Andrew: Ah, the holidays! We here at Gameosity absolutely love this time of year, when not only do we get presents, but also give them! That means that we get to share the hobby we love with both folks who are already adherents to the Cult of Cardboard as well as friends and loved ones who may not yet know the fun that can be had with a tabletop game.
The last few reviews we did are for slightly bigger, meatier games which we think would make great gifts for your gamer friends, but in this several-segment special, we will rattle off a list of some of our favorite small-box games, none of which are large investments of capital, but all of which are perfect for that special gamer in your life!
We’re doing our best to only suggest games which are in print and readily available (just in case you’re the type to shop last minute…). We’ll be providing links all along the way, so if you see something which catches your eye, we should have you covered!
Now let’s see what this first batch of games brings!
The great thing about ‘stocking stuffer’ games as gifts is that, for about the same cost as a big-box game, you can get two or even three smaller games to cater to a much wider range of tastes. Don’t let the small boxes and modest price tags fool you – all of these are absolutely great games!
Bang!: The Dice Game
Players: 3-8 (better with more)
Features: Bluffing, Bluffing, Dice Rolling, Hidden Roles, Variable Player Powers
Estimated Price: Under $15 on Amazon: Bang!: The Dice Game
Perfect For: Big groups, Western fans, folks who enjoy shooting each other and/or being offended over getting shot
Bang! by dV Giochi is a fun party game where all the players are trying to win in a spaghetti-western-style shootout. Bang!: The Dice Game takes the card-driven gameplay of the original, adds beautiful dice as well as variable player powers, and speeds up the game considerably while still retaining all the chaos and fun. Bang!: The Dice Game perfectly distills the best parts of Bang! and is fantastic for large groups, scaling well from 3-8 players and definitely being the most fun when full. Featuring fast turns, lots of interesting characters, a very reasonable price, and a whole lot of ‘Why’d you shoot me?’ hilarity, Bang!: The Dice Game is not only our favorite version of Bang!, but also a great gift for any group of gamers who aren’t afraid to take shots at each other!
The Builders: Middle Ages
Features: Worker Placement
Estimated Price: Under $15 on Amazon: The Builders Middle Ages
Perfect For: Fans of Worker Placement, Gaming on the go, Builders
We already mentioned this little gem from Asmodee in our ‘Games to Go‘ feature, but it’s still a great game, still a small box, and still a fantastic price! A neat riff on worker placement, The Builders will entertain the heck out of 2-4 players who are interested in indirect competition and resource management!
Players: 2-6 (scales well at any size)
Features: Bluffing, Hidden Roles
Estimated Price: About $12 on Amazon: Coup Card Game (The Resistance Universe)
Also on Amazon, the first expansion for under $12: Coup Reformation Board Game
Perfect For: Conspirators, Groups which enjoy a little (lot of) ‘take that’ in their gameplay, The naturally suspicious
This one’s all about the lies. Coup, from Indie Boards & Cards, is a tight game of bluffing and deduction, set in the Resistance universe (named for their great hidden-traitor party game). Each player will take 2 role cards, and each role grants the controlling player certain powers as they attempt to gain enough influence to knock out their rivals. But the kicker comes with this – all players hold their roles face-down and are not actually required to reveal them when invoking their power. That means that, as long as no one challenges my claim, I can call on the powers of any role in the game. However, once a challenge is issued a card must be revealed, with either the challenger or the challenged losing influence depending on whether a bluff was actually called. Some groups may have just a little bit of a learning curve, but once everyone has the hang of all the roles and all the powers, Coup is a devious, often hilariously cutthroat game, perfect for warming up before bigger games.
Features: Dice Rolling, Push Your Luck, Dungeon Crawl
Estimated Price: Around $14 on Coolstuffinc
Perfect For: Anyone who can appreciate a quick fix of fantasy gameplay, People who like really nice custom dice
Around here, there are a few phrases which pique our interest immediately, and “dice-driven fast-play competitive dungeon crawl” is so packed with them that it makes our little gamer hearts flutter even as we reach for our +3 Vorpal longswords. Dungeon Roll, by the incomparable Tasty Minstrel Games, is just that; 1-4 players will take turns leading groups of randomly-rolled adventurers into the dungeon, where they will face whatever terrors the dice dictate, from goblins to oozes to the almighty dragon, all in the name of treasure and glory! After each delve, players (who survive) are awarded experience points (gaining new, unique powers once they accrue enough), and after three delves each, points are tallied and a winner is declared! With absolutely top-quality components and tons of unique Heroes to choose from (especially once you add the first expansion pack), Dungeon Roll is a truly great little game which will fit nicely on any gamer’s shelf!
Players: 1 (and only 1)
Features: Deck Building, Solo Play
Estimated Price: Around $14 on Amazon: Friday board game
Perfect For: Solo players, Gamers who like a challenge
It’s not just our favorite day of the work week! Friday, by Friedmann Friese, is a unique option on our list, because it is a solitaire-only game. However, that doesn’t detract from it being one of our favorites. Playing as the titular Friday, helping an otherwise-useless Robinson Crusoe survive on a deserted island, this tough-as-nails deck-builder for 1 is a satisfying, challenging play, providing an engaging experience for when there aren’t other folks with which to share the table. Definitely worth checking out for gamers with or without regular gaming groups!