2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Delightful Hanukkah! And other holidays!

I love writing a yearly holiday gift guide. Reading them? Less so. I often find myself shaking my head at so many that I read as they simply recommend classics like Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan. While these are great games, they're ubiquitous, common, and really typical. Of course Ticket to Ride is a good game. We all know that. 

A Christmas present for your favorite geek should be special, thoughtful, and epic. Christmas should be about surprises, things they haven't thought about, or things outside of their normal customer path that they wouldn't buy for themselves.

Therefore, I'm recommending some gifts that are a little more expensive, a little more elaborate, or a little more difficult, but hopefully, they sprout good ideas you weren't thinking about.

Customize a Favorite: What if you know your friend's favorite game and know how to make it more their favorite?

There's a good chance you know the favorite game of someone in your game group. They always recommend it. They talk about it all the time. What if you surprise them with a way to make their favorite game even more special?

Firstly, you can check out Stonemaier Games and their Treasure Chests/Token packs. They have a wide variety of options, some pre-packed, some a la carte, in prices ranging from a few dollars to many dollars. Visit their online store here

What about something custom and wooden? Depending on the complexity of the job, Daft Concepts will be able to help you. They are incredibly flexible and can make whatever you want. New point tokens? Epic first player token? Cool card trays? They can make it! Visit their site here. Be sure to visit their product page here to see if they already have what you have in mind.

Another easy twist is to buy your card-loving friend some thematic sleeves or stamped bags to customize their favorite card game. Fantasy Flight Games has options for almost every game and it really makes things look cool. Visit their store here

Finally, and this is a personal favorite, get them some custom acrylic tokens from the Team Covenant store. The wooden adventure tokens for the Lord of the Rings card game are excellent and perfect for any fantasy game. I never get tired or my Netrunner tokens.

Put them in the World: This is an idea I've heard over time from a few places, including a friend who did this for he and his fathers' MMO characters, and Shut Up and Sit Down who recently recommended something similar. What if you hired an artist to remake the cover or a card from your friend's favorite game...but with them in the game? You often see something like this on Kickstarters where you can pay an exhorbitant fee to have your face eerily added to a game. But, what if it was done by you, under your direction, for a friend?

If your friend loves Pandemic: Legacy? Make them the  doctor on the cover. If your friend is loving their current Dungeons and Dragons campaign? Illustrate their character for them and frame it. You can print cards from DriveThruCards.com for $.085/card with no minimum purchase. You could design a new card for your Seafall Legacy campaign, or give them a new Magic Commander, or make a custom Netrunner identity where they are the character.

This is a really cool way to surprise your friend. For a few hundred you can hire an illustrator. For not much more, you can print and frame it, then give them the card as well. 

Epic Gifts: These items are expensive and intended for a truly good friend or relative. These will really surprise someone for their thoughtfulness and expense. Go all out with these really fun and over-the-top geek gift boxes.

Two things make starting a collectible card game difficult: having an opponent, and the cost of buying cards. Well, Christmas is a good time to gift a friend into a hobby. I've played a TON of Star Wars Destiny already, so I'm going to recommend it as it's something that's new, exciting, and has great components. But, you can copy and paste this template for any other game, including the new Arkham Horror LCG, the Lord of the Rings LCG, Netrunner, you name it.

Put everything in one gigantic box, let a friend open it, and say surprise! We're playing Destiny! Fill the box with all the things to make it truly special:

All told, this looks like an immense expense. BUT, think about the fact that you're sharing it. It's for you and a friend. Plus, you can pick and choose which pieces you want.

Mechs vs. Minions should be obvious, but if it isn't, let me give you the quick run down. This enormous, 15 pound box is full of gorgeous minis, metal coins, unique scenarios packed away in a legacy style system, and a ton of fun. I've played this game quite a bit, with a wide range of people, and it's a complete hoot. If someone isn't expecting this? The box will knock them over and wow them.

Price: $75 + about $10 for shipping

Purchase it directly from Riot Games here.

Something that always hurts my soul as a board gamer is how many cool miniatures games there are. But, they're expensive and they require assembly. I have awful motor skills and I just lack the patience to build the game and paint it. I have a 10% assembled copy of Space Hulk and a 95% assembled and painted copy of Drop Zone Commander that lie fallow on in my closet. Why? I cannot bring myself to finish them!

If you have the skills or inclination to do so, buy a Starter Set of Guild Ball for you and a friend, or the starter for a game like Infinity or Dropzone Commander. 

This Christmas, go big! Do something really neat for you and a friend.

Stocking Stuffers: It's good to have a few cheap fillers. Unexpected items that stuff a good stocking or make a white elephant actually tolerable. 

The Expansion: For under $20, you can buy a friend an X-Wing Miniature ship, send them on an Adventure, explore uncharted space, or find new heroes. This is a good gift because it's cheap, and it's a simple way to say "hey, friend, I know you and what you like to play."

The Coupler: For about $20, you can stocking stuff a great game for a couple that needs a new game to play. Consider trading in India, quilting, or blasting star ships to smithereens

The Japanese: Or, for about $20, give them something weird from Japan. Consider deep sea diving, or drawing...stuff.

Don't just buy them Sushi Go or Coup. These are things they can buy at Target or on Amazon every day of the year! Help them fill out their collection, find that weird niche game they might have overlooked, or give them one of your old favorites and leave a note inside. 


<shill alert!>

And now, a word from our sponsors. This Holiday Gift Guide was graciously sponsored by Hyperbole Games, who offer two excellent card games for under $17.99 with free domestic shipping!