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The Fifth To Twelfth (Board)Games Of Christmas

Gather Around

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On the REST OF THE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, MY–

Okay, okay. There’s still the rest of today, so enough time for you to get out and pick up some more board games as great gifts. I’m going to roll the rest of my boardgames of Christmas into this post, to make it easier for all of you and easier for me. Is that cool? To hell with the 12 days. I’ve given you four updates, and this fifth will be a nice round-up of the rest, and then you can go buy them all and I’ll take a lie down. Before I do that, though, let me just speak on something important. Let’s get emotional. Don’t I always end up getting emotional?

BOARD GAMES OF CHRISTMAS

Man, listen. Listen, listen, listen. Listen.

Nothing stays the same. I’m sure you already know this. But just in case there are some people out there who don’t realise it, and I mean really realise it, let me say again that nothing nothing nothing stays the same.

I remember, a few years back, coming home from a visit to my parents’ house. I was walking away from the old house, where I grew up, and I took a look back. My parents were both at the door, waving me off. I waved back at them. And I remember thinking this to myself – “If I could hold everything here, right here, press pause, make it stay just so forever, then I would.” I had everything I wanted at that point. A home, a girl I loved, a child, a career, a family, and my parents right there at the door of the old house, there whenever I needed them.

Nothing stays the same.

Time just keeps on tumbling away from us, moving on a downward slope, accelerating into the dark. Rare are the moments when we would say “Stop. Pause. Right here. This here. This forever.” We need to create those moments so that we can say that silly, impossible thing.

Board games matter. They let us gather people around a table, friends and loved ones, so that we can all play together. You need to set time aside to play a board game. You sit with the people you love and you get lost together for a little while. You roll dice, make decisions, beat each other up, laugh and shout. You pass cards and tokens to each other. You touch, make eye contact, high-five and mock-strangle. Time, that enemy, has to wait it all out. Time has been set aside, robbed of its power. You are playing with the people you love. Whatever game you play, you have already won.

This here. This forever. For a little while at least.

Nothing stays the same.

FINAL ROUND-UP

I told you about Coup, Spartacus, The Resistance and X-Wing in previous updates. Here, quickly, are a few more games I suggest you pick up for the people you love this Christmas. You will notice that all my suggestions are what you could call “light” games. No-one wants a complex rulebook on Christmas Day. Well, I do, but I’m funny that way.

LIBERTALIA

This brilliant, brilliant pirates game was one of my pal James Purefoy’s favourite games this year. You can read about us playing it at this link – https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/09/02/cardboard-children-libertalia/

It’s such a cool game. Take control of a band of pirates and plunder a ship over seven days and nights. It’s so easy to play, full of interesting decisions, and has enough chaos in the mix to make everyone hoot. Essentially it’s a game about role selection and timing. Every player has the same resources. The winner will be the person who makes best use of them. It’s a breeze to play, although maybe a tad more complex than the other games I’ve mentioned, and one of the very best games to be released this year. A potential Game of the Year when I make my selection in January.

BUZZ IT!

I recommend Buzz It all the time. It’s a party game comprising of a bunch of cards and an electronic timer. You take a card, ask a question, and start the timer. Each player has to answer before the timer buzzes. Questions are things like WHAT WOULD YOU HATE TO WAKE UP IN BED BESIDE or SOME KIND OF QUESTION THAT LETS YOU SAY INSULTING THINGS ABOUT YOUR SEXUAL PARTNER. It’s fast, really funny, and it’s the type of game anyone can play. In fact, it’s a very different game with different groups. Play with kids and you’re playing a giggly quickfire quiz game. Play with drunk adults and it’s a foul-mouthed gagfest that would make polite company blush. It’s such a great gift, this one. Practically no rules to learn, and massively replayable. Pick it up.

LOVE LETTER

Love Letter is a new release. It’s a tiny little card game stored in a velvet pouch. The theme of the game is that the players are trying to win the affections of a royal princess by sneaking love letters to her. The cards all feature members of the royal palace. At the end of a round, the player with the card featuring the member of the palace who has the closest relationship with the princess gets their letter delivered.

No game process could be more simple than this – each turn, the player takes a card from the deck. This will leave them with two cards in hand. Then the player will discard one of these cards and keep the other. That’s it. However, whenever you discard a card, the card’s power activates. One card might protect you from other cards for a turn. Another might let you look at another player’s hand. The Guard card lets you try to “arrest” a card from another player’s hand, by declaring who the Guard is searching for.

Eventually the deck empties and the player with the highest ranked card in hand wins. It’s a clever game of quick, meaningful decisions. Do you try to keep a certain card, or use its power to try to find another card that is of a higher rank? Seeing all the card powers work together is a thrill, so I won’t go into it too much in case I spoil that fun. What I will say is that a simple mechanic of DRAW ONE, DISCARD ONE makes for an exciting little game that creates lots of good table stories.

And hey – I love the theme. It makes a good, positive change.

MAGICAL ATHLETE

This game might be a little harder to find, but it’s well worth hunting down. It’s a really simple racing game, where each player has a team of weirdos with magical powers. The athletes are auctioned off at the start of the game, and then players choose which athletes they will enter into each race. My goodness, this game is superb.

It’s a roll and move racing game, sure. That means EVERYBODY ON THE PLANET can learn how to play it in ten seconds. But the way all the powers work together? Insanity. Hilarity. There are witches and ninjas, there are athletes that turn other athletes to stone, and athletes that can switch places with athletes further up the field. Every athlete has a unique power, so every race has a new dynamic. It’s a laugh riot, and incredibly exciting. And you know what? If you wanted to you could bet real money on this bad boy. I love it. Please try to find it. Buy it for yourself for Christmas. You deserve it.

ANYTHING. KERPLUNK. MONOPOLY. SCRABBLE. ANYTHING

Yes, my last selection is ANYTHING. Anything at all. Just please do try to play a board game or two this Christmas. Board gaming is booming right now, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that as social networks put physical distance between us, something within us desires the closeness of that tactile, physical experience. Get involved. Get on board. I’ll even allow you to play crappy old Cluedo if you must. Just please try to set some time aside to play.

Nothing stays the same. Remember that. Grab it while it’s all still here.

Merry Christmas!

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Robert Florence

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