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Christmas Cheer Entertainment Games

2006 Board Games Gift Guide 99

SlantyBard writes "As per previous years, the Morning News has published their annual guide to Good Gift Games. You can also always check out BoardGameGeek's gift guide to boardgames or Funagain's all time top bestseller list for great gifts for your family and friends." From the Morning news post: "Occasionally I'll play a new game so elegant in design that I'll come away amazed that it hadn't been thought of before. Hey! That's My Fish! is the most recent example. Sixty small hexagons (each showing one, two, or three fish) are assembled into an ice floe. Players then place their penguins onto the board, and play begins. On a turn, a player moves one of his penguins and then claims the hex the penguin just vacated, scoring points for the fish shown thereon. The ice floe slowly melts as more and more hexes are taken. Eventually there will be no more legal moves, and the person with the most fish wins. It's extremely simple and remarkably strategic."
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2006 Board Games Gift Guide

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @03:59PM (#17290696)
    Step 1: Get the Wizards of the Coast catalog
    Step 2: Open it to a random page and put your finger down
    Step 3: Order that
  • One of the best games for a group that there is. Not strictly a board game, but certainly worth getting.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Byteme ( 6617 )
      One of the worst, actually. Almost universally hated among gamers.
      • Except for, you know, every gamer I know and play it with.
        • by Byteme ( 6617 )
          People like Bingo and call that a game too.


          Fluxx is way to random, when I same "gamer" I mean someone who likes to be challenged, be competitive, use their brain when playing. Fluxx might be fun for stoners... maybe a one time play for others... but I would not suggest it as a gift for anyone that is into gaming or that you'd like to turn on to the hobby.
          • Well, as always, YMMV. I've found Fluxx to be quite fun and challenging. There is also a certain method to the Strategy, too. While it is possible that someone can draw right into a win, its also possible to deny someone close to winning by changing the rules. Out of curiosity what games do you play that meet your criteria? I find it surprising that you would simultaneously want to interest people in gaming but at the same time come across as such a gaming snob. They seem contradictory, but, again, YM
            • by Byteme ( 6617 )
              I am a gaming snob... I also like to have fun. Fluxx is not a game that I find fun so it would certainly not be a game that I'd introduce people to gaming with... especially when there are about 1,000 better choices. Besides the fun and new gamer factor, I'd say that the "game" is not a game. It is a futile exercise... much like that other Stoner game called Grass, or Uno for that matter. For good suggestions I'd start here:

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                I guess I just don't have the time to be too snobby about gaming. I've played everything from SFB to Silent Death to Dragon Dice to various versions of Warhammer and Warhammer 40k. Most of which require a large investment of time. So Fluxx is nice because it lets you play with people who wouldn't otherwise be doing any type of game and its relatively fast. And, I am still curious as to what games you like and enjoy, especially since you're an admitted snob;-) Not trolling, but genuinely curious because
                • Re:Fluxx (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by Byteme ( 6617 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:55PM (#17292574) Homepage
                  As of late... Age of Steam, Twilight Struggle (IGA winner 2006), Traders of Genoa, 1830, Power Grid, Friedrich, War of the Ring... mostly interested in economic / stock market simulations and war games (GMT Games, MMP Games). I do play chess, poker and some other lighter fare...

                  If I was suggesting a gift / newbie games in the ease to teach / pick-up realm that you place Fluxx then I'd suggest For Sale, Bonhanza, Bang!, Coloretto, That's Life. Though I've had success converting people with much deeper games... the ones I list are fun, quick to play, high replay value and easy to teach / learn. You can look them up here: []

                  • Thanks, I'll check some of those out. I'm not a fan of economy based games, so I'll give those a pass, but I will look into the war games.
                • by Godeke ( 32895 ) *
                  All of the games you mention are very to mildly luck (via dice) driven. There are people who play nothing but abstracts (chess, go, twixt, etc.), and there are people who play very low-luck games such as Caylus. Personally, I play all of the above *and* the games on your list, but there are some who are more focused. Fluxx is very, very luck based, so for those who play no to low luck games, it is really annoying.

                  Check out the highly rated games at for a very diverse group of good games.
                  • by Byteme ( 6617 )
                    All? 1830? Only to determine starting player, after that...? (same with Caylus I think, there is no random element in that game).

                    Also, there are abstract games that are random. Tigris and Euphrates is an example with its tile draws.

                    Random elements are fine... just when things are pure chance or chaotic in nature it loses all appeal as a game. Unless, of course, there is a woman involved.
                    • He was responding to my abbreviated list of games and yes, most of them do have a significant amount of luck associated with them. For wahtever reason, I really like games that involve rolling dice. But there is something very appealing about not having absolutes. So even though you may muster the exact right force, and attack at the exact right time, you can still fail. It just seems to make it more "realistic." Abstract absolutes are fine (I like chess for example), but I prefer random chance as play
                    • by Godeke ( 32895 ) *
                      For such a low user ID, your thread reading skills are a bit rusty. Caylus has a random element in the setup, after that it doesn't. I didn't even mention 1830. My comment was directed at the collection of dice heavy games mentioned by the *parent* comment... not your comment. I didn't even *read* your comment.
                    • by Byteme ( 6617 )
                      Insults? Whatever, dude. You replied to me. Please pay attention.
                    • by Godeke ( 32895 ) *
                      Comment 172927690 by "Godeke" has parent 17292058 written by "Shadow Wrought".

                      Haven't got the hang of threading yet? Unless *any* comment under one of yours magically is a reply to you, I didn't reply to you.
                    • by Byteme ( 6617 )
                      blah. blah. blah. Please add more value to this conversation, thanks.
                    • by Godeke ( 32895 ) *
                      Added to Foes. Reason: Moron.
                    • by Byteme ( 6617 )
                      Added to Christmas list. Reason: Internet tough-guy.
              • Besides the fun and new gamer factor, I'd say that the "game" is not a game. It is a futile exercise...

                Fluxx is best enjoyed with good friends and humourous people. you must not have funny friends because this futile exercise is quite fun. in my experiences its just a laughable easy to play game. mix in drinks and sometimes its just too much fun. i'm a gamer and find this excrutiating task rather enjoyable. easy for anyone to pick up or join on the fly too. :D

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by turtledawn ( 149719 )
        Universally hated by those with endless hours to kill and maybe three like-minded friends, perhaps. When you want something to take maybe an hour, have lots of people who would like to play, want people to be able to drop in and out at will (such as at a holiday party), there's nothing quite as much fun as fluxx. There's next to no learning curve (the rules are all on the table, for crissake) and there can be as much or as little strategy to it as you want. Yeah, you get the odd hand with nothing but lame c
      • by ZX-3 ( 745525 )
        Have you tried Drinking Fluxx? The randomness bothers everybody less when they're drinking.
    • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) *
      Yes, though Looney Labs' Treehouse is on the list. I've only played one game of it, and that was in Second Life, but it seems fun. My set might hopefully arrive this week.
    • by Macgrrl ( 762836 )

      I've been playing this for years, I think I have a rev 2.0 set (might be a rev 1.0 but I think it has a few additional cards).

      The rev 3.0 (I think it is) currently kicking around has a bunch of new rules and cards that makes it just that little bit too complex for teaching novice (non-gamer) users, I'd personally ditch the extras and go back to the rev 2.0 set.

    • by santiago ( 42242 )
      Fluxx isn't a game. It's a random number generator that may be fun when you're drunk and/or stoned (though, not being one to partake of such levels of chemical enhancement, I wouldn't know), but certainly not when you're sober. Get some Treehouse / Icehouse sets and go play Zendo instead. That's actually a neat game from the same publishers, Looney Labs [].
  • I still play board games when me and my siblings all congregate at a single house. A favorite for a few of us is Monopoly. However, I've been in search of a game similar to this but more complex. The most important thing I'm looking for is the outcome of the game depending more on strategy and less on chance. Anyone know of any such board games?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LordNimon ( 85072 )
      If you haven't tried Settlers of Catan, you should.
      • Hear, hear! It is one of the best board games I have ever played. It's a little complicated if you're learning by the book (better for somebody to show you how), and it can take a while if you've got indecisive people in the group. I only wish there were a two-player version, so my wife and I could play when there's no company. My in-laws like it, my family likes it, my friends like it, and it's extendable to up to 6 people.
        • I'll nominate Settlers of Catan as well. My parents have it (with the 6 person expansion), as does my sister, and I know my parents are getting it for me for Christmas (at my request). It does have a hefty price tag (I think $40 just for the basic 4 player version), but when you factor in how much it gets played, it's well worth it.
        • There is a Settlers of Catan card game that is 2-player, my wife and I play frequently. I've never actually played the board game, but it's on my list to acquire some time soon (right below Tigris and Euphrates).

          My personal favorite board game is probably Carcassonne.
    • Risk. []
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Because there is no chance involved in that one at all.
      • Risk's outcome has some small portion strategy, but a large portion of it is the outcome of head-to-head rolls of the dice. That is very much based on random luck.
      • Maybe a lot of the game depends on "luck"...does that mean it isn't fun? People have been playing Poker, Craps, Backgammon, 21, etc. etc. for a very long time. Since when is something automatically not a "game" just cause it has some element of chance? I think thats why a large class of games are called "Games of Chance". Randomness can be fun.

        I post this in response to the "Risk" comment, simply 'cause I want to agree with the parent. :) Risk is the best. Even if it is mostly chance, its a heckuva lo
        • Sure, a lot of "Risk" is chance, but it's the same level as Monopoly, which the OP mentioned liking. although a lot is linked to the dice rolls, it's not only chance. There's still a decent strategic end of the gameplay as you choose what or whom to go after, what to defend or attack, and so on, just as you have strategic choices of buying, trading, and building in Monopoly.
    • monopoly s*cks big time if you compare it to the new batch of board games.
    • The problem with Monopoly seems to be that every time my family sits down to play a game, it ends in someone flipping over the board and storming off. Mind you the youngest is in her mid-teens and the oldest is in her mid seventies.
      • The problem with Monopoly seems to be that every time my family sits down to play a game, it ends in someone flipping over the board and storming off. Mind you the youngest is in her mid-teens and the oldest is in her mid seventies.

        Do people really still play Monopoly? I liked it when I was a kid and there was nothing better around, but the last 15 years have given us a multitude of far superior games. Monopoly and Risk are obsolete.

    • Acquire [], hands down. You can google "acquire game" for more reviews.
    • Oh, I get it now. When YOU win, it's "good strategy"; when I win it's "luck". Shut up and roll. 11? Oh good, that's Illinois Avenue and I have three houses on it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
      Puerto Rico []. The only randomness in that game is the plantation availability and that is a relatively minor factor (especially when compared to e.g. the ressource rolls in a Settlers game).
    • Re:monopoly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:13PM (#17291824)
      A favorite for a few of us is Monopoly. However, I've been in search of a game similar to this but more complex. The most important thing I'm looking for is the outcome of the game depending more on strategy and less on chance. Anyone know of any such board games?


      First and foremost, this means no money gets put in the middle for Free Parking, ever; it goes to the bank where it belongs. You CAN buy on your first time round. If you choose not to buy unowned property when you have the chance, the property goes up for auction, and you can bid for it even if you turned it down at the list price. There is no double salary for landing exactly on Go. If there are no houses left in the box and somebody wants to build, too bad, they can wait till some houses get freed up, and if some bastard hogs all the houses by refusing to upgrade to hotels, that's his right and he deserves everything he gets if he gets the Make General Repairs card.

      Nobody plays Monopoly by the rules, but the Free Parking Jackpot kills the game stone dead, and auctions (a) get all the properties owned much more quickly and cheaply, and (b) raise the backstabbing factor by about a billion.

      • by Sparr0 ( 451780 )
        By WHICH book? That is the question. Most of the rules are consistent, but some very much aren't. The most notable one being the rule about auctions, which is present about 50% of the time I have seen different Monopoly editions. I made that up as a house rule early on, to add more strategy to the game, and was surprised to find it in a different set of Monopoly rules years later.
      • Drunken Monopoly is a favorite past when the guys get together. We do play with a few custom rules to keep things interesting (and backstabbing is fun!).

        1. Everything other than rent or property purchases goes into Free Parking along with $500.
        2. The $500 is replaced as soon as Free Parking is hit.
        3. You can buy on your first time around.
        4. Double cash for landing on Go.
        5. No auctions.
        6. If there is an equal number of players and property, there is a vote on divvying it up.
        7. You buy whatever property you
      • by Pope ( 17780 )
        Thanks. I can't fucking stand all the stupid "Free Parking" rules that everyone besides my family seems to play by. We learned by reading the rules that came with the game, all this made-up shit about putting money in the middle is annoying.

        Anyway, "Ticket To Ride" is definitely one of the best games I've played recently. Haven't play it enough to tackle the tunnel, station, and ferry rules on the Europe board, but that just means there's more to play once the main rules are learned.
    • by scheme ( 19778 )

      I still play board games when me and my siblings all congregate at a single house. A favorite for a few of us is Monopoly. However, I've been in search of a game similar to this but more complex.

      You can make monopoly much more complicated fairly easily. Allow players to negotiate and sell options for purchasing properties, portions of future revenues from properties they may or may not have at the present, etc. A smart player and good negotiator can easily pick win and you can intelligently hedge your ri

    • Illuminopoly [] is played on a normal Monopoly board, but set in a universe where mind-control devices are routinely installed in the apartments.

      The default victory condition is to own or control at least 1/2 of the property values once all properties are owned. Each piece has alternate victory conditions and special powers. In addition, properties can be razed/rezoned with the appropriate graft. Bribery and backstabbing are expected, and even cheating is allowed, with a mandatory Go To Jail if caught; thou
    • Are Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne. Both have yet to fail me. I have brought these games to people who are used to Monopoly and Scrabble. They fall in love each and every time.
    • A few of my friends used to play monopoly every night, until we discovered Settlers.

      In Monopoly, we found people largely traded once, built up, and crossed their fingers. If you made out in the deal-making frenzy you won, if not, it's a long slow ride to death.

      In contrast, in Settlers, trades were made almost every turn and the last five minutes of the game are usually very close. In a race to 10 points, it wasn't uncommon to have 2 people with 8, one with 7 and one with 9 and have the 7 point person win
    • For a completely non-random economics, the 18xx series of railroad games is a blast. The main drawback with them is that one person who knows what they are doing with a bunch of newbies will toast them- but then, that's natural for when strategy matters. 1830 was the first one to sell a lot in the US; of hobby-created ones there are at least 100 out there. The most recent well-distributed commercial distribution is 1861, which is fairly friendly to new players. 1870 from Mayfair includes rules for a beginne
    • Elfenland is the best family game that has a low amount of luck that game strategy is easily understood by younger players. Hare & Tortoise has a nice self balancing mechanism that gives an advantage to people in last place, it is an easy game to play with very few luck elements.

      Keep in mind that there are 3 elements to every board game: Luck, strategy and interpersonal interaction. For example Monopoly is primarily based on luck, then secondly based on interaction then finally has a small amount of s

  • by Programmer_In_Traini ( 566499 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @04:09PM (#17290860)
    since the article didn't offer one :

    Its from Mayfair games : []

    and they use friggin frames so this is the best link i can give. using the main page you can find it in the a-z listing. ages/pha6017.htm []
  • Cartagena (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Roy van Rijn ( 919696 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @04:11PM (#17290912) Homepage
    I usually don't like boardgames that take hours to read the rules. I just want to sit down and play it once in a while.
    When I was at some friends house this weekend we played Cartagena [], a very simple but intresting game!
    Has anybody else played it?
    • Yes, I have; in fact, I own a copy of it. It's a light to medium game in terms of strategy. I was intrigued by the "move backward in order to move forward" mechanic. It's a good game when you have a lot of people (will play up to 6) and don't want to spend more than an hour or so on a game. Check out [] for more information on this game and others similar to it.
  • by AcidLacedPenguiN ( 835552 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @04:13PM (#17290932)
    Hello visitor from Slashdot! You are seeing this message because you've clicked on a link from Slashdot directly to our site. We have chosen to put this message up instead because last year our site was taken down by the "Slashdot Effect", and we simply couldn't afford to have a repeat during the busy Holiday shopping season. However, we welcome your visit and if you'd like to explore our site you can bypass this little warning by going to your address bar and typing "", or, if you like, type "Funagain" into Google. Another option is to use the Coral Cache version of our site (particularly if you are just looking for information) by just clicking on this link: [] If you're new to board games in general (or at least the only ones you're familiar with are Monopoly, Candy Land, and The Game of Life) you're in for a treat. To get started, check out any one of our "Beginner's Guide to Games", our "Shopper's Guide", our bestseller list, or our customer favorites list. You can also see a list of award winning games (including the annual Games 100 award list) by clicking on the "Award Winning Games" link under the "Funagain's Lists" section of the home page. Happy Gaming, Funagain Games
  • by Ingolfke ( 515826 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @04:16PM (#17290980) Journal
    Ticket to Ride - Outstanding quality and very fun to play.
    Acquire - Great fun
    Nuclear War - A simple and wonderfully addictive card game.
  • There's enough crap out there that encourages everyone to "go for the win". If you're buying board games, especially for kids, I'd suggest looking into some cooperative games (check out Family Pastimes []). I've been trying to get into these for a while, but unfortunately my friends have never been into them (they refer to "Our Town" as "Communist Monopoly"). But whatever, it's worth a look.
    • Dude, cooperation is the devil. Don't you listen to the capitalists and libertarians? Only pinko commie socialists cooperate. Everyone else tries their damndest to kill or fuck over everything else on the planet. That's the American way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bigdavex ( 155746 )
      I've had fun with Lord or the Rings [].

      There's an individual component as well, but we've always ignored that aspect.
      • by way2slo ( 151122 )
        While I enjoy playing Lord of the Rings, it is not for everyone. Before giving it as a gift to someone, I would run down this quick checklist.

        A) Have they read the books more than once? - This may be the best indicator if they will enjoy the game. If they enjoyed the books enough to re-read, then there is a good chance they will enjoy the game and give it a chance.

        B) Do they handle losing well? - It is double tough to win this game, especially with the expansions. If they don't like games they only have
    • by xero314 ( 722674 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:41PM (#17292284)
      they refer to "Our Town" as "Communist Monopoly"
      As opposed to "Monopoly" where everyone starts with the same resources, earns the same income and can be jailed for no fault of their own.
    • If you're looking for a cooperative game then why not try Arkham Horror [] from Fantasy Flight Games? It's your group versus the game itself and you all need to pool your energy and resources to stop the Great Old One from manifesting itself and destroying Arkham (and by extension the world). It's based on the Lovecraft mythos and is ridiculously fun to play. A bit of a challenge to learn but once you've played it a couple times you'll get the hang of a truly amazing game.
    • My favorite game that depends on cooperation is I'm the Boss [] It still ends with one player winning but to get there they pretty much have to be able to cooperate and negotiate the best with the other players...or have insanely good luck.
  • I didn't even know they still made that Scotland Yard game. I had a lot of fun with that when I was a kid. I'd also recommend CAG []. Plus if you love strategy and have some hours to kill I'd highly recommend Advanced Civilization or Diplomacy. In my opinion Diplomacy surpasses Risk because the only element of chance involved is your opponent.
    • Scotland yard, that game brings back lots of fun memories. I think I've been afraid to try it again because I'm afraid it won't be as good as I remember. I just checked some reviews and it sounds like it's still just as fun. I don't know if I can find many people who will be interested in it though.
    • I looove the games I've gotten from Cheapass. Half the fun, for me at least, is the fact that there is 'assembly required'

      Since you have to supply your own pieces, and the games come in envelopes (generally), it gives me projects to work on, including building boxes to hold all the cool pieces I've built.

      The two Cheapass Games I have are 'Captain Treasure Boots' and 'Steam Tunnel'. For the former, I built little ships to use as pawns, and I used Mardi Gras Doubloons as the treasures. For the latter, I bu
    • Agreed, Scotland Yard was a blast. I'm not sure it would hold the same depth as it once did though.
  • Apples to Apples (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wuie ( 884711 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:00PM (#17291642)
    I've played the game Apples to Apples many times, and what I love the most about it is that you have enough cards for practically everyone at the party to play, especially if you have all the special sets combined into one large set. There have been times where we've had 10+ people in a circle, all playing the most absurd things that they have in their hand. Plus, I love how if you are the judge, you can choose *any* criteria you want for voting the best one.

    There's one house rule that we always use, and this always makes for more entertainment: we play two descriptor cards instead of just one. Trying to match one thing is ho-hum, but trying to match two adjectives makes the game much more interesting.
  • It sounds strangely derivative of a game called Isolation. [] []

  • This is the best game I've ever played: [] It's a two player recreation of the Cold War. Remember Chris Crawford's "Balance of Power"? It was kind of the inspiration for this game, but this is much more fun than that game ever was. (Still no reward if you blow up the world though :-) ). You won't be sorry if you get a chance to check it out - I'm addicted myself.
  • My Favs (Score:3, Informative)

    by BlackIcejane ( 1004346 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:38PM (#17292238) Homepage Journal
    1. Chez Geek/Goth
    2. Apples to Apples
    3. Killer bunnies
    4. Things
    5. Munchkin (any)
    6. Settlers
    7. Illuminati
    8. Hacker Deluxe Edition
    9. Ninja Burger
    10. Maharaja

    I own more but this is what gets played the most!
  • Time's Up [] is my current favorite board game (although, I guess, it's really more of a card game). Great for large groups and lots of fun. The only real problem I have with it is that it requires an even number of people (it's teams of two). Great fun.
  • It's a card game, not a board game, but Bang! is definitely a lot of fun, quick to set up and clean up, and fairly easy to catch on.
  • If you're looking to buy something that was made this year, I can't recommend Yspahan enough. Wonderful game with plenty of strategy and narrow decision-making to curb those who are prone to analysis paralysis.
  • ...although the fact that I play competitively makes me biased.
  • Those three would be great choices to get introduce people to boardgaming. Heroscape, crack for boys and their fathers.
  • Episode #18 of The Spiel, our podcast about board games, is a Holiday Gift Guide.

    Over 50 recommendations for gamers of all ages and games of all flavors. From games less than $10 to budget busters, we've got you covered.

    Download directly from our site [] or via RSS [] or iTunes [].

    Comments, questions, or suggestions are always welcome:

    Happy holidays!

    co-host and creator of The Spiel

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann