Fanbase Press’ Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Tabletop Games

Amidst the chaos of decorating the house, booking flights, or planning Christmas dinner, deciding on gifts for friends and family is liable to be the last thing on your mind this December. 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 investigating the mysteries of Cthulhu or providing your party of adventurers with new spells and equipment playing a game together is a great holiday event. – Kristine Chester, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor

 


Board, Dice, & Card Games


Elder Sign (Geeky Parent Guide Approved)
Published by Fantasy Flight Games
Recommended by Travis Lakata

“Inspired by the horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft, Elder Sign pits players against the terror posed by one of eight possible Ancient Ones.” This cooperative game has you and your friends face terrible monsters that go bump in the night, where the goal is to earn tokens, also known as Elder Signs, that can block openings into our world from a supernatural dimension – a place that if the evil creeps through, it will destroy the world.

Here’s a quick guide to its gameplay:

Ages: 12 and up
Players: 1 to 8
Play time: 1 to 2 hours

As investigators in the game, players take turns traveling onto Adventure cards, roll multi-faced dice to match the card’s requirements, and reap the rewards or consequences for failing. There are plenty of possible Adventure cards that can turn up on the board, as well as useful Item cards designed to help throughout the course of the game. There are plenty of available characters in this game, and each Investigator card is given its own unique ability and health.

Elder Sign not only has intense gameplay, but also requires some preparation to get acquainted with all of the different cards, tokens, and rules associated with playing this game. This game is meant for you and your friends to work together and survive the challenges from one turn to the next. It can lead to heart-pounding moments with your friends as you get ever so close to earning enough Elder Signs.

Available for purchase (when in stock) for around $30 to $35:

Amazon
CoolStuffInc

This game is also available in a digital form:

Google Play App Store – $3.99
Steam – $14.99

Note: Both digital versions are a separate edition called Elder Sign: Omens.


IOTA
Published by Gamewright
Recommended by J.C. Ciesielski

A puzzler much in the spirit of Quiddler (which is also highly recommended), IOTA is a quick to learn and easy-to-teach game of creation. To score, it's as easy as putting together lines that correspond with previously played tiles, or ones that don't correspond at all! Each card has a specific color, number, and shape printed on it. Simple right? Well, try playing with a crafty opponent who loves to block your every move and thinks three steps ahead! Don't feel bad about trailing behind. The right tile placement can put you into the lead! This quicker-picker-upper game is light and compact, meaning you can easily drop it into your bag of holding and play whenever an opportunity arises! Upon first play, you may find yourself laying down tiles willy nilly, but by the third round, you'll be eye-balling options from every angle. Strategy is the name of the game, so put on your thinking caps and have a ball with IOTA! You can find IOTA online or in store for roughly $8.




Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game
Published by Upper D.E.C.K.
Recommended by Bryant Dillon

Described as a “cooperative game set in the Alien universe,” Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game allows players to take on the roles of Commander, Gunner, Synthetic, and more while also recruiting allies from the franchise as you work together to complete missions, taking you through the events of the first four Alien films.

Including over 500 playable cards featuring all original Alien art and ability to continue the game through expansion sets, this is a perfect gift for those dreaming of sugar plum Xenomorphs this holiday season.

Details:
Price: $59.99
Available here for sale.




Pirate Fluxx (Geeky Parents Guide Approved)
Published by Looney Labs
Recommended by Travis Lakata

“It all begins with one basic rule: Draw one card, Play one card.” It’s a simple, easy to remember rule, until it all changes instantly by playing one card, and then another.

Here’s a quick guide to its gameplay:

Ages: 8 and up
Players: 2 to 5
Play time: 5 to 30 minutes

You might notice the odd discrepancy with the span of playing time. This makes Fluxx very interesting to play with fairly decent replay value. The difference is quite simple – winning the game can happen in a flash, and early. The goal is to place Keeper cards down in front of you, in the hopes of matching whatever Goal card has been played. Keeper cards will have a picture on it and the word describing it, such as “Frigate,” “Gold Doubloons,” “Parrot,” or “Tropical Island.” Each Goal card will mention two Keeper cards that need to be paired together on the board to win.

Sounds simple enough, and yet, simple enough to change the rules. One player can have one Keeper in front of them, but someone else plays an Action or different Goal card that completely makes your Keeper irrelevant. This game keeps you on your toes, which makes the Fluxx series quite entertaining. But, for a reason to choose Pirate Fluxx from the others in the series, who doesn’t want to play a game where a new rule can be added to the “Draw one, Play one,” and have everyone “Talk Like a Pirate?” If you think it’s too silly, let your competitive side kick in when you realize you earn extra cards by speaking pirate(y), matey.

Available for purchase (when in stock) for around $12:

Amazon
CoolStuffInc


Roleplaying Games


D&D Beyond
Published by Wizards of the Coast
Recommended by Alan McGreevy

D&D Beyond is an online digital toolset for Dungeons and Dragons players and Dungeon Masters, which can help with character and world design. There are three tiers of access to the site; the first level is free, while the higher tiers, costing a monthly subscription, come with other perks.

The two paid tiers, designed for both players and DMs, have different monthly costs ($2.99 and $5.99 respectively, with discounts for 6-month and 12-month subscriptions), so this is the kind of gift you’d want to get for someone who already uses the free service, or knows about it and is interested in trying it. The free level of the website enables you to use the character creation for a limited number of characters and access public homebrew, while the Hero tier has unlimited character creation and the Master tier also enables book-sharing between users.

The character design tools are great for those who like the traditional character sheet, but for anyone who has created their own stat-layout, or frames their character info differently, the standard layouts may be a bit frustrating. The site helps you add your own "Homebrew:" creating custom spells, items, or monsters that can be based on their original templates. Regardless of which tier you’re using, the site helps you gain more familiarity with the game and its rules.

It’s a fantastic toolset that can help a player learn character creation, helping with the decisions and doing the math. As a resource, it provides the options and guides you through the design, giving the text and descriptions of powers and spells right on the screen. While some players enjoy the process of flipping through the books and discovering things for themselves, D&D Beyond simplifies and accelerates the process to give the player a more streamlined process.


Genesys Core Rulebook
Published by Fantasy Flight Games
Recommended by Kristine Chester

I’ve been addicted to FFG’s Star Wars game line and narrative dice system for years, and now the gates have finally been opened to new genres. Genesys is the generic ruleset for that same dice system, allowing you to adapt it to any setting you want to, from fantasy adventures to modern-day investigations, superhero fights to a post-apocalyptic quest for survival.

In addition to new species, careers, specializations, and gear for a half a dozen genres, inside these pages are alternate rules to set the tone of your game, ensuring your superheroes feel powerful, your characters trapped in a haunted house vulnerable, and so on. In place of the Force, FFG has crafted a brand new magic system perfectly suited to the narrative dice system, where the axis of Success and Failure and the axis of Advantage and Threat can lead to unattended magical effects.

Whether you’ve considered adapting the Star Wars RPG rules to another setting or are looking for a new RPG, Genesys is worth a look. In stores today.




Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Published by Wizards of the Coast
Recommended by Alan McGreevy

The latest book released for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is a cumulation of three years of beta-tested and thoroughly considered game expansion. The Guide focuses on character builds, opening up new forms of specialization within existing classes, offering non-humans racial feats, and expanding the spell-lists available to the casting classes.

The real concern for experienced D&Ders is power-creep: the ongoing increase of abilities and skills in new publications, making the game more and more unbalanced, requiring the Dungeon Master (DM) to pick harder monsters, which requires the players to have more overwhelming powers, which…

Due to the thorough testing, Xanathar’s Guide creates new flavors and personalities for characters without actually throwing off the game balance of 5th Edition. They have included more specialized powers, or practical and useful skills, instead of just providing more damage.

About one-third of the book is for the DM in your life. The Guide sets out helpful rules and suggestions about game pacing, loot drops, and magical item frequency, ideas on encounters and how to best use traps as part of gameplay, as well as giving updated rules on things like downtime activities and sleeping in armor. It’s a helpful combination of rules clarifications and expansions on some of the recurring topics that people have been asking about.

The Guide is for the active D&Der; it’s not necessary to enjoy whatever campaign world you play in, but it can appeal to those players who love new inspiration, new ideas, and new ways to build their characters. It will help your favorite nerd up their game and go even further into creating fun, interesting, and intricate experiences.


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