One Board Family: Ryan's 2018 Holiday Buyers Guide
Not sure what to buy for a loved one this year? Instead of grabbing a gift card and putting it in a card, consider buying them a game that they can enjoy throughout the year. For this year’s holiday buyers guide, I went with games that will give players a fun family experience. Most of these games are quick to learn and can be played by both kids and adults.
Apparently 2018 has been the year that I talk about space games. This year we’ve had so many great games with the “space” theme hit our table. One of our favorites in this theme has been Space Park from Keymaster Games. This game was designed by Henry Audubon and is from the same crew that brought us Control and Campy Creatures. Their attention to detail and the art in Space Park are pretty incredible.
The game plays up to 4 players as you travel the galaxy collecting badges from different parks around the solar system. The gameplay is so fluid as you move the 3D rockets from location to location. You’ll collect gems and turn them in at Outpost 13 in order to collect badges that award you victory points. It’s rare to see 3 kids run to the table when you mention that you’re playing a game, but this happens all the time with Space Park.
Chronicles of Crime
Chronicles of Crime is a cooperative detective game that has been a surprise hit for our family and friends. This 2018 release from Lucky Duck Games integrates your mobile device into the gameplay in such a satisfying way. In the box you’ll find a board, location mats, along with loads of character cards, items and special clues.
You start your crime solving adventure by choosing a mission using the Chronicles of Crime app on your mobile device. After running through the tutorial, this game was quick to grasp and easy to work our way through different missions. You’ll visit VR crime scenes, hunt down clues and use your contacts to analyze what you find. The app uses QR codes on the various cards to catalog clues, talk with suspects and interact with locations around the city. Chronicles of Crime has given me some of my most memorable gaming experiences this year. Investigations take 60 to 90 minutes and are so well put together. While this game isn’t suitable for younger kids, this is a great game that you can enjoy with a mix of teens and adults.
While this isn’t a board game, this little handheld is an incredible gift that we’ve been playing with since we received it from Moose Toys. FlipSlide will remind you of the game of Simon but plays more like a Bop-It. Players are sliding and flipping the two sets of blocks, matching the lit up colored squares in the middle of the FlipSlide.
There are 4 different game modes that each have a unique feel. Speed Mode has the player matching colors as quickly as possible to complete 10 combinations to beat the fastest time. Memory Mode tests your ability to remember the color combinations as they flash on the device. Multiplayer Mode puts to players against one another to match the colors before the timer ends. Level Mode is my favorite as you try to complete levels of 5 combinations with each level getting more difficult. FlipSlide is a unique portable device for kids and adults that has been a huge hit in our home.
My Little Scythe
Looking for a kids game that is oozing cuteness but isn’t a dumbed down roll and move game? My Little Scythe from Stonemaier Games has loads of charm, engaging gameplay and probably one of the best options for the little gamer in your life.
My Little Scythe takes its structure from the wildly popular Scythe and packages it for a much younger audience. The components, miniatures and gameplay are top-notch and this is definitely a premium game for the family. Players control a faction of characters as they try to win 4 awards during the course of the game. You’ll bake apple pies, gain friendship points for sharing resources, deliver items to the castle and even get into a pie fight or two along the way. My Little Scythe is a real treat for kids and adults that game together. This game will be making an appearance under our Christmas tree this year for our youngest daughter.
Dinosaur Tea Party
What could be more fun than having tea with fancy dinosaurs? In Dinosaur Tea Party, players take on the role of dinosaurs of all shapes and colors. Players keep their identity a secret as they ask questions about the other guests at the table. A grid of 20 beautifully illustrated dinosaurs sit in the middle of the table as you ask other players if they are wearing hats, are eating food or have a friend joining them for tea.
The game is so silly and a wonderful experience for kids and adults to play together. The game supports up to 5 classy prehistoric players and plays in under 30 minutes. Making players use accents as they ask questions adds to the fun of the game. Dinosaur Tea Party is a great gift this season for family with kids.
Hearding cattle, fixing your broken wagon and collecting medicine for your towns people is hard work. Thankfully Pioneer Days from TMG has condensed this experience into a game about rolling and drafting dice. Pioneer Days is a lot of fun, unlike the inevitable famine that will eventually kill all your cows. Players will draft dice on their turn in order to collect wood, medicine, money, gain cattle, mine gold, recruit towns people or grab new equipment.
Players are trying to survive the rough life as a pioneer in the 1800’s. As you journey toward the next town, you want to have the supplies the town requires to earn favor tokens (victory points). Pioneer Days gives you lots of ways to earn points and edge out your other pioneers. This was one of our favorite games of 2018 and is a great fit for new and seasoned gamers.
There’s something amazing about looking at night and seeing the way millions of stars illuminate the sky. Constellations is one of those rare games that is easy to learn, fun to play and educational all at the same time. 2-4 players are working to build out the night sky with constellations that award players points based on their placement. The game contains rules for short or long play sessions along with variants for tougher gameplay that is great for players looking for a challenge.
Players collect star cards and play them to place constellations like Gemini, Taurus, Centaurus, Pegasus and loads more. Each constellation awards players points along with bonus points based on where it’s placed in the sky. Constellations gain a 2 point bonus if they are placed next to their real life neighbors in the sky. The game plays so smoothly and each of the seven types of star cards contain science facts that are educational. The rule book has an additional 12 page guide that provides background and science behind stars from scientists and astronomers. Constellations is incredibly fun and a great buy for anyone on your list that has an interest in S.T.E.A.M. learning.
What games are on your Holiday Buyers Guide? Help our readers find a great game to purchase this season. Post one of your favorites in the comments below.