If you’ve got a board game fan on your holiday shopping list, picking out the right game for them can be an opaque and mystifying challenge. What games do they want? What games do they already have? What’s the hot, popular game that’s going to sell out?
That last part is tricky, too. Often board games are printed in limited quantities for a variety of reasons, and we don’t know that there isn’t enough to go around until it's too late. So let Level One Game Shop help you get a jump on other board game fans! Here’s a list of some games that we expect to be super popular this holiday season.
Azul: Summer Pavilion
The original Azul was a hit this past spring as an abstract light strategy game, with easy rules, a short playtime, and a surprising amount of strategy. We also saw a sequel called Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, that improved on the Azul formula. However, the latest version, Azul: Summer Pavilion, looks to be the best version of Azul yet. Players pick tiles the same way as previous Azul games, but the scoring boards are simultaneously easier and more complex, adding another layer of strategy to the game. Azul: Summer Pavilion would be a great gift even if fans have their own copies of the previous games - the gift would be their opportunity to own the best Azul without the anxiety of duplicating a purchase.
Find out more about Azul: Summer Pavilion at Board Game Geek.
This year’s Dune, published by Gale Force Nine, is actually an updated version of one of the very first American thematic board games. The first version of Dune was published in 1979 and found a dedicated cult following. The 2019 version of Dune recaptures all the strategy, diplomacy, scheming, and backstabbing of the original Dune, but with a streamlined ruleset and updated graphics. Dune can be an intense experience, with asymmetry and imbalance as critical parts of the player interaction. However, it’s a unique experience and it’s renewed availability has generated a lot of buzz in the hobby.
Find out more about Dune at Board Game Geek.
While Paranormal Detectives isn’t a low-print-run game that we’re expecting to run out of soon, it’s a new and hot party game for the holidays. Hobby fans will already be familiar with the classic Mysterium, and Paranormal Detectives adds some party game flair to that formula that really makes the game amazing. If you’re looking for a gift for a board game fan that seemingly has everything, Paranormal Detectives may be the one outlier that they’ve missed. Groups and families that aren’t dedicated fans will still find a lot to enjoy in this game as well!
Find out more about Paranormal Detectives at Board Game Geek.
A game that celebrates the natural beauty of America’s wilderness, Parks features art from the 59 Parks art series and some serene, relaxing gameplay. Players hike trails, take pictures for victory points, and collect resources to set up their next hike. The challenge comes from sharing the trails with other players - once a space has been occupied, it’s blocked off to other players, and players have to keep moving forward. With a unique outdoors-y theme, wonderful art, and accessible tried-and-true gameplay, Parks is the gift to give board game fans, hikers, and people who do both!
Find out more about Parks at Board Game Geek.
Tapestry comes from Stonemaier games, a publisher who is famous for both producing fantastic strategy games, and infamous not making enough of them. Tapestry is the followup to the rare and elusive Wingspan, and seeks to capture the epic story of an empire-building game in two hours or less. Fans of heavy strategy games love the engine-building mechanics used to describe the rise of each player’s civilization, from exploration to technology to culture and, of course, military. Tapestry also released close enough to holiday gift-giving season that the time to shower your favorite board game fan with heavy cardboard is here!
Find out more about Tapestry at Board Game Geek.
Lastly, we’ll round out this list with another re-release of another classic game. Every board gamer knows Settlers of Catan, of course, and many people outside the hobby have heard of it as well. Catan’s designer, Klaus Teuber, designed an updated science fiction version of his classic game called Starfarers of Catan in 1999 that proved very popular in the nascent hobby scene. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a reason to make very many copies 1999, so the game fell out of print while its big brother Catan got all the attention. This year, just in time for the holidays, a bigger, better, and more streamlined version of Starfarers of Catan came out, called Catan Starfarers. Catan Starfarers captures all the starship-building, space-exploring, resource-trading fun of Starfarers of Catan, but in a nicer, larger, more fun package. It’s another updated and refreshed blast-from-the-past that will put a smile on any board game fan’s face.
Find out more about Catan: Starfarers at Board Game Geek.