're a little closer, and everyone else is a little further away.

  • Players: 2-4
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Ages: 8 up
  • Availability: Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $7-$10
  • Review by Lowell Kempf

Games for Teenagers and Adults

If you're looking for a game for adults that's a little more challenging than some of the choices above, then these are the games for you. Best suited for teenagers and adults, these games offer more of a challenge, but a more rewarding experience for anyone prepared to take them on!

Catan




Settlers of Catan is one of the most popular board games in the world. Each player takes the role of a hardy settler on the uninhabited island of Catan. The island you settle yields five types of raw materials used to build roads, settlements, cities and armies. However, often the resources you've got aren't the resources you need, which means that you will have to trade with the other players. The player whose settlers are the most successful in colonizing the island wins the game.

  • Players: 3 to 4 (up to 6 with the expansion set, sold separately)
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Availability: "All" Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $25-$40
  • Review by Elijah Lau

Elfenland





Do your children like journeying to fantastic places? Then they'll love Elfenland, where all players are young elves, with a mission to visit as many towns as possible in Elfenland. But Elfenland is no ordinary place, and carefully using the cards you draw, you are limited to special means of transportation: dragons, unicorns, giant pigs, elfcycles, troll wagons, magic clouds, ferries and rafts. These types of transportation are available in limited numbers and can only be used in specific regions. Elfenland is an award-winning game that appeals to children and adults alike!
  • Players: 2 to 6
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Availability: Online, Local Game Stores
  • Price: $26-$40
  • Review by Joe Grundy

Nexus Ops





Somewhat like Risk, only much better? That's how most people describe Nexus Ops, a light-medium science fiction war game. Players control competing futuristic corporations that battle each other for control of the moon's rubium ore. The game boasts a hexagonal board that is dealt differently every time, as well as cool "glow" miniatures, and lots of combat.

  • Players: 2 to 4
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Ages: 12 and up
  • Availability: Online, Local Game Stores
  • Price: $20-$38
  • Review by Michael Jordal

PitchCar






Most people have never seen a game like this before, and that's half of its attraction! A wooden race track, where players race little round wooden cars, moving them forward by flicking them in turns with their fingers. Sound great? It is! This unique game is sure to turn heads, and it is bound to be a hit with every one who tries it. Even younger children will enjoy it, but it is especially guaranteed to go over well with teens and adults. You can't go wrong with a gift like PitchCar! Plus, it's available in a smaller, less-expensive (about $40) version, too: PitchCar Mini!

  • Players: 2 to 8
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 6 and up
  • Availability: Online, Local Game Stores
  • Price: $55-$70
  • Review by Tom Vasel

Family Games for Older Children

Ingenious





Winner of the 2006 BoardGameGeek Golden Geek award for Family Game of the Year as well as multiple other boardgame awards, Ingenious is a fun, colorful tile-laying game. Each tile has two colorful symbols on it. Each turn, players place one tile down on the hexagonal board and score points for each identical symbol in imaginary rows emanating from each symbol. Players can build off of others' previously laid tiles to score a large number of points in one turn. However, in an unusual twist, players at the end of the game are scored on which of the six symbols they've scored the fewest points for. The rules are easy and well illustrated, but the game itself is both elegant and challenging.
  • Players: 1 to 4 (especially good with: 2 to 4)
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Availability: Online, Local Game Stores
  • Price: $23-$40
  • Review by Tom Vasel

Cartagena




A game where you get to be pirates trying to escape from a prison? That's Cartagena! Players must escape through an underground passage which is created by playing tiles and cards. A simple but smart game, that appeals to everyone!

  • Players: 2 to 5
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up
  • Availability: Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $22-$27
  • Review by Elijah Lau

Carcassonne





Ever heard of a board game with no board? In Carcassonne, you and your fellow players actually build the board yourselves as you play the game, one high-quality cardboard tile at a time. By the time it's over, you'll have built such a pretty and unique arrangement of cities, roads, monasteries, and fields that you may find yourself a little sad to have to take it all apart to put away. Carcassonne is quite easy to learn if someone in the group has played it before, but it is just a little bit harder to learn the first time out than the typical game in this guide.

  • Players: 2 to 5 (especially good with: 2 to 4)
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up
  • Availability: Toys R Us, Barnes & Noble, "Most" Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $16-$25
  • Review by Tom Vasel

Ticket to Ride





Ticket to Ride is a very popular game that has sold over 1 million copies worldwide. The game board is a map of the United States and Canada where the players compete to build train routes between the major cities to score points. It's easy to learn, fast to play, works great for any number of players up to 5, and is almost always a big hit with people who are new (or old) to the board gaming hobby.

Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie





We wish games were this cool when we were young. Players build impressive tabletop scenes with Heroscape's stackable terrain ... and then fight it out! The miniature figures span many genres, such as dragons, dinosaurs, Men in Black, Samurai and practically everyone battle for control of Valhalla. Especially boys will love this one!

Scotland Yard





Scotland Yard is an award winning deduction board game that has been pleasing people for more than twenty years. And its enduring popularity is proof positive that it is a good game. Suitable for older children and adults who like figuring things out, Scotland Yard has participants play detectives, trying to find the location of Mr. X. One player is Mr. X, and must use subways, bus routes, and taxis to escape being caught by the detectives. Can the detectives cooperate to catch Mr. X? Countless people have enjoyed finding out the answer to this question, and chances are that you will too!

  • Players: 2 to 6
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Availability: Department stores, Local Game Stores, Online
  • Price: $28
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Family Games for Younger Children

Family games should be fun for both kids and parents. These games are accessible to the youngsters, but still provide challenge enough to keep the parents interested too! You may also wish to check the Games by player age wiki page.

Gulo Gulo





A fun game of moving your little wolverine (Gulo) forward and pulling eggs out of a nest without disturbing the "egg alarm", while trying to rescue the cute baby Gulo that is being held hostage by the mother vulture. Younger kids with their small fingers are better than adults at pulling out the eggs, yet the parents will enjoy the strategy of trying to jump ahead of everyone.

  • Players: 2 to 6
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Ages: 5 and up
  • Availability: Online, Local Game Stores
  • Price: $26-$35
  • Review by Tom Vasel

Go Away Monster!





Being afraid of monsters is a normal part of growing up. Go Away Monster! encourages kids to conquer that fear by acting it out and taking control. This game teaches how to take turns without being overly competitive. As a plus, this game has nice replay value for many young children. A good game for ages 3 and up (works well in the 2-3 age group as well) that doesn't last so long that parents become bored.
  • Players: 1 to 4
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Ages: 3 and up
  • Availability: Wal*Mart, Target, Online
  • Price: $8-$15
  • Review by Jim Van Verth

Make 'n' Break





A fantastic game for children 8 and up, that younger children from 3 and up will enjoy too. Players compete using 10 coloured building blocks to copy designs from a set of cards, scoring points for speed and for making the more complicated designs. Great fun for parents too!

  • Players: 2 to 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 8 and up (but playable with 3 and up)
  • Availability: Online, Local Game Stores
  • Price: $21-$30
  • Review by gnomehome

Cranium Cariboo and Cranium Hullabaloo





Cranium Cariboo and Cranium Hullabaloo are two excellent games for young children. They're fun, short, and they have some educational aspects relating to colors, shapes, counting, and pattern recognition. Youngsters will ask to play these games over and over, and even the older children won't tire of them too easily either!

Where to buy?

Many of these games can be found at your local specialty game store. You can look for a local specialty game store using Game Store Database, the Days of Wonder Store Locator or BGG advice in the FLGS of the World (Friendly Local Game Store) thread.

If you don't have a store near you, or they don't carry the game you're looking for, you can buy online. Some Web sites we've had good experiences with are:

For others, including many outside the USA, see our full list of online vendors.

Other Game Gift Guides

In addition to this guide, several other gift guides exist:

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