The Third Annual Boards and Bees Post-Holiday Gift Guide!

Happy day after Christmas, everyone!  Only 364 more days until next Christmas, so better get your shopping started now!  I started this Post-Holiday Gift Guide two years ago because EVERYONE does a Holiday Gift Guide, and I figured people might want a guide AFTER the holidays too.  My first list was small games you could buy with whatever remained of your gift cards after you ran through that money.  Last year, I gave some suggestions about games you could trade in after well-meaning relatives gave you mass market junk.  This year, I’m focusing on a week in the future – specifically, games that will help you achieve those New Year’s Resolutions you will be making.  I found a list of 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions on Time.com, and am using that as my basis here.  So, let’s do this thing!

LOSE WEIGHT AND GET FIT – This is a resolution that is usually made on January 1 and abandoned completely by February.  This is a tough one for board games because we have a mostly sedentary hobby.  Most board games consist of a few people sitting around a table and the only activity being pushing little pieces around.  So, in order to combat this, we need an active game.  Might I recommend

image by BGG user toulouse
image by BGG user toulouse

Dancing Eggs is a party game published in 2003 by HABA.  The game comes with nine rubber eggs, a wooden egg, and two custom dice.  On a turn, you roll a die to determine the activity for a round – first one to grab the die, first one to run around the table and get back to their seat, first one to grab a bouncing egg, first one to cluck like a chicken, and so on.  If you win a round, you get an egg, and you must roll the other die to see where you hold it – in your armpit, under your chin, between your knees, etc.  You must keep that egg there for the rest of the game.  Try running around the table with an egg between your knees, and you’ll see that this game is great exercise.  Plus, the eggs aren’t edible, so you’re also not consuming new calories.  A great choice for the person who wants to get in shape!

QUIT SMOKING – Let’s be honest…smoking is disgusting.  It smells, it causes cancer, and it wreaks havoc on your respiratory system.  Not to mention that it’s expensive and slowly getting banned from everywhere.  If you really want to quit smoking, one potential method is to give your mouth something else to do.  Like talking.  So, let’s go with a negotiation game to help you quit:

image by BGG user sparky123180
image by BGG user sparky123180

Cosmic Encounter was originally published in 1977, with the most recent reprint from Fantasy Flight coming out in 2008.  The game is all about conflict – on your turn, you fight a random opponent.  You both send ships to fight, and should request assistance from allies in order to be successful.  As you win fights, you land foreign colonies, and the first one to five is the winner.  Cosmic Encounter is full of talking, both in terms of negotiation and trash talk, so there’s really no chance to smoke.  Plus, you’ve got a hand of cards, so unless you want to burn them, you probably shouldn’t be holding a cigarette.  So this is my suggestion to help you quit smoking.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW – Board gamers don’t usually have a problem with this one, particularly those who are card-carrying members of the Cult of the New.  So, for this entry, I’m going to pick a 2016 release that I’m particularly excited about:

image by BGG user tehero22
image by BGG user tehero22

Millennium Blades is an upcoming game from designer Brad Talton and Level 99 Games.  It’s a 2-5 player game where players are playing a fictional collectible card game called Millennium Blades.  The game takes place over the course of three tournaments, and there is a real-time deckbuilding phase where players attempt to acquire the cards they’ll need to climb the rankings.  After this, there is a tournament where players can take in a few of the cards they have collected and play them, trying to win each tournament for a significant reward.  The game sounds incredibly unique and original, and definitely something new.

EAT HEALTHIER AND DIET – One of the pitfalls of being in a sedentary hobby is that we as gamers often resort to junk food.  Chips, candy, beer, all that unhealthy stuff that leads to a lot of obesity.  So, if you’re making a commitment to eat healthier in the new year, why not pair some healthy foods with your favorite games?  I’d like to recommend

image by BGG user yayforme
image by BGG user yayforme

Bohnanza is Uwe Rosenberg’s 1997 game about bean farming (it’s a lot more fun than it sounds).  Players are trading beans back and forth throughout, while also planting them and trying to harvest the most valuable ones.  This would be a great game to serve with some beans.  As we all know:

Beans, beans, good for the heart / The more you eat, the better you feel.

Beans are quite healthy.  According to an article I read on the internet (and therefore 100% true), a half cup of pinto beans a day can lower cholesterol.  So play a great game and eat some beans.

GET OUT OF DEBT AND MAKE MONEY – This one is a very broad topic, and to be honest, it’s really two different resolutions in one.  Getting out of debt is a big deal, and has to be done before you can really make money.  For me, economics has never been my strong suit.  There are a ton of games out there with an economic theme, but the one I chose for this resolution is

image by BGG user Mavericius
image by BGG user Mavericius

Suburbia is a 2012 city building game from designer Ted Alspach.  In the game, you are buying tiles and placing them in your area, attempting to build an economic engine.  Tiles react based on adjacent tiles and other tiles that get placed later.  You increase income and reputation as you play, and these work together to increase your town’s population, aka your victory points.  However, if you ever go negative in income or reputation, you have to start losing population.  So you have to manage your money well.  Also, whenever your population hits certain points, your income and reputation are decreased accordingly, so you need to maintain a good balance.  I think this is a very good game for people working on this goal as it gives them a chance to practice their money management skills.

SPEND MORE TIME WITH FAMILY – Finally, a resolution that seems tailor made for our hobby.  What better way to spend time with family than to sit around the table playing board games?  There are of course a TON of games that could be used for this resolution, but I’m picking

image by BGG user screamingtruth
image by BGG user screamingtruth

Mice & Mystics is a 2012 game designed by Jerry Hawthorne that is a story-driven fantasy game about mice fighting back against an evil sorceress.  It’s a fairly simple game mechanically – on your turn, you can move, attack, search, or explore, and roll dice to determine success or failure of each action.  The main draw of the game, however, is the storybook.  There are eleven scenarios in a game, and you can play a campaign to go through each of them, building your characters and exploring the world.  The game is family friendly, with simple enough mechanics that the kids can participate, but enough of a challenge that adults won’t find it too easy.  This is a great game for spending more time with the family.

TRAVEL TO NEW PLACES – If there’s one thing about people, it’s that they don’t like to just stay put.  We always want to strike out, explore new places, visit unfamiliar territory.  Board games can help you with that, though it’s primarily in your imagination.  In order to really become a seasoned traveler, you’ll need to have a good grasp of geography.  That’s why I’m recommending

image by BGG user tigers
image by BGG user tigers

The 10 Days series, by Alan R. Moon and Aaron Weissblum, launched in 2002 and currently contains six games – 10 Days in Europe, 10 Days in the USA, 10 Days in Africa, 10 Days in Asia, 10 Days in the Americas, and 10 Days in Germany (though this last one is not available in English).  The games all play generally the same way – you need to create a trip across the particular location by putting tiles in sequence on a rack.  It’s a fairly easy game to learn, and probably one of the best geography games available.  So if you can’t go globe hopping, you can at least use one of these games to plan out what a trip would be like.

BE LESS STRESSED – This one is a hard one to accomplish.  What I read it to mean is that people want to find more ways to relax.  Personally, I find board games very relaxing – even when they’re very intense and exciting, there’s a certain amount of peace I gain after playing them.  But in order to find a very relaxing game, I don’t think you need to look any further than

image by BGG user Funforge
image by BGG user Funforge

Tokaido is a 2012 game designed by Antoine Bauza.  It is a game that is set in Japan, and players are travelers on the Tokaido, aka the East Sea Road.  Along the way, you’ll be collecting souvenirs, taking in the panoramic views, stopping at hot springs, and sampling local cuisines.  The game has a time track mechanism that allows players to take the game at their own leisurely pace.  Now, this is not to say that the game is not competitive – there is a great possibility that others will block you from where you need to go, and you have the same opportunity to do the same to others.  But the theme and the art combine to make this a very zen game.

VOLUNTEER – This is the only resolution on the list that is not focused on improving oneself so much as it is about reaching out and trying to make a difference in someone else’s life.  I thought about this one, and here’s what I came up with:

image by BGG user poppentje
image by BGG user poppentje

Cribbage is a classic two-player card game, designed in the 17th century by Sir John Suckling.  The object of the game is to be the first one to reach 121 points.  In each hand, players will be attempting to make card combinations for points, such as cards that add up to 15, pairs, runs, and flushes.  In modern game terms, the game uses an early form of drafting as you choose four cards to keep from a hand of six, adding the other to a so-called “crib”, which is essentially an extra hand for the dealer.  There’s also a round of pegging in the middle of the hand, which is a chance for players to compete for some extra points.  This is a well-loved game, and I can imagine that taking your own cribbage board into a nursing home might be a hit.  This is something I’ve thought about doing, and I might make it one of my own resolutions for the coming year.

DRINK LESS – Now, I don’t drink.  Never saw the point.  But I know there are a lot of people who imbibe on a regular basis, and around this time of year, people start thinking that maybe cutting down on their alcohol intake will make them healthier, and will probably cut down on them doing embarrassing and potentially dangerous things.  So, I’d like to suggest a heavy game for you:

MK

Mage Knight: The Board Game came out in 2011, designed by Vlaada Chvátil.  It’s an adventure game where players are exploring an environment, fighting monsters, and trying to level up your character.  It’s a really deep game with lots of options on every turn.  There is so much going on with this game that I can’t imagine anyone trying to play it anything less than completely sober.  So, if you really want to cut back on the booze, I’d suggest copious amounts of Mage Knight.

That will do it for this year’s Post-Holiday Gift Guide.  Hope you had a great holiday – see you again on New Year’s Day for this year’s Spiel des Jesse announcement!  Thanks for reading!

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