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Secret Santa Gifts For Gamers (And Non-Gamers)

Rory's Story Cubes - Review

Rory's Story Cubes

We've all been there. You just got Michelle from accounting in the office Secret Santa and you know absolutely nothing about her. Or maybe all you know is she likes games. Well, let me be your guide to some secret Santa budget board game bargains this festive period. Here are my top Secret Santa gifts for gamers and non-gamers alike. We've got options for different budgets too! (Prices correct as of 28th November 2022

£10-15 Budget


If in doubt, go for Dobble. This is a straightforward, quick, pocket-sized symbol matching game. Players start with an equal number of cards. The first person to play all their cards into the pile by matching a symbol from the previously played card wins. It works perfectly as a family game with the kids or down the pub with your mates. Even the most hardened board gamer will enjoy playing Dobble.

Citadels Classic Edition

One of the more underrated games of the last decade. Citadels, from renowned designer Bruno Faidutti, recently got a big box upgrade and price hike. But for the budget-conscious shopper, the classic version is the same game in a smaller box. It is a card-drafting game of city building, backstabbing, and deduction and plays just as well from two though to eight players. Each round, players draft a new character card, each with their own special ability. It could be to make money, build buildings, or even assassinate other characters. The player with the most points generated from their city at the end of the game wins.

Rory's Story Cubes

Rory's Story Cubes are more of an activity than a game. This would be an excellent choice for people with children or those who are more into creative activities than competitive games.

A player simply rolls nine dice, all of which have different symbols and images on their faces. They then attempt to tell a story using all the symbols. Simple as that! A great pocket-sized filler sat around a campfire, waiting for a flight, or anywhere you have a bit of time, a small flat surface, and some creativity to use up.


£15-20 Budget


If you have a rough £15 to spend (plus postage I suppose) then get Kingdomino. That's it, case closed, off you go. Right now, if you ask board gamers which game got them into the hobby, most will say Catan or Ticket to Ride. Give it a couple of years and I'm willing to bet people will be saying Kingdomino got them into the hobby.

This hugely popular tile-laying, set matching, area building, award winner has a place in any gamer's collection. It's one of the best Secret Santa gifts I could recommend.


There is a glut of team word games on the market right now, but Decrypto is one of the best. It's so good that it has been ranked the number one party game on

Each team starts with a screen displaying four numbered secret words. One player on each team takes a code card with three numbers on it. That player must get the rest of their team to guess those numbers by giving them three one-word clues that correspond to three of the four words given on the team's screen.

The opposing team doesn't get to see any of the words on the screen. However, they do record the numbers and clue words given. The opposing team can then start trying to decrypt the code before the active team does and win a point. The skill in this game is giving clues that allow your teammates will guess correctly while throwing in enough ambiguity and red-herrings to keep your opponents from catching on.

Decrypto Board Game - Box Contents

£25 Budget

Werewords Deluxe

Just because you're on a budget it doesn't mean you can't have a deluxe game. Werewords is a personal favourite of mine. The game comes with a companion app that talks you through the preparation of each round and it can even accommodate up to 20 players.

Each player gets a secret role card and will either be on the werewolf team or the villager team. The player who has the Mayor cards will reveal themselves and secretly choose a magic word for the round. The villager team will be trying to guess the word while the werewolves are trying to stop them.

Villagers get to ask yes/no/maybe questions to figure out what the word is. The werewolf characters already know the magic word and will be trying to throw the villagers off the scent. If the villagers correctly guess the word within four minutes, the Werewolves have one last opportunity to win by guessing the "Seer". The seer player knew the magic word and was trying to point the villagers in the correct direction. Werewords is an addictive game of deduction and subtlety that I heartily recommend. The deluxe version also brings you more characters and more special abilities.

Magic Maze

This real-time, cooperative race game is fantastic value for money right now. Players take on the roles of fantasy-themed characters breaking into a shopping centre, stealing the items they need to go on their next fantastical quest and then getting out again. But... There's a time limit, so you'd better move all those character pawns through the maze of a mall quickly.

Oh yeah, and the board is modular and you won't know what is on each tile until it gets laid down during play.

By the way, you don't control a character. Instead, you just control a direction. So maybe you are in charge of moving players left, or backwards, or up and down escalators, or placing the new tiles. So pay attention to who needs to go where.

One more thing, you must play the game in silence! No talking or communicating with the other players in any way. All you have is a big wooden "Do something!" pawn which you can slam down in from of someone you need to take a turn. As the game gets harder but you get better, you will find yourselves flipping between a well-oiled machine and a chaotic mess. Magic Maze is great fun and a brilliant Secret Santa gift!

Magic Maze Board Game Contents

Editors note: This blog was originally published on December 15th, 2020. Updated on November 24th, 2022 to improve the information available. Please note, prices may vary dependant on current sale lines.