Tribute to Board Games: Top 10 for the Holidays

It’s that time of year again, folks! The Holiday season! Yes, it can be stressful. Yes, you have to hangout with weird, awkward family members that you never see until this time of year. And yes, it can be expensive buying all those gifts. But I still love it. Staying inside a nice warm house while it’s cold outside. Hanging out by the fire, sipping hot cocoa, and reminiscing about last year’s weird, awkward moments with family members. All the food and drink and being merry and all that good stuff. I love the traditions and making new ones.

One of my all time favorite traditions is playing board games with my family and friends. This year around thanksgiving, my family played a game of Family Feud. It was so much fun. I hardly see my extended family anymore. So, as stated above, it can be a bit uncomfortable being around people you haven’t seen in awhile. There’s a lot to catch up on. A lot has changed in my life and theirs. However, just a few minutes into Family Feud, we were laughing and playing and having a great time. It was a wonderful little ice breaker that loosened everybody up and made it feel like old times again.

I also spent time with some friends around Thanksgiving. We played some great card games that we were trying out for the first time. It was a blast! Seriously, the games we were playing were so much fun and so weird and creative, combine that with amazing company and I was laughing with tears in my eyes. I loved the games so much, I actually included them in this blog post. I wanted to dedicate this blog post to the games that hold a special place in my heart as being some of my all time favorite games. Some are old classics. And some are creative newbies. These games are in no specific order, I just couldn’t make up my mind as to which one was better. Here is a list of 10 of my favorite games, whether of the board, card, tabletop variety.

Smash Up

2-4 players

Ages 12 and up

Average 45 minute playing time

Smash Up is a deck building strategy game where you take two types of monsters/bad guys/ creatures or whatever and smash them together to make an ultimate, destructive force. In the original box set, there are 8 factions (everything from zombies and aliens to dinosaurs and pirates). You pick two of those factions to create a deck. Each faction has their own special abilities, so you can strategize how you want to play the game. Then you play minions and actions on bases. Each base had a breaking point, so the more minions and actions you play on that base, the closer it gets to breaking. But other people can play on the same base to try and break it too.

Once a base is broken, there are points that are divided up between the people who had cards on the base. Whoever has the most points on the base, gets the first place points, whoever had the second most, gets the second place points, and so on. It is a super fun game, and the replayability is amazing because you can mix up the factions every game, creating new and exciting decks with different strategies. There are also several expansions with other new and creative monsters to join your ranks.

Settlers of Catan

3-4 players (base game)

Ages 10 and up

Average 45-90 minute playing time

Settlers of Catan is a strategy game where you build towns and cities on a large board that has several different resources. You place your towns and cities around these resources, which are then connected by roadways. The resources are associated with a number between 1-12. At the beginning of a person’s turn, they will roll two dice and the roll will determine what resources you get. You then use these resources to buy roads, cities, towns, or special ability cards. Once you reach a score of ten (for example: building a city gives you 1 point), you win!

This is one of those games that you love to hate, or is it hate to love? For some reason, people don’t like this game because it’s too… intense. Everytime I play it, people get upset, frustrated, angry, there always seems to be arguing and betraying, and putting that stupid robber on people’s resources! It goes on and on, my adrenaline spiked a bit just thinking about it. But I love it! That’s what makes it a great game. You care about having the largest army. You care about having the longest road. And you give the person the stink eye when they take the “longest road” card away from you! And you HATE that stupid robber!

I find it amazing that a board game can cause the most civil of people to shout and backstab and manipulate their way to try to win. But don’t let any of this discourage you, it is truly a great game and if you are a mature person who loves board games and can leave the trash talking on the board, then this is a must have for your collection.

Monopoly

2-8 players

Ages 8 and up

A full game could last an eternity

Everybody knows Monopoly. It’s a classic. You move around the board, you buy property to build houses and hotels, you keep moving around the board, and you buy more property. Eventually you put homes and hotels on your property, you charge people for landing on your property, you slowly start to chip away at their income, you continue to manipulate and talk your friends and family members out of buying property, then you turn around and buy that same spot, and people continue to pay for landing on your property.

Oh no! Someone’s gone to jail for the 5th time in a row! Oh no! Someone’s gone bankrupt! Oh no! Someone had to mortgage like 4 of their own properties so they could pay you for landing on Boardwalk. We’ve all been there. And that’s how the game goes: you slowly bleed your friends dry of the fake money they had and strip them of all their properties. And it feels good… real good. Yay, Capitalism!

Movie Buff

2 or more players

Ages 10 and up

Average 15-30 minute playing time

This is one of the new games that I have played recently and it quickly became one of my favorites! It’s a combination of UNO and movie trivia. Only for the trivia, you are the one to come up with the trivia. You play the game by handing out cards that say movie, actor, role, or quote on them. Whoever goes first plays the movie card, and then says the name of a movie. The next person must name a role, actor, or quote from that movie and lay down a corresponding card. That round continues until at least one of every card has been played. But, by all means, if you know a lot of actors from that specific movie, continue to play actor cards until someone finishes the round by playing the last of the four cards.

There are a couple reasons why I really love this game. For starters, I am a huge fan of trivia games, especially movie trivia. The other reason is that the replayability of this game starts and stops with you. You come up with the trivia, you test yourself. The trivia never stops until you stop. I hate how after just a few times playing a board game, you start getting the same questions. And then that’s it, the game is done, because you went through all the cards and know every answer now. But with this, the trivia is never ending, and that’s awesome.

Scene It

2 or more players

Ages 13 and up

Playing time may vary

Scene It is another trivia game that mainly focuses on movies. The twist with this game though is that you pop in a dvd and watch the clips from movies and get clues and questions after the clip. The other cool thing is that there are a lot of different versions. Some games are for movies, some are for TV shows, some are for sports, and some focus on specific movies (like comedies, or Harry Potter, or Disney movies). Some of the little games and movie clips that are on the DVD are really entertaining and creative.

They could be sound bites from a classic movie, and you have to try to identify the movie based on hearing the popular quote from the movie clip. Or they could give you different roles an actor has played and you have to identify the actor based on their movie roles. So if you’re a fan of tv and movies, this is a great game for you!

Exploding Kittens

2-5 players

Ages 7 and up

Average 15 minute playing time

I just recently found out about this game. It is now one of my favorite games!

You play by dealing out cards to people. Then for each person’s turn, they can play an action card (which will be in your hand) and then they draw a card from the draw pile. In the draw pile, there are exploding kittens. If someone draws an exploding kitten card, they lose the game and are out. However, in the beginning of the game, everyone starts with a bomb defusal card. If they have this card they can use this to counter the bomb, allowing them to stay in the game. The defusal goes into the discard pile and the cat bomb goes back in the draw pile, anywhere the player wants to put it. The action cards allow people to do all kinds of stuff, from making someone else draw two cards or preventing another person from doing an action or shuffling the draw pile.

You win the game if you are the last person standing and everybody else got blown up by a kitten. It sounds like a strange game, but it is a blast! And that’s not just a funny pun! The game is really simple but there is also some strategy behind it. The artwork is fantastic and the cards themselves have quite a bit of pun-y, quirky humor. There are also expansions to add more players and more explosions. And more explosions automatically equals more fun. And BOOM goes the dynamite… er, I mean kitten.

Risk

2-6 players

Ages 10 and up

Average playing time is about 2 months

Another classic and one of my all time favorites! If you haven’t heard, Risk is a game of world domination. You have an army, you draw cards and place your little army men on a large world map board. Once you have your army dispersed, you start the domination. If you can grab and hold a continent, you get bonus armies. For every four territories you have, you get additional armies. To attack other players, you move your armies to adjacent enemy territories and roll dice to see if you beat the defending armies dice roll. I have had many intense games of Risk in my day, and many do not end well.

This is another game that you should keep your emotions on the game board because people will be ruthless, there is always an alliance made between two people and then shortly after that broken, and there is always someone who either can’t roll the dice to save their life or is sweeping the board, unopposed. But despite all that it’s a solid strategy game that can be a lot of fun if you’re playing with the right people. It can last long though. To counter this, try playing with the mission cards. These cards give each person a specific mission that only they know and try to complete. This could be to conquer all of Europe or wipe out the red army. This makes the game much faster, normally. But why settle for all of Europe when you could have the world!

One Night: Werewolf Edition

3-10 players

Ages 8 and up

Average 10 minute playing time

I recently talked about this game in another post, but it is seriously so much fun, I had to add it to the list. There are two teams, the villagers and werewolves. The villagers have to figure out who the werewolves are, and the werewolves try not to get caught. Each person gets a card that shows which role they will be playing. There are several different roles for the village team, and there are even a few roles that will try to put a twist on the game. Once everyone knows who they are, they close their eyes. Each person is then called to wake up and play out their role. This could be looking at other people’s cards, or switching two other players’ cards, or looking at your own card to see if it his changed.

Once everyone gets a turn, the discussion begins. From here on out, you can not look at your own card or anyone else’s card. You have to discuss with the group what everyone did throughout the round and figure out who is lying and is actually the werewolf. If you have ever played mafia, this game is very similar. And it’s quick, lasting only about 10 minutes per round. Normally, the roles can be pretty overwhelming for newbies, so it’s best just to dive right in and explain each role as you play. The game also has an app that is free for Iphone. The app can announce the game and how the roles play, so that everyone can play and understand the game. Super fun and addicting.

Munchkin

3-6 players

Ages 10 and up

Average 60-120 minutes playing time

Munchkin is such an amazing game. If you ever wanted to play DnD but just couldn’t for whatever reason, I highly recommend this game as a substitute.

In Munchkin, you are a great adventurer starting off at level one. You start your turn by “kicking down the door” or, in other words, drawing from the draw pile. If it’s a monster, you can fight it if you are a higher level. If you slay it, you go up a level and gain treasure associated with that monster. However, you don’t always draw a monster from the draw pile. It might be another type of card, like a curse card. If you didn’t fight a monster, you can choose to draw from the treasure card pile, or “loot the room”. Or you can go looking for trouble and fight a monster card from your hand. Any treasure you acquire can be equipped to your character, such as weapons and armor.

This equipment increases what is called your fighting level, but not your overall level. So you could be level 4, and have equipment that adds a plus 10 to your fighting score, making it 14. This allows for you to beat monsters that are lower than level 14. But you are still a level 4 player. There are also potions and spells and curses that can be used on other players to trip them up during their monster fight. There are also other cards for roles and races, which gives you special abilities that you can use throughout the game. If someone ends up fighting a monster that is much tougher than them, they can request assistance from other players. Normally this is in exchange for a cut of the treasure from the monster.

When someone reaches level 10, the game is over and that person wins! However, if you lose a fight with a monster, you go all the way back to level one. This can be heartbreaking when all you need is to defeat one more monster to win, only to lose it all because you were just 1 level shy of beating it. Lots of planning and strategizing. Lots of backstabbing and shady deal making. All this makes for a great game!

Cranium

4 or more players

Ages 13 and up

Average 60 minute playing time

Cranium is my favorite, if not one of my favorite, party games ever. It has everything! Trivia, sculpting, drawing, acting, charades, spelling, puzzles, etc. The game is played by splitting up into teams. Then you roll a colored die to see what category you’ll be playing. It could be a simple trivia question, or it could be drawing with your eyes closed while your teammates try to guess what your drawing. It could be solving a word scramble, or it could be acting out a famous movie character.

I love this game because it involves teamwork and it doesn’t exclude anybody from the game. Some people might be really good with the trivia, but are terrible with the drawing. Some people can solve the riddles, but can’t do charades to save their lives. You have to know your teammates and know what they are good at. You have to know yourself and what you’re good at. It’s a little bit of everything all smashed into a great party game!

Well that’s all for now, nerds! I hope that during this holiday season you’re able to hangout with the ones you love, play some amazing games together, and create new memories and traditions! From the guys at Goblin Gazette we wish you Happy Holidays!

Keep on gaming nerds!

Til next time,

Donoran

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