2019 Holiday Shopping Guide

Still looking for holiday gifts for the gamers in your life? Below is a writeup of the holiday gift guide we presented in episode 248. Links to Amazon are affiliate links, so any purchases made will net us a small percentage, which helps us run the site and podcast. 

Happy Holidays!

Family Games

Just One
Review: Episode 224

2019 Spiel des Jahre winner Just One reimagines the “guess that word” genre as a fully cooperative experience. Players provide a single word clue to the guesser each round and attempt to get as many of the 13 available clues as they can. It’s fun, it’s goofy and it’s perfect for the family.

Slide Quest
Review: The Family Gamers

Slide Quest is a clever new spin on the dexterity for children genre, and it works extremely well. As with all dexterity games, it offers an equal challenge for adults, but in this case in a package and method that is perfect for children.

Tiny Towns
Review: Episode 221

Tiny Towns takes what we love about roll and writes and packages it in an easy to teach, much more tactile form, without the price tag of a game like Era. With expansions on the way and dozens of variations for high replayability, Tiny Towns is a perfect fit for the family.

Zombie Kidz Evolution
Review: Meeple Mountain

Legacy games aren’t just for the crusty old gamers among us anymore. Zombie Kidz Evolution takes a fun formula that worked well as a standalone children’s game and creates a robust and exciting new experience that children will love.

Planet
Review: Opinionated Gamers

Planet sounds like a simple enough set collection and victory point game, but then you see the eponymous central game piece. A magnetic planet on which players attach their 12 terrain tiles makes this a tactile and satisfying game, perfect for children of all ages.

Two-Player Games

Kingdomino Duel
Review: Sahm Reviews

This quick two-player roll and write has all the charm of the original in a tight, quick-paced package that fits perfectly in the current roll and write craze. It’s just as accessible for children as the originals as well.

Keyforge Worlds Collide

Keyforge exploded on the scene last year as the world’s first “unique deck game”. After a somewhat lackluster expansion over the summer, November’s World’s Collide is a home run, introducing new houses, new mechanics, and much better decks.

Watergate
Review: Episode 236

Watergate manages to distill the push and pull, edge of your seat mechanics of games like Twilight Struggle and 1960: Making of the President into a 30-45 minute game about Nixon’s Watergate Scandal. It works amazingly well.

Shobu
Review: Episode 233

Shobu feels like a game that has been around for centuries. Elegant, simple, and yet deeply complex, this game will take a minute to learn and a lifetime to master, and you’ll have fun attempting to do so.

Nagaraja
Review: Geeks Under Grace

Bruno Cathala’s beautiful new two-player game offers a wealth of clever mechanics, from stick throwing to searching for treasures in a clever spin on the race game.

Light Games

Point Salad
Review: Episode 234

Every card in the deck has a unique scoring condition. Every single card. Playable in a few minutes, and with infinite combinations, Point Salad is a must-have filler for your game bag.

Century: A New World
Review: Episode 221

The third in Emerson Matsuchi’s Century trilogy introduces worker placement alongside the cube collection and conversion classic. Now combinable with both other games, this is a one of a kind gaming experience that is simultaneously a perfect introduction for new gamers.

Cartographers
Review: ENGN Episode 156

This is my roll/flip and write of the year, introducing clever map drawing tableau-building, a push your luck element in the card draw, and a little bit of take that evenly distributed amongst all players.

Villagers
Review: Episode 232

This clean, simple, and very affordable tableau engine builder is a fantastic card game with heavy replayability, especially with the expansion content. If you’re a fan of games like Race for the Galaxy or San Juan, this game is well worth checking out.

Parks
Review: ENGN Episode 155

One of the prettiest games of the year, Parks leverages the spectacular artwork of the Fifty-Nine Parks Series to present every one of the US National Parks. Using a Tokaido-style worker movement mechanism, players will attempt to have the best time in these parks and score the most points as a result.

Medium Games

Marvel Champions: The Card Game
Review: Episode 246

Marvel Champions distills the core mechanics that made Lord of the Rings: The Card Game one of the best two-player experiences of all time into a fast-paced, combat-heavy superhero melee of a card game that any Marvel fan will adore.

Wingspan
Review: Episode 214

This is the juggernaut of 2019, the hottest game on the planet, and this year’s Kennerspiele des Jahres winner. From the clever tableau engine building gameplay to the exhaustive aviary of birds and special powers, this game is truly something special.

Imperial Settlers: Empires of the North
Review: ENGN Episode 159

Imperial Settlers has been a podcast favorite since it released, making Anthony’s top 100 list annually ever since. But Empires of the North might be better, introducing clever new mechanics, streamlining deckbuilding, and opening up opportunities for countless new decks.

Res Arcana
Review: Episode 220

Tom Lehmann brings his extraordinary eye for card-driven play into sharp focus with a fantasy spin on Race for the Galaxy. Players will work with a set deck of just 8 cards to build a tableau that nets them as many points as possible before someone reaches their goal.

Ishtar
Review: Episode 238

Bruno Cathala’s sharp eye for simple, abstract-inspired gameplay serves him well again with Ishtar. This beautiful game of building gardens around fountains in the desert is a striking addition to the gamer who enjoys lighter, abstract fare’s collection.

Heavy Games

City of the Big Shoulders
Review: Episode 239

Raymond Chandler III marries the core elements of 18xx gameplay (stock ownership and agnostic operation of the game’s companies) with worker placement for a big heavy euro that somehow feels fresh and new.

Products from Amazon.com

Pax Pamir Second Edition
Review: Episode 228

Cole Wehrle refreshes and enhances a legacy title in this spectacular production – complete with resin towers, a cloth map, and tight card-driven play that has that familiar asymmetrical pull.

Trismegistus
Review: Episode 246

Daniele Tascini does it again, along with first time designer Federico Pierlorenzi, in this game about carefully managing and converting resources as an alchemist out to discover the philosopher’s stone. It’s big and heavy, but one of the most satisfying puzzles you’ll play all year.

Black Angel
Review: Episode 237

Chock full of systems, several of which you’ll recognize from Pearl Games classic Troyes and more recent release Solenia, Black Angel is a spectacular production. Bold, engaging, and incredibly tight, this game takes time to wrap your head around but is well worth it when you do.

Escape Plan
Review: Episode 224

Vital Lacerda’s “lightest” game is still a brain burner, with deceptively simple short rounds. Manage your money, attempt to collect the most and stay safe from the police before you escape after the third round. It’s tense, unique, and feels right at home for Lacerda fans.

  • Anthony

    Anthony lives and plays games in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of complex strategy, two player war games, and area control, Anthony is always eager to try a new game, even if he's on rule-reading duty.

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