When it comes to Christmas gifts, a good board game is a surefire hit. Whether you’re buying for friends or family, the sheer amount of board game choices on offer means that there are plenty of options to go around. Whether that’s a short adventure, a quick party favourite or a longer, story-based RPG, a good board game is packed with hours of entertainment and endless replayability – so hopefully, you’ll grab something the giftee will fall in love with.
If you want to gift someone a board game but aren’t sure what to grab, we have a few suggestions that will make for absolutely excellent Christmas gifts and will be surefire hits the next time they host a games night.
Table of contents
The best Christmas gifts for board game lovers under $50
Magic the Gathering Starter Kit
Just because someone is into board games doesn’t necessarily mean they’re into card gaming too. But you could be the one to help your friend bridge that gap. Every year Wizards of the Coast launches a new starter kit for their iconic card game, Magic the Gathering, which is the perfect entry point for anyone looking for a new game to play.
The starter set includes two 60-card decks, so if you’ve also been looking to take up Magic yourself, then this set is a great way to share the good times with your pal. The set comes with a rulebook, so you and your giftee can easily make it your summer project. The set also has two Arena redemption cards, so you can unlock both decks to use them online in Magic the Gathering Arena.
Where to buy Magic the Gathering Starter Kit:
Ticket to Ride
In Ticket to Ride, players travel across North America and attempt to visit as many cities as possible by building out their railway lines and establishing a transport empire. Whoever builds the most impressive track and visits the most cities wins the game.
If North America isn’t your flavour, there are variants for Europe, Japan, the United Kingdom and even the global Rails & Sails.
Where to buy Ticket to Ride:
Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set
There’s never been a better time to start playing Dungeons & Dragons and if you know someone who has been dying to start playing, this is the place to start.
Dragons of Stormwreck Isle is a starter set designed to teach first-time players and Dungeon Masters the game’s essential rules – from running combat to solving puzzles and roleplay encounters. This set includes five pre-made character sheets, a set of dice, a rulebook that explains the game’s core mechanics and an adventure that’ll take players from level 1 to 3. That’s everything you need to set off on your first adventure.
Where to buy the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set:
Dixit is perfect for a nice family afternoon or a sweet, socially-distanced party. In the game, every player has a unique set of illustrated cards that other players must guess via verbal clues and other hints. Votes take place at the end of each round, and you’re able to work your way up the board by interpreting these clues correctly.
It’s very simple but requires a lot of creativity and quick thinking to work through.
Where to buy Dixit:
The best Christmas gifts for board game lovers under $100
Dune: The Board Game
Know someone who is quite bummed that Dune: Part Two has been delayed until 2024? While this gift isn’t the movie, it’s certainly the next best thing. Based on Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel, the Dune board game was originally released back in the 1970s before becoming unavailable for a long period of time. Despite being out of print, Dune remained a much-loved title with board game fans and now, thankfully, is widely available once again.
In Dune, you play as one of six factions, as you vy for control of Arrakis and its spice melange – because he who controls the spice controls the universe. Much like the source material, strategy is the name of the game, which involves a decent amount of diplomacy as you form alliances and treachery as you also create secret alliances with the other factions. It’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. Just don’t take any betrayals too personally.
Where to buy Dune:
Marvel Splendor is a themed adaptation of Asmodee classic Splendor. Rather than mining gems and building properties, this game sees players attempting to take down Thanos by travelling the multiverse, finding Infinity Gems and recruiting local heroes.
It’s perfect for any Marvel fan, or if you just love the classic Splendor formula. There are plenty of heroes and villains to find throughout the game, so there’s a good deal of replayability, too.
Where to buy Marvel Splendor:
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
If you’re after something that requires a bit more thinking, the Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective series is for you. In these self-contained adventures, players must work together to solve various crimes in the shoes of Sherlock Holmes. The game presents various clues and insights. including murder weapons, town maps and ledgers — and it’s up to players to solve the case.
Each set contains a number of crimes to solve, giving you many hours of excellent puzzle-solving goodness.
- The Baker Street Irregulars: Amazon Australia ($73.75) | Catch ($91)
- The Thames Murders & Other Cases: Amazon Australia ($73.31) | Catch ($89.87) | Kogan ($85.49)
- Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures: Amazon Australia ($75.88) | Catch ($85.48) | Kogan ($91)
Speaking of Marvel board games, here’s another excellent adaptation. Marvel Villainous is based on Disney Villainous (another superb game you should add to your list) and features similar mechanics to the original. Basically, players take on the role of various Marvel villains (Hela, Ultron, Taskmaster, Thanos and Killmonger) and attempt to sabotage other players to conquer the world. It’s good, vicious fun and great for a small group of friends.
Where to buy Marvel Villainous:
The best Christmas gifts for board game lovers over $100
HeroQuest is an all-time classic board game that belongs on anyone’s shelf. If you’re buying for someone who enjoys fantasy tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, then they’ll surely get a kick out of this. It’s also a great option for someone who wishes they could play D&D but maybe doesn’t have the time to commit to a big campaign.
HeroQuest is played with two to five players, with up to four people taking on the playable adventurers while one person takes on the role of the game master, Zargon. This dungeon explorer works fairly similar to a tabletop RPG, as the four adventurers delve into a mysterious lair as part of the game’s 14 premade quests.
Once they face and (hopefully) defeat the various traps and creatures within this, the players have the option to upgrade their characters before sending them on more quests, or you can just play it as a one-in-one adventure that you wrap up during your next game’s night.
Where to buy HeroQuest:
Mansions of Madness
Mansions of Madness is an all-time favourite at the Gizmodo Australia offices. In it, players take on the role of detectives exploring various horror-themed scenarios. All the action is controlled by an app, with players taking instructions and story cues from app-enabled events. It’s easy to learn, easy to teach and perfect for a terrifying family gathering.
If horror isn’t quite your thing, Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-Earth uses a similar app-based system and is just as good.
Where to buy Mansions of Madness:
More Gizmodo Australia gift guides
This article has been updated since its original publication.
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