The holiday season is upon us again, and us nerds are no easier to shop for than in seasons past. So if you’re struggling with gift ideas for the gamers in your life, allow me to suggest a few options. Just as with last year’s Gamer Gift Guide, in this article I’ll point out several board games, video games, and tabletop games that have caught my eye lately, as well as some nifty gadgets and gaming supplies for the nerd who already has everything…
What a time to be a gamer! This year’s holiday season sees several highly anticipated releases. Because nothing says “escapism” like “what would the world be like if we blew everything up?”, Fallout 4 is THE hot game this year for single-player enthusiasts, and my personal mini-addiction as of late. Or you can take the alternate history route with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, as the epic tale of intrigue and clandestine warfare pitting Assassins against Templars continues in 19th century England.
For those who enjoy multiplayer games, this year the latest Call of Duty, Black Ops 3, goes head to head against Star Wars: Battlefront. Personally, I’d take soaring over the battle in an X-Wing in Battlefront over CoD’s twitch-shooter style any day, but to each their own. If your gamer is looking for a pure action shooter, Call of Duty may be the better call.
In the system exclusive realm, Master Chief returns to the XBox One for another tour of duty in Halo V. For Playstation owners, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection bundles up the previous three games on PS4 in order to hold everyone over until Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End arrives early next year.
Wii U owners have a particularly nice batch of Nintendo exclusives this year. Splatoon is the ultimate game of paintball – a less violent approach to a shooting game that still appeals to core gamers. Super Mario Maker lets you remix the classic Mario experience, building your own levels that can be shared with others, playing others’ levels, and unlocking new components and characters (Amiibo compatible). Also, if you’re willing to go the pre-order route, Star Fox is ready to make a new appearance early in 2016.
Now, if you’re looking for a gift for someone that buys all these games the day they come out, there’s still an option available: Downloadable Content Season Passes. A Season Pass grants access to all downloadable content that will be released over the year following the game’s release, and at a discount over individual purchases. The DLC packs usually add new missions, maps, and equipment to the game, or sometimes even entirely new game modes. Fallout, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and Battlefront are all offering Season Passes this year. These are also GREAT last minute gifts, as they’re digital download codes to be entered into the recipient’s console or computer – there’s no shipping required.
XCOM: The Board Game, provides an unparrallelled cooperative multiplayer experience – Using a free iPhone / Android App to automate the actions of alien invaders, players work together to manage their resources and race against the clock to fight back the invasion.
Star Wars: Imperial Assault probably looks really familiar to anyone who has played the Descent board game, but there’s definitely more depth to this one. Playable as a persistent multiplayer campaign or as a head-to-head competitive skirmish game, Imperial Assault gives you a big bang for your buck. If you’re buying for someone who already has the game, perhaps consider the new Return to Hoth expansion, releasing just in time for Christmas.
A pair of holdovers from last year’s recommendations, Trains and Trains: Rising Sun are a great expansion on the Dominion deck-builder mechanic; where unlike traditional card games with a construction mechanic, players build their decks from a communal pool available to all players as a core portion of the gameplay itself. Following in this vein, this year I’m recommending a pair of similar titles on a smaller scale: Star Realms (and its’ expansions) and Epic. Intended to be playable with just the 100 or so cards in each set, the complete game fits into one large deck box, making them perfect stocking stuffers!
A bit less on the strategic side, but most certainly entertaining, don’t skip out on Exploding Kittens, or for the brave, check out the Exploding Kittens NSFW Edition. For a more dynamic party game, take a look at SUPERFIGHT – A game in the veins of Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, players actively lobby for why their custom created super hero would be able to defeat all the others submitted.
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures is still near and dear to me, as frequent readers of The Tabletop General can certainly attest to. The game is still growing by leaps and bounds, and there’s a lot of big recent releases, with more right around the corner (and rumored available by Christmas). A new Starter set for Episode VII has recently come out, including a pair of TIE/FO fighters and a T-70 X-Wing. Coming out soon, the individual expansions of both of those ships should be available, along with the Ghost and the Inquisitor’s TIE from Star Wars: Rebels, alongside bounty hunter ships, the Mist Hunter and Punishing One.
For a more substantial centerpiece-style gift, consider giving a new Imperial Raider or Gozanti Assault Carrier to rule the X-Wing battlefield, or their Rebel counterparts: the CR-90 Blockade Runner and GR-75 Medium Transport. For the X-Wing player that has “everything”, decorative items are the way to go: Space Rocks offers lots of custom obstacles and terrain pieces for the game, and there’s tons of options for X-Wing playmats as well (note, only the Fantasy Flight Starfield Playmat is currently legal for high level competitive play).
If Star Wars isn’t your gamer’s thing, Battletech seems to be making a big comeback (or at least it is in my area). Giant stompy robots trampling all over the landscape and battling for their nation, employer, or personal honor… you really can’t go wrong. For someone that hasn’t played before, the Starter Set is the way to go. For more experienced players, I would recommend giving a map set to expand their game play, like Hex Pack: Cities and Roads, or Hex Pack: Mountains and Canyons.
If your gamer was big on Warhammer Fantasy, but isn’t loving the new Age of Sigmar revamp, consider gifting them a copy of the rules for Kings of War. Written by gaming industry veterans, and fully compatible with Warhammer Fantasy models, this seems to be where the community at large is heading now.
And for the Warhammer 40K player, take a look at the new release from Games Workshop – The Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Caalth. Technically a board game, this kit comes with tons of Forge World quality miniatures usable in 40K / 30K at a SHARP discount over retail prices. This is a limited edition that will sell out fast, so jump on it quickly!
16 pocket card pages – Perfect for storing Star Wars: Armada, Imperial Assault, X-Wing Miniatures, or any other game that uses mini-american size cards.
Mini-American card sleeves – And these are the right size for protecting those same mini-american sleeves while in use.
Expo Fine-Point Dry Erase Markers – Whether marking up notes on a dungeon map in D&D, or recording Battletech mech damage, dry erase markers are way more useful to most gamers than they might realize.
Sheet Protectors – How are dry erase markers useful to gamers? Slip that character sheet or battle list into one of these sheet protectors, and suddenly you’re not destroying your paper every time you need to take damage, temporarily adjust your stats, or mark which units you’ve lost in this game. Combine the two items, and you’ll save tons on printing extra sheets, and do the environment a favor in the process.
Chessex Dice – You can’t go wrong with dice for a gamer. Adding custom colored dice is a great way for them to add flair and a personal touch to their games. For Battletech, Warhammer, or other large scale miniatures games, get them six sided dice (d6’s). For RPG gamers, go for the 7 die polyhedral sets, unless it’s a Star Wars RPG like Edge of the Empire, in which case they need a specific set of dice.
Brush Set – Any gamer building and paining miniatures (like for Battletech, Warhammer, Kings of War, or similar games) needs a good set of brushes. Odds are, they’ve bought only what they absolutely had to have, and they’re often using the wrong brush for the job at hand. Fix that now with a full set of brushes from Army Painter.
Laser line of sight tool – A holdover from last year, these lasers are incredibly useful for determining line of sight in tabletop games – whether or not a model can shoot, if they’re getting cover from trees or buildings, and so on. Every tabletop game I play needs one of these.
Directly copied from last year’s guide, these are standby great gifts for gamers because we’re pretty much all geeks too, and they’re just as good of an idea now as they were last year.
Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 – I love having a wireless keyboard; it reduces clutter, and gives me lots of mobility around the room (I use a TV for a computer monitor at home). The only down side is that I’m constantly replacing AA batteries. But this keyboard eliminates that problem, because it recharges itself with light! Buy two, and send me one!
Energizer AA Charger with Batteries – Because not every gadget can be solar powered. I use rechargeable batteries for my keyboard now, as well as my XBox controller, TV remotes, and so on. I’ve got a handful more batteries than I need for all my devices, so that there’s always a fresh set ready to swap in when needed.
Google Chromecast – This is an excellent addition to your home media setup – it allows anyone connected to your WiFi network to stream videos and music to the TV just by plugging it into your TV. It’s absolutely great for parties, because everybody can contribute to the playlist!
If you have questions about any of my recommendations, or if you want to discuss the games your gamer plays and perhaps look into some specific items for their game of choice, feel free to reach out to me via Facebook. I hope this guide helps make the holiday season great for you and yours!
– The Tabletop General