Well, the holiday season is upon us, and it’s time to start looking for gifts for loved ones (and assorted family members too). Gamers are notoriously hard to shop for because…. reasons. We’ve polled our writers here and we’ve come up with a few lists that might help you find some gifts for that special gamer in your life. With all these lists, we will use Amazon affiliate links (and if you buy things from clicking these links, we might make a commission that help us keep the proverbial lights on here)
This first part to our list will focus to the tried and true games – recent award winners that can be great gifts for all comers – even those who aren’t accomplished gamers.
Recent Spiel des Jahres Winners – these games tend to be chosen for their family appropriateness. They tend to be easy to learn and setup.
2022 Winner – Cascadia
Take A Journey To The Pacific Northwest As You Compete To Create The Most Harmonious Ecosystem In Cascadia! Turns Are Simple – Select A Tile/Token Set And Place Each Into Your Expanding Ecosystem. Earn Points By Fulfilling Wildlife Goals And Creating The Largest Habitat Corridors. With Variable Scoring Goals, Each Game Of Cascadia Brings A New Spatial Puzzle To Your Table!
Our review can be read here
2021 Winner – Micro Macro: Crime City
Welcome to Crime City, a city where crime lurks around every corner. Disastrous secrets, devious robberies and cold-blooded murders are the order of the day here. The local police are no longer able to control the situation. Therefore, the work of clever investigators is required. MicroMacro – Crime City is a cooperative detective game. Together, the players solve 16 tricky criminal cases by determining motives, finding evidence, and convicting the perpetrators. An attentive eye is just as important as a deductive talent to unravel everything riddle on the 75 x 110 cm large game board. A magnifying glass is included in the game to help with finding every detail.
2020 Winner – Pictures
Pictures is a quick-playing family game with very simple rules. Form the image on your secret picture card with one set of components, either a set of shoelaces, color cubes, icon cards, sticks and stones, or building blocks in such a way that the other players guess what image you have pictured: Pull out a marker from the bag that determines your secret picture card, Then form that image with your components in such a way that it is recognizable, And finally, guess what image each other player has pictured. The players get points for correctly guessing other players’ images and for other players guessing their image. The player with the most points wins!
2019 Winner – Just One
Just One is a cooperative party game in which you work together to discover as many mystery words as possible. Find the best clue to help your teammate. Be unique, as all identical clues will be cancelled! One player draws a card without looking at it and chooses a random number from 1 to 5. Other players secretly write a clue on their easels, then compare their easels and cancel any identical clues. Show the remaining easels to the player who draw the card so he can guess the Mystery Word!
2009 Winner – Dominion
You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant Kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams. You want a bigger and more pleasant Kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion. In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by Petty Lords and verging on Anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner. But wait. It must be something in the air, several other monarchs have had the exact same idea. You must race to get as much of the unclaimed land as possible, fending them off along the way. To do this you will hire minions, construct buildings, spruce up your castle, and fill the coffers of your treasury. Your parents wouldn’t be proud, but your grandparents would be delighted.
2004 Winner -Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure game in which players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities through North America! Players collect train cards that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway.
2001 Winner – Carcassone
Develop the landscape of a medieval fortress city one tile at a time. Whether blocking a city’s growth or connecting with your opponent’s road to share the points, Carcassonne provides plenty of ways to use your cunning and outsmart your opponents. Players fill in the countryside around the medieval fortified city, choosing from tiles that depict cities, roads, monasteries, and fields; each new tile creates an ever-expanding board on which players can then add their followers. : Followers can take many different roles (knights, monks, farmers, or thieves) determined by the type of tile on which they’re placed. Each role scores points differently, so you’ll need careful planning to make the best use of your followers. Players score points by having followers on tiles as features are completed. The player who makes the most strategic placements of tiles and followers will score the most points and win the game.
1995 Winner – Catan
An international favorite, CATAN has been called the “Perfect Social Game”. The basics of CATAN can be learned in just minutes, but it offers enough depth to remain compelling as you explore strategies and tactics for years to come. The random mix creates a different board virtually every game. No two games are the same. Use resource combinations – grain, wool, ore, brick and lumber – to buy handy development cards and build roads, settlements and cities. Acquire your resources through trades, cards or lucky dice (even outside your turn).
The awards are not limited to family games – they also recognize kids games – here are a few that you might like as well.
2014 Winner – Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters
In German it’s called Geister, Geister, Schatzsuchmeister! Now available in English, this delightful game is the winner of the coveted 2014 Kinderspiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) award, recognizing it as an exceptional game for families. All players work as a team to escape from the house with all 8 Treasure Jewels before 6 of the rooms become haunted. Moving with skill and strategy through rooms and hallways, you’ll be picking up and dropping off Treasure Jewels. If there’s a ghost in the room, you have to fight it and collaborate with your teammates, and sometimes you’ll have to fight Ghosts and Hauntings even while you’re carrying treasure! Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters is the ultimate co-operative game—win or lose, you’re all in it together!
2017 Winner – Ice Cool
ICECOOL is a fun flicking game that is a great test of dexterity for children, teenagers and adults alike. Set in a penguin school, the 3D board is made up of 5 classrooms, using a unique ‘box in a box’ set up, and players use different flicking techniques to move their naughty penguin around corners and through doorways in the game board to win a fish, while the Hall Monitor tries to stop them.
And, there are also some games targeted at the more complex end of the spectrum, and here are a few that we would recommend:
2021 Winner – Paleo
Return to the stone age in a new cooperative adventure! Paleo is a strategy game for 2–4 players that sends you back to the early days of human history to undertake the ultimate paleolithic quest: completing your mammoth cave painting and cementing your legacy for all time.Each player begins the game with a couple of humans, each of whom have a skill and a number of life points. On your turn, you’ll send them to locations of different types to explore. While you can guess what resources you might find there—food, crafting materials, extra help on your mission—you never know what dangers may await you.At the end of each day, you’ll need enough food and resources to keep your people alive and on track to complete your final masterpiece. Work together to paint your legacy in stone and win the game!
2019 Winner – Wingspan
Wingspan is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game! You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). These habitats focus on several key aspects of growth: Gain food tokens via custom dice in a birdfeeder dice tower, Lay eggs using egg miniatures in a variety of colors, Draw from hundreds of unique bird cards and play them.
2018 Winner – Quacks of Quedlinburg
In The Quacks of Quedlinburg, players are charlatans — or quack doctors — each making their own secret brew by adding ingredients one at a time. Take care with what you add, though, for a pinch too much of this or that will spoil the whole mixture! Each player has their own bag of ingredient chips. During each round, they simultaneously draw chips from their bags and add them to their pots. The higher the face value of the drawn chip, the further it is placed in the pot’s swirling pattern, increasing how much the potion will be worth. Push your luck as far as you can, but if you add too many cherry bombs, your pot will explode!
More coming soon!