The 12 (Board)Games Of Christmas: An Introduction

It’s Christmas! And over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be dropping into Rock Paper Shotgun on a regular basis to make my “12 (BOARD)GAMES OF CHRISTMAS” posts. This list will contain 12 board game gift recommendations, with a light review and some suggestions for the perfect people to give that gift to.

All of the games I highlight will be CURRENTLY IN PRINT and so you’ll have no excuse not to buy them and improve your gift-giving. I mean, enough with the perfume already. Give your wife a board game! Enough with the socks! Give your grampa a board game! Enough with the vibrators! Give your Uncle Bill a board game!

But seriously – these updates will tell you which board games on the shop shelves right now will please your friends on Christmas morning. I’ll make sure to point out how many players they play best with, how heavy they are, how long they take to play, and what kind of people might enjoy them. It’s like… a guide. A guide to buying stuff that will make other people happy. A list of pure good and kindness, delivered by a haunted and troubled man with nothing left to lose.

The next thing you have to do is bookmark this little post. Then you can just click the little tag to make sure you don’t miss any of the updates. Because they will be landing here there and everywhere over the next fortnight, like little surprise droppings from Rudolph’s red-nosed anus.
We need some kind of system to keep track, right?

And that’s about all there is for this update, because it is only an introduction post. What else did you want? I mean, what more is there to say?

They start rolling out this week. I want to see you sharing the info on the Twitters and Facebooks.

Can you do that shit?




  1. iisjreg says:

    Betrayal at House on the Hill.
    I’ve been playing so much recently and have only played about 15 of the 50 games. Definitely a must have!

    • tiffanydean6 says:

      upto I looked at the bank draft which had said $5447, I did not believe that my mother in law could realey earning money part-time at there computar.. there brothers friend had bean doing this 4 only 16 months and as of now cleared the debts on their mini mansion and purchased a new Lotus Elise. read more at..Read More

    • Skydancer says:

      Seconded. Got it a year ago from this same column’s advice and am still playing it from time to time with different scenarios; quick and fun.

      • AngrySasquatch says:

        I disagree. Betrayal At House on the Hill always seems like it’s going to be an epic and awesome game but every single game we played – and we played about 4 to 6 times – left us with an unsatisfying and anti-climatic ending.

    • bill says:

      Hijacking this to say that i made a thread on the forums for people looking for boardgame gift recommendations for xmas who can’t wait for 12 days.

      link to

    • Sunjammer says:

      I like the bit where I bought the game, opened it, and all the pieces immediately bent and warped into unusable shape. It’s really a quality product, it really is. What a piece of junk.

  2. MiniMatt says:

    Anything that makes a change from rude word Scrabble at Christmas. That one lost some of it’s charm after Gran died. (she knew the filthiest words)

  3. zind says:

    Betrayal at House on the Hill should be on there, as should Ascension and/or Dominion, depending on how strict your definition of “board game” is.

    (Cards Against Humanity is also a good game played at a table, but I won’t pretend to try and sneak it into board game category.)

  4. westyfield says:

    This reads like Florence, but it says Walker. What am I to believe?

  5. BambamCZ says:

    Mansions of Madness, Eclipse and Last Night on Earth are games I’d recommend. Of the more recent Zombicide looks awesome.

    • finbikkifin says:

      Eclipse owns hard. It’s everything I wanted Twilight Imperium to be, and better: tech trees, exploration, ship customisation! Diplomacy! Stabbing other players in the back with a warfleet! It’s amazing how good it is.

  6. webwielder says:

    I would like it if RPS reviewed the following games:


    • Nova says:

      And Super Hexagon.

    • The Random One says:

      Well, that came out of nowhere, but I second the request for a Miasmata review.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I know that Miasma’s on John’s list (but I don’t know if that means he has exclusive rights to a WIT).

    • Hematite says:

      I bought Miasmata the other day and loved it, but it’s an unusual game. It’s an exploration/survival game with a weird momentum based movement system which makes climbing up and down hills a major gameplay element. Basically you walk/run/slide/stumble/tumble around an island reading notes and looking for the cure for a plague you have. There is no combat, but there is hiding from a monster and a mystery to solve. There’s a day/night cycle which taps into that minecraft dread of being stuck away from base at night. The automap is only filled in when you can triangulate off some known landmarks which is cool.

      The island geography is pretty nicely designed, and the lighting effects are very good although I found the HDR a bit too aggressive at hiding dark areas. The foliage is wonderfully dense. The object models and textures look a bit dated.

      I enjoyed it a lot because it pushes the boundaries of exploration based gameplay. I think you’ll like it if you appreciate games which present an interesting environment and innovate in particular areas without trying to compete as an ‘all round’ game.

      As an example to help you calibrate against my opinions, I think overall I appreciate the game as much as Far Cry 3 which I’m also playing. Miasmata is the superior island-wandering experience because the island is more intimate and traveling around it is an engaging experience; it’s very physical and the day/night and weather cycle is meaningful. I appreciate Far Cry 3 for its wildlife, interesting and well presented characters (except for the American brats, bah humbug) and the tension and planning of clearing enemy camps. The other parts of Far Cry 3 – shooting, vehicles, extensive plot, unlocks, explosions, base jumping, shark punching – are entirely absent from Miasmata, but frankly I’m so old and jaded that I’m happier not to have that same bombastic FPS gameplay as padding between the innovative bits, even if it’s done to a high standard.

      Is that a helpful review? Probably not. Hey, let’s see if we can get RPS to do one!

      • webwielder says:

        That was great! Thank you, Hematite. Sounds rather fantastic. And seems tailor made for RPS’s editors (particularly Jim), and me.

        • Durkonkell says:

          When I saw this game, I thought “This sounds like it was designed specifically for RPS” and I’m a little surprised we’ve not heard words from them about it. It particularly seems like it’d be right up Jim Rossignol’s survival street.

          Also, board games! Those would be good things to buy for people for Christmas, although I can’t help but feel that this list is only going to help people who are already deep into the ‘desperate scrambling’ phase of gift buying. Also known as “OH GOD IT’S ONLY 2 WEEKS TO CHRISTMAS HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!”

  7. pakoito says:

    Needs more tiny breasted female Quinns.

  8. Shockeh says:

    If there’s a lack of X-Wing, Descent and Battlestar Galactica, I have no idea what to suggest to you. :)

    • Wolfman says:


      P.s SHOCKEH! ZOMG! Long time matey!

      • Shockeh says:

        Hello fella, I think I still have you on Steam, say Hi sometime. :)

    • finbikkifin says:

      That he has good taste in games?

      I kid, I kid, I just can’t stand Descent, and found BSG to be merely OK.

  9. finbikkifin says:

    I have literally spent over £300 on wargames – the cardboard, hex & chit variety – in the past month.

    Buy your friends a grognard wargame for Christmas, people! What? No, I didn’t, I bought them for myself. But it’s the thought that counts.

    • Mintjulep says:

      Which two did you get?

      • finbikkifin says:

        I put down a deposit on an OOP ASL module? Nah.

        The recentish reprint of Dragon Rage, which looks like it’s going to own when I get a chance to play it properly – colourful, nice art, and it’s a game about giant monsters sieging a town. Two maps – the town, and an orc town. Human and orc/goblin armies, dragons, giants, sea serpents, T-Rexes, all kinds of awesome stuff.

        Some Lock ‘n Load stuff. I’m really getting into the LnL series. It’s the best tactical game with squad-sized units I’ve played, and it’s dethroned my previous love, Combat Commander. EastFront II, a block game covering… well, the bits of WW2 with Russia and Germans. A couple of other things.

        EastFront II was the only really expensive one, at £80 for a box full of wood and some bloody big mounted maps. The Lock ‘n Load games are usually only £35 or so, and expansions are cheaper, so I picked up their Vietnam game, a Mogadishu one, and Heroes of the Blitzkrieg – it has French cavalry AND German motorcycle units! Yes, they’ll probably wind up dismounting. :(

        I would recommend Dragon Rage as a Christmas gift, by the way. Or Lock ‘n Load: Forgotten Heroes/Heroes of the Blitzkrieg, for people more into Vietnam/WW2 who might want to get into something more wargamey. The rulebooks are relatively long at 30-odd pages, but very clear and unintimidating beside that, and mostly examples and explanations – you can play by skimming it quickly, setting up and stepping through the rules for a turn or two, and then you’ll be able to put the rulebooks away for 95% of play.

      • finbikkifin says:

        I did almost blow £150 on a single game, though. Talked myself out of it by stacking up a bunch of other games next to it, and not having enough in my gaming budget for it. :(

  10. Llewyn says:

    Great idea, but I can’t help feeling this is coming a little late for its supposed purpose. Christmas is pretty much the only time I can get Mrs Llewyn to show any real interest in board games, although there’s some progress this year in that she initiated the discussion on what’s going to be the new game for Christmas Eve. Perhaps next year I’ll even manage to smuggle new games in at other times of the year…

    Anyway, Mrs L raised the question a couple of weeks ago, and pressed it rather insistently while we were out shopping last weekend. If only I’d had a handy Rab Christmas Countdown to refer her to! (Or more likely, to refer to secretly so as to sound impressively knowledgeable).

    • ibdoomed says:

      Definitely too late for this. It might work if the list was posted today but posting the list over the next 14 days… ? Mr. Florence, do you realize christmas day IS 14 days from today?

    • wodin says:

      I thought that aswell..unless he releases the whole list tomorrow at the latest you’d never get it delivered on time..silly Rab..

    • roninnico says:

      I have to agree, I’ve been waiting for this kind of list to help me inform my Christmas game purchases but seems it might come too late…

      Anyone have any recommendations for a interesting but accessible family game? I thought maybe king of Tokyo or 7 wonders, but king of Tokyo seems like it might be a bit too shallow and 7 wonders looks like it might be too complex for the parents. Though I suppose if I can pursuade them to let me explain it to them rather than just wanting to get on and play it might be OK.

    • plugmonkey says:

      Indeed. Hurry up!

      And save Shadows in the Forest / Waldschattenspleil until last. I don’t need to be told about that one, it’s already bought. :)

  11. Flakfizer says:

    I think we have the same Uncle Bill :O

    Looking forward to these.

  12. Spiny says:

    Just bought Star Trek Catan :D

  13. scudly says:

    They may not have ‘boards’ per-se, but if Resistance and Resistance:Avalon aren’t on the list it will be incomplete. These two games have taken up so much time from our lunch-gaming group at work it isn’t even funny.

  14. Shadram says:

    If you’re a Magic: The Gathering fan, you have to try Mage Wars. It’s amazing. Played it for the first time last weekend, and was blown away. It’s a long game (took us 3 hours for a game, but expect to be able to reduce this to an hour or so once we learn the cards and effects, and play a little more aggressively) but the time just flew by. Could be my game of the year.

    EDIT: Only suitable for your fellow gaming geeks, though, the learning curve is pretty much vertical. Go with Summoner Wars for the less hardcore crowd. (Although that’s a very different game.)

  15. BobbleHat says:

    I assume you’ve already compiled the list, but any chance of any games in the sub-£20 category? Present ideas are all well and good, as I’ve been wanting to find ways of introducing some of my family into the sorts of games I like, eventually building up to the likes of Space Hulk and Chaos in the Old World, but the £40+ as a gift idea is generally out of the question.

  16. S Jay says:

    Too bad you can’t find any good board games in Brazil.

  17. SanguineAngel says:

    As a person trying to decide which boardgames to buy people this Christmas, I endorse this idea.

    Although as others have said already, in order for this list to be of use to me, I’d really need it all tomorrow for delivery times to be effective at delivering Christmas presents. Unless the first one is a real zinger I suppose

  18. jingies says:

    And at number one, “The Battle for North Africa”.

  19. thecommoncold says:

    If Android: Netrunner doesn’t show up here, I will be so, so sad. That game is fantastic.

  20. Treebard says:

    Those of us that ALSO have to buy Hanukkah gifts are out of luck on this one…luckily I’ve been making a list from previous Cardboard Children all year!