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  1. #1
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    Boardgame recommendations for xmas thread

    Ok, so Rab is starting his 12 days of Christmas, which will be awesome. But I rather need to order today or tomorrow.
    I'm sure I've read about dozens of awesome games over the last year or two on cardboard children.. but the specifics slip my mind.

    So this thread is for recommending general boardgames of the year, and also giving/getting specific recommendations.
    If you do post a boardgame of the year, it'd be nice if you gave an idea of the number of players and the type of audience.

    PS/ Found a useful holiday gift guide here on boardgamegeek

    As for me, can anyone recommend:

    A - A reasonably priced boardgame for 2-4 players that's accessible for people like parents who aren't really into boardgames. Nothing too geeky in theme or requiring hours of manual reading. Something relatively social and fun.

    B - A board/card game that works well with 2 players and doesn't involve lots of small baby-edible pieces. Something that can be played relatively quickly in an evening after said baby has gone to bed.

    Neither has to be from this year specifically.
    Last edited by BillButNotBen; 13-12-2012 at 10:37 AM.

  2. #2
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    A)

    It depends how much they like competition and how even the skill levels might be. Skipping the obvious games like Carcassonne and Settlers, cooperatives like Pandemic and Flash Point are normally good bets. The themes (saving the world from disease, firefighters) are understandable to most, won't scare people away with elves and dragons and they're relatively straightforward to explain. Being cooperative, they're family friendly and support people of wildly varying skills much better than competitive games. I personally prefer Pandemic but Flash Point is a more obvious theme.

    Pergamon
    Archeology themed set collecting with a bidding mechanic for money and tile acquisition. Low interaction. It's well themed (though not an exciting theme) and quite easy to explain since most of the rules fit in with the archaeology theme. Most games will be over in under an hour and the rules for less than 4 make the bidding mechanic work surprisingly well, even down to 2.

    Biblios
    A game of bidding and more bidding to collect sets. There's a bit of point manipulation in there but otherwise it's all about the bidding. There's no theme to speak of and games are about half an hour. Again, works well down to 2 despite the focus on bidding. Straightforward as board games go but the uninitiated might take a few rounds to work out what's going on.

    Crows
    Tile laying with a vicious streak. The rules are on a par with Carcassonne but this is all about screwing as many people as you can to get your points every turn. Almost entirely tactical with no long term strategy possible. Nice components. This is probably my favourite of the light tile laying games and has definitely replaced Carcassonne personally but it's not for everyone. Games are about half an hour unless someone takes a particularly long time over their move.


    B)
    Some card games, since they're normally low on bits. You can substitute some of the tokens these use for dice or pieces of paper if shiny bits prove too tempting to eat.

    Ascension
    Deck building card game. There's basically no interaction other than competing for the central card resources. Unlike Dominion and co, the cards come from one central deck and it's not afraid to put unique cards in there that not everyone will get. Feels a lot more like Magic in the focus on special cards and combos but it's still in the realm of low interaction deck builder.

    Nightfall
    Deck building card game. All about attacking the other players to win, there's no point gathering optimisation here. You have a draft at the start to choose some cards then you build decks in the normal way. The main difference is that victory is determined by the number of wounds inflicted by others and the sequence of play means that you need to pay attention all the time. You can play cards during other players' turns and sometimes that's the best way to play the card. The colour combination system is particularly nice and means you can't build your deck in isolation if you want to make the most of it.

    Race for the Galaxy
    As good as solitaire, deck building/tableau building. A little hard to get into with all the symbols and phase selections but it's rewarding when you do. Games are short, there are lots of valid approaches and the use of cards as currency to play other cards means you'll be making some tough decisions most of the way through.

    Jaipur
    Very short set collection card game. It's not particularly taxing but it's a nice easy game to relax to. Play is about 20 minutes for the best of 3 system used. Incredibly low interaction. It's also very compact and doesn't take much space at all to play.


    Some board games, not card games. These may have too many bits or be heavier than you're looking for but they should all fit into 90 minutes or less when played with 2. You should probably look at some pictures to work out if the components don't work for you.

    Castles of Burgundy
    Dice based euro, low interaction building game. The core of the game is building tiles on your own board but every action is determined by the roll of a pair of dice. Despite the constant rolling this doesn't feel luck based; you can definitely outplay your rolls if they aren't ideal. Lots of different tiles, a great turn order mechanic and a points system that rewards both building big and building fast. Games like this do make me wonder how designers can bring so many bits together and keep the game relentlessly balanced throughout.

    Troyes
    Another dice based euro, this time worker placement but with much higher interaction than normal. Dice are used to take actions and there's a fixed pool of dice in the game. You can use workers to get more of the pool for yourself but you can also buy dice off other players for actions so you can't be played out of the game. A tough one to learn but a 2 player game fits into <60 minutes (the first probably won't) and it works at all player counts when you have more. This and Castles of Burgundy are probably two of my favourite euros; they use dice to reduce the eternal optimisation euros are prone to but good play will win through every time.

    Claustrophobia
    Direct conflict 1v1 dungeon game. One player is a group of heroes and the other controls the demons. The two sides are incredibly asymmetric and both are fun to play. It's scenario based but there's a decent selection in the game and plenty more for free online if you run out. The components for this are fantastic and I've not seen another dungeon crawler than feels quite like this, especially in the mechanics of the demon side and how the heroes take damage. The game comes with about a dozen miniatures and some tokens but it may not meet your baby proof criteria. It's definitely one of the lower component count dungeon crawlers.
    Last edited by Goateh; 12-12-2012 at 10:01 AM. Reason: Tags! The smaart editor is outwitting me.

  3. #3
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    Game A - Have a look at Fleet (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/121297/fleet) a lightish, eurogame with a clever bidding mechanic that came out this year. Disclaimer: I haven't yet played it a whole lot, but to me it seems to strike a nice balance between amount of rules and strategic depth.

    Alternatively, check out Alien Frontiers (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4...lien-frontiers).

    Game B - Has to be Netrunner (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1...roid-netrunner). Rab reviewed it and was very positive (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012...oid-netrunner/). It is probably the best two-player card game I have played. Don't be put off by the fact it's an LCG either - the base box offers more playability than most normal two-player card games and so expansions are purely optional. That said, they haven't even started coming out with expansions yet, so you won't feel like you're already missing out. There are some small pieces, but you can quite easily play without them. Any old token or dice will do.

  4. #4
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    Can't over help on A) as my group tends to play fairly heavy games as far as B goes though you can't go wrong with something like Summoner Wars: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/9...ars-master-set

    Two player dueling game that's a lot of fun and alot of variation. Only thing componentwise is their are some small heart shaped cardboard life tokens with it and a dice or two
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  5. #5
    Network Hub Olero's Avatar
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    A) Dixit is the game I currently play a lot with friends and family. The rules are very very simple (can be explained in 1 or 2 minutes) and are as follows (copy/paste of BGG):
    "One player is the storyteller for the turn. He looks at the 6 images in his hand. From one of these, he makes up a sentence and says it out loud (without showing the card to the other players).

    The other players select amongst their 6 images the one that best matches the sentence made up by the storyteller.
    Then, each of them gives their selected card to the storyteller, without showing it to the others. The storyteller shuffles his card with all the received cards. All pictures are shown face up, randomly, and every player has to bet upon what picture was the storyteller's.

    If nobody or everybody finds the correct picture, the storyteller scores 0, and each of the other players scores 2. Otherwise the storyteller and whoever found the correct answer scores 3. Players score 1 point for every vote for their own picture.

    The game ends when the deck is empty or if someone reaches 30 points,so he wins.Otherwise the greatest total wins the game.
    "

    This may sound a bit dull, bit it's a great way to "get in other peoples mind" so to speak. And the artwork of the cards is really beautiful (imho). And another plus-side is that a game doesn't take long (around 30 minutes).

    B) No real recommendations, but the 2 player games that are fun to play and work (which means both players have a good chance to win throughout the game) that I have are Puerto Rico and Small World, of which Puero Rico is the strategic one and Small World the more chance/luck based one
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olero View Post
    A) Dixit is the game I currently play a lot with friends and family. The rules are very very simple (can be explained in 1 or 2 minutes) and are as follows (copy/paste of BGG):


    Ooh that's a good recommendation! Having had another think about group A) Family/simple groups games I'd also recommend as possibilities:

    Flux: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/258/fluxx It's a card game (Think Uno rather then Magic The Gathering) each turn everyone picks up 1 and then plays 1 card. So the basics are dead simple. The fun/chaos comes in as each card is played it modifies the play, everyone ends up drawing X cards, playing Y cards depending whats on the middle, Very chaotic but simple as the effects/rule changes are all in plain sight in the middle.

    Bunny Bunny Moose Moose: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/5...ny-moose-moose where 1 player reads aloud a short poem while systematically playing a selection of random cards all depicting different Rabbits/Moose with different shaped ears/antlar arrangements which the players have to copy. Um copy paste of a user review on BGG which makes more sense:

    "Most cards depict either a bunny or a moose with their ears/antlers in a distinct position (e.g. floppy ears/straight ears; ears on the side of the head/on the top of the head etc). Next to those pictures you'll find a value (positive or negative number).
    The players use their hands to shape ears/antlers in a fashion that will ensure them to a) look silly and b)get points according to the cards. Basically, they try to enact the animal that will score them the highest.

    With each new card the situation changes and players have to constantly re-adjust their hands.

    At any given point, you are only allowed to have either ears (and be a bunny) or antlers (and therefor be a moose), should you mix them up, you'll be considered being a shrub which will look funny but give you no points at all.
    Sooner or later a hunter card appears, at which point the reader is obliged to shout "BANG!" and all the players need to hold their current position while the reader tallies up the points for each player.
    "

    Extract taken from: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/5073...re-thou-headed review of the same
    Last edited by Sarigs; 12-12-2012 at 04:44 PM.
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  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus LowKey's Avatar
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    Dixit is a great family game, city of horror is cheap (30) easy and engaging but may be too geeky? Also second summenor wars and netrunner as great two player games, also a few acres of snow (the non-wargamers wargame)

  8. #8
    Network Hub Gerbick's Avatar
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    Just the thread I was after. I'd forgotten about Dixit, so that might be on the list.

    But my specific question is this: Ticket to Ride, my wife enjoyed playing this at her mates. Is it worth getting for 2-players, with occasional 4-6 player games with kids? Or is there something similar, but better.

  9. #9
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    Thanks to everyone for their advice on my specific questions. I will now proceed to check them all out! If anyone else has questions / recommendations (such as Gerbick) please go ahead!

    Also, I found forbidden island in the boardgame geek gift guide. It's like pandemic but cheaper and easier apparently. that looks a good option for families.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus LowKey's Avatar
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    Oh yes forbidden island is good, really lovely pieces/art as well

  11. #11
    Network Hub Olero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowKey View Post
    Oh yes forbidden island is good, really lovely pieces/art as well
    Forbidden island is good indeed, but has one (big) flaw in my opinion: Once you figure out what the best strategy is to get the artifacts (and you'll figure that one out pretty easy), the game doesn't feel like a threat anymore. Sure, the randomness of the flooding can still be lethal the first couple of rounds, and preventing you from winning the game, but the challenge is gone. And for me, re-playability is gone as well.

    Regarding Ticket to ride: I've only played it with at least 3 players, so grain of salt here, but I think it becomes somewhat too obvious what the other player is hoarding his tickets for. The 3-player game I played was less fun then the 4-players games I played, because with 4, it's less predictable, and harder as well to finish your routes, which is more thrilling thus fun.
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  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    Sorry, I don't have experience with any that really fit what you're looking for, OP (I want to find a good 2-player game some day too, so I will read this thread!). But I'll toss in my general suggestions, though many have already been mentioned (these are the games my family plays regularly and enjoys):

    #1 Recommendation: 7 Wonders -- a little bit involved to learn, and can be disorienting because there are a multitude of ways you can try to gain victory points (there's no one best way), but FANTASTIC. Very quick (everyone takes turns at the same time) and lots of depth. Play with people who aren't scared of cards with symbols on them that may need to be looked up at first.

    Citadels -- this is the game I usually use when I know someone who wants an introduction to the world of Complicated Games. The building mechanic is dead simple, so you can breeze past it and get people focused on the triple-guessing which person picked which character this turn. Now that my whole family is experts though, this game is getting longer and more stressful and Machiavellian each time we play. =P

    Dixit -- also quite fun! Play with people who enjoy Apples to Apples but also have a soul.

    Dominion -- another good quick one, very relaxing because (unless you fill the deck with crazy cards) it's more like a race than a boxing match. You're trying to outpace the other players and buy based on what they're buying, but you're not really in direct conflict with anybody, and it's mainly a game about showing people how cool you are for getting sweet combos.

    On my Christmas List this year: Catacombs. I wanted something different =) and flicking wooden discs around the board to attack monsters seems like a nice change from city building!
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  13. #13
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    And unrelated to the original question, my Christmas gifts for me are:

    Trajan
    A game by Stefan Feld (Castles of Burgundy, Macao, In the Year of the Dragon) with another action system that makes me want to play all by itself. It looks very dry, it's point optimisation, there doesn't look to be much interaction and it looks glorious. His previous games mixed with the mancala action system were all I needed to want this.

    Escape: The Curse of the Temple
    A realtime, cooperative, dice rolling game that plays in 10 minutes and no more. It looks like a mix of Space Alert chaos with lots and lots of dice. This video convinced me that I had to try the game out and I can imagine it being a lot more fun as more people get added.

    Archipelago
    A heavy euro with lots of moving parts. It's not a direct conflict game but you can't ignore everyone if you want to do well. It has hidden victory conditions, hidden game ending conditions, trading, exploration, worker placement and lots and lots of systems. It's even possible for everyone to lose and have the game win. I liked the video overview by the Dice Tower but even that only covers parts of the game; I'm dreading trying to teach the game.

  14. #14
    Activated Node Temple's Avatar
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    Quick card games for two players I liked were San Juan, Jambo, Lost Cities and the Settlers Card Game (re-release recently I think) and 6 Nimmt is becoming very popular at the club recommended for 2 and scales up to just about any.

    My favourtie card game is Race for the Galaxy as recommended above. Not a lot of interaction in the base game so depends on how competetive you are with your partner.

    For two players I would always recommend Battlelore/Memoir 44 but probably too long to set up and does have smaller pieces

    Escape was fun, played with brand new people to boardgaming and great ice breaker. We even failed the tutorial. Not as good as Space Alert or Robo Rally, but easier to grasp. Possibly a bit crazy for parents.

    A cheaper, crazy we are all doomed Space Alert type game is Red November depending on what parents think is fun it might work.

    Citadels has been a hit with everyone I've played it with but needs more than four I think. Maybe not, would change some of the tactics around.

    Thebes is archaelogying again, but interesting time mechanic and drawing discs from a bag to go digging is great, played 2,4 and solo and it works with them all. Coincidentally I'm selling it... also selling Zooloretto as well; it is a game I do not like but would work for someone who liked the theme (it is re-themed Coloretto with a bit more on top) and keep thinking I'll give it to someone with kids.


    For others:
    Exodus is the latest Eclipse/Twilight Imperium game, that played pretty well. Simultaneous movement, no hidden objectives, nice upgrades and more combat than TI.

    Berzee, I thought you were on about Dungeon Fighter when mentioning Catacombs. Curiously both games were there that day, but only DF made it to the table. Seemed to go down well. Similar to Escape you have to throw dice in different ways depending on what you are fighting/how you are cursed.

  15. #15
    Any suggestions for what I could get my family? I know nothing about good board games.

    -The number of people we have to play will normally be 4 -- preferably no game that goes above that in terms of recommended players.
    -My family is nerdy (my mom plays baldurs gate and stuff, lol) so genre doesn't matter but we do prefer a game with some sort of fantasy/sci-fi/adventure theme rather than no real theme at all.
    -I'm looking to spend around ~25 or under if possible but I could go up. (I already got everyone enough presents besides this, and I'm not rich! :) )
    -Ideal game time would be either short, or a max of an hour. No more than an hour.
    -Easy to moderate for rules and difficulty please. We are all intelligent and could get it sorted out, but prefer not to be bothered :-D

    So, recommendations welcome. I think I'm passing on dixit and city of horror, not precisely what we want. Sorry if my specifications make it a bit too narrow.

    Also -- is Dominion worth getting, if we already have a supply of magic cards and play that sometimes? Don't really want another card game if its going to be too similar // inferior to magic.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by w00tasaurus; 16-12-2012 at 08:40 PM.

  16. #16
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    From earlier posts, Red November and Citadels are both good games. Red November is cooperative, Citadels can fall flat with some people but when it works it's definitely worthwhile.

    Discworld Ankh Morpork is a light area control game with hidden victory conditions that's surprisingly well themed on Discworld. If any of the family like the books they'll get a lot more out of this but it works even if you don't know anything Discworld. You'll spend most of the game working out who you need to attack next turn and second guessing their victory conditions; mechanically it's straightforward and only takes a few minutes to explain.

  17. #17
    ^^thanks! I'll look into your suggestions.

    Keep 'em coming if anyone else has ideas, especially opinions on dominion. Also, could anyone give a bit more of a description of what gameplay is actually like for Dixit? willing to consider it more.

  18. #18
    Activated Node Temple's Avatar
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    Dominion/Thunderstone are nothing like Magic [EDIT: not versions of magic I have played, maybe if you do draft in magic it is more similar] -you might prefer Thunderstone as it has a good fantasy theme, Dominion is more... no theme. If you have facebook you can check out Thunderstone for free on there, or here at Yucata
    Yucata - Play Thunderstone online for free!

    Thunderstone is a bit dearer than you want, maybe Race for the Galaxy as it is cheaper and, again, can try out for free online in various places. Both of these lack real meaty player interaction though as it is more about drafting a good hand, so if you are looking for that might not be enough.
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  19. #19
    Dominion has a bit more interaction, then?

    Thanks for the suggestions guys.

    Another question: Is HeroQuest any good? I used to own it but I was too young to know how to play so I just played with the cool little figures. Any short reviews -- complexity, etc. ?

  20. #20
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    Dominion has more than Thunderstone but it's still at the very low end. The most you get in the basic sets are cards like "All opponents discard a card" or giving them curses (negative points), there's no attack as such. If you're after interaction I wouldn't recommend either of them, though I do like both.

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