Buying gifts for your beloved board-gamer is always a difficult proposition: do they have this already? Is this something they’d like? Will they ever get a chance to play this?
This Board Game Gift Guide will help answer these questions and choose the perfect gift for this year. Whether you’re looking for a cute accessory to add to their shelf or a new game for their library, you’re sure to decide from the choices below!
The guide is divided into multiple sections. First, you’ll find multiple board games in different categories. This way, you’ll be able to pick up a game that will be the best for your recipient. In the final section, you’ll find various accessories, which can also ve great gifts for board game lovers.
Cooperative Board Games
This first next section provides some inspiration for board games that offer a more relaxed, laid-back play style rather than one requiring heavy amounts of strategy and plotting for victory.
Arabian Nights, while somewhat dated, remains one of the best adventure-type board games. Played like a choose-your-own-adventure blended with luck and storytelling elements, Arabian Nights involves players around the table in weaving an epic tale of adventure, magic, treasure, love, and death. The objective – like any game – is to win, and though often only one person wins, this game is played more for the experience than the victory.
Arabian Nights has near-infinite replayability for 1-6 players. Players can laugh and joke and chat while playing without fear that the game requires their full attention. It’s a great option for a relaxed group of friends.
Pandemic – fitting for our times – is quite a competitive game. It fits into the cooperative category only because the players together compete against time and biology to cure a deadly virus as it spreads across the world. This is a fun and engaging strategy game for more serious gamers who don’t want to battle against one another, and has a great many expansions to keep it ever-changing.
The Pandemic Legacy series of games are an ideal gift for those who already own the basic Pandemic games and love them. Legacy games are intended to be played a number of times over a long period of time, navigating different scenarios to ultimately craft a larger-scale story.
The developers have released season 1, 2, and 0 (in that order) and the games implement story elements rather than relying solely on game mechanics. If someone you know loves Pandemic, they’ll love Pandemic Legacy.
Project Elite is unique in that players work together to repel an alien invasion – in real time. The clock ticks away as players take actions and roll dice to combat overwhelming forces of invaders. The game demands strategy and tactics coupled with quick thinking to defeat the enemy, and involves dramatic miniatures and maps to plan the defence.
This is an excellent choice for players who would want a more fast-paced, strategic title. There’s nothing better for bringing people together than a crisis, and in this case, the entire world is at stake.
Competitive Board Games
While cooperative games make for a relaxed evening, more experienced board gamers often seek out the more challenging titles. These games frequently require a high degree of planning and strategy designed to defeat other players, generally by amassing resources, denying opponents’, and advancing through different goals faster than everyone else.
Cooperative board games are a great gift for players who aren’t sensitive to being attacked directly and who can divorce their friendships for the duration of gameplay, with no hard feelings afterward.
Catan: the ever-legendary game of expansion of civilization. In this game, players compete to dominate the landscape with the most settlements and longest roads, spreading towards the most profitable of regions to amass resources and attaining victory points. Those who can reach the requisite Victory Points in the fastest, most efficient way win as the most powerful nation.
Catan is a hit among a vast number of board game lovers. If your giftee already owns the base game, one of its many expansions add fantastic layers to an already excellent game. You can find the best Catan expansion here.
Catan Dice Game
While Pandemic Legacy adds in a deeper, more complex set of gameplay, the Catan Dice Game strips away some of the more complicated aspects to make for a small, quick, and portable version of Catan. It’s an inexpensive gift that will be sure to get some use in any household, or even out – you can always spare some room in a travel bag for a set of dice.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride doesn’t focus on expansion like Catan, but is in the same way a dramatic race. Players compete to claim the longest railway routes and connecting remote destinations. It’s a popular game for good reason: easy to pick up but difficult to master, this game can provide endless fun for players of all ages. It’s one you’ll never be unhappy to go back to when you’re looking for a game to play.
Risk, too, is a race. Unlike Ticket to Ride, however, Risk does emphasize expansion: indeed, its core theme is worldwide imperialism. By building armies and conquering territories, players battle one another for space on the world stage, ultimately seeking to stamp out all other powers and become a single, unified world dominion.
Risk is known as a friendship-breaker and family-ruiner for good reason: to win, players must be brutal, vicious, and fickle, breaking trusts just as soon as they are made. It is a notoriously competitive title; this is a gift not to be given lightly, but in the right group, it will provide hours of nail-biting gameplay.
Risk’s expansions generally play about the same in the same way Monopoly’s titles do, but be sure to choose an edition with a theme that matches your giftee’s interests. Are they a huge fan of Game of Thrones, or perhaps Lord of the Rings? Risk allows you to play as a variety of factions as you seek to conquer the realm.
Party Board Games
Many board games must be ruled out when you’re set to play with a large group. At five, six, or more people, games with limited player spots often leave a couple of players out. The good news is, a plethora of games bank on this, being designed around large groups.
So-called “party games” are great for bigger groups, and often allow you to deal players in/out midway through the game. While these games aren’t often cooperative, the point of the game is generally to enjoy the experience rather than to vie for victory. The following are great examples of these games as gifts for players who host busier game nights.
A game that blends mathematics and hilarity sounds like a math teacher’s lie, but Charty Party achieves this feat with ease. Demanding only a basic level of understanding with graphs, this game plays like Cards Against Humanity, but asks players to label the different axes of simple charts. Players collect points when a rotating judge determines their answers to be the funniest.
While not entirely vulgar-free, it’s a far cleaner version of its inhumane cousin. I wouldn’t play it with children, but most parents shouldn’t be too uncomfortable playing it with their older kids.
Don’t Get Got
If your giftee like games that focus on stealth, secrecy, and subterfuge, Don’t Get Got is the perfect gift. This party-style game is a longer-term, engaging players over the course of an evening – during a family dinner, movie night, or even just over a week – rather than sitting down to play for half an hour.
In Don’t Get Got, players draw from a deck of cards to receive six missions or objectives. In the background of whatever event, players attempt to complete the objectives of three of those missions before anyone else completes theirs. Missions include convincing someone an object is voice activated and inducing someone to yawn.
Sushi GO Party!
This is a quick, friendly competition between sushi chefs to compose the most appetizing bento box. A card-drafting game, the objective of Sushi GO! is to balance a variety of common Japanese dishes to earn points following their unique rules. At the end of three rounds, chefs are ranked based on their success throughout the game. It’s a fantastic blend of strategy, luck, and subterfuge that plays quickly and is easy to pick up.
Sushi GO!’s original game is a treasure, but the developers have since come out with a Party Edition to include more players and a Sushi ROLL! edition which trades sushi cards for sushi dice.
If you would like to explore more games in this genre, you can find more great party board games here.
Small-Group Board Games
While almost anyone can pick up and enjoy party games, many of them are difficult to play in small groups. Some mechanically cannot be played below three players, while others aren’t much fun below five. The following games are great gift options for gamers who find it difficult to get large groups together or who prefer to play just with a special someone.
This game flips the stakes and places the player behind the Big Bad Evil Guy as opposed to the hero(es) of the game. Your objective is to build a dungeon powerful enough to stop any hero that dares enter. If too many heroes get through your traps and minions, you are slain; collect enough souls, and you become the top Boss Monster.
Boss Monster allows you to play on your own or with up to three other people. While it is a competitive game, it’s good-natured and plays relatively quickly. With many Bosses, heroes, and rooms to build in different orders, it boasts lots of replayability – not to mention the expansions released to date.
Bonus points for playing Cascadia in the real-world region that gives the game its name. This game is a friendly game playable on one’s own or with up to four other people. Players compete to design the most beautiful, expansive, and diverse landscapes complete with appropriately populated wildlife.
Only one winner should remain at the game’s end, but this title allows you to focus more on what you’re doing and pay less attention to the other side(s) of the board. It’s a relaxed, laid-back game fit for families and friends looking for a chill game night.
Cascadia is an excellent gift choice for nature-lovers and beginner board-game lovers. It’s quite easy to grasp, but the game offers more complex rulesets to add complexity to the game that challenges even the most seasoned gamers.
Codenames is another popular party game, one that could hypothetically be played with any number of players. A pair can cooperate against an unknown opponent, and larger groups team up to guess the Spymaster’s clues. The team that can guess faster and more accurately reaches their objective before the opponents.
Codenames is fun for all levels of experience, all ages, and all genres. It’s a rules-light title for those who want to play a game and not be bogged down with rules, but doesn’t feel stripped or simple in any way. A Duet version of the game exists specifically for couples.
With that, we finished with board game suggestions, and this Board Game Gift Guide will now take a look at various accessories, which can also be great gifts.
Board Game Accessories
Board game lovers can be notoriously difficult to shop for, with particular tastes and preferences that elude perhaps even their own comprehension. Sometimes, the best option is to give a gift that isn’t a board game at all. The following are some gift ideas to accompany or replace board games for your tabletop-gaming loved ones.
Whether your giftee is an avid Dungeons & Dragons player or is simply a Yahtzee champion, they’re sure to appreciate – and make use of – a new set of dice. Dice are the core aspect of a great many games and while most games are accompanied by cheap black-on-white dice, a good set can elevate the experience in a way only tabletop gamers understand.
For tabletop RPG gamers – those who play games like D&D or Pathfinder – you’ll probably want to look into a full set of RPG dice. These 7-dice packs come in any number of shapes and sizes. If you know your giftee is short on dice, you might consider a set of Chessex Pound O’ Dice. For a more minimalist gift, Chessex makes a wide range of gorgeous polymer dice sets.
If you think the RPG dice sets won’t land, consider a set of six-sided dice (D6s). These are the most ubiquitous of dice and will be sure to get plenty of use. Similar to RPG sets, you could choose a fancy metal set of dice from Die Hard Dice, a set with extra D6s, or even a trove of 36 mini-dice for the Magic: The Gathering or miniature-game player.
But what of a gift for the avid dice collector? Unique D20s like this Frankenstein-themed one will always be a hit to either play or sit on the mantelpiece. You could also go with giant foam dice, which sit halfway between a novelty and gag gift that are sure to raise a smile for adults and kids.
No dice gift is complete without a proper way to store them. Bag of Holding and Bag of Devouring products are complete with attractive, themed, long-lasting bags that perfectly store the dice they come with plus a few sets. Alternatively, these dice sets come in individually-sized bags. If you’re just looking for a bag to hold a mound of dice, there are plenty of options like this chainmail one, or some that can be seen as little excessive.
Board games and their gamers have a variety of storage needs, not limited to dice. Small drawstring pouches are a great gift for those with a lot of board games each with many small parts. They’re an effective and pretty way to store all those little bits and pieces that bustle around at the bottom of the box.
Backpacks for Board Games
It’s often hard to get even a few people together for board game nights. So, when those nights finally roll around, everyone wants to bring their favorite games, their newest games, and their least-played games. Now that’s a heavy roster to tote around. The following are some good options for portable board game storage:
Dice and storage are great options for many board gamers, but won’t be fit for everyone. Fear not, as there are many other non-board game gift options available to you. Some of these are listed below:
- Dice Candles: these cute, RPG-dice themed candles melt as they shed light, filling the air with luck-scented incense.
- Board Game Upgrades: some board games have upgrade kits that might be a boon for your giftee’s favorite game. For example, Betrayal at House on the Hill has this upgrade kit which comes with nicer character sheets and prettier dice, complete with updated art.
- Sleeves: Board games use cards as often or more frequently than they do dice. The most played games can see these cards degrade relatively frequently as corners and edges fray and cardstock bends. Card sleeves can prolong their lifespan, and can be ordered in a variety of standard sizes.
Board Game Gift Guide – Conclusion
With so many options, it can seem paralyzing to shop for a board game lover. In this Board Game Gift Guide, we have examined a series of options for your giftee. However, if you’re still having trouble, remember to break down the many choices into genres and styles.
What kind of games does your giftee normally play? Do they like sci-fi, or are they strictly interested in historical fiction? What are their interests outside of board games? These questions can all help you narrow down your gift options to the perfect choice.