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Welcome to BoardGameGeek! We are a worldwide community of folks who love board games. We've put our heads together to make a gift guide that covers all of your shopping needs this holiday season. There's a game on this page that's right for anyone on your list!
We believe that board games make the best gifts because they bring family and friends together for memorable experiences while providing hours and hours of entertainment. They also stimulate the brain and can teach useful skills.
There is a diverse variety of games on the market. Use the table of contents to jump to the category that best fits your loved ones. Games in each category are arranged from the simplest and least complex game to learn to the most strategic.
This is the eighth year we've put out a gift guide. Previous entries have usually been left out because they were no longer widely available but we simply didn't have room for everything worthy of play so take a look at previous years if you're looking for hard to find gems. If you've purchased games from previous year's lists, at the end of most descriptions we've included links to the base game's expansions.
Table of Contents
Our All-Time Favorite games are considered modern classics that are a great start for anyone's game closet. They'd make our Gamers Hall of Fame and are often the start to a life-long love of games.
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'. They've also come out with versions for specifically two-players Blokus Duo, and for youngsters Blokus Junior.
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 feel sad to put it away. Carcassonne is quite easy to learn with very quick and simple decisions to make with each turn. And with its many expansions the base game can be made exponentially replayable. Consider these two expansions if you've already given the base game... Carcassonne: Expansion 2 – Traders & Builders & Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals. For a list of all of the expansions check out the Carcassonne Family
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 major cities to score points. It's easy to learn, fast to play, works great for any number of players 2 to 5, and is almost always a big hit with people who are new to board games. For a European map and just a few additional challenges try Ticket to Ride: Europe.
Settlers of 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, the resources you've got may not be the resources you need. Trading with the other players is a big part of getting the right resources to build on the island. The player whose settlers are the most successful in colonizing the island wins the game. If you know of an experienced settler who is ready for a step up in strategy try... Catan: Cities & Knights
2009 Golden Geek Award for Best Family Game
Four diseases have broken out in the world and it's up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures before mankind is wiped out. In this popular cooperative game you must work together with other players using your individual strengths and abilities to treat existing diseases and find cures before time runs out. Pandemic is your prescription for a great gaming experience like you've never had before! You can also add even more roles and more challenging diseases to the base game with Pandemic: On the Brink or Pandemic: In the Lab.
2009 Golden Geek Awards for Game of the Year and Best Card Game
One of the most innovative and award winning games to emerge from the last couple of years! In Dominion, each player starts with an identical, very small deck of cards. In the center of the table is a selection of 10 other cards the players can "buy" as they can afford them. Through their selection of cards to buy, and how they play their hands as they draw them, the players construct their deck on the fly, striving for the most efficient path to the precious victory points by game end.
The base game includes 25 sets of center cards and allows for hundreds of variations. There have been several expansions released adding even more variation starting with Dominion: Intrigue. You can find the complete list of expansions in the Dominion Family.
Games for All Ages
These games are accessible to a wide range of gamers because of simple rules and creative gameplay.
PitchCar is a dexterity game where large, wooden, puzzle-like pieces are used to construct a race track that looks very similar to a slot car track when finished. But instead of using electrons, players use finger-flicks to send little round pucks around the track. This is a crowd-pleasing game to play and watch that few can resist.
2006 Golden Geek Award for Best Light/Party Game (Diamant, an older version of this game, won the award)
Enjoy exploring? Like to press your luck? Incan Gold is a quick, fun and tense game in which you and other adventurers explore an old Incan temple in search of gold and treasure. In each of the five rounds, you secretly choose if you want to continue exploring the temple in search of more treasure risking life and limb or retreat to the safety of your camp with your share of the treasure that has been discovered so far. Get too greedy, and you might lose all your hard-earned loot! Easy to learn and fun for young and old.
Qwirkle should be instantly familiar to anyone who has played Scrabble. Think Scrabble with symbols and colors instead of words and without the board and you'll have a good idea of how this game plays. The excellent components and reasonable price makes this a particularly good gift. (Unfortunately not suitable for color-blind players.)
---King of Tokyo
(For all ages)
2012 Golden Geek Awards for Best Children's Game, Best Party Game, and Best Family Game
In King of Tokyo, you play mutant monsters, gigantic robots, and aliens vying for the ultimate title in monsterdom, "King of Tokyo". Each turn you get a Yahtzee style three rolls of a set of 6 dice.
You decide with each roll which dice to keep and which to throw for more points, energy, health, or hits to your opponents. In order to win you must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 destruction points or out last your fellow monsters in a bout to death.
This light-hearted, quick to learn, and quick to play game has you laughing with each roll and accommodates a whole family of players. For added fun the expansion King of Tokyo: Power Up! adds one extra monster and gives all of the monsters their own personal power decks.
2010 Golden Geek Award for Best Children's Game
Forbidden Island is a cooperative game - but don't think this means that it's boring or easy! Competition to beat this award-winning game can be tough, and you either win together or lose together! Join a team of fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of the perilous paradise of Forbidden Island. Work together as a team as the island begins to sink beneath every step! Expect lots of tension as you race to collect the treasures, and make a triumphant escape - or be swallowed into the watery abyss!
Games for Teenagers and Adults
These games provide more of a challenge but also a more rewarding experience. Scarce resources and a chance to conquer your opponent dominate this field and often appeal to more aggressive gamers.
In a galaxy far, far away... they need sewer systems too. And Corporation Incorporated needs you to get them there. Everyone knows their drivers, the brave men and women who fear no danger, would fly through hell and back if the pay were good enough. Now you can join them!
Galaxy Trucker is a tile laying game played in 3 rounds of two phases: building and flying. The goal is to have the most credits at the end of the game. You can earn credits by delivering goods, defeating pirates, building an efficient ship, and being the furthest along the track at the end of the flying phase.
Building happens in real time by picking up tiles from a face-down pile and quickly placing them on your mat to build your ship with various parts. The quickest to build starts off ahead on the track. During flight you get to see how well your ship holds up to the pressure and you get the glorious chance to see this beautiful creation fall apart before your eyes. Ships will vary greatly depending on what you draw and how much time you take to build them. Build the best ships or be daring in flight and you can prove that you have what it takes to be a Galaxy Trucker.
Players struggle to survive the Stone Age by working as hunters, gatherers, farmers, and tool makers. The central theme of the game revolves around choosing which of these roles your tribe members should perform each turn. As you gather and spend resources, you can buy developments that will allow your tribe to survive and outshine those of your opponents. Be careful though. At the end of each round players must have enough food available to feed their tribe, or face losing resources or points.
In Small World, players vie for conquest and control of a world that is simply too small to accommodate them all. Small World is inhabited by a zany cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans, who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth. Picking the right combination from the 14 different fantasy races and 20 unique special powers, players rush to expand their empires - often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline so they can pick a new one and ride it to victory!
For added races, abilities, and terrain see the complete list of expansions to this base game in Small World Family.
2012 Golden Geek Award for Most Innovative Game
Remember Risk, the simple game of world domination where you build armies, roll dice and crush your enemies? This is Risk as you've never seen it before. Literally, because you make permanent changes to the board and the rules at the end of every game depending on how it unfolds. This unique idea means that the game grows along with you, and that your actions have much bigger impact beyond a single play session -- they mark your game for life! What kind of legacy will you leave?
Lords of Waterdeep
In Lords of Waterdeep you take on the role of one of the masked Lords of Waterdeep, secret rulers of the city. Through your agents, you recruit adventurers to go on quests on your behalf, earning rewards and increasing your influence over the city. Expand the city by purchasing new buildings that open up new actions on the board, and hinder – or help – the other lords by playing Intrigue cards to enact your carefully laid plans.
(For teens & adults)
2011 Golden Geek Awards for Best Family Game & Best Card Game
7 Wonders takes the mechanic of card drafting and makes THAT the game. Each player at the start of three ages begins with a hand of 7 cards. Everyone simultaniously chooses a card to build then passes the hand on until 6 of the 7 cards from the original hands are built. The beauty of the game is that because everyone is working at the same time, making often interesting and tough decisions, the game lasts the same length whether you play with 2 or up to 7 players. The result after 3 short ages is that you've built up a substantial civilization and with many ways to score you never know if you've been out built until the very end.
Family Games for Older Children
Family games should be fun for both kids and parents. This set of games require just a little more thought than your standard family games but provide adventure and a sense of accomplishment without the aggressive approach.Ingenious
(For older children)
2006 Golden Geek Award for Best Family Game
Winner of multiple boardgame awards from one of the hobby's best known designers, 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 the 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.
Escape: The Curse of the Temple
Escape is a new co-operative game played in real-time directed by a sound track. With all players rolling dice and taking actions simultaneously you have to keep your eye on your teammates and work together to explore a cursed temple. As you roll, you explore new rooms of the temple and sometimes find treasure and other times get cursed and held up. The simultaneous action and tension building time element create a fun challenge that will have you hanging on every die roll. If you're up for the challenge of a real adventure consider picking this one up.
This is an exciting game that's proven to be a favorite with many children and families. Together with your friends, you must work as a team to defend your castle against the horde of monsters that emerge from the forest and threaten to tear down your walls and destroy your castle towers. It's win or lose ... together!
Survive: Escape from Atlantis!
Survive is a cutthroat game where players seek to evacuate their pieces from an island that is breaking up, while remembering where their highest-valued pieces are located to maximize their score.
An island made up of 40 hex-tiles is slowly sinking into the ocean (as the tiles are removed from the board). Each player controls ten people (valued from 1 to 6) that they try and move towards the safety of the surrounding islands before the main island finally blows up. Players can either swim or use boats to travel but must avoid sea serpents, whales and sharks on their way to safety.
2012 Golden Geek Best Board Game Artwork/Presentation Winner
A long time ago at the Japanese Imperial court, the Chinese Emperor offered a giant panda bear as a symbol of peace to the Japanese Emperor. Since then, the Japanese Emperor has entrusted his court members (the players) with the difficult task of caring for the animal by tending to his bamboo garden.
In Takenoko, the players will cultivate land plots, irrigate them, and grow one of the three species of bamboo (Green, Yellow, and Pink) with the help of the Imperial gardener to maintain this bamboo garden. They will have to bear with the immoderate hunger of this sacred animal for the juicy and tender bamboo. The player who manages his land plots best, growing the most bamboo while feeding the delicate appetite of the panda, will win the game.
Family Games for Younger Children
These games are accessible to the youngsters but still provide enough challenge to keep the parents interested! You may also wish to check the Games by player age wiki page.
Animal Upon Animal
Animal Upon Animal is a fun stacking game that can be enjoyed by adults as well as by children as young as 4 (the game has some small wooden parts and it requires some fine motor skills which might be hard for younger children.) The players construct animal towers using cute wooden animals thus getting rid of all their animals. A die determines if you can attempt to stack 1-2 of your animals, pass one of your animals to another player or have to let another player choose which animal to stack. If you knock over the pile, you have to take 1-2 animals back into your hand and keep playing. First one to use all of their animals wins!
In Loopin' Louie, a battery-powered motor placed in the center of the table rotates a boom with a little plastic plane. Four radial arms lead out to the players' barns and the chickens they're trying to protect. Each player's barn has a little lever, which is used to knock the rotating plane away from your chickens and hopefully into someone else's. When only one player has chickens remaining, he or she wins the game. Very silly and very addictive. This is a the type of game that can be played with giggling little ones, competitive teens, and fun loving adults.
2009 Golden Geek for Best Children's Board Game
Slide, COLLIDE and SCORE TO WIN!
Grab your roller pawn and take aim - then skillfully slide it down your track onto the target board! A good slide could score big points, but watch out! An opponent's pawn may slam your pawn onto a Sorry! space - and out of the game!
This is a new twist on the Sorry! franchise with 4 different ways to play:
Chicken Cha Cha Cha
A memory game for children 4 and up. You must steal the feathers of other chickens in order to win. When you find the face down tile showing the same drawing as the one in front of your chicken-pawn, you can move forward.
This game is a-MAZE-ing! 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.
These party games are fun, light games designed to be played by a boisterous group.
2011 Golden Geek Award for Best Party Game
This award-winning party game features beautifully illustrated cards with unique artwork. The story-teller must make up a phrase to describe one of the illustrated cards, and after other players have chosen a card from their hand that they think also matches this phrase, players must try to pick out the story-teller's card from the cards of the other players. A beautiful game with intriguing pictures, and lots of room for creativity and fun!
2010 Golden Geek Award for Best Party Game
In this award winning party game, players sketch a word that's dictated by the roll of a die, then pass their sketch on to the next player to guess what's been drawn. That player then writes down what they think the word is, for the next player to draw a sketch of. Remember the classic game of Chinese Whispers? This is like that, but with pictures, and it's proven to be very popular and lots of fun!
2008 Golden Geek Award for Best Party Game
Say Anything is a light-hearted and award-winning game about what you and your friends think. It gives you the chance to settle questions that have been hotly debated for centuries. For instance, "What is the most overrated band of all time?" or "Which celebrity would be the most fun to hang out with for a day?" So dig deep into your heart or just come up with something witty - this is your chance to Say Anything!
Time's Up! Title Recall
2009 Golden Geek Award for Best Party Game (Deluxe version)
Based on the popular game Time's Up!, Time's Up: Title Recall challenges players to guess the titles of books, films, songs, and more. Players try to get other players to guess the same set of titles over three rounds. In each round, one member of a team tries to get his teammates to guess as many titles as possible in 30 seconds. In round 1, almost any kind of clue is allowed. In round 2 no more than one word can be used in each clue (but unlimited sounds and gestures are permitted.) In round 3, no words are allowed at all. This is one of the most popular party games, and a definite fit for Catchphrase, Taboo and Charades lovers! Other available editions include: Time's Up! and Time's Up! Deluxe.
---Wits & Wagers Party
2007 Golden Geek Award for Best Party Game
Take everything you know about trivia games and throw it out. Wits and Wagers Party 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. Other available editions include: Wits & Wagers Family and Wits & Wagers.
Wits & Wagers Party, a simplified version of the most award-winning party game in history, comes with 250 of the best questions from the out-of-print Wits & Wagers Expansion Pack 1. These questions were chosen because they are lighter and more fun than the questions from the original Wits & Wagers, making this the best edition to play with your non-gamer friends and family. The poker chips in this edition are twice as heavy and thick as those from the original W&W.
How to Play
Players score one poker chip for a correct bet or for having the closest guess. On the seventh and final question, players can bet their poker chips. The player with the most poker chips after this question wins.
The Resistance: Avalon
The Resistance: Avalon pits the forces of Good and Evil in a battle to control the future of civilization. Arthur represents the future of Britain, a promise of prosperity and honor, yet hidden among his brave warriors are Mordred's unscrupulous minions. These forces of evil are few in number but have knowledge of each other and remain hidden from all but one of Arthur's servants. Merlin alone knows the agents of evil, but he must speak of this only in riddles. If his true identity is discovered, all will be lost.
The Resistance: Avalon is a standalone game and revision of The Resistance. The games are compatible and can be combined.
The Resistance: Avalon is a party game of social deduction. It is designed for five to ten players, lasts about 30 minutes, and has no player elimination. The Resistance is inspired by Mafia/Werewolf, yet it is unique in its core mechanics which allow for more informed decisions, wilder player interaction, and no player elimination.
Two Player Games
Great for couples or fillers waiting for additional players.Jaipur
(For two players)
Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan. You are one of the two most powerful traders in the city. But that's not enough for you, because only the merchant with two Seals of Excellence will have the privilege of being invited to the Maharaja's court. You are therefore going to have to do better than your direct competitor by buying, exchanging and selling at better prices, all while keeping an eye on both your camel herds. Jaipur is a fast-paced card game, a blend of tactics, risk and luck.
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?
Hive comes in three versions: 1. Hive (original) 2. Hive: Carbon (monochromatic) and 3. Hive: Pocket (35% smaller). Both Hive: Carbon and Hive: Pocket include the Mosquito and Lady Bug expansion bugs.
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game is a tactical ship-to-ship combat game in which players take control of powerful Rebel X-Wings and nimble Imperial TIE fighters, facing them against each other in fast-paced space combat. Featuring stunningly detailed and painted miniatures, the X-Wing Miniatures Game recreates exciting Star Wars space combat throughout its several included scenarios. Select your crew, plan your maneuvers, and complete your mission!
Even though this is listed as a 2-player game. With additional sets of the starter pack or even with some expansions you can quickly add players to the fight. Look for these additional expansions... Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game Family
Mr. Jack is a quick deduction game for two loosely based on the investigation surrounding Jack the Ripper. One player represents Mr. Jack, who is masquerading as one of the characters on the board. The other player is the Investigator, who must discover who Jack is impersonating before the criminal escapes under the cover of night. Will Mr. Jack escape or will the Inspector arrest him before daybreak? Wits, logic, and bluffing will all determine the answer to that question.
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a new take on Uwe Rosenberg's Agricola designed for exactly two players and focused only on the animal husbandry aspect of that game. So long plows and veggies!
In Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, you become an animal breeder of horses, cows, sheep and pigs and try to make the most of your pastures. Players start with a 3x2 game board that can be expanded during play to give more room for players to grow and animals to run free. Sixteen possible actions are available for players to take, with each player taking three actions total in each of the eight rounds.
The player who amasses the most victory points through enclosing space with fences and acquiring the largest number and variety of animals and victory point-generating buildings will be the winner.
Four Standard Buildings and 4 special buildings are available in the base game. These buildings each provide unique special abilities during play and/or VP at game end. Balancing the tension between building infrastructure (fenced pastures and buildings) and acquiring animals (the single biggest source of end-game scoring) is the key to success!
Summoner Wars: Master Set
Summoner Wars is a fast-playing, action-packed game for 2 players in which they take on the role of Summoners: powerful beings who harness the power of mysterious Summoning Stones to lead their race to conquest on the war-torn planet of Itharia. These Summoners wield terrible magic on the battlefield, freezing their foes in place, draining their enemies of power, and even bringing rains of fire down from the heavens. But most notoriously, they summon their great race's hordes of warriors to the battlefield, to clash in the never-ending struggle for supremacy. A Summoner is both mage and general, and must combine their wizardly might with clever tactics to defeat the enemy Summoner on the opposite side of the battle.
The units you summon and command as Summoner are represented by decks of detailed cards on the battlefield. Each deck brings uniqueness to units and factions, allowing for repeated play as you pit different factions against each other. The Master Set comes with 6 of these factions and there are several expansions to add to your pool...Summoner Wars Family
Small, inexpensive, and well worth your time.
All of the eligible young men (and many of the not-so-young) seek to woo the princess of Tempest. Unfortunately, she has locked herself in the palace, and you must rely on others to take your romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first?
Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2–4 players. Your goal is to get your love letter into Princess Annette's hands while deflecting the letters from competing suitors. From a deck with only sixteen cards, each player starts with only one card in hand; one card is removed from play. On a turn, you draw one card, and play one card, trying to expose others and knock them from the game. Powerful cards lead to early gains, but make you a target. Rely on weaker cards for too long, however, and your letter may be tossed in the fire!
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.
Very simple rules, easy to learn and teach - in this game the aim is to collect large numbers of matching colored cards without having too many different sets of colors. Push your luck, collect sets - this is a tense and fun game that has proven very popular!
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?
For Sale is a quick, fun game nominally about buying and selling real estate. During the game's two distinct phases, players first bid for several buildings then, after all buildings have been bought, sell the buildings for the greatest profit possible.
As card games go, this one is quite revolutionary. Perhaps its oddest feature is that you cannot rearrange your hand, as you need to play the cards in the order that you draw them. The cards are colorful depictions of beans in various descriptive poses, and the object is to make coins by planting fields (sets) of these beans and then harvesting them. To help players match their cards up, the game features extensive trading and deal making.
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 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 online retailers in the US that 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:
Recent 2013 and older
Less Recent 2012 and older
Quick List at a Glance
All-Time Favorites --- Blokus, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Dominion
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