We’re going to help you out. Here at Game Cows, we’ve made our best holiday list and we’ve checked it twice.
So whoever you’re shopping for, we’ll have the best recommendations for you.
There are a few games that can be found on almost every gamer’s board game shelf. So, if you don’t see them, there’s a good chance that these will be well received.
Catan is the classic settler game that has delighted gamers for years. It is most new players’ first step into board gaming beyond the Milton Bradley scene and is a glimpse at what the world of board gaming can offer. If you’re looking for an excellent gift for the budding board game hobbyist, Catan is the first stop.
- STRATEGY GAME: Trade, build and settle the Island of CATAN in...
- FUN GAME WITH COUNTLESS REPLAY OPPORTUNITIES: The completely...
- BUILD AND/OR JOIN A COMMUNITY: Whether you play as a family, a...
Already have the original Catan? Don’t worry, there are a bunch of great Catan expansions to try!
Love Catan and want to try something similar? We have the perfect list of board games like Catan too!
Pandemic is a classic cooperative game in which players band together to fight against an outbreak of 4 different diseases. Teamwork and strategy are key here, as players work against the clock before the world’s population dwindles from diseases.
For the extremely competitive gamer, it’s sometimes great to sit down with a cooperative game. It focuses the energy on working together as opposed to crushing your friends and family.
- STRATEGY GAME: Players must work together playing to their...
- COOPERATIVE BOARD GAME: Only through teamwork will you keep the...
- WORK TOGETHER AND SAVE HUMANITY: Four diseases threaten the...
Ready for a serious challenge? Check out the best Pandemic versions and expansions to save the world yet again. Our favorites are Pandemic: On the Brink, Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, and Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.
#3. Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is a great family game. It’s a theme that anyone can get behind. It’s strategic and competitive, but without the relationship-ending trauma of Monopoly. It can still get heated if someone steals the last train out of the station, but that’s all part of the fun.
Ticket to Ride is a classic family game that makes a great holiday gift. It’s stood the test of time and will likely hit the gaming table for years to come.
As an added bonus, if your recipient really likes it, then you can pick up one of the excellent Ticket to Ride expansions for next year!
Holiday Gifts for the Casual Gamer
- 2nd Edition features updated cards, artwork and streamlined rules
- Tactical game for 2-4 Players
- 30 minute playing time
There are many Dominion expansions that cover a variety of themes. Each one brings a new mechanic or theme into the mix, boosting the replay value even further. You can even mix and match! Our favorite expansions are Prosperity, Dark Ages, and Seaside.
#2. Lords of Waterdeep
Lords of Waterdeep is a great gateway game for learning to play worker placement board games. It turns the traditional Dungeons & Dragons universe upside down by allowing players to take on the role of quest-givers instead of adventurers.
There’s a lot of fun fantasy and D&D references throughout the game. It’s not just for fantasy fans though, underneath the familiar theme is a well-thought-out game that makes for a great tabletop experience.
- An exciting Euro-style board game set in Waterdeep, the greatest...
- This immersive game casts players as Lords of Waterdeep who hire...
- Game play: 1 hour
Do you have Dungeons & Dragons fans on your holiday gift list this year? Make sure to check out some of the best D&D board games out there, like The Legend of Drizzt, Castle Ravenloft, and Wrath of Ashardalon!
If you’re looking for a great party game to play with the whole family during the holidays, Mysterium is a great choice. Players have to work together to solve the mystery of who was murdered, but the ghost can’t directly speak with the players. It’s a fun take on the whodunnit mystery.
If you’re familiar with Dixit and looking to try something a little more structured, definitely give Mysterium a look.
- MYSTERY BOARD GAME: A horrible crime was committed on the grounds...
- COOPERATIVE BOARD GAME: One player takes on the role of the...
- INTERPRET VISIONS TO SOLVE MYSTERIES: Each player investigates a...
Holiday Gifts for Young Children
Outfoxed is an adorable cooperative whodunit. Players work together to collect evidence and find out who stole Mrs. Plumberts pie!
It’s a cute game that has kids working together, chatting nonstop as they run around the board looking for clues. It’s actually very fun for kids and adults and has the perfect theme to get younger kids into the hobby.
#2. Mice and Mystics
The Prince has been overthrown and the only way to escape his own dungeons is to have his loyal cohorts and friends turned into mice to escape through the sewers… but that’s only the beginning.
Mice and Mystics is a simple dungeon-crawler filled with adventure that will delight young and older players alike.
- Mice and Mystics will provide any group of friends with an...
- A game for 1 to 4 players
- 60 minutes playtime
Holiday Gifts for the Brainiac in Your Life
At first glance, Azul is a simple tile-laying game, but underneath its gorgeous multicolored exterior, is a highly strategic game. Players looking to win have to plan several turns ahead and constantly watch what their opponents are doing.
I was very impressed with how such a seemingly simple game and theme came together to create such a brilliantly colorful and analytical puzzle.
- TILE PLACEMENT GAME: Azul is a tile placement game in which...
- STRATEGY BOARD GAME: Draft tiles from a central market and place...
- COMPETITIVE AND CHALLENGING: Every tile you claim affects what...
Uh oh, you noticed your favorite brainiac already has Azul on the shelf? Don’t worry, there are some incredible games like Azul to try as well! Take a look at Dragon Castle, based on the centuries-old game of Mahjong, the magical engine-building puzzle, Realm of Sand, or even the whimsical abstract strategy game, Spirits of the Forest.
#2. Five Tribes
Five Tribes uses the ancient Mancala mechanic to great effect. Each turn players can strategize and map out their moves to find the optimal solution to the board. It’s extremely strategic, making it the perfect game for analytical thinkers who like to maximize their potential with every move.
Holiday Gifts for the Hardcore Gamer in Your Life
The last decade or so has produced some of the best big-box, heavy, complex board games that any hardcore board gamer could ask for. From massive worlds like Gloomhaven to civilization-builders like New Dawn, and everything in between, these gifts will be sure to satisfy the most discerning gamers.
Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition
Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition is a big box game that immerses players into an incredible fantasy world. Players have almost complete free range to do whatever they want in this magical world.
Become the hero of the ages or become one of the most feared villains.
Mage Knight is a little more complicated than the average game, but it’s one of the most rewarding I’ve ever played as well as a great solo experience.
The rules and mechanics of Mage Knight are more intense than a lot of games on this list, so make sure whoever you’re shopping for likes to read the rules before diving into a game.
- The critically acclaimed, award winning Mage Knight board game...
- Now, after wowing solo game players and groups of up to 5, this...
- The Ultimate Edition includes the original base game plus all...
Holiday Gifts for the Fantasy Lover
War of the Ring (Second Edition)
War of the Ring is epic. It’s a big box war game that has players fighting for control of Middle Earth. It’s an incredible game, and it’s one that works extremely well even with just 2-players ensuring that it’ll hit the table more often than a lot of other big-box games.
If you’re looking for an awesome gift for a fantasy gamer, War of the Ring checks almost every box I have for a high fantasy adventure.
- For 2 4 players
- Takes about 2 hours to play
- A massive 70 x 100cm Game Board in two sections, 16 Action Dice,...
Kendra and I are both huge fans of Lord of the Rings, so if you need more suggestions for LoTR-themed games, we’re definitely here to help. Make sure to check out Journeys in Middle Earth, LoTR: The Card Game, and Battle for Middle Earth for a truly Tolkienesque board gaming experience!
Holiday Gifts for the Sci-Fi Aficionado
Science fiction board games have taken the world by storm. The wide range of possibilities that sci-fi allows for is part of the draw of this genre. Sci-Fi games need not necessarily be set in outer space, but they could also be dystopian scenarios, imagined concepts in the sciences, or even futuristic endeavors in fictional worlds.
Twilight Imperium (4th Edition)
Twilight Imperium is the major league of sci-fi tabletop gaming. It’s an epic space opera that starts as the galactic empire is thrown into chaos and every civilization in it is looking to carve a slice of the galaxy for themselves and become the new leader of the empire.
Twilight Imperium is a BIG BOX game that takes several hours to complete. It is, however, one of the most rewarding gaming experiences out there and part of gaming history.
- THE DAWN OF A NEW AGE: Explore the latest reimagining of the...
- SCI-FI STRATEGY BOARD GAME: In this game of galactic conquest,...
- THRILLING AND COMPETITIVE: Every faction offers a completely...
If the sci-fi fan on your holiday list loves board games, then do we have some great options for you! Check out some of our absolute favorite sci-fi board games like Terraforming Mars, Gaia Project, or even Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia.
We hope this board game holiday gift guide made shopping for the board game lovers in your life just a little bit easier. If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to chat with you. Drop a comment below.
And from all of us at GameCows, Happy Holidays from our herd to yours!