Christmas is a very expensive time of year for me as many of my friends and family also selfishly have their birthdays in late November and December. No amount of gentle persuasion to move their celebrations and spread them out a bit in the year has so far proved successful. As such, I have to rein in my own board game spending sprees and focus on others. To help with this I send a letter to Santa up the chimney in a puff of rainbow sparkles with a number of games I was thinking of buying for myself anyway.
This way I won’t be able to buy them, lest I find my purchase duplicated and wrapped in a bow under the tree come Christmas morn. Some selections from this year’s list that went up the flue with a fizz and a pop are…
NB: if you want to buy me one, please check with my sister first to coordinate! She knows what Santa has got me.
A Christmas list can be the opportunity to get that game you’ve always wanted, but where your head always gets swayed by something newer and shinier. Sagrada is definitely in this category of gift suggestion for me. It’s a game where every time I see it, I think ‘ooo pretty dice. Lots of pretty dice.’ And that can be enough for me. I’m also a big fan of light, puzzle type games that you can get to the table with someone who has never played them easily and quickly. Sagrada seems to hit that spot and would make a nice shelf mate and alternative for another favourite of mine the equally gorgeous Azul: Summer Pavilion.
Similar to the new game/old game dilemma, I can often find myself choosing between adding to a game I know and love or throwing my money at the latest hotness. Often the latter wins, so my wish list is the chance to get those expansions I wanted. This year, I’d like to delve more into Everdell as the solo game has been a staple through the various types of lockdown we have experienced. Everyone here at Zatu will tell you that I’m a sucker for a game with a critter in it and Everdell has some of the cutest. Be it the art on the cards or the little meeples, I just want all of them to squeeze. *whispers*: In case you’re listening Santa, my order of preference is Pearlbrook, Spirecrest, Bellfaire. But you could just buy all three.
I really enjoy GMT historical games like Twilight Struggle and Labyrinth WOT and have long been intrigued by Navajo Wars, but never got round to buying it. I love the way they blend history with play in ways that get you to reflect on the past and its impact by engaging you with it as an active participant. While games are not the same as a history book or well-researched documentary, GMT has proven they can provide fresh ways of looking at topics. Certainly, Twilight Struggle was a launchpad for me to not only play more Cold War games but to research more about the history surrounding it. I’m hoping Navajo Wars will spark a similar journey of learning into a topic I shamefully admit to knowing very little about.
Ok, so this is more of a moonshot, given the price. I will have to have been a very good boy for Rudolph to tow this beast to my door on Christmas Eve. It might take more than a couple of carrots and a mince pie and sherry for the big man to persuade him. A surprise revelation of 2020 for me was that I actually do like heavier euro games and there is no greater master of that genre than Vital Lacerda.
His name on the box, after loving The Gallerist and being more than a little intrigued by On Mars, is a big draw for me here. As with Navajo Wars, I am also fascinated by how games handle weighty topics while still being fun and enthralling. Climate change is such a big issue and to tackle it in a board game is, to me, a unique and enticing opportunity. CO2: Second Chance would be a lump of coal I’d actually be glad to unwrap.
After the extravagant hope of my last two choices, I thought it only fair to include an option that might be more in the budget of my generous benefactors. Mandala (no not that thing with pebbles, as my friend described it to me), is a two-player card game where the aim is to collect sets via area control and hand management. It’s very much the sort of abstract game I enjoy playing with friends over a coffee. I also like that you play on a tea towel with a nice pattern which will look cool to get out in a coffee shop when they reopen.
So, there are some highlights from my letter to Santa. As a final thought, I suppose I should consider that it’s believed to be better to give than receive. With that in mind, I just want to put it out there that I’m happy to selflessly take one for the team and do all the receiving this year. Think how happy I could make you by allowing you to get me all the cool stuff on this list! Merry Christmas!