Continuing with the tradition I started last year. I am creating a new holiday board game gift guide for 2014. I know there are a lot of holiday gift guides out there. I hope to give you some different ideas with this mix of games. I tired to keep the games simple; with rules that are easy to read and understand. Each category has five games. I am adding a new category this year with heavier strategy games.
Many of these games won’t be found at your big box stores. Target and Barnes and Noble do offer a good selection. If you can’t find the game try Amazon or another online game store. Of course your friendly local game store is a great place to look, shop local!
I am also not including the same games I has on last years list. I didn’t want repeats. Those games are still great and some of my first recommendations. So look back at last year’s list if you want.
Games in this category are family friendly in rules, length, and theme. Children below 7 may need a partner to help them. The Themes have a wide appeal and the rules are easy to learn.
1. 10 Days in Series
The 10 Days in Series is a wonderfully fun and educational games. This five game series includes: 10 Days in the USA, Africa, Europe, Asia, and in the Americas. Each game in the series has similar rules and components. Choose the theme that interests you the most, or try the whole series. I love them all, but my favorite is Europe.
During the game players are trying to connect a 10-Day journey. Either by walking (when a country borders another country) or by a special mode of travel (boat, plane, car) players must complete a connected journey. The first player to do so wins the game.
I love this series for both the educational value and the ease of play. I have used it with great success in both my classroom and in my home. The components are amazing and will stand up to many years of wear and tear. It is a great addition to any collection.
2. Animal Upon Animal
Carcassonne is also one of the first games I played when I got into the hobby. And, like Ticket to Ride has many, many versions and expansions. Again more seem to come out every year! I also suggesting starting out with the original version and adding from there. Many expansions are very small and only add a few tiles.
Animal Upon Animal is a lot like the classic dexterity game Jenga. The difference? Well besides from the cute animal shapes in Animal Upon Animal you are building instead of taking down. But you still are trying to avoid having everything come crashing down.
Players try to stack their different wooden animals to top of each other. They roll a die to determine if they have to place one or two animals. If any fall, the player has to take them into their pile. The first person to get rid of all their animals wins.
This fun stacking game works with even young children and can be an equalizer between young and old. The amazing components, easy rules, and dexterity element make it a fun family game that everyone can enjoy.
I admit, the cuteness factor is a big sell for Tokenoko The cute panda and the colorful components completely won me over when I first saw this game. Still they aren’t enough to earn a spot on this list. That and the great game play make this a great, although a bit deeper family game.
In the game players are trying to cultivate bamboo in three different colors, move the panda around so he can eat the bamboo, and build patterns with the plot tiles. Players have hidden objective cards they need to achieve in order to score victory points. For example they may want to have the Panda eat three different or build three yellow plots in a row. There is a lot of strategy involved but the game plays at a relaxing pace. At games end, players have created a beautiful garden worthy of the Giant Panda.
As with Tokenoko, Augustus is a bit more complicated than the first two family games. The rules for Augustus are simple and easy to learn. The difficulty of the game comes in the strategy. The basics of Augustus are very similar Bingo. Players are trying to complete “objective” cards that need by covering up the different symbols on the card. These symbols are randomly drawn from a bag and called by a player. Whenever a symbol on the player’s card is called they can cover that symbol. Some of the symbols are rarer than the others. When the card is completed the player will either get victory points or a special power.
The heavier part of the game comes in the choices you can make. Players only start with seven legionaries to cover symbols with. They need to choose which cards to finish first, may need to choose to move legionaries, and when they finish an objective they choose which new objectives they want. Completed objective cards work together to give players more points, extra legionaries, or even take away the other players progress.
Augustus offers a nice balance of easy rules and game play with a deeper strategy to keep any level of gamer interested.
5. Formula D
Formula D takes roll and move games to a whole new level. Players are racing their cars around the track by rolling dice. Everyone want to be the first to the finish to win the race. Sounds easy right? It is, but it wouldn’t be on this list if that was all.
Formula D requires lucky die rolls, and a bit of planning. The cars are not automatic, so players need to switch gears during the race. This is done through different size dice. Players may stay in the same gear, or switch gears up or down. They need to roll the best die for the situation. Be extra careful on the corners. Depending on the sharpness of the corner, you will need to stop once, twice, or even three times. If a player, is not careful they will damage their car and possibly even leave debris on the track. A car can become so damaged it cannot complete the race.
Adding the different dice and the need to stop on corners takes the classic mechanic of roll and move and revives it in an incredibly fun game. Add the vast amount of different tracks available and the illegal street racing from the base game and you will have hours of Formula D excitement.