Looking for gifts for tabletop gamers? Here are some of my suggestions, based on games I've enjoyed this year… and games I would love to see under my Alcoa aluminum tree this year.
What were some of your favorite games of 2020? Let us know in the comments.
JUDGE DREDD: THE DARK JUDGES ($25.36)
Helter Skelter is a Judge Dredd re-skin of Martin Wallace's wonderful Wildlands game (which I have recommended here before). The Dark Judges is an expansion for Helter Skelter. It adds a new faction (um… the Dark Judges) to play in regular games or you can play solo against the Dark Judges. For 1-4 players.
One of the games we love here at Chez Branwyn is the precursor to Escape the Dark Sector, Escape the Dark Castle. It's a simple dungeon-delving card game that is surprising evocative of a much more detailed boardgame or RPG. Escape the Dark Sector brings the same sort of explore and fight monsters card game to a space station. For 1-4 players.
THOUSAND YEAR OLD VAMPIRE ($45/$15)
This was one of my favorite game experiences of 2020. This is a really captivating solo journaling game that literally haunted my dreams. Here is my full Boing Boing review from earlier in the year. Solo game. A PDF version is available here.
Another 2020 favorite around here was Doc Popular's Knife Tank, "a portable strategy game with kinetic gameplay, imaginative art, and tanks with knives." Here is my full review. For 2-4 players.
Here's a game I know nothing about, but it comes highly recommended by Boing Boing buddy, John Edgar Park. "Pitchstorm is a party game that puts you in the position of an unprepared writer pitching movies to the world's worst executives. Writers have to pitch their movie idea, and figure out a way to incorporate the random notes thrown at them by the executives on the spot." For 3-12 players.
To get players up to speed on Cyberpunk Red, the latest edition of Mike Pondsmith's Cyberpunk RPG, R. Talsorian Games has released a lovely boxed starter set called Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit. The game comes with two booklets, one containing world lore and starter adventures, the other, basic rules, six pre-generated character sheets, six cyberpunk-styled dice (2 d10s, 4 d6s), maps, and cardboard character standees. It's a great way to get your feet wet in the Cyberpunk RPG universe. The full Cyberpunk Red Core Rulebook is available for sale on the R. Talsorian website. Not sure if it's actually shipping yet or not. (FWIW: The Cyberpunk 2077 videogame is set in the same universe as these tabletop RPGs.)
This 5e D&D rules expansion book has… well, a little of everything. It includes expanded subclasses, character options for modifying racial stereotypes… er, I mean traits, rules for group patrons, more spells, artifacts, and magic tattoos (because MAGIC TATTOOS!), rules for sidekicks, and supernatural environments. And something I think is very fun and useful: a collection of puzzles (with traps) that you can drop into an adventure. The book has gotten some initial bad response for feeling slap dash (e.g. The customized races/origins section is a single page) and Wizards is getting heat for what appears to be a lot of poorly-bound copies. Might be time for them to look for a new printer.
FROSTGRAVE 2ND EDITION ($23)
One of my favorite fantasy skirmish games remains Frostgrave. Quick and relatively inexpensive to get into, fun to play, and with as much campaign depth as you want. This year saw the release of the 2nd edition of the game. The new edition doesn't change many of the rules, just tidies and tightens things up, adds material from the expansions (e.g. expanded spell list, new scenarios) and there is all new artwork and miniatures photos. If you're already a FGV fan, check out The Red King, the first major campaign supplement for FGV 2e. For 2 – 8 players.
FROSTGRAVE DEMONS ($30)
North Star miniatures has been releasing a spectacular line of multi-part plastic minis in support of Frostgrave. Their latest is a demon box to coincide with The Red King campaign. These versatile minis can be used not only in Frostgrave but they're great to use in miniatures you're making for any mini-agnostic fantasy skirmish or full tabletop battle games. (I've even used bits from the Frostgrave minis in my Gaslands cars!)
This gorgeous art book collects all of the art that Dmitry and Kate Burmak did for Frostgrave 1e. Lots of informative commentary from the Burmaks and FGV designer, Joe McCullough. A great gift for any fan of sword and sorcery fantasy art. Read my full review.
VILLAGE GREEN ($21)
My partner and I love playing this small-box set-matching card game from Peer Sylvester. You play the garden societies of two different villages competing for first-place village green. The artwork is lovely, the game is easy to learn, and there are many puzzles to solve in trying to get awarded the most ribbon awards at the end. For 1-5 players.
This solo game comes highly recommended by my pal, and game designer, Doc Pop (he of the Knife Tank). You can read a review by Doc here. I hope to get a copy and review it here in the future. Definitely love the look. It comes in a mint tin!
For more great gift ideas for gamers, check out my 2019 gift guide.
Image: Cover art inset, Tasha's Cauldron of Everything