It’s time again for yet another Post-Holiday Gift Guide. I started this tradition back in 2013 because, let’s face it, everyone does a Holiday Gift Guide. But nobody really pays attention to the post-holiday period, when everyone is in their yearly funk. So, Boards and Bees steps in to give you some ideas:
- 2013: Use up that leftover gift card money!
- 2014: Replace those mass market games you got from well meaning relatives!
- 2015: Meet those New Year’s Resolutions with these games!
- 2016: Print out some last minute PNP gifts!
- 2017: Sing along with The Twelve Days of Christmas for Board Gamers!
- 2018: Build a gamer tool box!
This year, I’m actually going to give you ideas for the next TWELVE years. If you follow the Chinese Zodiac, you’ll know that 2020 is the Year of the Rat, but it’s a 12-year cycle with a different animal each year. So, for this year’s Post-Holiday Gift Guide, I’m going to give you one game a year to give that special someone. Stock up now – I have no idea if all these games will be in print going forward.
2020: The Year of the Rat
Rattus (2010, Åse Berg/Henrik Berg, White Goblin Games) follows the destruction wrought upon Europe in the 14th century by the Plague. A cheerful theme, I know. On your turn, you’ll be putting population into various parts of Europe, as well as trying to place those disease carrying rats into areas where you hope they’ll kill off your opponents. Each turn, you have the opportunity of claiming a different class that will give you a benefit, but the more roles you have, the more likely it is that your people will be killed off. It’s a very clever game, and a perfect fit for the Year of the Rat.
2021: The Year of the Ox
6 nimmt! (1994, Wolfgang Kramer, AMIGO) is a small card game where you’re avoiding taking ox heads. OK, techinically they’re bull heads, but it really doesn’t matter. Anyway, you’re playing cards in sequence, but getting too many cards in a line means you have to take them. It’s quite a fun game that plays up to 10 people. The most recent English edition was published by Mayfair, who no longer exists, but there are plenty of German copies to be had and no real reason to know German when you try it.
2022: The Year of the Tiger
Endangered (2020, Joe Hopkins, Grand Gamers Guild) is a game about rescuing endangered animals from extinction, including tigers (and sea otters, since you asked). It’s a cooperative game where you’re rolling dice and allocating them to different spaces, trying to ultimately pass a resolution with the UN that will save the animals. It’s a fun game, though it’s not out yet. Kickstarter fulfillment is due in March of 2020, so you’ll have to wait a bit to actually get this one. But come on, with that big picture of a tiger on the front, how can you NOT add this to your zodiac gift list?
2023: The Year of the Rabbit
Dixit (2008, Jean-Louis Roubira, Libellud) is a Spiel des Jahres winning party game where you’re trying to guess a picture selected by a storyteller. Everyone has a hand of cards illustrated with a surreal picture, and the storyteller has to give a short description of one. After everyone else adds a picture to the pool, players have to figure out which was correct. For maximum points, the storyteller wants some people to get it, but not everyone (and not no one). Why include this in the Year of the Rabbit? You track your score by hopping little bunnies around the track, that’s why.
2024: The Year of the Dragon
Blue Moon City (2006, Reiner Knizia, CMON) is a game where you’re rebuilding the city of Blue Moon. It’s a basic area control type game, as you’re traveling to different building sites and making contributions to complete them. This is done by playing cards either as part of the contributions, or for different special abilities specific to different races in the world. One of these includes moving dragons (hence the entry) to get you scales that can be traded for crystals, which you need to complete the obelisk and win the game. The new CMON version does not look as good visually as the original Fantasy Flight game, but this is still one of the few Reiner Knizia games I actively recommend, so grab a copy if you can. I guess, technically the Stefan Feld game “In the Year of the Dragon” would have fit well for this entry, but I know next to nothing about it, so there you go.
2025: The Year of the Snake
Animal Upon Animal (2005, Klaus Miltenberger, HABA) is an animal stacking game that is for kids, but is still really fun with adults. On your turn, you roll a die. This will tell you whether you will be stacking one or two animals, giving an animal to someone else, having other players tell you what to stack, or adding to the base. The player who gets rid of all their pieces first wins. It’s very simple to learn, very challenging to play, and has a bunch of cool wooden animals (including a snake, hence its presence here).
2026: The Year of the Horse
Colt Express (2014, Christophe Raimbault, Ludonaute) is a programming game set in the Old West, where players are trying to rob a train. On your turn, you play an action card to a common pile, and once everyone has played all their cards for the turn, you flip them over and see what happened. You’re trying to make off with the most loot and not get shot too much. I know, there isn’t much to do with horses in this game, other than the train is named after one and there’s a lady riding a horse on the cover. But my horse game experience is sadly deficient – I don’t think I’ve played any that have a main horse theme. There are plenty of horse racing games out there if you want to check those out, but I’m sticking with this as my suggestion.
2027: The Year of the Sheep
Shear Panic (2005, Gordon and Fraser Lamont, Fragor Games) is the obvious choice for the Year of the Sheep. It’s kind of an abstract game where you’re maneuvering some super cute sheep minis into various positions in order to score points. The big problem is, once again, that Mayfair no longer exists, and they published the American version. The good news is that there are still copies in existence, and you can get them for fairly sheep. I mean, cheap.
2028: The Year of the Monkey
Rhino Hero: Super Battle (2017, Scott Frisco/Steven Strumpf, HABA) is a sequel to the popular 2011 game Rhino Hero. Super Battle is a dexterity game where you’re building up structures and trying to position your hero as high as you can without making the whole thing come crashing down to the ground. Complicating matters are the evil Spider Monkeys, who hang off the floors you just placed and cause balance issues. Even though the monkeys aren’t the main focus of the game, they complicate things just enough that I’m comfortable making this the representative for the Year of the Monkey.
2029: The Year of the Rooster
Dancing Eggs (2003, Roberto Fraga, HABA) is the last HABA game I have on this list, I promise. This is a kind of party style game, where you roll a die and it gives you and your opponents a task. The winner of each task gets an egg, and a different die tells you where you must hold it – under your chin, in the crook of your arm, between your legs, etc. It’s very goofy, and I’m including it here because people always forget about the rooster in the eternal chicken and the egg debate.
2030: The Year of the Dog
Agility (2016, Brent Povis, Two Lanterns Games) is a two-player game about acquiring dogs and entering them into agility competitions. The game features an action rondel that you move around, taking actions that will get you the treats and skills necessary to pick up dogs and make them successful in their contests. It’s a fun game, though I don’t think it ever caught on the way Povis’ first game, Morels, did. I recommend it, however.
2031: The Year of the Pig
The Grimm Forest (2018, Tim Eisner, Druid City Games) is the only game on this list that I have not played, but if anyone wants to get it for me, you have about a month left in the Year of the Pig until the Year of the Rat starts on January 25. In The Grimm Forest, players are helping the Three Little Pigs build their houses. A bunch of other fairy tale characters make an appearance as well. It’s quite a beautifully produced game as well.
So that does it for another year of post-holiday gift ideas. If you have any better suggestions, please let me know. Hope the rest of your holidays go well, and I’ll see you in about a week for my annual Spiel des Jesse awards!