2012 Holiday Board Game Gift Guide—Gateway Games

30 11 2012

So it’s New Year’s Eve, and you and your spouse are having another couple over for “games.” It’s easy to pull out the old standbys—the games that everyone knows how to play. But you have a plan to foist some games on these unsuspecting people, but you don’t know where to start. We’re here to help. These are some games that are good introductions to the vast world of board games…we call them Gateway Games.

Ticket To Ride—I (Firestone) think this is the best gateway game out there. It’s colorful. It has great production values. The rules are easy to explain. And there’s just enough luck that the newcomers have a chance to win, too. Oh yeah, and it’s fun! And if they like this, there are a number of expansions and maps you can slowly add in.

Cost:~$40

Available From: Amazon, many department stores, and your friendly local game store.

Ages: 8 and up

Carcassonne—This tile-laying game is an excellent choice for newbies and nongamers. Draw a tile, place a tile, and decide whether to place a person down; that’s  it! It’s also the very first review we did here at Theology of Games!

Cost: ~$30

Available From: Amazon, some department stores, and your friendly local game store.

Ages: 8 and up.

Bohnanza—This card game sounds weird: You’re bean farmers and you’re trying to be a better bean farmer than your opponents. But you have to work with them to get your beans planted. I told you it sounds weird. But it’s a fun card game that’s cheap and portable.

Cost:~$20

Available From: Amazon and your friendly local game store.

Ages: 10 and up

Lost Cities: The Board Game—Based on the two-player game Lost Cities, this is a terrific board game that has plenty of interesting choices to make but is simple enough for nongamer friends.

Cost:~$30

Available From: Amazon and your friendly local game store.

Ages: 8 and up

Snow Tails—We talked about this game in our Family Games edition of the Holiday Gift Guide. And it’s just as true here: Race games are a fun and easy genre.

Cost: ~$35

Available From: Amazon
, and your friendly local game store

Ages: 8 and up

Kingdom Builder—This may be a step up for newcomers. Maybe you’ve played Ticket To Ride a bunch of times, and the other couple is ready for the next step. Kingdom Builder is that game. It’s still simple enough, so don’t be afraid. Here’s our review right here!

Cost:~$45

Available From: Amazon, some department stores, and your friendly local game store.

Ages: 8 and up

Mystery of the Abbey—Do your friends like Clue? Well Mystery is kind of like Clue but with fantastic production values, and much more interesting things to do. It’s better than Clue in every way…

Cost:~$50

Available From: Amazon
, and your friendly local game store.

Ages: 10 and up

Star Trek Catan—For lots of people, Settlers of Catan was their “gateway game”—the game that got them into the hobby. They now have a Star Trek-themed version, and it looks much more thematically fun than the original version.

Cost: ~$40

Available From: This is exclusively available at Target.

Ages: 10 and up

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2012 Holiday Board Game Gift Guide—Family Games

23 11 2012

The next category in our Gift Guide is Family Games. This is kind of a tough one to land on, because the notion of “family” will vary depending on the makeup of your family, whether or not you have kids, how old your kids are, or if you even like playing game with your kids… (Kidding.) And some games from our Kids Games list could have gone here, too (like Sorry Sliders, for instance). But it’s our list and our blog so we’ll be coming at it from the viewpoint of people with two boys under the age of 10.

Castle Panic—All of our kids love this game. It’s a cooperative game where you’re trying to fight off hordes of baddies trying to attack your castle. You can adjust the difficulty up or down depending on how old your kids are; and there’s an expansion that adds some more difficulty, options, and monsters. You can check out our review of the base game right here.

Cost: ~$27

Available From: Amazon, and your friendly local game store

Ages: 6 and up

Forbidden Island—A great game of adventure, treasure hunting and team work! Players in this co-op are a group of treasure hunters searching for 4 different treasures on an island that’s sinking into the sea! A great bonding experience as players have to work together to accomplish the task of defeating the game—all of the players win or lose together! If you have kids who are a little older, check out Pandemic. It’s very similar to Forbidden Island, but you’re trying to stop diseases from spreading across the planet. It’s more complicated, has some more things going on, and is harder to win.

Cost: ~$14

Available From: Amazon, and your friendly local game store

Ages: 8 and up (10 and up for Pandemic)

Hike—A fun card game that simulates a hike in the woods. Players take turns playing cards representing a segment of the hike. It’s great for young kids because all cards (except the special cards) are icon/art-driven, but fun for the family because of the special ability cards, which add another layer of strategy. It plays like a thematic Uno game, with less luck involved.

Cost: ~12

Available From: Amazon
, and your friendly local game store

Ages: 6 and up

Zooloretto—You’re a zookeeper, trying to create the best zoo by buying truckloads of animals and putting them in your pens in the most efficient way possible. It’s bright and colorful, and kids love animals. There’s also a slightly more complicated sequel called Aquaretto that has you running an animal water park.

Cost: ~$30

Available From: Amazon, Target, and your friendly local game store

Ages: 7 and up

Snow Tails—Race games make for good family games. They’re usually not too complicated, they usually have some randomness, and races are just fun! (And parents, it’ll force your kids to do some simple arithmetic, but they won’t even realize they’re doing it!)

Cost: ~$35

Available From: Amazon
, and your friendly local game store

Ages: 8 and up

King of Tokyo—In this game, you’re one of a group of monsters who are trying to become the King of Tokyo by beating up on your opponents. There lots of randomness and crazy special powers, so it’s just the sort of game that works well for families. Check out our review right here!

Cost: ~$35

Available From: Amazon, and your friendly local game store.

Ages: 8 and up

Memoir ’44—This is a 2-player very, very light wargame that my (Firestone) 8-year-old LOVES. You’ll be able to re-create battles from World War II, with each person playing a side of the conflict. There are LOTS of expansions, so you can play in Normandy, Russia, and the Pacific. If you have a kid who loves WWII history, consider this gem.

Cost: ~$40

Available From: Amazon, and your friendly local game store

Ages: 7 and up

Pirate’s Cove—In this game, each player is a pirate, who travels to different island to grab some treasure. But if you end up at the same island as another pirate, you fight! And there are some Legendary Pirates floating around, looking to challenge you for your treasure. The production values on this one are fantastic.

Cost: ~$45

Available From: Amazon, and your friendly local game store

Ages: 8 and up








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