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gaming gift guide 2010

December 15, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

So, there’s a gamer or potential gamer you want to buy a gift for, and you have no idea what to get her? This guide, though rough, will certainly help get you started.


First up are the classics, the best and most shining examples of modern gaming. You can’t go wrong with any of these games, but on the other hand, if your giftee is a gamer, they probably already have them….

Ticket to Ride My favorite game to teach to newbies, this one is always a hit. Easy to teach, easy to learn, and with a playing time of 45 minutes to an hour, you really can’t go wrong.

Carcassonne My personal favorite, this game is extremely creative. You build a landscape by placing tiles, then inhabit that landscape by deploying your meeples. Even if your giftee has the base game, there’s undoubtedly an expansion they’ve overlooked.

Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals Speaking of expansions, this is one of the best. It doesn’t change the game much, but it gives you more tiles and allows you to play the game with up to 6 players (the base game only goes to 5). We never play without it.

Settlers of Catan The game that reinvented an industry. Like Scrabble or Monopoly, this game will be around forever.

Stone Age While it hasn’t been around as long as the classics above, it’s the up-and-comer of the family gaming world. The nice thing is, this also means that your gaming friend is less likely to own it….

Blokus An abstract strategy game for 2-4 players with pieces that remind most people of Tetris. It’s a fun, lightweight introduction to abstracts, and it’s very colorful, too.


Next up are some lesser-known gems that are nonetheless dead reliable.

Thurn & Taxis A game about the creation of the postal system in Germany. A little less intuitive than Ticket to Ride for some players, but my wife and I play it regularly. An overlooked classic.

Alhambra A fun and interesting game themed around trying to build the most lavish palace. Players collect money of various denominations, buy tiles, and then add them to their palace.

Aquaretto A tile-laying game with a push-your-luck element where players get to manage their very own aquarium. It’s similar in some ways to Alhambra, but the two are different enough to justify owning both.

Lost Cities A card game for two where players are trying to lead the most successful expeditions. Players invest in more expeditions in order to give themselves more options, but if they invest in too many, then they can’t support them all.

Battle Line Another card game for two. Players try to win either 5 of the 9 flags or 3 flags in a row. S and I play without the optional Tactics cards, but some people swear by them.

Downfall of Pompeii The setup is a little fiddly, and the gameplay is a little predictable, but Pompeii is always a hit when we bring it out at game night. There’s just something fun about throwing your opponents’ meeples into the volcano….

Citadels A card game where you choose your role for the turn, earn gold, and buy various buildings to try to complete your city. I like to think of it as a very complicated game of rock, paper, scissors — but with the right group it can be lots of fun.


And finally, an oft-overlooked game that should nonetheless be in every serious gamer’s collection….

Acquire The granddaddy of modern board games, this classic by Sid Sackson holds its own even 48 years after its release. It’s impossible to imagine what the current gaming scene would look like if this game had never existed.


That’s it. Of course no game is a guaranteed hit, but each of the games above are solid and dependable, appealing to a range of ages and abilities. Most have enough luck so that you can blame your losses on fate, but enough strategy that you can take credit for your victories. What more could you want?

  1. December 15, 2010 at 4:08 am

    This is a great list. There are only a couple on the list that we haven’t played and many of them are on our family’s Top 10 “Must-Have” Family Board Games as well.
    We posted our list on our website this month as well.

  2. December 17, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    Acquire is a great game which should be considered by anyone who likes games.
    Stone Age is a really great game and seems to be a great new game for people who enjoy Settlers.

    I haven’t played Aquaretto but I have played (and own) Zooloretto.

  3. December 18, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Great list with helpful comments. Thanks for compiling it.


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