2020 has been a challenging year, but it hasn’t been without its blessings. For the first year in many years, I am finally settled in a house. I finally have space to start building my board game collection. Lockdown 1.0 also gave me the time to introduce my flatmates to these games which, unsurprisingly, they really got into. Now, post lockdown 2.0, we are still having regular games nights. However, for all the games I’ve played over the years, I’ve only recently had space to start collecting. So, as you can imagine, I have a pretty full wishlist of games I am dying to buy. Below are a few of the games you’ll find at the top of my Christmas wishlist – I hope you’ll see why!
It’s wine and gaming. I’m not sure much more needs to be said. Ever since my friend sent me a photo of the board mid-play, photographed nicely beside a very healthy glass of wine, this game has been at the top of my Christmas wishlist. It’s been reviewed well for the theme and player mechanics blending nicely together throughout the game. After all, to get lost in the story is certainly what every player wants.
Viticulture is a worker placement game. Over the course of 4 seasons, you place workers throughout your vineyard to plant, harvest, bottle, market, and sell your delicious wine. The aim of the game is to gain the most victory points, which you earn for the bottles you sell. To start the game, players are dealt mama and papa character cards which dictate what unique resources you start with. The game is played over many years with each round lasting for a full season, starting with Spring. Then, in turn order, dictated by which player wakes up the earliest, you’ll allocate workers to various posts on the board. They must complete the necessary labour in each season to produce high-quality wine in exchange for those neato victory points. Personally though…I’d rather keep the wine.
I am a total wuss when it comes to any sort of horror, but I’m really intrigued to play this horror-themed game. However, this is not my first horror game. When I was a kid, my family had the original Atmosfear game that you played alongside a creepy, cloak-wearing Gatekeeper on VHS. (Ah, remember the good ol’ days of VHS?) While today I can look back on it as a cheesy B-grade horror game, as a child this had me drowning in anxiety. Fast forward 20 years and Betrayal at House on the Hill is on my Christmas wishlist. I’m ready to take another stab at horror.
Betrayal at House on the Hill is a fun and edge-of-your-seat game that leads you through a haunted house with 2-6 others. Expect the unexpected as you investigate different rooms, discovering horrifying truths, ominous omens, and encounter spine-tingling monsters. As you discover more rooms, eventually a bad luck roll of the dice will see one of your friends turn on you. Thus begins a terrifying haunt. How the haunt plays out depends on which rooms and actions have just been played. With 50 different haunts, there is huge replayability with Betrayal at House on the Hill.
This game holds a bit of nostalgia for me, having first played it with my best friend who lives on the other side of the world. It’s a fantastic 2 player game with lots of replayability and a cute theme, definitely earning its spot on my Christmas wishlist. Patchwork is a quick-to-learn, tile-laying game where 2 players compete to build a patchwork on their own 9×9 grid board. Buttons are the star of the show here and have 2 purposes. They act as the currency, which you spend and earn as you piece your quilt together. They also act as the victory points needed to win the game.
Patchwork consists of 3 boards, 2 9×9 grids used to build each player’s patchwork, and a central playing board used to move your player pieces along a patchwork track. There is also a large inventory of Tetris-like patches that are randomly placed in a circle around the central board. You will buy the patches as you move along the board and use them to build your quilt. You will only ever have 3 patches to choose from. These are dictated by the placement of a marker piece positioned somewhere in the circle. Each patch also states a time-cost on it, which dictates how far along the board you travel when you purchase it. The sooner someone reaches the end of the track, the sooner the game is over. So, it’s not always wise to get there as fast as you can. When it comes to scoring, the first to fill a solid 7×7 section of their grid will earn an additional 7 buttons. For any tile that is still empty by the end of the game, you lose 2 points.
What would a Christmas wishlist be without a party game thrown in? Secret Hitler has been a real crowd-pleaser among my friends. Party games are fantastic for nights where you want to keep things lively and social. Even self-labelled ‘non-gamer’ types will enjoy a good party game. Aptly named, Secret Hitler is a hidden identity game where Liberals and Fascists fight to enact their policies and ultimately take control of the government. It’s a game for 5-10 players. Each player gets one of three cards: Liberal, Fascist, or Hitler himself. However, only the fascists are known to each other. This means the Liberals and Hitler have no idea who is on which side. Each party has its own agenda – to impost their liberal or fascist policies.
The fun begins when, each round, a new President and Chancellor are elected. The President will begin by discreetly turning over the top 3 cards of the policy pile, made up of Liberal and Fascist cards. They’ll discard one, and hand the remaining two to the Chancellor. The Chancellor will then discard one and reveal the final card. If it’s a Fascist card, is it because the Chancellor chose it? Or did they only have Fascist cards to choose from? Which cards did the President pick up? The Liberals must try to deduce who is lying, who the Fascists are, and identify Hitler before it’s too late!
Gameplay for Secret Hitler varies between 30-60 minutes. It’s ideal for a group that is ready to sit down and decipher their allies from their adversaries. Bad bluffing is a surefire way to get caught, so make sure to practise your poker face. Above all, be ready to defend your less-than-admirable actions if you find yourself on the nefarious side!
If you’re looking for more gift ideas, why not check out some more of our bloggers’ Christmas wishlists? Sarah and Gavin have each drawn up their own Christmas wishlist full of even more brilliant board games and expansions. Alternatively, for the RPG fan in your life, take a look at Tom’s D&D Wishlist Happy shopping!