Calvin’s Commentaries: X-Mas Games

So the calendar has flipped to December, so it’s time to think of holiday gifts for the board gamer in your life.

Keep it simple suggests Guilder Jeff Chasse.

“My goal is simple — to learn games that are fun,” he offered, adding he has just bought a Farkle board for his parents for Christmas (Shh don’t tell them). “It is a wood decorative board looks like a nice crib board. The reason is they enjoy the game and it can be played with a large number of people and friends.”

Other gift games Jeff has given in the past included Tsuro, zombie dice, and Partido.

Adam Daniels went hog wild on his holiday gift suggestions breaking things down depending on what sort of gift you seek.

As a ‘stocking Stuffer’ Adam suggested Pairs.

“The game of Pairs is easy to learn and loads of fun. This game is just a special deck of cards, and it plays easy and yet it is so addictive you will continually want to play one more. While this game could be mostly scene as a filler game, you could play it the whole night. It comes with so many different variants to play, and it was designed as a pub game if you really want to have a good time.”

For larger gifts, Adan went with Pandemic, especially as an intro game for someone.

“Perhaps the best board game ever, at least to me,” suggests Adam. “Everyone should have a copy of this great game, it is also a great game to start a collection. I am sure there were co-op games before Pandemic but this became the measuring stick for all co-op games since, and none have matched it in my opinion. The base game would be great for anyone, but the Pandemic Iberia version might be a better gift. Iberia takes a little from expansions and uses those mechanics to make a better game experience compared to the base game. Iberia also looks amazing when set up, when on the table it has a very old-timey aesthetic. I guess it comes down to the person you’re buying for Pandemic as a sleek and modern feel. Iberia feels older while using wooden pieces and just the overall look.

Another of interest might be Zombiecide.

“There are many types of gamers in the world. Board, video and mini gamers are just a few. Most people will pick a lane and stay in it,” reasoned Adam. “That is probably wise because, in the long run, it would probably save you money. I am not one of those people. I have loved mini-games for a long time and have played them since I was probably 10. Most people who play board games are turned off by getting into minis, for a number of reasons. Which is why Zombiecide is a great game since it is both. It comes with so many zombie minis and is played on a board. It is a great gateway game to get people into mini gaming. It also sneakily teaches some fundamental rules for most mini-games, (movement, line of sight, etc).

“It also helps Zombiecide is just a fun co-op experience, which can be enhanced with further expansions, or if you are really into the game painting the minis themselves which in itself is a fun part of the hobby.”

For a gift under $30, Adam turned to Lanterns.

“This is a fun cheap tile-laying game. The whole point of the game is to lay tiles and make the best display of lantern display. It is a bit longer than a filler game but isn’t going to take hours to play. It is a fun and relaxing time and would be a welcome addition to any collection or just a good cheap game to give as a gift. The rules are quick and easy to learn even for non-gamers. The other games I recommended tend to be on the expensive side but this game is under $30 and would make a great gift,” he suggests.

In my case, I do suggest knowing who you are giving the gift too. If it is to a non-gamer, with a young family I’d suggest finding a nice checker set, buying two, and putting all 48 checkers into one box with a board.

Then do a bit of ‘Net research and print the rules from some of the best games. With a double set of checkers, you open the board to having literally dozens of games played on it without adding a thing. Some of the best would be Lines of Action, Croda, Dameo, Murus Gallicus, Bashni, Breakthrough, and Turkish checkers.

If you have a diehard board gamer on your list it’s a much harder chore just knowing what they have in their collection, so you might be best to opt for games that are less well-known in Canada, but are great games. I’d start with Tasso. It’s a wonderful, all-wooden components game that looks nice on the coffee table, and is easy to learn and quick to play. It can be found at

From the same company check out Totem, another all-wood offering that will look great on a table to entice interest, and a veteran game should appreciate its aesthetics.

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