2018 Holiday Gift IdeasDecember 17, 2018
Thanks for making our 2018 a great first year for tabletop-test.com. Here’s our list of 25 excellent tabletop games and related hobby products that would make great holiday gifts. Leading off the pack, we have some game recommendations from Jess.
Legacy: Life Among the Ruins 2nd Edition
Post-apocalypse is a genre that has been done over and over so a roleplaying game that brings a fresh perspective is always cause for celebration. In Legacy players don’t just explore a wasteland but shape it over generations. Action focuses on new personalities who live in the world their parents forged and in turn shape the world their children will inherit. The artwork is breath taking and the concepts evocative; it’s worth owning just to read (hence why we own two copies) and support Queer creators in the gaming industry.
Great Fire of London 1666 3rd Edition
Recreate the fun of 17th Century disaster management in this recently republished board game. Act as wealthy land owners trying to find a balance between protecting their own properties, failing to protect their rivals real estate and looking heroic enough to become next Mayor of London. The board art is a gorgeous recreation of period cartography with lots of colourful game pieces to move around. Especially great for the family fed up of monopoly.
My 5yr old daughter enjoyed this game and gives it 100 stars.
Fast, furious, frivolous and fun. Each player takes the wheel of a barely functional racer complete with weaponry to (literally) level the playing field. At the core this game offers a tactical element to balance moving forward, repairing your own vehicle and blasting the opposition to pieces. Fortunately this is also a game about chaotic goblins so any cunning plan has to survive contact with a flurry of dice rolling and shouting. Another family favourite or impromptu drinking game.
For me, there’s only one thing better than receiving a board game as a gift: giving a board game as a gift. Here are five board games for all kinds of gamers (kids, family, cooperative, strategy, and hobbyist) that make great gifts for the holidays.
Kids: Rhino Hero
I remember my childhood days of attempting to build a house of cards as awesome as the one that the Brady kids did. Kids (and adults) now have a much better alternative in Rhino Hero, in which you create a high-rise building by stacking cards on each other. When the Rhino Hero icon appears on a card, you’ll move it up, up, and away, hoping the
building remains standing.
Family: Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar
Nothing says fun like launching fireballs at your fellow gamers. In this remake of the ‘80s classic board game, gamers play cards to move around the island and collect treasures and snap photos. You can even attempt to steal the coveted Heart of Vul-Kar gem, but your opponents will be hot on your tracks, attempting to steal it for themselves. Of course, Vul-Kar isn’t happy about all of these pesky humans disrupting the island, so be prepared to dodge fireballs on your way back to the helicopter. Escape with the the most treasures and photos to win.
Cooperative: Pandemic: The Cure
There’s a reason why Pandemic continues to sell well every holiday season: it’s the best introductory cooperative game out there. But for my money I’d suggest its dice-chucking version, Pandemic: The Cure. It’s faster to setup and play and you get to roll fistfuls of dice every turn, which is always more fun than going through a deck of cards. And because it’s tougher, the taste of victory after you’ve cured all four diseases is even sweeter when you pull off the win.
Strategy: Terraforming Mars
The flimsy player boards and questionable graphic design choices aside, Terraforming Mars is a stellar card-driven, engine-building game that will have your brain churning throughout its time on the table. You control a corporation trying to terraform Mars over multiple generations, playing cards to improve your own economic engine. It’s a slow, deep game as you figure out ways to meet the parameters that will eventually enable human life on the Red Planet.
Hobbyist: Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition)
For years I’d heard all the hype about Twilight Imperium, from its space opera narrative to its all-day play time. When the fourth edition debuted last year I was even more curious, adding it to the top of my must-play list before getting to play it this past August. And what did I think after I finally played it? It lived up to the hype and then some and, after playing it two more times this year, it’s now my favorite game of all time. There are so many things that make Twilight Imperium so great, from its 4X game play (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) to the 17 asymmetrical factions you can choose from. What I didn’t expect was the game wasn’t that difficult to learn; for such an epic game your individual turns aren’t that tough to navigate. It’s the game’s sheer scope that makes TI4 so amazing. Of course, a game that takes all day to play won’t appeal to everyone, but take it from this recent convert: TI4 is one of the greatest gaming experiences you’ll ever have.
Polyhero Themed Dice
Looking for a unique way to score a killing blow on that dragon or ogre? Do you lack that final step to ultimate immersion in your fantasy rpg? Fear not, adventurer, you quest is at an end! PolyHero’s Dice will help you slay even the fiercest of foes and look good doing it. Currently available in wizard and warrior sets for $30, and the rogue set is available for preorder now.
Link: PolyHero’s Dice
Dog Might Deck Boxes with Counters
Are your favorite cards scuffed and scattered across your lair? Spilling out of your bag onto the convention floor or constantly tumbling into chairs at your Friendly Local Gaming Store? Dog Might has beautiful, custom sculpted deck boxes ready and waiting to store and protect your current build and can hold 100-110 double sleeved cards, 150-160 sleeved cards, or 200-220 unsleeved cards, as well as two counters, starting at only $70.
Link: Dog Might Deck Boxes
Codex Dice Tower
The Codex Dice Tower from Elderwood Acamdey is designed in the shape of a scroll case with gorgeous foil-pressed leather designs and decorative hardwood caps attached with magnets. Gone are the days of players flinging errant handfuls of dice across the table or dropping sneaky dice into your lap while trying to doll behind your screen. Starting at $95, these dice towers come in 8 options for leather, 14 options for decoration, 8 foil print options, and two wood options, guaranteeing hundreds of options for the dice-tossing roleplayer in your life.
Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica
For the first time ever, the fantastic worlds of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons are combined into an amazing role-playing adventure in the Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica. Fans of both worlds are thrilled to finally have the opportunity to combine their love of these two games and I cannot imagine a better way for the worlds to collide. Players can build a character based on their guild of choice, which ties to the current Magic set for folks who are Magic players. This is a great opportunity for anyone who enjoys RPGs.
The Magic Gift Pack 2018
If you know somebody who has recently started playing this awesome game, this Gift Box is a perfect gift for them. It contains 4 booster packs of the most recent core Magic set, a spin down die that is great at keeping track of life in a casual setting, and some exciting exclusive cards. Even a hardcore fan wouldn’t be disappointed to open this gem up on Christmas morning.
Very reasonably priced, Mesozooic is an innovative drafting game that brings sliding puzzles to life as you compete to create a better dinosaur zoo than your opponents in one minute. This is a great gift to buy anyone who enjoys games. The gameplay is very unique and lends itself well to any gaming get together. There is also an advanced mode for those who are up for a challenge.
Link: Mesozooic on Z-man games
Just One is an innovative cooperative party game fun for any social situation. If you need a gift for someone who hosts a lot of parties or for that family member who opens up their doors for holiday dinner every year, this is a fantastic present. It’s fast paced, easy to learn, and fun for all ages. Gamers and non-gamers would have a blast playing this word association game together.
Link: Just One on Amazon Smile
One of the most talked about games of 2018, Reef is a great gift for hardcore gamers who like strategy games or families introducing strategy games to their kids. This game is designed to be an appetizer for the beginning of board game nights but lends itself well for younger gamers as well. Basically, anyone who likes games would be happy to add this to their collection.
Link: Reef on Miniature Market
End of year lists are fraught things, divisive by nature. So, a few notes on my approach to this list. This is very literally a list of my favorite miniatures released in 2018. I’ve made no attempt to consider the rules of these figures and their “play-value” (whatever the hell that even means) and given little consideration to their engineering and casting. In fact, I haven’t actually painted a single figure on this list, though I would very much like to paint all of them! My sole criterion was simply whether the model inspires me to paint it and play a game.
The Moldorf Expedition – Relic Blade
A late-year preview from Relic Blade’s latest Kickstarter; these models are fun as hell. I have a soft spot for dwarf sculpts in this style. The kind with big noses, bigger hats and lots of character. Better yet, these stalwart warriors are accompanied by one of the rarest of fantasy characters, a dwarven spellcaster! The charmingly titled “bibliothecary” brings with him an illusory horror that I am dying to paint. This set gets an honorable mention since none of them will release this year or they might well have crept into the proper list.
Gregor the Defector – Dust 1947
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Dust 1947, Gregor the Defector is the only thing better than a monkey with a gun: a bio-engineered monkey that’s turned his gun on the not-quite-Nazis who made him. His pose is wonderfully aggressive and he bears an enormous chain-fed machine gun and a highly detailed face. This is the kind of character model that makes a great centerpiece for an army or just a confusing conversation piece on your office desk.
Aurum Adeptus Syvestro – WARMACHINE
My favorite of the WARMACHINE warcasters from Privateer Press’ new Crucible Guard faction, Aurum Adeptus Syvestro may be my favorite alchemist miniature ever produced. Sculpted in the moment of alchemical triumph, Syvestro is loaded with dangerous looking gear, potent flasks, and bears an intimidating and over-engineered gasmask. A model like this will offer a tremendous number of opportunities for a painter to experiment with liquid effects and lends itself well to any number of paint schemes.
Eros Slagmyst – Necromunda
A mysterious bounty hunter for the latest edition of Games Workshop’s Necromunda, this figure is just oozing with character. He’s battle ready, but in the midst of coolly reloading his pistol. He’s been sculpted with an imposing but slightly mysterious stance and simultaneously offers some nice expanses of plain cloak begging for free-hand painting or weathering effects while also having some really intriguing details to pick out. I love this model for the atmosphere it exudes.
Lotann Warden of the Soul Ledgers – Age of Sigmar
If you’ve played minis wargames for any length of time you’ll no doubt have noticed that the vast majority of figures are sculpted in an exaggerated battle pose, sword or gun outthrust, caught in mid-charge, and hollering for blood. I’m a real sucker for sculpts that break that monotony and Lotann, Warden of the Soul Ledgers really nails it for me. Here’s a guy just doing his job (warding the Soul Ledger, apparently) with a little help from his octopus pal. You can easily imagine him calmly inscribing on the ledger with his quill in the midst of a swirling melee while his tentacular bestie wards off any who come too close. Lotann actually would have been my #1 miniature of the year were it not for a last minute contender…
Rufinus, Scorpion Thrower – Gangs of Rome
Look, what is there to explain here? He’s a vicious looking thug with a basket of scorpions to huck at people. Do the math, people; this rules.
My most played game of 2018, Gas Lands, is also the most fun I’ve had with toy cars since I was seven. I can’t recommend this game enough. The rules take a read through or two to really get down the ins and outs of when a collision is triggered, but what a blast!
Roll For It
An easy and accessible press your luck game, that’s good for a group of friends after a round of drinks, or to share with family and friends of all ages while you otherwise chat away the evening.
Kill Team: Rogue Trader
Games Workshop knocked this boxed game out of the park. Incredible minis, new factions, and a focus on fun! The only downside to this product is that it is an expansion, and requires the Kill Team rule book to play. But that rule book also opens you up to my favorite game of 2018.