13 votes

Ars Technica’s ultimate board game gift guide, 2019 edition

16 comments

  1. [7]
    vivaria
    Link
    This was a good lesson! It made me realize I know very little about enthusiast board games or board game genres. It me, the uber casual. There seems to be so much to explore here! I don't know...

    This was a good lesson! It made me realize I know very little about enthusiast board games or board game genres. It me, the uber casual. There seems to be so much to explore here!

    I don't know what an engine game is, but I do know that I want to play the bird game. I want to play the bird game! I WANT TO PLAY THE BIRD GAME!!!

    3 votes
    1. fifthecho
      Link Parent
      ...and Wingspan is an awesome game that you should want to play.

      ...and Wingspan is an awesome game that you should want to play.

      3 votes
    2. [3]
      Grawlix
      Link Parent
      Haha, I felt the exact same way when I first got into board games! I remember walking into a shop and thinking, wow, people have actually been working on board games. A part of me expected maybe a...

      Haha, I felt the exact same way when I first got into board games! I remember walking into a shop and thinking, wow, people have actually been working on board games. A part of me expected maybe a few new games besides the mass market stuff and rebranded versions of them, but there were a TON. :p

      Anyway, to answer your question, an engine (or engine-building) game is one where you assemble a bunch of pieces that interact with one another in combination, creating the "engine" that is your strategy to win the game. The appeal is both in the sense of progress as you acquire and assemble the pieces, and in seeing your long-term strategy pay off once you have enough of it put together. :)

      Oh, and on the topic of bird games, I have a copy of Gone Birding my friend got me, because we both listened to the (now defunct but still recommended) podcast Flip the Table, where they play and discuss terrible board games. It's a VHS bird watching game. Now I want to get Wingspan and do a double feature! :D

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        vivaria
        Link Parent
        When can I come over? :P

        It's a VHS bird watching game. Now I want to get Wingspan and do a double feature! :D

        When can I come over? :P

        1 vote
        1. Grawlix
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          After I get my hands on a VHS player. Honestly that's the major thing holding us back. :p

          After I get my hands on a VHS player. Honestly that's the major thing holding us back. :p

    3. [2]
      arghdos
      Link Parent
      I too want to play the bird game -- I was going to buy it for my cousin who's an avid bird-watcher, but he's only a bit of a board-gamer and that Amazon price tag is pretty steep right now. Maybe...

      I too want to play the bird game -- I was going to buy it for my cousin who's an avid bird-watcher, but he's only a bit of a board-gamer and that Amazon price tag is pretty steep right now. Maybe next year :)

      1 vote
      1. fifthecho
        Link Parent
        See if you have any local game stores. They typically won't price gouge as much as the Amazon marketplace does.

        See if you have any local game stores. They typically won't price gouge as much as the Amazon marketplace does.

        1 vote
  2. [5]
    nothis
    Link
    Anyone know a great board game (can be obvious, older) that has some depth and is good for two players? I'm looking for a last-minute Christmas gift.

    Anyone know a great board game (can be obvious, older) that has some depth and is good for two players? I'm looking for a last-minute Christmas gift.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      arghdos
      Link Parent
      There's a whole two player section in the article: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/12/ars-technicas-ultimate-board-game-gift-guide-2019-edition/10/#h1 I've only played Patchwork personally and...

      There's a whole two player section in the article:
      https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/12/ars-technicas-ultimate-board-game-gift-guide-2019-edition/10/#h1

      I've only played Patchwork personally and it was great!

      1 vote
      1. nothis
        Link Parent
        Ah, I blindly clicked through that, thinking it was the card game section (not my thing)! Thanks! Patchwork looks cute!

        Ah, I blindly clicked through that, thinking it was the card game section (not my thing)! Thanks! Patchwork looks cute!

        1 vote
    2. Akir
      Link Parent
      Cascarsonne is my go-to recommendation. It's got fairly simple rules, but it takes some strategy to win. Plus it expands for more players if you have company.

      Cascarsonne is my go-to recommendation. It's got fairly simple rules, but it takes some strategy to win. Plus it expands for more players if you have company.

      1 vote
    3. Grawlix
      Link Parent
      Since you mentioned depth, I'll mention Twilight Struggle. Fair warning, it's very niche, because: It's for exactly two players, so you can't just throw in a third if someone else is there. It's a...

      Since you mentioned depth, I'll mention Twilight Struggle. Fair warning, it's very niche, because:

      • It's for exactly two players, so you can't just throw in a third if someone else is there.

      • It's a Cold War simulator, which isn't so thematically catchy for many people.

      • It takes about three hours, more or less, so it's a bit long (and naturally might take a bit longer while learning the rules).

      • It's very skill-intensive, so it quickly becomes one-sided if one player has more experience and knowledge of the game.

      If all of those are either tolerable or actually appealing to the person you're shopping for, it's absolutely worth considering. :) There's also a digital version, but I haven't played it that much so I can't speak to the quality of it.

      1 vote
  3. [3]
    tunneljumper
    Link
    I'm not looking for recommendations specifically, but -- my mom's recently retired and started getting into board gaming; right now she only plays when me and/or my sister visit but I think she's...

    I'm not looking for recommendations specifically, but -- my mom's recently retired and started getting into board gaming; right now she only plays when me and/or my sister visit but I think she's starting to get other people involved as well. So far we've played Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, and Catan. What group do you think she fits into in this article?

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      rkcr
      Link Parent
      I'd definitely check out the "Family and New Gamers" section.

      I'd definitely check out the "Family and New Gamers" section.

      3 votes
      1. fifthecho
        Link Parent
        I'd also suggest the "Next Steps" section. None of those games are tremendously complex and several are some of my current favorites.

        I'd also suggest the "Next Steps" section. None of those games are tremendously complex and several are some of my current favorites.

        2 votes
  4. heady
    Link
    Despite this being a list of well known and acclaimed games the only one I've actually played is coup and I don't even own my own copy of it so it may as well be a gift giving guide for me.

    Despite this being a list of well known and acclaimed games the only one I've actually played is coup and I don't even own my own copy of it so it may as well be a gift giving guide for me.

    1 vote