Holiday Gift Guide for Geeks, Gamers, and the General Population

Posted 9 years ago by Games

Holiday Game Guide

Looking for a last minute gift or stocking stuffer for someone? Get them a game. While board and card games might not top many wish lists; excellent games can be found for recipients of all ages and price ranges. Find the right one and it just might be your recipient’s unexpected favorite.

Picking out a game that does more than collect dust on a shelf can be difficult. Don’t assume any game will do. With so many games out there, it can be difficult to tell the good from the bad. On top of that, some people can be turned off from an otherwise good game if they feel production value is too low, the rules appear too complex, or the genre is not to their liking.

To match the right game to the right gamer, resist the urge to immediately look for the right title. Instead think in broad categories. What situations do you see them using the game? Do they enjoy complex problems? Are they visual thinker? Maybe they are obsessed with a particular genre. Use the categories below as a starting point. Once you have a category or two in mind start looking at titles; we have seeded a few of those too.

Draw one, play one

No Fuss Games

Great for the gamer who doesn’t know they are a gamer. These are games with little set up time, quick game play, and shorter time commitment. They tend to be be smaller and more portable and have low learning curves.

Flux – Draw one, play one. It’s just that simple. Well until you change the rules.

Set – Set is an excellent No Fuss game as it has simple rules and quick gameplay but still manages to be hard to master.

Group Games

Game of Hilarious  Compositions
The socialite gamer needs a special kind of game. Most games are not made to handle the stress that a large group will put them through. Turns need to be fast paced and involve the whole group. Better yet, there should be obvious ways to improve upon the rules with things like alcohol or stripping.

Apples to Apples – Simple word association game, but in a hilariously competitive way.

Liar’s Dice – You guessed it, roll dice and lie. Or do you tell the truth and lie about lying…

Cooperative Gamespandemic

Don’t like to compete, or know a gamer that’s a major sore loser? Try a cooperative game. In this type of game it’s the players vs the game, you win and lose as a team. These tend to be medium length games for 1-4 players and can vary greatly in complexity.

Pandemic – Simultaneous disease outbreaks across the globe threaten humanity. Each player has a specialty and only by working together can they hold off the outbreak and save mankind.

Vanished Planet – This futuristic cross between Settlers of Catan and Starcraft can provide the right challenge for any level of gamer while you struggle to defeat the Creature.

puerto rico
Strategy Games

For the true battle of the wits you need a game steep in strategy. Gamers willing to invest the time to both learn the more complex rules and play the longer games will find the payout worth it.

Puerto Rico – Economic strategy game set in the colonial Americas, in which players must select the best role to advance their position each round.

Settlers of Catan – Quickly becoming a classic, SoC can still remain fresh with a growing array of expansions. In it you will battle to out maneuver and out trade your neighbors to become the economic powerhouse.

Thematic Games

This is can be the paramount of gifted games. If you can find the sub-culture that your gamer has an unnatural affinity for, then it won’t take long to find the game to match. Often these niche games are spin-offs of a popular title and in some cases are still compatible with the original.


Munchkin – This started as a spoof of Dungeons and Dragons but has taken a simple game concept and spun out into the all kinds of genres including: super heroes, wild wild west, British secret agent , zombie, and high sea adventure.

Chez Geek – Be you a geek, goth, greek,  guevara,  grunt or even dork, we are all after the same thing, some slack. Or so is the premise of Chez Geek line of  games.

What now?

Still looking for inspiration? Check out the great list board game geek compiled for this year or the list from critical gamers. Or best of all check out your local hobby or game shop, and don’t worry about rushed shipping.

  • I’ve wanted to try Settlers of Catan for a looong time now. How long does a typical game last?

  • Why wait, play it now: http://introgame.playcatan.com/ or http://pio.sourceforge.net/

    Your first game with people will go much smoother if a few already know the rules. The amount of trading, and how much back in forth is required for each trade will have a big impact.

    Budget an hour or two for your first game.