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Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Board Games and RPGs

Whether you’re a board game aficionado or a more casual player, the holidays are the perfect time to add to your board game collection. Spending time with family and friends provides the perfect excuse, and plenty of potential players, to try out a new game. If you’re the more adventurous sort, try picking up a new RPG system. Many Beginner Games can be played on the spot, as well, and a new corebook will provide plenty of gaming for the new year.
     – Kristine Chester

Cavemen Quest for Fire 2b8Caveman The Quest for Fire
Publisher: Rio Grande Games
Recommended by J.C. Ciesielski

Got a Light?

If you’ve ever had the urge to boast about how much food and dino teeth you control while leading and commanding other cavemen, né, cave people, then Cavemen: The Quest for Fire is right up your alley. As tribal leader, you draft cards to add to your tribe, delegate actions to be carried out by members of your tribe with specific skill sets, and hunt down dinosaurs for food and teeth. Obviously, food is for eating, but teeth are used to barter and pay your dues. And, to look stylish.

2-5 players can gather round and use the conch, which indicates which player is first, and take both the first and last turn of the round, something that can definitely turn the tide of a game, since the conch can be bought out by a player and go in for the kill. A smart move, especially if you have the conch and enough tribes members with enough intelligence to create that elusive ingredient to move humanity into the next stage of civilization.

An entertaining and strategic game, but one that doesn’t take an ice age to figure out and get playing right out of the box. Get a few friends and loin cloths together; it’s time to get burning. Cavemen: The Quest for Fire is a sure fire hit.

*Clubs not included.

King of Tokyo 5ebKing of Tokyo
Publisher: Iello Games
Recommended by Sam Rhodes

If your loved one ever played Rampage on the NES or grew up loving monster flicks, they’ll love the tabletop game King of Tokyo from Richard Garfield and Iello Games.  You play as your favorite familiar, yet generic-enough-to-avoid-a-lawsuit, monsters like the gargantuan ape-like beast “The King.” Roll dice, buy cards (which offer a variety of hilarious upgrades like “EXTRA HEAD” that give you an extra die to roll or “IT HAS A CHILD” which gives you a clean slate if you’re eliminated), and choose your strategy to win.  It’s a simple and quick (15 minutes/game), giggle-inducing gem, with references and homages galore. A must-have for any geeky gamer! 

NetRunner 01eNet Runner
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Recommended by Ellen Tremiti

Official Description: An asymmetrical Living Card Game for two players. Set in the cyberpunk future of Android and Infiltration, the game pits a megacorporation and its massive resources against the subversive talents of lone runners.

Why it makes a great gift: No random booster packs needed. This is an excellent gift choice for fans of the sci-fi genre. The game can be described as a Hacker-themed Magic the Gathering.

Net Runner reminds me of classic science fiction movies where a protagonist is up against the big, bad corporation. In this game, you can, as a runner, try to amass resources, hardware, skills, etc. to stand up against the corporate evil. Or, you can be the power-hungry corporation and attempt to advance your agenda as much as possible. Have fun gifting this one to a friend and then, playing against them, perhaps injuring them as hackers or trashing their corporation in the public eye.

VivaJava 1f4Viva Java
Publisher: Dice Hate Me Games
Recommended by Ellen Tremiti

Official Description: Viva Java is all about finding that perfect blend of beans to create the next bestseller in the coffee houses and kitchens of the world.

Why it makes a great gift: Viva Java has a gameplay experience that can satisfy hardcore gamers, but it has a subject matter that anyone can find approachable and entertaining: take over the world’s coffee market. Perfect for the coffee, or board game, aficionado in your life.

The game can accommodate up to 8 players. As you play, you must make decisions, partner up or go it alone, decide where to harvest your beans, and, finally, create the best coffee and foster the most successful business relations with fellow gamers.

Short Order Heroes 79e*RPG

Short Order Heroes
Publisher: Calico Games
Recommended by Kristine Chester

Crap! The PCs were never supposed to talk to the bartender. Quick. What’s this guy like?

Anyone who has ever GMed an RPG before has been put on the spot to come up with an engaging and memorable NPC (Non-Player Character). Jesse Butler’s Short Order Heroes is the perfect tool to make that process a lot less painful.

Consisting of a deck of 108 cards, each with a descriptive word like “Melodramatic,” “Wealthy,” “Wise,” and “Complicated,” and gorgeous art to accompany it. When the players encounter a new character, the GM only needs to draw some cards from the deck, check out the descriptions, and now they have some details on how to describe and play that character. This works especially well for Fate Aspects and other games which emphasize personality as a mechanic. Short Order Heroes isn’t just an RPG aide, but a game in its own right, where the cards don’t just act as characteristics for players and GM alike but with their numbered values act as a resolution system, as well.

Short Order Heroes can be ordered from the Calico Games website, which includes many ways to play the game. For a deck of cards so versatile, it’s the perfect stocking stuffer for the RPG player in your life.

Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook ef7Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook/Beginner Game
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Recommended by Kristine Chester

Fantasy Flight Game’s first take on the Star Wars RPG license is Edge of the Empire, focusing on the smugglers, bounty hunters, and fringers of the galaxy. The game utilizes a narrative dice system that gives players more options with every roll and a set of mechanics for providing character hooks. The Core Rulebook is a gorgeous, 448-page book that includes not only the rules to the game, but an introductory adventure, and more details on the Star Wars galaxy then you can shake a gaffii stick at.

For those who are new to RPGs or want an easier way into Edge of the Empire, try the Beginner Game which includes pre-made characters representing classic Star Wars archetypes, a fully realized introductory adventure, a map to accompany it, the streamlined rules to the game, and a set of the narrative dice necessary to play it.

For more information on the game, you can check out the Rolling Dice episode on Edge of the Empire, which covers the system’s mechanics in depth. Edge of the Empire is the perfect gift for the Star Wars or RPG fan in your life.




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