Games to Give for Christmas 2020

Games to Give for Christmas 2020 - 11/2/2020

Enter November! When November comes, many people begin to think about Christmas shopping, Black friday deals and gifts to give to people for the holidays. Below is a list of games that I view as great games and are games that my family has enjoyed. If you are looking for a game to give to somebody (or receive) this holiday season - I’d recommend these ones:

10. Perudo - this is one of my all-time favorite games! This is a variant of Liar’s Dice and is a game that I have had no problem with teaching to people, regardless of their board gaming experience. It is quick, it is simple and it is fun.

Each player starts the game with 5 dice that they roll and keep hidden under a cup. The first player places a bet based on the number of dice of a particular value that they believe are out on the table. If the next player believes them, then they have to increase the bet. This continues until a player doesn’t believe the bet can be met. If the bet is met, then the doubting player loses a die. If the betting player is wrong then they lose a die. Afterwards, a new round is started, everyone re-rolls their dice and play continues until there is only one player with at least one die left.

I’d recommend this game to anyone on your Christmas shopping list, especially to the casual gamer that you have on your shopping list.

9. Dice Throne - looking for a great two-player game? Look no further than Dice Throne! This was one of the first Kickstarter games that we backed and it immediately became a staple for Larissa and I for when we have an in-home-date-night. We’ve liked it so much that we have the entire collection.

This game is essentially Yahtzee fighting. Each player selects a Hero to be in a fight for the Dice Throne. The attacking player rolls their dice up to three times to try and create a combination, such as a straight or a series of matching numbers or symbols. Based on the combination that they create, they deal damage to their opponent who can typically do a defensive roll to block some of the incoming damage. There are also cards that can be used by either player to upgrade their abilities or manipulate their dice. After one player’s attack concludes, then the next player begins their attack. This continues back and forth until someone’s health meter turns to zero. When this happens, the other player takes the coveted Dice Thone!

I’d recommend this to the person on your Christmas list who likes board games and is looking for a good two-player game. My personal favorite box is the Cursed Pirate vs. Artificer, but for a new player to the game - I’d recommend the Gunslinger vs. Samurai box in the link below:

8. Isle of Cats - does someone on your Christmas list like puzzles and board games? If so, you may think about getting them Isle of Cats. It’s fun, addicting and has some beautiful components.

In Isle of Cats, you are visiting an island that is filled with cats that you are trying to rescue before an evil villain comes and wreaks havoc on this cat infested island. You’ll utilize cards throughout the game, with the focus of getting enough fish and baskets to attract cats to put on your boat. Each cat has a unique polydomino shape, which makes it feel a bit like Tetris as you try to place these oddly shaped cats on your boat. If you do the best job filling your boat with cats then you’ll be the victor in this game - and the cats will figuratively spit their hairballs in your opponent’s houses rather than yours.

I’d recommend this game to either the boardgame-lover or cat-lover on your list. It is a little more complex than a gateway game like Ticket-to-Ride or Settlers of Catan but is very enjoyable once you get your feet wet while keeping the cats dry. I personally enjoy this game best at 3-4 players, but it does play well at 2 players.

7. Tapestry - this is the game that keeps calling to me to play again and again. I absolutely love this game and can’t wait to play it again the moment I put it away. This is a meaty game with a simple rulebook. So, it’s fairly easy to learn the rules but difficult to master the game.

Tapestry is a civilization game where you will advance your civilization through time by making advances in certain areas of civilization growth. The areas of growth you can choose from are technology, exploration, science or military. A balanced approach can be a great strategy as can a single-track or dual-track focus. Your strategy will, in large part, be based on which civilization card you have as well as your own personal preference.

The components in Tapestry are phenomenal, as is the lovely artwork by Andrew Bosley. But the best part of this game is the gameplay. Each time I play this game is a different experience. I absolutely love this game and would recommend it to the person on your list that loves board games, and wants a very tactile game. And you better really like this person because the game is probably the most expensive game on this list - but well worth the price. I prefer this game at two-players but it does scale well up to 5 players if you are okay with some downtime between turns.

6. Deadwood 1876 - do you have someone on your list that likes simple games that allows for lots of players? Then look no further than Deadwood 1876. Facade Games does a great job designing social deduction games for large groups, and Deadwood 1876 is fantastic!

Deadwood is a town filled with hidden gold and slightly untrustworthy folk. Your objective is simple: get the most gold. How you accomplish that in this game is by capturing the safes that will get you and your closest friends the most gold at your particular location. If your location gathers the most gold then you go to a final showdown round where your closest friends will become your enemies as you have a final fight for all the gold you gathered. Sharing may not be your best quality in this game, but that doesn’t matter if you’ve got all the gold.

The game is fast-paced, turns are simple and you can play with up to 9 players. Get this game for the social butterfly on your list that likes playing games with friends. It’s really fun and comes in a fun faux-book box.

5. Skull King or Cover Your Kingdom - looking for a fun card game? Then I’d recommend any of the games by Grandpa Becks Games, but particularly Skull King or Cover Your Kingdom. We’ve introduced both of these games to countless people, and just about everyone has enjoyed both of these games.

Skull King is a trick-taking game similar to Rook or Hearts. In Skull King you predict the number of tricks you’ll take in a given round. Predict correctly and you’ll be rewarded with points. Predict incorrectly and you’ll be punished with negative points. Each round progressively becomes more strategic as one additional card is added to your hand. The first round you are dealt one card, and in the 10th and final round you are dealt 10 cards. High cards may win you a trick, but beware of pirates and mermaids that can thwart your plans by stealing the hand.

Cover Your Kingdom is a punny spinoff of their hit game Cover Your Assets. In Cover Your Kingdom you will try and attract creatures to your player board to create the most magical kingdom. Creatures come to your kingdom if you can find a matching friend for them. Creatures like Pigxies, Uniquehorns and SighClops will come and go and it’s your job to keep them safely in your Kingdom. This game is wonderful but be warned. It can get… magically malicious!

These games, and all of the Grandpa Becks games honestly, are excellent games to add to ANY game collection - and they won’t hurt the pocketbook. Skull King plays up to 6 players, Cover Your Kingdom plays up to 8 players, and their other games are typically in the 2-6 player range. Grab one or two of these games for your loved ones this year. You’ll be glad you did!

4. The Grimm Forest - this is a perfect game for anyone who gets warm nostalgic feelings when they hear characters like little red riding hood and the three little pigs. This game is beautiful, the gameplay is fun and the components are amazing.

In this game you are a house-builder, represented of course by a little pig. You and up to three of your buddies compete to see who can build three houses the fastest. You must use resources (straw, sticks and bricks) to build these houses but you also need to watch out for foes trying to foil your plans. Each round of the game consists of a gather phase, where you try to gather building materials by going to certain locations and playing fable cards. Then you move on to the build phase where you construct part of your houses based on what you were able to gather. The game also includes Friend cards, which is a fairy tale friend that gives you a unique ability to help you build your houses.

The Grimm Forest is an absolute blast to play, although it can be frustrating when your plans get messed up by opponents. I’d recommend this game to anyone on your Christmas list who could use a fun game to play with their kids. I even play it with adults and have a blast every time.

3. Wingspan - have someone on your list that you’ve played games with before and they seemed to have a good time? Then get them Wingspan. Wingspan is an absolutely amazing game - and plays great from 2 - 5 players.

In Wingspan, you try to attract birds to your player board by collecting food, eggs and cards. Turns progressively become more and more complex throughout the game as each bird comes with a unique bird power. During one of your first turns you may choose to lay eggs and only be able to lay two eggs. By the end of the game, your lay eggs action might include laying 5 eggs, getting two food, and tucking several cards for points. This progression of complexity is beautifully put together in this game and makes it incredibly approachable as you don’t need to know everything about the game from the start. As you learn the game, the game becomes intuitively more complex and creates a wonderful experience of creating a player board that churns out more and more points with every successive turn.

Wingspan is produced by Stonemaier Games (who also produces Tapestry). Stonemaier Games creates some of the best tactile games on the market - and Wingspan is no exception. The cards are great, the player boards are well made, the birdfeeder dice tower is awesome and the little egg miniatures round this off as a well made game - in addition to being extremely fun. I’d recommend that you buy this game for your best friend so that you’ll get to play it too!

2. Above and Below - want a game that feels like a "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" novel? Then Above and Below might just be for you. This game has been a household favorite of ours for the past couple of years and it gets picked as the activity to do by my kids whenever they earn a late-night date with us. They absolutely love this game - and I really enjoy it too.

In Above and Below you are building a village near a massive cavern. You can build your village above ground or below ground (down in the cavens). During your turn you can do a variety of activities - including recruiting more villagers to your group, laboring, constructing a building, harvesting resources or exploring the caverns. Exploring the caverns is the highlight of the game. When you explore, you are read a scenario from an encounters book and you get to choose what action you take. Sometimes you are faced with tough decisions and you have to make the best decision for your exploration party.

I’d recommend this game to anyone who is looking for a fun little adventure game. I really enjoy this game - although learning the game and setting up the game can be a bit laborious. However, learning this game is absolutely worth it. Above and Below has provided my family with some of the best memories of 2020, and I highly recommend it.

1. Everdell - Everdell, Everdell. Oh how I love thee! Everdell has become my personal favorite game. I love the gameplay, I love the art, I love the different cards in the game, I love the squishy berries… I love everything about this game.

In Everdell, you are building a city filled with different constructions and critters. Each construction and each critter has a unique ability that they bring to your city. As you build your city up - the more benefits and resources you get on your turn. But you have to choose your actions carefully because opponents are also trying to build a better city and may take up a resource spot before you are able to get there. This game is quite simple in it’s gameplay but complex in it’s variety. New players can be overwhelmed with the variety in the cards, but after a couple games you’ll have a pretty good handle on what works well together.

I’d recommend this game to just about anyone on your Christmas list. This game is great at two players but also scales well up to four. Having a little bit of time between your turns is nice as you plan out your next move. This game does have a bit of a learning curve to it, but it is a fairly light game and a game I think that anyone would enjoy.

And there you have it - my top 10 games to give this Christmas season. If you have any questions about any of these games feel free let me know. I'm happy to answer your questions and would love to help you buy the perfect gift this year. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!