Every year for the past six years or so I’ve put together a list of 40, then 60, then 80 and then 90+ games and things for the geek in your life that cost (mostly) $20 or less. This year is no exception! Except again, I’m not going to assign a number to it – I’m just putting together everything I’ve found that rates as both entertaining, a good value for the money and affordable. So here it is: The Mega-List for 2017.
I put this list together originally to help people looking to buy good, fun gifts outside of their realm of experience, without spending an arm or a leg. If you’re buying a gift for a gamer and don’t want to get them another copy of Monopoly, well here you go.
These less expensive games tend to be smaller, making them easier to store and lug around. By way of disclosure, many of these are through amazon, and yes I get a small percentage of any sales. This goes directly in to keeping this site alive. Another trick, Amazon has free shipping for orders of $35 or more, but with Amazon prime, it’s free 2nd day shipping on many of these. Remember, if you’re a student, prime is free! Also, you can get Prime (as a non-student) and try it out for 30 days for free.
Items that have red prices cost over $20. Items that are green are 20 bucks or less. Click the images to go directly to Amazon or the site selling the item. All prices are subject to change at the unreadable whim of Amazon.com. PLEASE NOTE: I don’t control the pricing at Amazon, as much as I wish I did. These prices change constantly! They may be off by a dollar or two, or you may get really lucky and they may be $5-10 less.
As an added bonus, I’ve added a bunch of games, toys, books and movies that I very much enjoy, but which don’t even come close to falling into the under $20 or game categories. You’ll find those at the end.
If you have any suggestions you’d like to see on the list, feel free to let me know!
Now, in no particular order, a whole bunch of games and table top gifts costing mostly under $20.
Help Me! – $10.00
This is a wonderful, quick little filler that plays in 5-10 minutes and costs $5-10. Totally worth it! The spirits of nature are in danger! Can you help? By making use of your bluffing and tactical skills, carefully move the game tile while trying to determine the identity of your opponents creatures. My review!
Kingdominio – $17.00
Kingdomino lifts the time-honoured principle of dominoes to a new level – without losing any of the sleek elegance of its predecessor. On the contrary: the dual mechanics of planning the far-reaching lands surrounding the castle and the clever method of selecting tiles fit together extraordinarily well, they are expertly reduced to their essential components. I really, really enjoyed this one.
Go Nuts! – $9.00
Take your cheeky chances on this quick playing dice game of nut gathering nuttiness. Pile up points by rolling the dice and adding up acorns, while avoiding any cars along the way. If you roll all squirrels, scurry to score as many nuts as you can before your opponents’ dogs chase you away! The player with the most points wins.
Patchwork – $22.00
I love this 2 player game! In fact, you can ready my review right here! Patchwork is a form of needlework that involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design. In the past, it was a way to make use of leftover pieces of cloth to create clothing and quilts. Today, patchwork is a form of art, in which the designers use precious fabrics to create beautiful textiles. The use of uneven pieces of fabric in particular can result in real masterpieces and is therefore being practiced by a large number of textile artists. To create a beautiful quilt, however, requires effort and time, but the available patches just do not want to fit together. So choose your patches carefully and keep a healthy supply of buttons to not only finish your quilt, but to make it better and more beautiful than your opponent‘s.
Any Pack O Games game – $6.99
There are small games and then there are small games. All of the Pack O Games brand games fit into the latter category. Each fits into a box the size of a traditional pack of gum. Gem is one of my personal favorites – I have them all and am working through them over time. Another great one is Bus. Inexpensive, tiny, fun.
Rhino Hero – $14.00
This one shot to the top of my list of amazingly fun games to play. The only game in my collection where card-bending is not only encouraged, but required. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Super Rhino! No building too high, no street too dangerous for this caped crusader, as he scales buildings and patrols the city protecting the citizens. On his quest for safety, he must use caution as even the most solid buildings may start to sway and wobble. Can you help Super Rhino accomplish the challenge to build a skyscraper as tall and solid as can be? A heroic 3D-stacking game for 2-5 players ages 5+ and amazingly fun for adults.
Isle of Trains – $13.00
A lot of game in a little package! Players are train operators, building trains with the right mix of freight cars needed to complete delivery contracts before your opponents. Cards are used in multiple ways: they can be built as train cars or buildings supporting your train line, used as currency to pay the cost of building those new train cars and buildings, or used as cargo to load on available train cars.
21 Flowers – Hanamikoji – $19.00
This excellent 2 player game has you as restaurateurs vying for the favor of the seven graceful and adored geisha. Compete to earn the favors of more geisha masters to increase your business, by collecting essential items and giving away those less important. Featuring incredible artwork, fluid gameplay, and a quick 15-30 minute playtime, dive into Japanese culture and curry favor with the greatest number of geisha to make your restaurant the most revered of them all!
Flip City – $15.00
Another good game from TMG, Flip City is a tiny little deck builder with everything you’ll need to play in the box – no extras, expansions or must-have add ons. The citizens of Flip City want you to expand and renovate their neighborhoods — but if you ask for too much in taxes all at once, they won’t be happy! To keep them at ease, you will play cards from the top of your deck (no hand!), push your luck, build your deck, and upgrade cards by flipping them.
Mystery Rummy – Jack the Ripper – $15.00
Will you succeed where Scotland Yard failed? The case of Jack the Ripper is re-opened in this innovative card game that combines the elements of an exciting mystery with the strategies of traditional rummy. Each suspect, victim and murder scene is depicted with historical accuracy in this challenging game of intrigue and suspense.
The Game – $15.00
While I’m not terribly sold on the name, the actual game is great. The Game: On Fire adds even more fun to one of the most addictive games to come out in recent years. In The Game: On Fire, 1-5 players work together to try and discard 98 cards into 4 different piles while never telling each other exactly which cards they’re holding. Adding fuel to the fun are the new “On Fire” cards, which MUST be played on when they hit the table. If you like the Game, you’ll love the added challenge The Game: On Fire brings. • 20 minutes of fun! • 1-5 players • Playable from ages 8+ • Art from Oliver & Sandra Freudenreich, game design by Steffen Benndorf!
Codenames – $17.00
This game was all the buzz during convention season this year. It was available in limited quantities until, well, now. Codenames is a social word game with a simple premise and challenging game play. Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their codenames. The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. There’s also Codenames: Pictures, Duet, Disney, Marvel, etc.
The Grizzled – $17.00
Through what tragedies can friendship endure? The Grizzled is a fast paced, fully cooperative card game that takes place in the trenches of World War I. Already a best seller in Europe, The Grizzled is an elegant game of avoiding threats and leading a team, and is regarded as one of the finest cooperative games ever made. Featuring beautiful art by French artist Tignous. The Grizzled’ s outstanding art is the perfect complement to its message of peaches and enduring friendship.
Grifters – $19.99
Grifters is a hand-building game that has all the fun of deck-building, without the deck. Players take on the role of powerful crime bosses, building their criminal organizations by carefully recruiting new operatives with specialized skills and directing their team’s nefarious deeds. All of your specialists are either in play or in your hand, ready to be used as you command. This unique handbuilding mechanic gives you total control of your strategy.
Deep Sea Adventure – $18.00
Okay, so it’s under $20 and red. What gives? Generally this wicked fun game sits around $22 on Amazon but a few times a year it dips below $20. If it does, snatch it up! This and other Oink! games are great. A group of poor explorers hoping to get rich quickly heads out to recover treasures from some undersea ruins. They’re all rivals, but their budgets force them all to share a single rented submarine. In the rented submarine, they alll have to shore a single tank of air, as well. If they don’t get back to the sub before they run out of air, they’ll drop all their treasure. Now it‘s time to see who can bring home the greatest riches.
Mottainai – $19.00
Another addition from the Reddit crew that I can’t believe I forgot off this list in the first place! Mottainai refines and transforms the core gameplay of the out of print Glory to Rome, and takes players on a journey to a Buddhist temple to create various works of art. Each of the cards in Mottainai is unique, featuring beautiful watercolor illustrations of the works. Every one has a special ability, which in typical Chudyk fashion can and will need to be combined cleverly with other cards to outwit your opponents. The Mottainai Mini edition comes in smaller packaging for a lower price with one deck, for 2-3 player games. Two copies of Mottainai Mini can be combined to play a 4-5 player game.
Fuji Flush – $14.00
Fuji flush is a fast, fun, easy-to-learn card game for 3-D players. Families and gamers will be shouting as their cards are sent down the drainage clockwise order, everyone plays one card each. When a card is higher than other cards on the table, all lower cards are flushed off the table and those players draw a new card. However, if two or more players play the same card number, you add those card values together. In this way, smaller cards can join forces to topple the bigger cards. This simple innovation makes all the difference! if a player’s card is still in front of them when their turn returns, they can discard it without redrawing. First player) to get rid of their cards wins.
The Dwarf King – $17.35
The Dwarf King (Le Roi des Nains) is a trick-taking game played with a deck of 53 cards: three suits (Dwarves, Goblins and Knights) of thirteen cards each and fourteen special cards. The game also includes twenty contract tiles. The game is played over seven rounds. At the start of a round, the dealer randomly draws one special card, reads it to all the players, shuffles it into the deck, then deals the deck out evenly to all players. (The dealer for the first round is the game’s owner; for subsequent rounds, the dealer is the one who took the 5 of Dwarves in the previous round.) The player who receives the 5 of Knights draws a contract tile, reads it, then chooses one of the two scoring rules on it to apply for that round. The player holding the 5 of Goblins leads on the first trick. Players must follow suit if possible and the game includes no trump. The highest card played of the suit led wins the trick and leads to the next trick. Once all cards have been played, players tally their points (possibly negative), remove the special card and contract tile from the game, then shuffle for the next round. The player who scores the most points over seven rounds wins the game.
Blood of an Englishman – $12.00
In The Blood of an Englishman, players take on the role of either Jack or the Giant. The Giant must maneuver the Fee Fi Fo and Fum cards while Jack tries to create three bean stalks to steal the bag of gold, the Golden Goose, and the Singing Harp. Each player has different available actions and must carefully arrange the cards to achieve their goal. Are you brave enough to face your fate?
Best Treehouse Ever – $19.00
Have you ever dreamed of building a super awesome treehouse? Now it’s time to live that dream! In Best Treehouse Ever by Scott Almes, players compete to build the best treehouse in the neighborhood. Players will outfit their treehouse with the coolest rooms, all while making sure their tree doesn’t tip over and that their rooms are the most impressive at the end of the game. Building takes place over three weeks/rounds, and at the end of the third week the winner will be the player with the best treehouse ever!.
Why First? – $10
I first encountered this game at a local con a few years ago. Lots of meta gaming going on in this one! Being first is way cool, right? In this quick and crazy game you will have to be second to get the big points! That is so much cooler! After five stages the winner will be the one who has scored the second-most points. It can’t get any better than this.
ChromaCast Bag (for hauling around all your games) – $19.00
I don’t know what a Cajon is, but this bag is amazing at hauling your board games. Keep your Cajon in top condition. The Chromacast Cajon bag is made from high strength nylon with reinforced stitching. These economic padded Cajon bags feature 10 mm padding, shoulder straps and a carry handle for easy transport. Stealth Edit: A Cajon is a type of box drum, as I learned from Reddit. Thanks u/TakeNote!
Castles of Burgundy – The Card Game – $12.00
Despite my appalling inability to spell Burgundy, I love the original game. Here’s the card version! The hundred years’ War is over and the Renaissance is looming. Conditions are perfect for the princes of the Loire Valley to propel their estates to prosperity and prominence. Through strategic trading and building, clever planning, and careful thought, players add settlements and castles, practice trade along the river, exploit silver mines, farm Livestock and more in this top-selling game by Stefan Feld. I may actually prefer the card version for it’s quick play ability.
Star Wars Lego – $20.00
Believe it or not there are a ton of Star Wars Lego sets that are $20 or less. I’ve sorted out a group of them that are $25 or less – just filter this by price and you’ll have all the Star Wars Legos you could want for under $20.
Pixel Tactics – $14.00
Pixel Tactics is a head-to-head card game that’s small on size and big on strategy. Build your unit from 25 different hero classes. Rally around a leader that will affect everyone’s capabilities, and go to war with your opponent in a fast-paced battle of strategies! This is a standalone game with everything in the box.
Lost Cities – $20.00
Take two players, give them risky choices and watch them go! Who will discover the ancient civilizations? Two explorers embark on research journeys to remote corners of the world: the Himalayan mountains, the Central American rainforest, the Egyptian desert, a mysterious volcano, and the bottom of the sea. As the cards are played, the expedition routes take shape and the explorers earn points. The most daring adventurers make bets on the success of their expeditions.
Swamped – $14.00
You’re lost in a deadly swamp with unreliable companions. Can you navigate the mission to success and claim personal victory or will the crocodile catch you first? Swamped is a huge adventure in a small box for 2-4 players. Disclaimer – this is my game! I’m terribly proud of it too. It’s a semi-co-op number where players share control of a boat while searching for treasure and trying to avoid death by crocodile!
7 Wonders Duel – $24.00
If you know someone or are someone who really loves 7 Wonders but would love a non-kludged together way to play it with only 2 people, well boy are you going to like this. 7 Wonders Duel takes the game play and excitement of the original and adapts it for one-on-one battles. Take control of your civilization and decide to invest in science, military or prestige. Two new ways to win will keep you on your toes and watching every move your opponent makes. If you fail to build defenses your capital city may be destroyed, but ignore technology and your people may be left in the dark ages.
Pairs – $9.00
Pairs is a super quick, extremely easy to teach press your luck card game. There’s only one loser each round and it can be played once in 5 minutes or for a good, solid hour while you and your opponents hurl insults at each other and twirl any mustaches you may have between you. Not that I’ve ever done that.
Zany Penguins – $15.00
An energetic card game, Zany Penguins is a wacky and playful addition to any game collection. The icebergs are rapidly melting and it’s causing quite a stir for penguins everywhere, who are now scrambling to seize new territories for their own. Use your toughest tuxedoed troops to conquer key areas from Antarctica to the moon or save them for the final showdown to decide who will become Master of the World. Trading phases and special cards add elements of surprise and sabotage, providing engaging game play for players of all ages.
Welcome to the Dungeon – $12.00
Here’s a title that’s on my wishlist this year. Welcome to the Dungeon is a micro dungeon crawler by Masato Uesugi and Paul Mafayon for 2 to 4 players with push-your-luck elements and disappearing equipment. Dare your opponents to tackle the dungeon with less-and-less equipment to fend off the increasing horde of monsters. This push-your-luck dungeon delve tests your courage and shrewd choices. Beat the dungeon twice or be the last warrior standing to win the game.
Ninja Camp – $15.00
Goooood morning, campers! I hope you got plenty of sleep last night, because Sensei Saru has a full day of training in store for you! So study your lessons well, and be quicker and craftier than your fellow campers, as Sensei only invites the best to be his personal apprentices. Will it be YOU?!One of the Small Box/Big Fun line of games from Action Phase Games, Ninja Camp pits animal martial artists against one another in a training exercise where the best will become the personal ninja apprentice of Sensei Saru.
6 Nimmt – $12.00
You start with 10 cards, ranked between 1 and 104. Each round, you must add a card to one of 4 active rows. If you play the 6th card in a row, you must take the first 5 cards in that row. This is not a good thing! You get penalty points for each bull head on these cards. The player with the least bull heads wins.
Artifacts Inc. – $20.00
A game from Red Raven Games, where Ryan Laukat designs and illustrates everything. I’ve another of his games further down below and it’s my game of the year. Players roll dice, which represent their troop of adventurers and place them on cards in order to find artifacts, sell them to museums and purchase new cards representing their company assets. Players can choose to focus on making lots of money by selling artifacts, having museum majorities, creating the best combination of expeditions and buildings, or searching below the waves for lost cities and hidden treasures. The first player to reach 20 reputation triggers the end of the game and the player with the most total reputation wins.
Slueth – $22.00
In Sleuth, a classic deduction game from master designer Sid Sackson originally released as part of the 3M Gamete Series, players are searching for a hidden gem, one of 36 gem cards hidden before the start of the game. The remainder of this gem deck – with each card showing 1-3 diamonds, pearls or opals in one of four colors – is distributed evenly among the players, with any remaining cards laid face up. Thus, you and everyone else starts with some information about what’s not missing.
Skull – $23.00
Here’s a masterful bluffing game for you. Players will hold three rose cards and one skull. Add a card to the pile in front of you, and when you feel lucky, announce your challenge and declare how many cards you will flip. Cards that show a rose are safe, but if you expose your opponent’s hidden skull, you lose one of your own cards. Keep your cards to the bitter end to win this clever game of deception and perception!
Guilds of Cadwallon – $17.00
A tiny little miniatures game! In the Free City of Cadwallon, a constant shadowy struggle for power simmers just below the surface of the seemingly peaceful city. Mighty guilds constantly vie for power, influence, and control. Using your influence and instincts, can you turn the never ending struggle for power between the guilds to your advantage?
Honshu – $19.00
Honshu is a map building card game set in feudal Japan. Players are Lords and ladies of noble houses seeking new lands and opportunities for fame and fortune. Honshu is played in rounds, with each round is divided into two phases. During the first phase, map cards are revealed and the player who played the highest value card gets to pick first from those played. In phase two, the players use their chosen map card to expand their personal maps.
Happy Salmon – $13.50
Oh god do I love this stupid little game. Happy salmon is the simple, fast-paced card game packed to the gills with high-flying’, fin-flappin’ fun. Actions including the classic “high 5”, the unifying “pound it”, the frantic “Switcheroo”, and the delightful “happy salmon” will leave players doubled over in laughter. With so many mini-celebrations built into the play, it’s the happiest game ever! how to play 1. Everyone calls out the action shown on their top card. 2. When two players have a match, they celebrate performing that action together, then discard their top card. 3. The first player to match all of the cards in their deck wins!.
Shinobi Clans – $17.00
As a ruthless and cunning shinobi clan master, you lead your team of ninjas on secret missions that decide between life and death for dangerous ronin, noble daimyos and powerful shoguns. Recruit the most skilled assassins, arm them with the deadliest weapons, and devise plans that will outwit your rivals on your way to becoming the most feared and prosperous ninja clan of them all!
Desperados of Dice Town – $18.00
You’ve hired the most ruthless gang of desperados you could find, but before they could take care of your opponents, the sheriff went and locked ’em up. Now it’s up to you to spring those banditos and send them after your foes, before they do the same to you! Players will roll a handful of specialized dice, hoping to see the symbols that will advance their outlaws to the keys that will get them out of jail. Underhanded tricks, surprise cards and the abilities of the bandits themselves will help you push your luck and execute your cunning plan – bankrupt the others and become the criminal mastermind of Dice Town!
Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City – $18.50
Here’s one I’ve not yet played but have heard great things about.Machi Koro with an all-new gameplay set-up that makes each game play completely unique without ever slowing down the high-paced fun or losing any of the original charm. Machi Koro: Bright Lights is a completely stand-alone experience that plays 2-5 players right out of the box. With more than 180 cards and 3 dice, get ready to see Machi Koro in a whole new light.
Fairy Tale – $16.99
If you like drafting games here’s another title you’ll be interested in. With game play lasting 15-20 minutes and a variant designed by Richard Garfield thrown in it makes for a good, light game.
Cthulhu Realms – $16.00
Cthulhu themed deck building! In Cthulhu Realms, each player tries to reduce their opponents to insanity or have more sanity than their opponents when the deck runs out. Each player starts the game with a small deck comprised of initiates, goons and followers. Five cards from the deck form a row of available cards on the table; with more than two players, place three available cards between each pair of players.
Oh My Goods! – $13.00
Oh My goods lets you control a network of workshops and craftsmen, helping you become the richest merchant in the game! you start with the ability to make charcoal, but will you make your fortune from cloth or meat, or perhaps some other goods? use the resources from the common pool and your hand to activate and run your workshops, and hire assistants. Create chains of good to increase your income.
Empire Engine – $6.00
This little game has been on my shelf for a while now and I’m itching to get it to the table. During the game, players simultaneously choose actions to attack, defend, salvage, export, or collect resources (goods for export, soldiers to attack your opponents and inventions to score points). Players use their gears to rotate their engines, and in each round perform the actions on the top edges of their engines. The player who scores the most points for the goods, soldiers and inventions in their score pile at the end of the game is the winner!
Valley of the Kings – $16.00
Love this deck builder! A lot of people have been commenting on how well it works both mechanically and thematically! Also, while the price ranges from $18-$22, keep an eye on it. You should be able to get it for $20 or less. In Valley of the Kings, 2-4 players are Egyptian nobles at the time of the pharaohs, preparing for their death and burial in the Valley of the Kings. In the Egyptian religion, when you die you can take it with you! Egyptians therefore stocked their tombs with food, shabti (statuettes of servants who will work for them in the afterlife), canopic jars (to preserve their organs), statues of the gods, household items, and amulets.
Good Cop Bad Cop – $14.00
A deduction and bluffing game for 4-8 players which plays quick and is suitable for your larger groups. Corruption has infiltrated your agency. The Kingpin must be taken down before the crooked cops take out the Agent. You wont be able to do it alone but theres no knowing whos honest and whos crooked. Do some investigating to discover whos who but act fast; there arent enough guns for everyone This version is a second printing that puts the game in a traditional telescoping box
The Builders – Medieval Age – $17.00
Recruit workers and create buildings to prove that you are the greatest builder. You’ll have to start small, with cottages and stables, but you’ll be building your name as you build your masterpieces and before long, you’ll complete the cathedral! Hire worker cards, pay them to build your buildings and balance your income with your expenses. You can’t do everything on your turn – but you’ll want to! From wells and shacks to castles and churches, use your resources to create structures that will stand the test of time.
The Great Dalmuti – $15.00
A light card game where players gain status by going out first. The 80-card commercial deck contains cards ranked from 12 to 1, along with two Jesters. Each card bears a number, which is not only its rank, but also tells you how many of that card exist in the deck. In other words, there are twelve 12s, eleven 11s, four 4s and a single card ranked 1. The lower the number, the better the rank. The deck is dealt out to all players and the object is to get rid of your cards as fast as possible.
Qwixx – $9.00
Qwixx is simple to play but each decision is crucial – the more numbers you cross off, the more points you score. With no downtime between turns you’ll have a chance to gain from each and every roll.
Cube Quest – $25.00
If you’re looking for a fun, dice flicking, army building dexterity game, here you go! Mobilize your fingers for the ultimate six-sided skirmish. Field an army of cubes and then place them strategically on the board. Each cube has special powers: Heroes and Skulks are strong on the attack, while Guards are better for defense. Once your cubes are in position, sound the trumpets and let the flicking begin. Try to knock your opponent’s king off the board, aiming carefully not to get caught behind enemy lines. Triumph in your quest and crown yourself the Cube King.
Just Desserts – $14.00
From Looney Labs, this happens to by my 10 year old’s pick for game of the year. It’s also interesting enough that I’m not sick of playing it. It’s a relatively simple card game of set collection where you as a dessert provider, must match your ingredients to your customers to create desserts that they’ll love. Once you have a match, you collect your customers – looking to collect three of a single suit or five of the available suits of customers. You can read my full review here.
Times Up – Title Recall – $17.00
Times Up was a decent party game staple and now it’s been revamped! Guess titles of famous books, songs, movies, TV shows and lots more. New for this edition are expanded rules to allow an odd number of players (3, 5, or 7). Even more exciting is the addition of an all new 4th round, the Freeze Challenge.
Qwirkle – $18.00
A new classic game for us. Featuring a massive amount of in-game choices, including three tiles each of thirty-six possible color-symbol combinations, Qwirkle is the perfect game to hone player’s tactical maneuvers, strategical planning, and forward thinking. The rules of the game are basic: simply build lines by matching tiles based on either color or shape, and score points for doing so. The ability to build complex combinations will keep children interested and engaged, and challenge them mentally. Qwirkle is playable from early ages up, allowing young children and older individuals alike to develop and hone their spacial recognition, planning, and problem solving skills.
Ninja Dice – $14.00
If you know me at all, you know my abiding love for Ninjas. That’s where Ninja Dice comes in! I saw the folks who publish this demoing it at Total Confusion and it looked like a great time. Ninja Dice is a fast-paced, push-your-luck dice game with a unique mechanic: it’s not just what you roll, where the dice land is important!
Dead Man’s Draw – $19.00
Based off of a popular app, Dead Man’s Draw is a push your luck card game. It comes with a number of colorful characters as well, which I personally suggest you set aside and never, ever use. The rest of the game however makes for a spectacular filler game, lasting 10-20 minutes and playing up to 4 players.
Start Player – $9.75
By our detailed calculations, more than 2.5 million additional games could be played each year if you took less time picking a start player. Start Player solves this problem: Just turn over a card and you’ll know who the start player is. Maybe it’s as simple as the tallest player, or the player with the most unbuttoned buttons. It’s the most comprehensive system ever devised for choosing who starts a game.
Harbour – $15.99
Harbour did quite well on Kickstarter and now it’s in stock everywhere! Harbour is a worker placement game where players move their worker from building to building, collecting and trading Fish, Livestock, Wood, and Stone; and cashing those resources in to purchase buildings (which are the worker placement spots) from the central pool. Once a building is purchased, it is replaced from the deck, and the central pool is a small subset of the deck, and is therefore different every game.
Cockroach Poker – $13.00
A super easy, quite fun bluffing game! Not really like poker, but a poker face is essential! It makes for a great family game but also works very well as a filler or pub-style game too. Easy to learn, fun to play, inexpensive and attractive looking. What more could you ask for?
Star Wars Risk – $19.00
Yes, here I am recommending a Risk game. Star Wars Risk is a modern, slightly less hectic redo of the much sought after game The Queen’s Gambit. From everything I’ve heard, it’s a fantastic little game with a ton of plastic minis for under $25. It’s actually quite a good game – here’s my review!
Epic – $14.00
From the folks who brought you Star Realms comes EPIC – another fast and furious deck smashing game. They’ve got a bunch of different ways to play, from each player grabs 30 cards and you go! To full on deck construction, sealed/open draft and what have you. A very fun game.
Coloretto – $12.00
If Zooloretto looks interesting to you but you’d like it in a smaller package, Coloretto may be your jam. The players draw cards from a card supply in the middle of the table. During the game, the players try to specialize in a few colors, as at the end of the game, a player can score plus points for only 3 colors; the rest score minus points. The more cards a player has of a color, the more points he scores. The player with the most points wins.
Biblios – $19.00
Never before has working in medieval conditions copying books been so fun! As an abbot of a medieval monastery, you compete with other abbots to amass the greatest library of sacred books. To do so, you need to have both the workers and resources to run a well-functioning scriptorium. To acquire workers and resources, you use a limited supply of donated gold. In addition, you must be on good terms with the powerful bishop, who can help you in your quest.
Kahuna – $18.00
Who will rule the South Seas? Two Kahuna – ancient sorcerers of the Pacific – compete for dominance on an archipelago consisting of twelve small islands. Using their magic and wisdom, they struggle for control of the islands. They anxiously await the cards handed to them by fate. But when the time is right, they move to capture one, two, or even more islands, trying to gain the upper hand. At the mercy of the magical powers of the South Seas, they quickly realize that even the best magic is no good without strategy.
Fidelitas – $18.00
Here’s a neat set collection game of medieval interest. It’s surprisingly deep for a little card game and really captured my wife’s interest – we’ve played a bunch of 2-3 player games and thoroughly enjoy it. In Fidelitas, players take on the role of faithful citizens in a medieval city who are exerting influence in order to gain the credibility needed to lead the charge against the corrupt crown. Players play character cards to various locations that make up the city in order to meet conditions of hidden objectives. Each type of character card is associated with a unique action that manipulates cards in the game
Carcassonne – $24.00
A classic of the new hobby games, Carcassonne is now out in a new edition. What can I say? It’s a great game and probably just about the most ‘game’ you’ll get in a $23 package. Time tested and it continues to sell. The southern French city of Carcassonne is famous for its unique roman and medieval fortifications. The players develop the area around Carcassonne and deploy their followers on the roads, in the cities, in the cloisters, and in the fields. The skill of the players to develop the area will determine who is victorious.
Eminent Domain Microcosm – $13.00
A wonderful take on the larger Eminent Domain – this two player game of tiny galactic domination plays very fast. Do yourself a favor though, grab the updated copy of the rules (as a PDF) from Board Game Geek, which will make your first game a heck of a lot easier.
Star Wars Loopin’ Chewie – $15.99
Sneaking in at just under $20 is this re-theme of the classic kids (and in some places, adult drinking) game Loopin’ Louie. Loopin’ Chewie is a fast, dexterity game. Every time he flies by in his Millennium Falcon vehicle, he’ll be out to knock another Stormtrooper off. But if you can flip him out of the way with your paddle, he’ll go after someone else’s Stormtrooper! Be ready, though, because he’s got some super-dodgy moves!
Magic: The Gathering – Arena of the Plainswalkers – $10-20
Or… Heroscape reborn. Lots of folks go trawling eBay and thrift stores looking for the now out of print Heroquest game system. Arena of the Plainswalker’s is Hasboro/WotC answer to this by revamping and re-releasing the system based on their Magic: The Gathering IP. It comes with a bunch of decent plastic minis, a bit of minimal 3D terrain and a large game board. There’s quite a lot of game packed into this box for the price. The price has also be fluxuating wildly but I’ll bet you can get it for well under $25 if you keep your eyes open. Also look for the expansions on the cheap too.
Exploding Kittens – $19.99
Just about the highest grossing Kickstarter game in the history of ever. It’s a simple card game featuring lots of cats, explosions and artwork from the Oatmeal. In this highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette, players draw cards until someone draws an Exploding Kitten, at which point they explode, they are dead, and they are out of the game — unless that player has a Defuse card, which can defuse the Kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the Exploding Kittens. Also comes in a NSFW/Adult version.
Tiny Epic Galaxies – $25.00
It’s not a big box but there’s a ton of game there! Interesting (sometimes really tough) decisions and plays 1-4 – that’s right, solo games! Tiny Epic Galaxies is driven by an exciting dice-rolling mechanic that rewards thoughtful programming of the results. Players control a home planet and a series of space ships within their own personal galaxy. As players upgrade their galaxies they gain access to more ships and more dice. One of our current go to games.
Tiny Epic Western – $21.00
Another entry in the Tiny Epic series, TEW has met with lots of praise from gamers. Poker meets worker-placement with Bullet Dice. In Tiny Epic Western the Board Game – The West is growing day by day, and you’re looking to stake your claim. To win, you have to gamble your relationships with the most powerful bosses in town to win influence. This influence comes in many forms: Law, Money and Force. If you’re clever enough, you’ll be able to take claim over the buildings in the ever growing boomtowns and gain powerful abilities. At the end of the day, the boss who has the best combination of wit and bluff will become the most powerful tycoon in the Wild Wild West.
Doodle Quest – $17.00
Arts and crafts meet games! Dive below the deep blue sea where there’s fish to gobble, treasure to discover and divers to save! You will complete each quest with the power of your pen, drawing your way through underwater scenes on the quest cards. But it’s not that easy! Players draw on separate transparent sheets and must trust their eyes in order to meet targets and avoid obstacles. This unique drawing game includes 36 illustrations and two levels to master. The bait of the challenge hooks kids for hours of fun!
Antidote – $18.00
Antidote takes all of the fun things about a game like the original Clue and boils it down to a fast, changing, fun deduction game without all the random stuff! In Antidote, you are a laboratory scientist working for a giant chemical research conglomerate. When you and your lab are suddenly exposed to a deadly toxin, you must work quickly to share your research and discover the Antidote before it’s too late!
Camel Up – $34.00
It’s a betting and racing game featuring stackable camels and a unique, dice rolling pyramid. In Camel Up, up to eight players bet on five racing camels, trying to suss out which will place first and second in a quick race around a pyramid. The earlier you place your bet, the more you can win – should you guess correctly, of course. This is one that my family really enjoys. There’s also a card version for under $18.
Tides of Time – $13.00
I’ll admit, I don’t know a ton about this 2 player game, other than lots and lots of people have started recommending it to me. Play as an ancient civilization as they prosper and collapse through time. Build gigantic monuments, raise impenetrable fortifications, and amass vast knowledge as the ages pass. The greatest civilizations will leave their mark long after their collapse. From times long forgotten to times recently lost, civilizations will rise and fall as the tide of time carries them.
Lost Legacy – The Starship – $12.00
A bit like Love Letter, with some added mechanics – but plays just as fast and is in my opinion a slightly better game. In the distant past, a starship from a faraway world appeared in the sky. Damaged in battle, the craft broke apart and traced lines of fire across the horizon. These falling stars crashed to the surface and in the ages to come, became enshrined in legends as the Lost Legacy. There are a bunch of expansions you can play stand alone, or mix in with your current sets too.
Nuts! – $12.00
Squirrels. They love nuts. They’d do anything to get their hands on nuts. They sometimes mess with each other to get their hands on each others’ nuts. In the end, for a squirrel, it really is all about the nuts. As a squirrel, it’s a matter of pride to see who has the biggest and baddest nuts in the park.
Lagoon: Land of Druids – $18.00
Lagoon is the first world that ever was. Boundless spiritual energy flows through the land, and is the source of all the world’s magic. All was in balance, until divinity was split by the rise of humanity into three energies that now vie for dominion of Lagoon: Element is the energy of the spirit, Vowelon is the energy of the heart, and Deonin is the energy of the mind. In the end, one of these three energies will become Lagoon’s destiny. It is up to humanity’s druids to unify Lagoon. Lagoon: Land of Druids is a game about forging the destiny of a world. While not everyone’s cup of tea, I have this game and I’ve enjoyed it. For the price, it’s a steal.
Diamonsters – $10.00
From the folks who brought you Machi Koro. Diamonsters, is a fast-paced monster collecting card game! In Diamonsters, each player begins the game with the same hand, and the first player to collect three identical monsters or five diamonds wins. But it’s not so simple, some monsters are more valuable than others, and some will eat the diamonds you fought so hard for!
Poo – $15.00
Sometimes, being an ape ain’t so bad. It’s been a tough day in the monkey cage and something in the food tonight wasn’t quite right. In monkey world, there’s only one thing that can be done about it – fling poo. It doesn’t matter who started it in this fast and furious game of monkey see, monkey doo. It only matters who has what it takes to be king of the cage.
Pocket Battles – Celts vs Romans – $14.00
There are a bunch of games in the Pocket Battles series, all under $20 and all being compact, fun little wargames. Pocket Battles is a wargame that easy to learn, inexpensive, fast, portable and requires minimum table space! It is also compatible with other Pocket Battle games in the series!
Smash Up – $18.99
Take two decks, say Ninjas and Dinosaurs, smash ’em together and face off against other players who’ve created equally absurd and fun decks!
Age of War – $12.00
Can you unite the clans amidst the tumult of war? Age of War is a fast-paced dice game for two to six players by world renowned game designer Reiner Knizia. You and your fellow players assume the roles of daimyos competing to unite the warring clans of feudal Japan and assume control of the nation. During play, you muster troops by rolling seven custom dice, and you use. these troops to lay siege to one of fourteen different castles, each of which requires you to assemble a unique combination of troops in order to conquer it.
Blokus – $16.00
Stake your claim and protect your territory with Blokus game! There’s just one rule: each piece you play must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners! It takes less than a minute to learn but has depth to challenge your whole family.
Iota – $8.50
Iota is a tiny little game that packs a lot of punch. I’ve tried it out several times and there really is a game in this here little box. The only thing I don’t like about it is the use of a piece of scratch paper for scoring – if that doesn’t bother you though, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Red7 – $10.00
The rules of Red are simple: Highest card wins! But Red is only one of seven games you’ll be playing. Red7 is a quick and easy to learn card game that you can teach and play in five minutes. You must be in the lead at the end of your turn, or you’re out. Play from your hand to improve your palette, or discard to the rules canvas to change the game! Red7 uses a deck of 49 cards, numbered 1-7 in suits of the seven rainbow colors.
Loot – $11.00
Arrrrr! The Plundering Pirate Card Game. Yo-Ho-Ho and a barrel of fun! Set sail for an exciting adventure of strategy and skullduggery in this captivating card game. Storm your opponents’ merchant ships and seize valuable treasure. But watch your back, matey — plundering pirates are out to capture your ships as well, the player with the most loot rules the high seas.
Boss Monster – $19.00
Remember all those 8-Bit games I used to play. No? Well here’s a chance for you to live my childhood. Boss Monster is a dungeon building game of chaos and, well, boss monsters. It pits 2-4 players in a competition to build the ultimate side-scrolling dungeon. Players compete to lure and destroy hapless adventurers, racing to outbid one another to see who can build the most enticing, treasure-filled dungeon.
We Didn’t Playtest This At All – $12.50
The most aptly named game ever! In this exceptionally silly and awesome game, your objective is to win! Simple enough. Sadly, all of your opponents have the same simple goal, and they’re trying to make you lose. Between Rock Paper Scissors battles, being eaten by a random Dragon, or saved by a Kitten Ambush, there are many hazards to avoid. Games last between 30 seconds and 5 minutes, and are lots of fun. Any number can play, though we recommend between 2 and 15.
BraveRats – $8.00
In the Highlands of Medieval Scotland, an epic battle is taking place underfoot! Rivaling rat clans clash in a bid for the throne in this fast take on the card game War. Both players have a hand of eight cards, numbered 0 to 7, with each character on the card possessing a special power. In a calculated duel, both players reveal a card. The victory goes to the higher number, unless the special power overrules. The first player to win four rounds claims the kingdom for their clan. This minimalist wonder plays in just minutes but packs rich game play and plenty of suspense.
Robot Turtles – $22.00
Robot Turtles took in a decent amount of money on Kickstarter last year and now it’s just about everywhere. From what I understand, it’s with good cause too. If you’re looking to get kids as young as 4 years old interested in the concepts of modern programming – this is the game do to it with. Two words: Robot Turtles. This game teaches kids 4+ the ins and outs of programming in a fun, tactile game. Perfect for 2-5 players, this game has levels of increasing difficulty, introducing obstacles and more complex Code Cards. Beginner to Advanced levels will make it a family favorite for many years!
Marvel Dice Masters – $15
There are a ton of Dice Master sets out there. Assemble a Dice Masters team of some of the most powerful Avengers to take down any foe with Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers – Age of Ultron! Age of Ultron is introduced in Starter Sets containing 44 custom dice, 38 cards, two dice bags, and the complete Dice Masters Core Rulebook, as well as 90-count Gravity Feeds highlighting more than 30 new characters (and dice)!
Castles of Burgundy – $28.00
A wonderful introduction to the world of Euro-style games. The Castles of Burgundy is a detailed strategy game set in the Loire Valley of France during medieval times. Players assume the role of princes trying to build the greatest estates in the land by becoming more prosperous than their competitors. Over the course of five rounds, players collect points by trading, livestock farming, city building and scientific research. They must buy and sell goods or labor and use action tiles for building, shipping, mining, livestock and knowledge across two game boards.
Just about any game from Button Shy Games – $10.00-$15.00
Button Shy Games have a bunch of games in their Wallet Series which are little card games that come self contained in their own plastic wallets. They’re entertaining, offer a bunch of replay value as good filler games and are fairly unique in their presentation. Check them out!
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Starter Set – $18.00
The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set is your gateway to action-packed stories of the imagination. This box contains the essential rules of the game plus everything you need to play heroic characters on perilous adventures in worlds of fantasy. It’s not your grandfather’s D&D! Or is it? 5th edition purports to take all the good stuff from previous editions, distilled down to the essentials. This starter set is just that – a quick start to a whole new world.
Jaipur – $18.50
My kingdom for a camel. Work hard, earn more than your opponent and become the official merchant of the Maharaja. At the beginning of the game, three camel cards and two merchandise cards are on the table between the players, who already have five cards in hand. On your turn, you can take some cards or sell some. Each time that you take cards, you can take one or more, however if you decide to take more, then you will have to trade in the same amount of cards from your hand that you take. If you decide to take all camel cards, then they can be used later to trade.
Hive Pocket Edition – $19.00
Hive pocket is the very same wonderful game we all love, but in a compact version. With all its pieces in a portable small cloth bag, this game can provide fun just about anywhere.
Cypher – $9.00
Faced with constant hacker attacks, the corporations created an artificial intelligence that could learn from the hackers themselves. The AI, codenamed Cypher, evolved faster than its creators could have imagined. It gained sentience, went rogue and became the ultimate hacker. Now Cypher is fighting the corporations themselves for control of the nexus. Players take on the role of factions gathering characters from all spheres of influence, from corporate overseers to street level hackers, in order to dominate Cypher and seize control of the nexus. The player with the most influence at the end of the game wins!
Ca$h ‘n Guns (2nd Ed.) – $29.00
The big heist may have been a success, but it all goes wrong when every crook wants a bigger cut. With this much money on the table, bullets speak louder than words! In Cash ‘n Guns, players will point foam pistols at each other and try to intimidate their opponents into letting them have the largest share. The bravest crooks enjoy the most money – but only if they live long enough to spend it!
Star Realms – $14.00
Star Realms is possibly one of the best deck building games I’ve played recently. Compact, fast, very fun! Star Realms is a spaceship combat deck building game designed by Magic Pro Tour Champions and Hall of Famers Darwin Kastle and Rob Dougherty (developer and cofounder of the Ascension Deck building Game). Star Realms offers all the thrills of traditional trading card game style combat, combined with the fun of a deck building game. Play powerful ships, destroy enemy bases or blast your opponent directly on your way to victory! Multiple expansions out there too.
Onitama – $24.00
Here’s another two player game I absolutely love! Here’s my review – but in short it scratches that Chess itch without actually being chess. Onitama is a two player abstract strategy game where players take on the role of a Master, guiding their monk followers, attempting to defeat your opponent armed only with a handful of moves, your cunning and your wits!.
Santorini – $30.00
While we’re on 2 player games, Santorini is quick but fantastic with a huge replay value. This pure strategy game requires players to sharpen their wits! Everyone can gather around Santorini and face-off in a build-to-the-finish.
Diamonds – $18.95
This game was an instant classic with me. It’s a trick-taking game (like Hearts) but with a trick of it’s own. Real faux diamonds! What makes the game of Diamonds different from other trick-taking card games is that when you cannot follow suit you get a “Suit Action” based on what suit you do play. Suit Actions are also taken by the winner of each trick, as well as at the end of a full Round of play. Suit Actions will enable players to take Diamond Crystals from the Supply, moving them to their Showroom (where they may score 1 point) or to their Vault (where they will score 2 points). The Vault is a secure area, but the Showroom is vulnerable to theft by the other players. Whoever has the most points in Diamond Crystals at the end of the game wins!
Any X-Wing Miniature – $11.00 – $20.00
If you know someone who’s played the X-Wing Miniatures game, or who’s a huge fan of Star Wars, then you’ll probably be all right getting them one of the many X-Wing Miniatures expansions that contains a ship. You’ll be getting a nicely scaled, hand painted miniature of a freaking Star Wars spaceship, many of which are available on Amazon for well below their $14.95 suggested retail price. It looks beautiful even if it’ll never be used in the game. Just don’t be tricked into paying more than $15 for one of the smaller models. For the larger ships, check back if they’re not around $20, because they often fall to that price. The link I provided points to the Mouldy Crow. Headhunter but other models can be quickly found by looking at the Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought… area.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf – $15.00
One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a fast-paced game where everyone gets to be a different role. In the course of only one night and the following morning, the players will determine who among them is a werewolf…hopefully. One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a micro game of the party game Ultimate Werewolf that doesn’t need a moderator. There’s no elimination and each game lasts about 10 minutes.
Rise of Augustus – $25.00
This is a fun one – utilizing a (yes, really) bingo mechanic to great satisfaction. The full retail price is around $40 but for quite some time the game has been available for under $20. Serving the 1st Roman Emperor, Augustus, you will need to mobilize your legions to control provinces of the Empire and its senators to ultimately obtain the title of Consul. The aim of the game is to earn as many points as possible before any players has taken control of seven objectives. Throughout the game play, players must strategize so as to manage the risk of claiming the rewards that are available to them in order to maximize the points gained. Players also have the opportunity to wreak havoc with their opponents by causing them to lose some of their legions or objectives, thus foiling their plans on becoming the next Consul.
Niya – $12.07
Niya is a pattern matching strategy game, one that I haven’t played yet but it’s high up on my want list! In Japan’s Imperial Garden, courtly manners and nature’s beauty veil a dark political conspiracy among two influential clans. On each turn, players replace a garden tile with one of their clan tokens. The next player can only exchange a token for a garden tile that has an element in common with the previously chosen tile. The first to position their clan in a row, square, or blockade will win control of the garden. And power at court! A simple yet sophisticated abstract strategy game, Niya captivates players young and old.
Oddball Aeronauts – $18.00
Oddball Aeronauts is a play in the hand – no surface required – card game and so can be played anywhere 2 people can get together. In a car, on a train, on a plane, in the school yard, in a waiting room and so on. Each player takes charge of the officers, crew and bots of an airship and goes head to head in a dirigible duel in the skies of an oddball fantasy, steampunk-esque world. Contents – 81 cards, 1 token, 1 rulebook. Includes bonus cards for customising your deck before facing off against your opponent.
Roll For It – $11.00
This is a very quick to learn game that plays in about 15-20 minutes. Another great quick game for a game night opener or a family game night. Roll for it! is everything you want in a game. It’s fun! It’s easy! It’s fast! And it has lots of dice with cards to boot! At its heart, Roll for it! is a resource management game that blends the luck of the die roll with a decision making process that will bring smiles and laughter to everyone at the table.
Friday – $15.00
Something a little different here, a solo board game! One that I’ve finally, FINALLY won! It took me about six games to conquer the lowest setting. You are helping Robinson, who came ashore on your island, fight against many hazards. At the beginning, Robinson is not very skillful. With each fight he wins you will improve his abilities, but defeats are also helping to get rid off of his worse habits. However, life on the island is energy-sapping, so that Robinson not only gains experiences during his time there, but also starts aging and tends to get clumsy.
Forbidden Desert – $19.00
Much like it’s younger cousin, Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game of survival. You and the other players must survive a ravaging desert storm long enough to find the four parts needed to rejuvinate an ancient flying machine and then high tail it to safety! It’s made for a slightly older audience and is a lot of fun with kids and adults. Gear up for a thrilling adventure to recover a legendary flying machine buried deep in the ruins of an ancient desert city. You’ll need to coordinate with your teammates and use every available resource if you hope to survive the scorching heat and relentless sandstorm. If you’d like to try out a slightly simpler, less expensive game, Forbidden Island is usually around $12.
Splendor – $32.00
This is one of those rare gems (no pun intended) of a game that plays very, very well with 2, 3 or 4 players. Once you’ve played it a few times, you’ll get it down to 30 minutes a game and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. This could be my pick for best game of 2014. As a wealthy Renaissance merchant, acquire mines and transportation, hire artisans and woo the nobility. Create the most fantastic jewelry to become the best-known merchant of them all! Acquire precious stones to trade them for development cards. Use development cards to acquire more gem stones. Use your gems and gold to create the most fantastic jewelry, and appeal to the nobles to gain the prestige you need to win.
Got ‘Em! – $13.99
We got this game for our Extra Life event and my whole family enjoys it. A quick, simple wall building, pawn trapping game. Seize and capture your friends’ pawns in this delightful game with two unique ways to play. Brainy got them offers the strategic challenge of outsmarting and cornering your opponents with deliberately placed walls, while the tricky yet fun for all ages, Bright got them has the same goal of trapping your opponents, plus colorful surprises that will keep you on your toes. Surround yourself with friends and family and get ready to enjoy 2 great games that hold more fun than any four walls can contain.
Unlock! The game series – $15-$20
The Unlock! series of games are essentially escape rooms in a box. There’s a few out there and you’ll probably find a theme that you approve of. A series of escape adventures for up to six players. With one hour on the clock, players work through a deck of sixty cards as a team, searching for clues, combining objects, and solving puzzles. The free unlock! companion app runs the timer while also providing clues, offering hints, and confirming successes. Once the team has reached a solution and entered the correct code into the app, they will escape and win the game! .
Sushi Go – $9.00
Pass the sushi! In this fast-playing card game, the goal is to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Score points for making the most maki rolls or for collecting a full set of sashimi. Dip your favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value. But be sure to leave room for dessert or else you’ll eat into your score! Gather the most points and consider yourself the sushi master! My 9 year old has this and loves it.
Bang! The Dice Game – $12.50
Unmask and defeat your enemies, keep up with the Indians and challenge your fate to bring your team to the victory! Fast and exciting game play – Based on the BANG! Game System. A very successful game line, with fans all over the world! You do not need BANG! to play. Just like the card game, but faster and more furious.
Coup – $9.00
In the not too distant future, the government is run for profit by a new “royal class” of multi-national CEOs. Their greed and absolute control of the economy has reduced all but a privileged few to lives of poverty and desperation.Out of the oppressed masses rose The Resistance, an underground organization focused on overthrowing these powerful rulers. The valiant efforts of The Resistance have created discord, intrigue and weakness in the political courts of the noveau royal, bringing the government to brink of collapse. But for you, a powerful government official, this is your opportunity to manipulate, bribe and bluff your way into absolute power.
Anomia – $13.00
This is possible the most tense (in a good way) game in my collection. My entire family loves playing this one but it’s a real hit with the kids. We haven’t found anyone yet who doesn’t enjoy it. Anomia plays off the fact that our minds are positively brimming with all sorts of random information; things to eat, pop songs, websites, etc… Sure, under normal circumstances, it’s easy enough to give an example of a frozen food, or a dog breed; but you will find that your brain works a little differently under pressure!
Cheaty Mages – $16.00
From across the land spectators come to watch the arena battles of mythic creatures, and many coins hinge on the results! As a powerful mage, you have the chance to influence the outcome through arcane means. But beware! Other practitioners of the arcane may be in attendance as well, and have their money riding on other fighters. Cheaty Mages is a fast and fun betting game from famed Japanese designer Seiji Kanai (Love Letter, Mai Star). Place your bets, play hidden spell cards on fighters, and try to win the most gold in three rounds!
Frank’s Zoo – $14.00
The two hedgehogs won! You ask, “How could that happen?” It all started with a stately lion, who was chased away by an elephant. The single elephant naturally yielded to the pair of elephants. Then two mice came along and scared the elephants away. Finally, the two hedgehogs came and bested the mice. A pair of foxes could have won, but they stayed away and left the victory to the hedgehogs.
Pretense – $14.00
It’s board game night! Players are dealt roles and have the entire night to complete their secret objectives. By the end of the night, the truth will come out. The goal of Pretense is to obtain the most role cards over the course of the night and to avoid being caught and removed from the game. This is played during the entire game night. There are no rounds, no turns and there is no time limit!.
Incan Gold – $22.00
Incan Gold is a game in which players push their luck as they head into a ruined temple attempting to find the most jewels. Each turn, a card is turned over that increases the gold found in a temple or shows a hazard. Players can attempt to escape, keeping the loot that they’ve acquired, or stay in the temple, hoping for increased profits. As players escape, those in the temple will acquire bigger shares of each pile of gold found, but also run the risk of dying if the same hazard card is drawn twice.
Frog Juice – $10.00
This is a family favorite in my home. My 8 year old and I spend at least three nights a week playing this before she goes to bed. Strategic enough to be fun, easy enough for an 8 year old to beat me. How would you create a magic spell? You might need some unicorn horn or some eye of newt, or maybe some bats or toadstools or star and moon dust. But be forewarned as you’re stirring up your potion–you’d better be wary of a black cat or the powerful All-Purpose Witch Wash! One of your opponents might even be brewing up an Uglifying Spell. (“Results guaranteed to crack mirrors at a single glance!”) All of these magical ingredients are part of Frog Juice, an imaginative card game for two to four players that uses fairy-tale elements from fair maids to frogs to create a game that both kids and adults will enjoy. This game of strategy includes 44 ingredient cards and 15 power cards, each with an illustration that looks like it came straight out of a fairy-tale book.
Hey! That’s my fish! – $11.50
Here’s a fun little game that I enjoy with my kids, which also works with adults. I’m finding a lot of these games branded towards children that can be just as cut-throat as a 4 hour game of Talisman. Hey, That’s My Fish. is an engaging, award-winning board game of strategic fish hunting, in which 2-4 players control determined penguins hungry for their next meal on a bustling Antarctic ice floe. Since Hey, That’s My Fish. was originally published in 2003, it has become widely popular as an engrossing and strategic board game for casual family and tactical play. This definitive edition of the game includes 60 hexagons to create your ice floe with new artwork renditions of fish, 1 rules sheet and 16 newly sculpted, colorful and animated penguin miniatures.
Werewolves of Millers Hollow – $11.00
Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow is a game that takes place in a small village which is haunted by werewolves. Each player is secretly assigned a role – Werewolf, Villager, or special character such as The Captain, The Hunter, the Witch, the Little Girl, The Seer and so on… There is also a Moderator player who controls the flow of the game. The game alternates between night and day phases. At night, the Werewolves secretly choose a Villager to kill. During the day, the Villager who was killed is revealed and is out of the game. The remaining Villagers (normal and special villagers alike) then deliberate and vote on a player they suspect is a Werewolf, helped (or hindered) by the clues the special characters add to the general deliberation. The chosen player is “lynched”, reveals his/her role and is out of the game.
Spot It – $11.99
Spot it! is the addictive, feverishly fun matching game for every generation. The first thing to know about Spot it! is that there is always one, and only one, matching symbol between any two cards. Got it? Now all you need is a sharp eye and a quick hand to play all five party games packed into the grab ‘n’ go tin. Including up to eight players, Spot it! is a cinch to learn, plays fast, and is irresistibly fun for all ages! Here’s one that I haven’t played myself, but is constantly recommended to me. So much so that it’s now in my wish list!
Mr. Jack (Pocket Edition) – $18.00
This time he won’t get away! Discover the pocket version of Mr. Jack the favorite investigation game of strategy game players! As in the board version a player takes on the role of the inspector trying to unmask Jack the Ripper while the other player takes on the role of the fleeing criminal. The difference is in the game mechanics: the infernal pursuit now takes place on a board that’s 3 squares to a side each square representing both a London street and one of the nine suspects. around the board are placed a Holmes a Watson and a police dog token. On each turn the first player (the inspector or Jack in turn) uses 4 action tokens which allow to move the investigator tokens to reorient the tiles or to draw a ”suspect card”. A suspect is visible only if the investigator can see that suspect in the streets in front of him. Suspects hidden by buildings are invisible. At the end of each turn the player in the role of Jack must say if the guilty character is visible or not.
Argyle & Crew – $9.25 print $2.99 PDF
Disclosure: This is my game, written and designed by me! It’s a great gift for RPGers with kids but know that it’s mine. It’s a collaborative storytelling adventure for kids. It’s a great pick up game for adults. The land of Skcos is inhabited by all manner of things, but primarily its inhabitants belong to a race of ever changing, always interesting creatures called Soppets. Soppets are a magical breed of intelligent, funny, thrill seeking socks. Yes, you read that correctly, Socks. Argyle & Crew is a free wheeling system powered by imagination. Rather than a character sheet like a traditional RPG, your character and it’s attributes are all based on a sock puppet, or in Skcos lingo, a Soppet. Each Soppet has several unique qualities which allow it to do extraordinary things! Argyle & Crew is great game for children as young as 4 years old. Short scenarios and active participation keep things lively! Useful as a learning tool not just for gaming, but for life lessons, Argyle & Crew can easily be used in a classroom setting. Professionals working on counseling children can find this game equally useful for indirectly or directly exploring past experiences and future anxieties. Use the additional rules for older children or adults and expand the game from a fun, play driven activity to a fully developed RPG. PDF version.
Sleeping Queens – $11.00
HOW TO PLAY: Rise and Shine! The Pancake Queen, the Ladybug Queen and ten of their closest friends have fallen under a sleeping spell and it’s your job to wake them up. Use strategy, quick thinking and a little luck to rouse these napping nobles from their royal slumbers. Play a knight to steal a queen or take a chance on a juggling jester. But watch out for wicked potions and dastardly dragons!
No Thanks – $11.00
I haven’t played this in years – but many veteran gamers still swear by it. Good card games can be so simple: either take a card or pay a chip. Anyone can make that decision, right? However, there’s a catch – in fact there are two. Nobody wants the cards, not even for free, because they give you points in a game where you need to have the fewest points to win. And the chips? They are scarce, very scarce.
Village Idiot – $6.75
Life in a medieval village can be very political. On one side you have the Mayor – respected, powerful, able to affect real change. On the other side you have the Village Idiot.Challenge other players to a battle of skill and luck. Add to the rules of the game as you seize power but beware! No one is above the law. Claw your way to the top and do your best to stay there in this fast, fun, trick taking game with a twist! Village Idiot plays in less than an hour for 3-10 people. You’ll be jumping right out of your seat! (Disclosure: This is also my game).
Skip Bo – $9.99
A member of Mattel’s popular family of Uno card games, Skip-Bo resembles speed (or spit) in the same way that Uno takes after crazy eights. Out of a 162-card deck, two to six players are each dealt 20-card “stockpiles”; the first one to deplete their pile wins. Competing either alone or in teams, players draw from a central pile and stack their cards sequentially onto one of four “build” piles (for example, an eight onto a seven, a three onto a two), using plentiful Skip-Bo wild cards to break up static situations. Deceptively simple and ingeniously designed, this classic game offers plenty of strategizing opportunities, or it can just make a nice backdrop to socializing and munching on potato chips
Tsuro – $22.96
Here is the most chill and zen game I think I have every played. It’s the perfect rainy day game, or to play after you’ve just won or been defeated in some kind of heavy Euro. Create your own journey with Tsuro, the Game of the Path. Place a tile and slide your stone along the path created, but take care. Other player’s paths can lead you in the wrong direction – or off the board entirely. Find your way wisely to succed. Stay the path – your journey begins here.
Dweebies – $9.00
The game is incredibly easy to learn and play but deceptively hard to win. One of the Dweebies let us in on a strategy tip: Don’t let any line of cards get too long. Meet the Dweebies. These uniquely colorful characters are out to capture your heart, but you must capture them first. Round up Dweebies by matching cards on both ends of any row. Seems simple at first… but Dweebies can be tricky, and some will disappear before they’ve met their match. Collect the most cards and consider yourself the Dweebie-in-Chief.
Gamers: Dorkness Rising – $9.99
The epitome of indie film geeky goodness – they get everything right about the hobby, the folks who play it and the real magic that can happen. Read my review here on TitC. Struggling writer Lodge (Nathan Rice) isn’t asking for much: he wants his gaming group to finish playtesting his table-top adventure, rather than killing, looting, and debauching his fantasy world. Desperate to save the integrity of his story from the whims of his players’ crazy characters-a horny bard, wild sorceress, and cryptic monk-Lodge allows Joanna (Carol Roscoe), Cass’s (Brian Lewis) ex-girlfriend, to join the game. With Joanna’s help, the group’s characters trek deep into the fantasy game world to retrieve the Mask of Death from the evil necromancer Mort Kemnon (Geoff Gibbs). Will their choices in the game save their friendships in real life . . . or will Mort Kemnon triumph unopposed?
Haggis (2nd Ed.) – $12.00 (non-edible)
Haggis is a climbing card game for 2 or 3 players in the same family as Tichu, Zheng Fen and Big Two. Haggis features traditional elements of card combinations, bombs, with scoring for cards in hand and scoring for cards collected in tricks. Innovative wild cards create tension in every hand. Sean Ross designed Haggis over a number of years, extensively testing over thousands of hands to create a very engaging and balanced game. Gary Simpson has done a masterful job on the original artwork, that has to be seen to be appreciated.
Citadels – $19.99
Nominated for the German Game of the Year in 2000, Citadels has arrived in a new, English-language edition. Game enthusiasts of all genres will be enchanted by this wonderful game of bluffing, deduction, and city-building. Wrapped in a medieval theme and gorgeously illustrated, players seek to be the first to complete a grand city of their own. Each game round players secretly take the roles of either the King, Magician, Architect, Assassin, Thief, Bishop, General, or Merchant and seek to use the powers of such offices in their efforts to win the game. As an additional bonus, the English version will ship with 10 new cards designed by Bruno Faidutti himself. These cards feature new locations and new characters to make your game of Citadels even more diverse than the original German version. The game is for 2 to 7 players and it takes 20-60 minutes to play.
Lords of Scotland – $19.00
Do you have the audacity and cunningness it takes to be crowned king? Recruit new soldiers and build your army in order to face your rivals, only then will you be strong enough to try and fight! Prove your worth in merciless skirmishes and your opponents will have no other choice then to bow down to you as their leader. Do you have what it takes.
Aye, Dark Overlord – $19.90
Tell lies! Shift the blame! Save yourself from the anger of the Evil Genius! You are returning to the Tower of Dark Sorcery after the umpteenth failed mission. His Excellency will certainly be displeased which can only result in the most awful pain and suffering for his hapless minions. If only there were some way you could convince him that it’s not your fault… Aye Dark Overlord! is a hilarious party game of lying through your teeth. Convince your Dark Overlord that it was not your fault his evil plan failed but that of your inept companions! But watch out; they probably have the exact same idea… This all new edition from Fantasy Flight Games includes everything from the first release plus an all new set of rules plus updated and improved components.
The Resistance – $12.50
The Resistance is an intense social deduction game for 5-10 players. While it shares similarities with games like Werewolf, Mafia and even Battlestar Galactica it has many very unique features such as a quick 30 minute play time, no moderator required and no player elimination. Set in the near future, The Resistance pits a small group of resistance fighters against a powerful and corrupt government. The Resistance artfully balances pure deduction elements with the social elements into a game that creates the adrenaline filled moments of high stakes poker but in a full interactive and social event. Its not for the faint of heart, or slow of mind – but if you are quick on your feet you’ll be proud of your hard fought victories.
Lunch Money – $16.00
This card games simulates being little girls running around the playground beating up each other and stealing their lunch money. Once you get past the strange theme, there’s a fun little game where players beat each other senseless with cards like ‘Poke in the Eye’, ‘Uppercut’, and ‘Humiliation.’ Not for the weak willed, this game is mean. The last player still standing wins.
Fluxx 5.0 – $12.50
There are 4 kinds of cards in Fluxx: * Keepers: You put these out on the table in front of you when you play them. * Goals: When someone plays a goal, it stays in the center of the table until a new goal takes its place. To win, you simply need to do whatever the goal says. Most of the time, the goal requires you to have a couple of particular Keepers on the table in front of you. As soon as any player achieves the current goal, that player wins! * New Rules: This is where the fun really starts. When the game begins, the only rules are that you draw 1 card per turn and play 1 card per turn. But when you play a New Rule, these rules are either changed or added to. New Rules change the number of cards drawn and played per turn as well as the number of cards you are allowed to hold in your hand, the number of Keepers you can have, bonuses for players who have particular Keepers, and more. * Actions: These are 1 time use cards that let you do fun stuff like stealing someone else’s Keeper, getting rid of a rule you don’t like, drawing more cards, and so on.
Monopoly Deal – $7.00
Yes, it’s Monopoly. Yes, I’m recommending it. It’s actualy quite a good game. The fast-paced, addictive card game where your luck can change in the play of a card! Collect 3 complete property sets, but beware Debt Collectors, Forced Deals and the dreaded Deal Breakers, which could change your fortunes at any time! This is one of those games that’s been on my shelf for a while but just never got played. Finally, while doing our Extra Life fundraiser thing for 24 hours straight, we broke it open. It was far, far better than I was expecting. Gone are the days of staring at a monopoly board while my 9 year old agonizes over purchasing a property! Fast paced, fun, strategic – my whole family enjoys this game.
Zombie Dice – $10.00
Eat brains. Don’t get shotgunned. You are a zombie. You want brains. More brains than any of your zombie buddies. Zombie Dice is a quick and easy game for gamers and non-gamers alike. The 13 custom dice represent victims. Push your luck to eat their brains, but stop rolling before the shotgun blasts end your turn! Zombie Dice is a dice game for 3 to 8 players. Each game takes 10 to 20 minutes, and can be taught in a single round.
Bananagrams – $10.00
The bananagram game that will drive you bananas. The award-winning word game that needs no pencil, paper, or board. Fast and fun. Players race against each other to build crossword grids and use all their letter tiles first. Great for travel. My oldest loves this game, and my youngest who’s just starting to read is getting into it as well!
Crazy Creatures of Dr Gloom – $8.00
Here’s a fun little game for 2-4 players. You try to rid yourself of your own cards, while at the same time keeping your opponents from discarding. It’s got a simple, neat counting up/down mechanic and of course, some crazy creatures. Best yet, it’s the first game I’ve found that is for ages 7+, which my 7 year old loves. Strange noises are heard from the Mad Mansion of Doctor Gloom. Clouds of all colors come out of the chimney, and people tell weird stories about wild creatures seen in the forest around the mansion. Doctor Gloom is creating the world’s craziest creatures ever seen. In Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom, players try to get rid of all of their cards, since cards remaining in your hand score penalty points at the end of a round. The player with the fewest penalty points at the end of the game wins… and becomes Doctor Gloom’s new apprentice.
Bohnanza – $15.00
Beans! Ever imagined you were a bean farmer? Sure, who hasn’t? You got your red beans, your green beans, your black-eyed beans, your coffee beans… But where to plant them? In this card game, smart sowing lets you reap big rewards. Plant the beans you do want, and trade the beans you don’t want to the other players. Adding to the realism of the game, the one who ends up with the most money wins! Comes with 154 Bean Cards, 7 Third Bean Field Cards and a rule booklet. Imported from Germany. For 2 to 7 players. My wife kicks my ass regularly at this one. Bluffing, trading, making a case for this bean or that bean – awesome game!
Flashpoint Fire Rescue – $29.00
Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a fully cooperative game, everyone plays on the same firefighting team – win or lose together. Every turn is filled with the tension of having to fight the fire back rescuing victims or investigating points of interest. Players can ride the ambulance to safety or fire the engine’s deck gun in a desperate attempt to control the blaze.
Schotten Totten – $14
Before you get to Battle line, below, check this out. Schotten Totten is a re-imaging of Battle Line, which was (so the old lore goes) a re-theme of the original Schotten Totten. Plus it’s cheaper. So either way, you’ll get a good game. You just have to decide – kilts or not?
Battle Line – $19.59
Ancient battles were fought in organized formations. The leaders of both sides directed their forces along the battle line to gain tactical advantage in order to overwhelm their opponent in the center, breakthrough one of his flanks, or hold their position until the time came for a decisive move. How will you muster your battle line? Your objective is to create powerful formations on your side of the nine Flags, in order to beat the formations on your opponent’s side of the respective Flags. The first player to win three adjacent Flags (a Breakthrough) or any five Flags (an Envelopment) achieves victory.
Gloom (2nd Ed.) – $18.00
In the Gloom card game, you assume control of the fate of an eccentric family of misfits and misanthropes. The goal of the game is sad, but simple: you want your characters to suffer the greatest tragedies possible before passing on to the well-deserved respite of death. You’ll play horrible mishaps like Pursued by Poodles or Mocked by Midgets on your own characters to lower their Self-Worth scores, while trying to cheer your opponents’ characters with marriages and other happy occasions that pile on positive points. The player with the lowest total Family Value wins. Great storytelling game!
Tichu – $11.00
Players who love new and interesting card games will love Tichu. It is simple to learn: one need only get rid of his cards. The basic game is played by two pairs of two partners each with the players of each team sitting opposite one another. During the game, the partners try to help each other score points and opportunities to lead. The game is played over several hands with the goal to be the first team to score a total of 1000 points. Although Tichu is primarily a partnership game for four, with the two packs of cards, Tichu is well suited for large groups, too.
Guillotine – $15.00
This irreverent and humorous card game takes place during the French Revolution. Players represent rival guillotine operators vying for the best collection of noble heads over three rounds. You want top bragging rights, so you’d better collect the most prestigious noggins. Will you be skillful enough to bribe the guards and collect Marie Antoinette? Or will you lose points for beheading the Hero of the People.
The Rose King – $18.00
England, 15th Century – On one side, the House of York, with its heraldic badge featuring a single, snow white rose. And on the other side, the House of Lancaster, its own heraldic rose depicted in blood red. The War of the Roses, a dynastic struggle for control of the English crown, has erupted between the two houses. In this strategic game, one player commands the House of York and the other, the House of Lancaster. The players use their power cards to bring territories under their control, aiming to keep their territories as contiguous as possible. They also deploy their heroic knights to take over enemy territories and cause surprising upsets. Who will be crowned England’s new king?
Family Business – $14.99
An older game, but a good one. Be the boss in this fast-paced card game of survival on the mean streets. “Family Business” pits mobsters against each other – all working to make sure theirs is the last family standing! Your gang members get placed on the Hit List. Can your “Family Influence” save them? Will they “Take it on the Lam”, seek “Police Protection”, or perhaps up the ante with a “Double Contract”? Family Business is fast, furious, and fun! Your goad is survival! What’s in the cards for your game? My wife and I really love this game. It takes about 20 minutes to play with two players, and about 40 minutes with four. We bring it to family gatherings all the time.
Timeline – $11.40
Timeline is a fun game of trying to figure out where in time your series of cards fit. There’s a bunch out there and different sets can be combined together. Other players are doing the same exact thing as well. The first person to correctly place all of their cards wins the game. Was the light bulb invented after or before glasses? With Timeline, learn the answer to this question and thousands of others by comparing your knowledge or hunches to historic reality. There’s a lot more to the Timeline series than the base game as well and one of the neat things about this series is you can combine different Timeline games to make larger sets.
Eminent Domain – $32.00
By far my favorite deck building game, and ranking very high in my top 10 games of any type. Deep strategy in a simple package! Eminent Domain is an empire building game in which your empire’s abilities are based on a deck of Role cards. At the beginning of the game each player has the same deck of cards. Every turn you must choose a role to execute and in doing so you will add one of those Role cards to your deck. When executing a role,you may Boost its affect by playing cards out of your hand matching the role you have chosen. For instance, the more research done by your empire, the better your empire gets at doing research – because there will be more research cards in your deck!
Castle Panic – $27.00
This game is how I introduced my kids to cooperative games, where the game is the opponent and all of the players are playing to beat it together. In Castle Panic players must work together to defend their castle, in the center of the board, from monsters that attack out of the forest, at the edges of the board. Players trade cards, hit and slay monsters, and plan strategies together to keep their castle towers intact. The players either win or lose together, but only the player with the most victory points is declared the Master Slayer.
I love this game on it’s own, but love it even more with the addition of the Wizard’s Tower, the first expansion which you can also grab for $19.00
Hanabi – $10.00
Here’s an incredibly popular, award winning card game about fireworks for under $11. It’s so popular that for a good while you couldn’t even buy it as it was between print runs. It’s back now and I’ve played it and it’s wonderful, and tough! In this challenging cooperative card game, players work together to launch a spectacular firework display. Trouble is, it’s dark out, so you can’t really see what you are working with. Each player holds their cards so that only the other players can see them. They must give each other vital information and remember all the information received. Then use the information to choose which cards to play. Helping each other play the right cards at the right time is the key to creating an unforgettable show and avoid being booed by the audience.
Loch Ness – $27.20
A kid friendly euro-game which my kids very much enjoy! Check out my full review for more. For decades reporters from the around the world have been on the hunt for the Loch Ness monster. But lately reports of sightings of Nessie have been increasing. Such reports naturally have drawn such reporters as the attractive belinda viewing from New York, the half-belgian claude McMirror, the clever Filosa Sharp, as well as her Londoner competitor Jack Nesstee and even Nils the Blitzen from Denmark to the loch. Equipped with the most modern equipment and techniques, these daring reporters have traveled to Scotland, in order to capture the elusive nessie on im for their newspapers. But the 5 will experience some surprises. For 2-5 players. Plays in 30-45 minutes.
Catan: Junior – $28.21
This game… I love this game! It’s the first game I could play with both of my kids that I’m willing to play again and again. No Candyland here! For my slightly gushing full review click here. A Catan adventure for fledgling swashbucklers. Explore the Seas Catan: Junior introduces a modified playing style of the classic game giving younger players the opportunity to experience the world of Catan. Designed for players as young as 5 and is a perfect introduction to the Catan series of games for kids and families. Catan: Junior takes place on a ring of islands where 2 to 4 players build hideouts, and the mysterious Spooky Island, where the Ghost Captain lives. Each island generates a specific resource: wood, goats, molasses or swords and players can acquire gold. Each player starts with two pirate hideouts, then builds ships in order to expand their network. The more hideouts you build, the more resources you may receive. You use your resources to build ships, hideouts or get help from Coco the Parrot. Just watch out for the dreaded Ghost Captain. Be the first player to control seven pirate hideouts and you win the game.
Lost Temple – $27.50
Another game we play a lot at home. Select a roll or three and go tromping through the jungle! Great for kids and adults to play together. In Lost Temple players go on a trek into the jungle armed with a machete to cut a path and emeralds to enlist the assistance of the native population. Who will be the first to reach their destination? Nine characters with unique individual skills are at your disposal to help you, Unique racing game with a balanced mix of bluff, chaos and tactics, Unravel and thwart the plans of your opponents., Quick short turns and a lot of direct player interaction, Can be played with up to eight players – game speed remains high and possibilities remain unlimited (and still great with even just two players).
Dixit – $28.00
Dixit is a really cool storytelling game that works well with hardcore gamers and novices. My kids have enjoyed a few rounds of this as well. The players have hands of oversized cards with various artistic pictures. The active player secretly selects one of his cards and gives a very brief description. The other players secretly select their own cards which match the description. The chosen cards are shuffled and revealed, then players vote on which was chosen by the active player. Each correct answer gives points to the guesser and the active player. Each incorrect answer gives points to the player who submitted the guessed card. However, if all of the guesses are correct — or none of them are — then the active player gets no points and all the other players get points. The game ends when the deck is empty. The greatest total wins the game.
Enchanted Forest – $19.00
Here’s a great game for a family with kids as young as five. It involves a bit of strategic thinking, a good memory and lots of luck which means even the youngest can win. Plus, I really like the tactile feel of this game with trees sticking up off of the board. Combining memory and strategy, Ravensburger’s Enchanted Forest is a challenging game in an engaging medieval setting. Designed for two to six players, each participant ventures across the map in search of items from your favorite fairy tales. These items include the gingerbread man from Hansel and Gretel, one of the dwarves’ hats from Snow White, Cinderella’s glass slippers, and many more.
Innovation – $19.30
Another suggestion – Innovation! A journey through innovations from the stone age through modern times. Each player builds a civilization based on various technologies ideas and cultural advancements all represented by cards. Each of these cards has a unique power which will allow further advancement point scoring or even attacking other civilizations. Be careful though as other civilizations may be able to benefit from your ideas as well! To win you must score achievements which you can attain by amassing points or by meeting certain criteria with the innovations you have built. Plan your civilization well and outmaneuver your opponents and you will achieve victory.
Pound of Dice – $13.00
There are approximately 100 factory-second dice in this bag.(Number of dice will vary with the mix- four-siders are lighter than other shapes, for example.) These dice are mixed in a variety of styles & colors. Every bag does not necessarily have every style & color. Sizes may include 6, 8, 10, 12, 20 & 30-sided dice (and, possibly, other sizes) in colors that include (but are not limited to) speckled, marble, rainbow, opaque and translucent. This assortment features one complete 7-die polyhedral set of never-released speckled dice, available ONLY in the Pound O’ Dice assortment.
Martian Dice – $12.95
Billed as the more complex of the three staple tiny dice games, Zombie Dice, Cthulhu Dice and this! Your mission, Martians, is to swoop down on the pathetic denizens of the primitive planet “Earth”, and to scoop up as many of the inhabitants as you can manage. We are interested in samples of the Chicken, Cow, and Human populations, so that we can determine which of them is actually in charge. The Earthlings might manage to put up a feeble defense, but surely nothing that a small taste of your Death Rays can’t handle. Make Mars proud be the first Martian to fill your abduction quota.
Get Bit – $19.00
Get Bit! is a card game where players are competing to stay alive as the others are being eaten by the shark. The order of the swimmers is determined by simultaneously playing cards face-down then revealing the values. The number on each players card determines position in line (higher numbers in front, lower numbers in back), however ties do not move. The swimmer at the back loses a limb to the shark and is flung to the front of the line! The process is repeated until only two swimmers remain on the table. When this happens, the swimmer at the front of the line wins the game!
Love Letter – $8.00
Sixteen cards, a bunch of wooden cubes and a velvet bag. It doesn’t sound like much but this game is possibly one of the most well designed and replayable small card games on the market right now. And it’s only $10 on top of that! I cannot recommend Love Letter enough! 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 bring your romantic letters to her. Will yours reach her first? Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2 to 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.
Things that may not quite be board games, or certainly are not under $20 but are still awesome in my book
Terraforming Mars – $60.00
THE hot game this year. In Terraforming Mars, you play a corporation and work together in the terraforming process, but compete for getting victory points. Victory Points are awarded not only for your contribution to the terraforming, but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar system, and doing other commendable things.
Ice Cool – $38.00
Here you have an amazing dexterity game in a relatively small box. Ice Cool stands out with two major innovations: flicking techniques and a Box-In-A-Box setup. These two innovations add value to the gaming industry. The special form of flicking pieces creates a new bag of tricks – players can make the pieces slide, curve, jump, dive or bump against the walls.
Amazon Echo – $99
I love my Echo – we have one Echo and a few Dots scattered about our house. All-new Echo (2nd Gen) has a new speaker, new design, and is available in six styles including fabrics and wood veneers. Echo connects to Alexa to play music, make calls, set alarms and timers, ask questions, control smart home devices, and more—instantly.
Above and Below – $43.00
Above and Below is my current pick for my favorite game of 2015 and I played a bunch of new games this year. From Ryan Laukat and Red Raven Games, this is a mixture of worker placement, resource management and storytelling. It’s awesome. If you enjoy some slightly crunchy mechanics mixed with a sort-of choose your own adventure style fiction (similar perhaps to Arabian Nights) then you’ll love this one. It plays 2-4 players in about an hour and a half and is wonderful. There’s now also Near and Far, and Islebound – two more excellent games in this series. In fact, anything Red Raven is going to be a hit.
Coldwater Crown – $39.00
Lords of Waterdeep used to be my go-to game to teach worker placement. While I still have that game on my list because it’s great, Coldwater Crown has replaced it as my go-to worker placement game. In Coldwater crown you’ll launch a plan to catch the perfect variety of fish from the shore, River, and lake. To catch fish, you’ll place different types of bait in four fishing zones. Using a brilliant new worker placement mechanic that lets you take actions both when you place and when you pick-up angler tokens, you’ll begin clearing your zones, taking care to remove only bait that will help you catch the fish you need next. Whenever you clear the last piece of bait in a zone, you catch a fish corresponding to the color of the last piece of bait you cleared. You’ll also earn synergy points by clearing unique combinations of colors to catch fish in the special master angler challenge.
First Martians – $45.00
Speaking of Mars and hot games. Built on the core of the award-winning Robinson Crusoe: adventures on the cursed Island, first Martians: adventures on the red Planet pits players against the hostile Martian environment and a whole host of new adventures and challenges. The immersion experience is further enhanced with an integrated app that maintains the balance and challenge throughout. Players have the option of taking on the design as a series of separate games, in a custom campaign mode (like in legacy games) in which each successive game builds on the last, or even an open world mode in which they are free to roam about the Martian surface and explore for as long as they can survive.
DC Deck Building Game – $27.00
This is by far the most played game in my collection. I’ve logged at least 50 plays now, and the actual game box has recorded nearly 65 plays. The DC Comics Deck-building Game, featuring the Cerberus game engine, is your chance to take on the role of one of the greatest heroes of the DC Comics universe. Play as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, or many others. As the game progresses, your small starting deck gets bigger and better. But look out.When a Super Villain makes his First Appearance, he attacks each player in the game. Defend yourself with Super-Speed or the Batsuit, or become Bulletproof. Soon you’ll be ready to take on Super Villains such as Darkseid, The Joker, Parallax, and many more. The game features a wide range of heroes, villains, super powers, locations, and equipment of various power levels, from a young sidekick like Kid Flash to a master sorcerer like Dr. Fate. Uncover hidden paths to victory and race your opponents to see who can build the world’s greatest deck one card at a time.
The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki
This looks amazing. It’s not cheap, certainly but it does contain 11 Miyazaki films along with a very nice looking book along with some of Miyazaki’s television work from 1972 and other special features.
Lords of Waterdeep – $39.00
What do you get when you combine a Dungeons & Dragons theme with a eurogame style of play, and make it easy enough that someone with very little modern board gaming experience can enjoy the heck out of it? Lords of Waterdeep! Waterdeep, the City of Splendors—the most resplendent jewel in the Forgotten Realms, and a den of political intrigue and shady back-alley dealings. In this game, the players are powerful lords vying for control of this great city. Its treasures and resources are ripe for the taking, and that which cannot be gained through trickery and negotiation must be taken by force. Lords of Waterdeep is a strategy board game for 2-5 players. 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.
Scythe – $60.00
This game – absolutely beautiful. Vast, fun, amazing. You may or may not be able to find the Collectors edition, if you can it’s more expensive but utterly worth it. It is a time of unrest in 1920’s Europa. The ashes from the first great war still darken the snow. The capitalistic city-state known simply as “the factory,” which fueled the war with heavily armored Mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the attention of several nearby countries. Scythe is a board game set in an alternate-history 1920S period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and Valor. In scythe, each player represents a fallen leader attempting to restore their honor and lead their faction to power in Eastern Europa. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous Mech. There’s one expansion here and one will be here by Christmas. Also, tons of bits to bling out your game!
Legendary: Encounters – $50.00
Now, play all of the Alien movies right on your tabletop, without fear of face huggers or chest bursters! Own the first ever Alien Deck Building Game! Use Legendary moves from battling Super Villains to battling chest-bursting, face-hugging, acid-for-blood-having Aliens. This game features some of Alien’s greatest protagonists, including Ripley, Dallas, Bishop and Private Hicks, as they go to battle against some of the most terrifying creatures in the universe. Players must work with each other to defeat the terrifying Xenomorps! Each core set comes with 500+ playable cards featuring all original art. Also included is a Legendary Encounters Alien game mat to help organize the playing field.
A Feast for Odin – $80.00
Oh my. There are games and then there are games. A Feast for Odin is a stellar production with a lot of moving parts and some real brain burn in the most fantastic way possible. Probably my favorite Euro-style game so far. Delve into the world of Vikings and dabble in trading, hunting, raiding, pillaging, plundering, and raiding some more. Build houses, explore new worlds, and every round, have a feast in Odin’s name. The large variety of actions and occupations guarantees your northerners long-lasting fun, with each game creating a new world on your player board!
Actual Edible Haggis from Caledonian Kitchen – $26.00
If you’re going to go with the game Haggis above, and want to carry that theme one step further, here you go. Also great for people who love the Scottish culture, claim Scottish ancestry but have never actually eaten a Haggis. Now you can watch with glee as they cook up and consume some in front of you. For those who are curious, I have actually eaten a Haggis. It was wonderful, but there was a surprising amount of Single Malt Scotch involved, and I was actually in Scotland having the time of my life, so my recollection may be colored a bit.