Christmas time, mistletoe and board games! I think that’s how the song goes…
Yes, hello, welcome back you lovely folk. We’re Timlah and Joel and today, we’ve opened up the “Large, Flat Green Present at the back”, as your choice from last week. Lo and behold, the present happened to be this week’s Top 10, our Top 10 Board & Card Game Stocking Fillers. These are all small games, under £20, along with their price and a relevant Amazon link – You know, for them last minute purchases you totally needed to do.
What? We can’t assume you’re prepared for Christmas, can we?
10) One Night Ultimate Werewolf (£18.08, Amazon.co.uk)
Starting off with our most tenuous of gift ideas, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a fantastic game of deception and communication. One player acts as a game master, or you can get a brilliant phone app to do it all for you, which sets up the scene for the night. During the “night” phase, where all rules are read out, all players learn of their role and do their roles abilities accordingly.
The reason we’re shoving this in at number 10 is that this is an excellent game, but it’s certainly not the best for a Christmas time, unless your entire family is a bunch of geeks. You’ve got to have a number of people ready to play it, as it works better with more players than it does less. It’s a novel concept, which may be a great game when everyone’s sober, but as the festivities go on, trust us, this is better in an environment where players want to get involved. Still a fantastic game which’ll go down well with any board game fan!
9) Exploding Kittens (£19.99, Amazon.co.uk)
The most expensive item on this list, Exploding Kittens is novel and is always a delight. In the GeekOut Bristol Meet, Exploding Kittens is the most played game by far. Sometimes I use it as an introductory game; other times, people see it and are instantly drawn to it. As such, it’s got appeal as a simple game to grab and play – and as a Christmas game, it can certainly work (so long as your overly-kitten-loving-family do not mind that cats are about to explode them).
Sitting snug at the £19.99 mark, just shy of our £20 hard limit, this is another fantastic game which plays well with multiple people. Couple this with the fact the game is bonkers, you’re bound to have a laugh. However, this is a great one for when people are sort of getting merry and y’know what’ll happen when they’re too drunk (protip: read the honourable mentions for what happens when people are too merry).
8) Gloom (£22.99, Amazon.co.uk)
What is Christmas for if not tearing families apart?
What… oh! Really? Ok…
Still, if you – like me – can’t have the day go by without some kind of heartbreaking drama, then you can’t go far wrong with Gloom. A deck of cards is all that is required, but these cards are clear, and overlay one another to build a story of woe to befall the family members slowly disappearing underneath them. The aim of the game is to have your family live the most tragic lives possible before they pass away, preferably in a similarly tragic fashion.
Of course your friends can upset your plans by playing glad tidings on your family, and you in turn can have their family members pass away peacefully in their sleep. How dare they? At the end of the game, the person with the lowest points and the most tragic story for their family wins. Don’t have a merry Christmas, whatever you do.
7) Jungle Speed (£14.99, Amazon.co.uk)
Trust me on this one, the box is unwieldy and massive, but the contents within it are a lot, lot smaller. With that in mind, Jungle Speed is a perfect stocking filler, even if you take the game out and put it all in the carry case the game give you. That’s right, I might be suggesting you open this game for yourself, to put inside of the case, to put into the stocking, but nevertheless, this doesn’t affect the game.
This is the ultimate game of snap, so anyone can take part… But one thing I will say: This is a game of snap for adults. You get a small “totem” which you place in the centre of the table at a perfect arms length from everyone, or as best you can. You get a number of cards, with varying degrees of equally confusing shapes and colours. Depending on the rule at the time, you either match shapes or colours – and then everyone reaches to grab the totem… And this is where the cuts, bruises and anger will come from this Christmas.
6) Welcome to the Dungeon (Currently £9.99, Amazon.co.uk)
In this push-your-luck dungeon delver, you work together to populate a dungeon, but the longer you stay in the building process, the more likely you are to be the one who has to face it. Defeat two runs of the dungeon and you win the game, and almost all of the heroes can topple a fully realised dungeon while at full strength… but players also have the power to strip the heroes of their essential equipment before they pass through that first door. Die twice, and you’re out of the game altogether.
The format – though it may sound complicated – is astonishingly simple, but it becomes a game of bravado, cunning, and occasionally a hard poker face. The very act of drawing a card can be an agonising decision, especially when cowardice can often prove the most sound strategy, but for those who win by staying the course, victory is so much more satisfying.
5) Love Letter (aheheh, shop around)
Possibly the smallest game in our list, Love Letter is a quick game of currying favour among the royal court to see the tokens of your affections find their way into the hands of the princess. The core mechanic is card counting, as you analyse what has been played already to work out who is holding what. You can either knock out your opponents by out-manoeuvring them as early as you can (or through lucky guesswork), or when all cards are played you can try to be holding the highest card left in play.
Sometimes it’s better to player the higher value cards in the name of a cunning strategy, sometimes it’s better to hold the big moves until later in the game, or sometimes you just get a bad hand. Fortunately the game is played first to three points, so a bad hand or a short round need not be the end of your efforts to woo the fine lady. And the whole thing comes in a tiny bag, and is also available in Munchkin, Batman, Archer, and Lovecraft variations! What’s not to love?
4) Sushi Go (£13.61, Amazon.co.uk)
(You may be best going to a local game store for this one!)
One of the most family friendly games on this list, Sushi Go is always a pleasant treat to play with anyone. You don’t need to like sushi to enjoy this game, although I can imagine that some people will get a little freaked out to see pictures of sushi depicted with little faces on them. Nevertheless, the game is remarkably cute, easy to pick up and play – and it can be played between all ages.
Everyone playing gets dealt a hand, which they choose the first card from. They place this face down in front of them. When everyone is done choosing, you reveal the card, then pass your hand to the left. This continues until all of the cards in the hands are gone. After each of three rounds, you check what cards you have, score it all up and move onto the next round. On the last round, you check who has the most and least puddings, then tote up the final scores. It’s quick, it’s easy and trust me, it might not sound Christmas-y, but the act of sharing the hands ultimately fits the season of giving… and taking the right cards for yourself.
What? Christmas is brutal.
3) Zombie Dice (£12.29, Amazon.co.uk)
Another push-your-luck game, and a Steve Jackson classic in which you play the role of zombies, chasing down your victims represented by dice. The aim of the game is to score as many brains as you can before being shot three times. Stop at any time to add your brain total to your running score, or keep pushing to raise that score at the risk of another shot to the face, leaving you with nothing.
Zombie Dice is a great game for new players in a games group, incredibly easy to pick up and play, and while it can benefit from a bit of experience and careful thought, chance is always the presiding factor, meaning that experienced and new players alike are on even footing, making it a great game to pick up and play on Christmas day itself. Better yet, there is no limit to the number of players it can support, so long as you’re willing to wait.
2) Fluxx (£12.99, Amazon.co.uk)
You know how we all like to mock Monopoly for having a million versions of the same game, but the only differences being the franchise it’s representing? You know, Disney Monopoly, Nintendo Monopoly (which looks awesome), Pokemon Monopoly (Kanto Edition anyone?)… Bristol Monopoly? Okay, now stop for a moment and check out Fluxx – There is a Fluxx for so many occasions; from Cartoon Network, through to Zombie Fluxx.
Fluxx is inexpensive and makes for a perfectly sized bundle to fit in a stocking this Christmas. All in all, Fluxx is an easy choice for anyone – The basic rules are so simple, that even your pet hamster Hammy could play it! You draw a card. You play a card. Simple, right? But what makes Fluxx so unique, is no game is the same. The rules change as the game is played, meaning you’ll soon be drawing 5 cards, playing 2 of them, using weapons to get rid of creepers and boom – The game is on the way.
It’s second on our list, specifically because of its versatility, small price and small size.
1) Rhino Hero (£11.95, Amazon.co.uk)
Oh yeah! Build that tower ever higher to help the rhinocerotic vigilante reach an ever more dynamic space to pose, his cape billowing in the breeze BUT YOU SHOULD NEVER PLAY THIS GAME IN A BREEZE. Or under air conditioning. Also on a wobbly table, or in a busy environment, or with people with shaky hands, because this tower is more fragile than Jenga. Ok, so the collapse may not come with quite so satisfying a crash, it’s no less devastating.
The game goes around the table, as players try to empty their hands of cards before everything falls. Most cards have a penalty for the next player, forcing them to skip their turn, to pick up another card, or to move the tiny wooden rhino higher. He’s so light, he can’t make that much of a difference, surely? But that tiny shift in weight makes a huge difference as the tower becomes less and less stable the higher it reaches. This is a must have for any games cupboard, one to break out at any games night, and one to wait until after dinner has been cleared away on Christmas evening.
Ah, now that your loved one has all of the best board and card games shoved in their stockings, oo er, let’s address some more games. These are something you might want to get someone, but they fall outside of our list, as they’re either a bit vague, or they’re just a little bit too much for a stocking. Nevertheless, we felt they deserved the nod anyway, so here are two more considerations for this Christmas.
Booster packs/Starter Decks – Any Trading Card Game
These are the gamer’s staple, and pretty much universally available depending on your game of choice, certainly as shameless Magic hounds, Tim and I have no issues. More cards are never a bad gift, a starter pack is certainly the more secure option, as it offers something to play right out of the box with no need for further purchase, if you want to offer someone scope to dabble in a new hobby they’re a great way to go (I can highly recommend Dragoborne for something different), and boosters to a game you already own always offer something worth while.
If you’re familiar with the card collection of the hobbyist in your life, they’re a quick and easy purchase that make it very easy to pad out a collection, offer some potent new additions to your existing decks, or may even inspire a new approach. Alongside any number of gaming accessories, they’re a safe bet, but don’t exactly function independently, and so we dump them into the honourables section.
Cards Against Humanity (£25.00, Amazon.co.uk)
The base game of Cards Against Humanity might be better suited underneath the Christmas tree, but believe you me, this game was a roaring success when it first came out. Indeed, we’ve had our set for ages and, from time to time, it is still picked up all these years later. Indeed, it’s a game that you know when there’s lots of alcohol flowing, you can enjoy this naughty card game, which is bound to make Santa double-check which list you’re on.
The base pack of Cards Against Humanity is huge, but it is possible to put in a stocking; Though it may have to be a very big stocking. Regardless, the card game for terrible people is always going to be a good pick – However, another reason it couldn’t make the main list is it’s outside of our budget range at £25, which is what we originally were going to set the budget at… But who spends £25 on a single stocking item?
With a ho, ho, ho and a he, he, he, I think it’s fair to say that these games are sure to light up anybodies Christmas day. Whilst you’re busy getting those last minute geeky presents for your loved ones, be sure to stick around, as next week is the last Top 10 before the new year! What a year it’s been; so we’re giving you one of three options for next year; to celebrate or mourn the past, or to look forward to the future.
Another Christmas has come and gone here at GeekOut South-West; thank you so much to everyone who has come and made our year extra special. It’s always amazing to see the support you all give us – and honestly, we hope our events and our articles have given you something this year. As ever, share your thoughts on today’s Top 10 in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter, but from Joel and Timlah, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Oh and don’t forget, it’s business as usual here; there are still articles coming, even on Christmas Day!