The 2016 Good Gift Games Guide

My 2016 Good Gift Games Guide appears in The Morning News today. Here are the ten games featured:

Game Rules Purchase
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle Not online Amazon
Valeria: Card Kingdoms PDF Amazon
World’s Fair: 1893 PDF Amazon
7 Wonders: Duel PDF Amazon
A Fake Artist Goes to New York PDF Amazon
Stockpile PDF Amazon
Beyond Baker Street BGG Amazon
Fuji Flush BGG Amazon
Ice Cool PDF Amazon
Potion Explosion PDF Amazon
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Additional Picks

All of the nominations for this year’s guide can be found here

The G3 guides focus on games that are easy to learn and play, so sometimes my personal favorites — which are often meatier — are omitted. I would be remiss to not mention the two games I have enjoyed the most this year:

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition (Fantasy Flight Games, 1-5 players, 90-270 minutes (depending on scenario): I’m a voracious consumer of Lovecraftian board games, but the first Mansions of Madness left me cold. I appreciated what it was trying to do — bring the mystery-solving element of Arkham Horror to the fore, as it is in the Call of Cthulhu RPG — the the game felt more like a pile of interesting ideas rather than a cohesive whole. Plus, I always had to serve as the GM, while I would have preferred to play as an investigator. The second edition of the game, I am pleased to report, solves all of these problems in one fell swoop, with the addition of a digital assistant. Now an app (available on most devices, as well as for PCs) moderates and narrates the game, while automating a lot of the fiddly bits. It’s hella expensive when you consider that you only get four scenarios in the box, but I feel like it was worth the money all the same (and we’ve replayed one of the adventures several times in a thus-far-vain attempt to eventually win). MoMv2 is truly as close to a roleplaying game in board game form that you can get. [Boardgame Geek | Rules (PDF) | Amazon]

Imperial Assault (Fantasy Flight Games (I don’t own stock in the company, I swear), 2-5 players, 90 minutes): I played (and reviewed) DOOM over ten years ago when it was first released, and every iteration of its “roll dice for range and damage” system since. Imperial Assault is far and away the best. The missions are rarely longer than 90 minutes, the game seems well-balanced between rebels and the Empire, and holy smokes is it fun. Plus, you get a ridiculous number of missions for the price (more that twice what you’ll play in a single campaign) and a second set of rules that allow for head-to-head brawls. The weight bumped this one off my main list, but this would be an amazing gift for someone who likes Star Wars and is comfortable tackling a moderately complex game. [Boardgame Geek | Rules (PDF) | Amazon]

Mansions of Madness: Second Edition and Imperial Assault.

And here are the “greatest hits” from over a decade of Good Gift Game guides:

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Other Opinions

Don’t trust the yeti? Here are the highlights of some other “2015 best game of the year” lists.

German Game of the Year:

Deutscher Spiele Preis (the “other” German Game of the Year award):

Golden Geek Awards:

International Gamers Awards:

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Where to Buy

I dunno about your hometown, but board game stores have recently been cropping up in Seattle like toadstools after a rain. Plug “games” into Google Maps and see what you get. As for online, Amazon now carries just about everything I recommend. Funagain Games is one of the oldest board game retailers and remains one of the best. Others that I’d recommend include:

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Need additional info, or want a more specific recommendation? Don’t hesitate to drop me a line or @ me on Twitter.

One thought on “The 2016 Good Gift Games Guide

  1. I’m so glad you keep making these. They’re so reliable, clear and pleasant to read, and every year my family gets to enjoy something new thanks to your recommendations.

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