One of my favorite hobbies is playing and collecting tabletop games. Some of my best memories with friends were made around table with bits of paper, cardboard, and dice. People who discover my obsession with games often ask me what my favorite game is. Eventually, I decided to sit down and write a list to share it with anyone who cared to read. That list was a failure, however, because my ranking of favorites is always changing. So instead, here’s this list: my top 10 board games to give as a gift. Just in time for Christmas too!
I wanted to cover a variety of game types, difficulty levels, and themes in this list so anyone who reads can find a gift for anyone in their life. I’ve played all of these games and own all but one myself. I hope those reading this will soon be on their way to making memories around a table themselves. That being said, buying a game for a close friend is one of the best pieces of advice I can give. You’re buying the game for yourself, after all! Unless of course your friend doesn’t invite you over to play it… in which case, get ‘em a pair of socks next year. Cheers!
10. Ticket To Ride
Since it’s release, Ticket to Ride has become one of the most well-loved boardgames on many people’s shelves, and it easy to see why. With elegantly simple gameplay and an element of secrecy, this route-building train game is a hit with families and friends both young and old. This is the first game on my list because I truly believe anyone can get something out of this game. And if your friend or family member have no experience with board games, Ticket to Ride is a great way to introduce them to the hobby!
Easily the most beautiful game on this list, Tokaido is one of my personal favorites to play. At first glance, this game is peaceful adventure with friends set in a world of wonderful Japanese-style illustration. But after a few games you’ll begin to realize how brutally strategic this game can become while still remaining a beautiful and immersive journey.
Jaipur is the answer for anyone looking for an amazing two-player card game. Fun to play, and even more fun to master, I’ve spent hours playing back-to back matches of Jaipur with friends and family. Each game is quick and it’s not hard to teach people how to play. If you’re looking for a great two-player experience that can be both casual or competitive, I highly recommend Jaipur.
07. Spirit Island
I almost didn’t put this game on this list because 99% of the time it probably wouldn’t make a good gift. But I wanted to feature at least one heavy game; and boy is it heavy. Spirit Island is the hardest cooperative game I have ever played. This game would be a great gift for hyper-strategic players who love spending an hour setting up a game and many more playing it afterwards. Spirit Island plays up to 4 players, but I also highly recommend it as a two-player game for those who want a cooperative challenge to tackle together.
I tend to dislike most dice games, but Qwixx is unavoidably good. Games are quick, scoring is simple but innovative. It’s a wonderful game that you can pick up any time and play a few rounds. Basically what I’m saying is you’ll never want to play Yahtzee again. (And that’s very good news. Sorry, Yahtzee fans.)
Maybe it’s because I just watched every Pirates of the Caribbean movie this week, but I just knew I had to include Jamaica in this list of games. Captain a pirate ship and race around the island of Jamaica as you steal rum, gold, and gunpowder from your friends. You’re right, that does sound amazing.
The ultimate party game. Seriously, if you’re having a get-together of any sort, Spyfall is like the Cane’s sauce that makes any party amazingly fun. It’s a social deduction game, similar to Mafia or Werewolf, but it’s played by skillfully using ambiguity and subtlety to communicate with others. What’s unique about Spyfall is that it succeeds where other games fail. This is a game you can play with your closest friends or complete strangers and it works every time.
Splendor is a great strategic game where you collect gems, trade them in for cards, and gain points. It’s a race to too see which player can reach the target score first. Splendor is loved by many because it can become surprisingly skillful for how simple the mechanics are. All you have to do is choose which colored tokens you want each turn… but it can quickly become a battle of wits that you’ll return to time and time again.
I played Dixit for the first time almost 10 years ago and my fascination hasn’t ended. This game is a great casual family game that is perfect for abstract thinkers. I would venture to say this game is worth buying for the artwork alone! If you already have this game or have played it before, you can also check out Mysterium, which is essentially a co-operative/role-playing version of Dixit featuring the same abstract artwork from the same illustrator! Both games are a joy to play!
01. Sushi Go Party!
Sushi Go Party is at the top of my list because you can teach it to anyone, no matter their age or gaming experience. But I suppose the same could be said about Sorry! or Uno, so I should probably say more. Whenever Sushi Go is pulled out, it’s a success; whether it’s someone’s first card game ever, or their hundredth round of collecting cute-looking sushi cards. My copy has hit the table more than any other game I own, and I expect that trend to remain for years. Sushi Go Party is a fantastic game for all ages and one of my all-time favorite card games.