The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. Amidst the craziness of booking flights to visit your family, preparing feasts, or simply maintaining your sanity while maneuvering holiday traffic, the last thing on your mind may be finalizing your gift list. Fanbase Press is here to help with the best recommendations for the must-play tabletop games from the year as suggested by our staff and contributors. Board, card, and roleplaying games make a great gift for the geeks in your life, especially for the holidays where the requisite number of players is usually right around the corner. Whether navigating a winding labyrinth or pretending to be pirates sailing the seven seas, playing a game together is a great holiday event for the family. ~ Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor
Board, Dice, & Card Games
Catan Dice Game
Published by Mayfair Games
Recommended by Claire Thorne
If you are a tabletop game addict like myself, you’ve probably played many hours of Settlers of Catan. Catan is an endlessly fun tabletop experience, but not exactly easy to take with you on the go. Happily, there is the Catan Dice Game. The dice game offers two versions of game play based on the standard resource-gathering version of Catan, with options for limited-turn play and a longer version that more closely follows the full version.
The dice game is an easy-to-carry life-saver in so many situations, from road trips to airports to even our own living room. It offers fast and fun variations on the beloved original version that are quickly becoming favorites. It’s a must-have item on our game shelf and our vacation baggage, and it’s a great stocking stuffer for all the tabletop addicts you know.
Jim Henson’s The Labyrinth: The Board Game by River Horse
Published by River Horse
Recommended by Erik Cheski
The babe with the power. One of my favorite films celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, and the nostalgia has been lovely, though poignant with the passing of Mr. Bowie. There’s nothing more brave than Sir Diddimus, no friend greater than Ludo, and no miser more lovable than Hoggle. I can’t wait to get my hands on this game and chart my own path, avoiding the oubliette and rescuing Toby Froud from Jareth. The miniatures are stunning and the game as a whole is incredibly well designed. If you have someone who can’t stop singing “Dance Magic Dance” like me, then trust me: This is a Christmas maker.
Rick and Morty “Total Rickall” Cooperative Card Game
Published by Cryptozoic Entertainment
Recommended by J.C. Ciesielski
If you know Rick and Morty, then you probably know Mr. Poopy Butthole. Or do you? This fun card game has you working out which characters are real and which are parasites pretending to be make believe friends and family. For 2-5 players, I would really recommend playing with as many as possible. It makes the game play more dynamic (a.k.a. that much more fun). There are also special character cards that have special rules and an advanced version for more experienced players. It’s hysterical watching non-show watchers come across the characters for the first time, like Sleepy Gary, Hamurai, Amish Cyborg, and many more! If you love the show, this is a must buy. Get it for the Ricky and Morty lovers in your life! Get it. Just get it.
Playing time: 20-30 minutes
7th Sea: Second Edition
Published by John Wick
Recommended by Colin Eldred-Cohen
“Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.” A quote from William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, but also a perfect introduction to the 7th Sea!
Get ready for an adventure on the high seas in a crowdfunded property revival that made its goal on the first day! John Wick’s 7th Sea roleplaying game takes you to Théah, an enchanted version of Europe in the 1600s. An inquisition runs rampant looking for heretics, nations are locked in a constant power struggle, and magic flows through the very earth and water. In other words, it’s the perfect proving grounds for heroes.
Build your character from any of Théah’s nations and take up one of the many sword styles or sorcery schools before setting out on your adventure. You can open portals to a hellish realm, save the Prince of Avalon from a wicked warlock, command a single ship to defeat a pirate fleet, and more. The combat and play is meant to invoke the feel of the old swashbuckling tales of adventure and it delivers. It’s easy to pick up and play, so what’s stopping you? Your adventure awaits.
End of the World
Published by Fantasy Flight Games
Recommended by Colin Eldred-Cohen
Aliens are invading! Zombies are running amok! Machines are rising up against humanity! The biblical Armageddon is upon us! And in the middle of it all… you and your friends.
Fantasy Flight’s End of the World series lets you play through a number of apocalypses. There are four books in the series: Zombie Apocalypse, Wrath of the Gods, Alien Invasion, and Revolt of the Machines. Each one can stand as its own game and contains five unique scenarios within those genres, all with their own flavor of terror. You can play a short session to see how long each player survives, a short arc, or a sort of survival mode where you live through the initial apocalypse and see what comes afterwards. So many different ways to experience the fall of civilization.
But perhaps the most amazing thing about it is that you’re basically playing yourself. This system has the easiest and quickest method of character creation out there with a voting method to keep a player from making their character some kind of superman. What better way to immerse yourself in the situation than immersing YOURSELF in the situation? This series is a hidden gem in Fantasy Flight’s library, so give it a shot. It’s the end of the world, so live a little!
Force and Destiny: Endless Vigil
Published by Fantasy Flight Games
Recommended by Kristine Chester
“I am Vengeance…I am the Night….I am Batman!” is what your Jedi Knight player will be saying once they have Endless Vigil in hand. The career book for Sentinels is one of the must-own books for the Force and Destiny Star Wars RPG line. Containing three new specializations: the Sherlock Homles’-esque analyzer of crime scenes the Investigator, the parkouring master of all forms of movement the Racer, and the dark knight specialization if ever there was one and master of lightsaber combat at a distance the Sentinel.
The goodness inside this book doesn’t end there. Endless Vigil contains a staggering amount of must-have equipment for any Force and Destiny character who wants to wield a laser sword. This book vastly expands the number of lightsaber attachments, introducing a brand new lightsaber crafting system, and unusual lightsabers galore from Kylo Ren’s crossguard lightsaber to Lady Lumiya’s lightwhip. Fans of podracing will find a complete section devoted to the sport and a how-to guide on creating pods.
Now, this sounds like a great player supplement, but I know you GMs are asking, “What about us?” A full third of this book is devoted to running urban campaigns set in the Star Wars universe, covering everything from verticality in combat to running the beat by beats of an investigation. Whether your campaign is set in the underbelly of Coruscant, the seedy streets of Mos Eisley, or just visiting one of these locations, this is an invaluable resource.
What are you waiting for? Put on your cowl and cape, grab your lightsaber, and hop into your souped up pod. The cities of the galaxy need a hero.