Its the final part of our Gamer’s Gift Guide and this time we’re throwing caution and expense aside and pointing out some budget straining super special goodies we think are worth your time and money. If you missed the previous instalments then here they are:
PART 1 , PART 2, PART 3 and PART 4
Oh boy! So first of all in these post Brexit Trumptastic times of stock markets ping ponging about like a gerbil on Satan’s trampoline it’s hard to says what’s excessive now. The price of our hobby isn’t getting any cheaper with a lot of big box games creeping ever closer to requiring a second mortgage. Now I could have just easily thrown on here the likes of Kingdom Death Monster that will easily set you back a cool $500+ its a opulent and excessive huge box of plastic and stunningly produced if a tad dubious being chock’full of boobs, bottoms and dangly bits but I’ve not played it.
The other problem is I didn’t want this to be a just list of mini’s games, let’s be honest fistfuls of miniatures go arm in arm with the big bucks had I had a chance to play Mech’s Vs Minions I suspect that would be sat on here looking as it does a huge amount of bang for your buck. Alright let’s get on with it.
Imperial Assault – Fantasy Flight Games
This is Star Wars in a box plain and simple. Set during the good bit of Star Wars the current cycle of games is just wrapping up its run on the Return of the Jedi period from where it goes from there we don’t know but I suspect with the new trilogy underway and Rogue One hitting in a few scant weeks (so excited) then I think we can safely assume there is more content coming. This is primarily a dungeon crawler (although it also has rules for a miniatures skirmish game) with one player taking the role of the evil Intergalactic Empire and the players a rag tag group of rebels attempting much derring do. The base box comes with a expansive campaign but chuck in the five currently available expansions for a galaxy spanning array of options. If you love Star Wars then you need this in your life, fair warning this is a cash sink not only is there the expansions but also bucket loads of miniatures that can be picked up to bolster your armies and fill out your cast of characters for adventures in a galaxy far far away.
Chris Says – Ninja’d by Mike! IA was on my list too. This is really the quintessential Star Wars storytelling game. If FFG ever comes out with a campaign book that mixes Armada, X-Wing and Imperial Assault then maybe that will take the crown, but for now you can’t really live in the Star Wars Universe better than through this game. There is so much content out there for this game now that you can play it for months without repeating games. Also, Mike glosses over it a bit, but there is a two player tactical miniatures game in the box too with a very vibrant tournament scene which is definitely worth checking out!
Seafall – Plaid Hat Games
In comparison to the other games on this list Seafall is relatively inexpensive, but as it’s a legacy title you’re basically buying something that you’ll eventually throw away. Now it has so far had a muted reception with many bemoaning it as not very good from what I’ve so far experienced the scope of its intent is head spinning and I’m personally loving what it’s doing. Having only recently started our campaign we’re just a fraction of the way in and already just for the sheer amount of choices this throws at you is fascinating, mashing up a euro with a “choose your own adventure” book and a dozen other game ideas it’s a chocolate box fit to bursting with mysteries and possibilities.This is a gift that should be savoured well into next year as a treat to leisurely explore for a one of a kind experience.
Chris Says – As Mike said, this one has not had great reviews. The other Legacy games, Risk & Pandemic were established properties, you knew what you were getting from the start, Seafall however is designed from the ground up. I’m not really willing to part with this much cash on an unknown which has not been that well received. Hopefully when Mr B posts his reviews he’ll manage to change my mind.
Blood Bowl/Space Hulk – Games Workshop
OK, OK yes I said I was going to not put lots of miniatures games on here and technically i’m cheating with two choices, but well pfft! Look GW were for many years my most beloved pastime their big box games were great and they did and still do produce some of the best miniatures out there. And then they went and turned into a bunch of corporate dick hats and everyone hated them, then they split from FFG and everyone hated them. But, I think they actually get it now, they’re returning back to the roots that made my teenage years the best ever (well beside from that old copy of Razzle I had stashed under my mattress) with the news that they are not only releasing Blood Bowl this Christmas but also Space Hulk!! Just amazing if either of these are under my tree this holiday season will make Mike a very happy boy. In all seriousness it looks like GW, much like Scrooge in the Muppet Christmas Carol, are finally trying to make amends for the nerd abuse they’ve inflicted on us the last decade. GW it’s great to have you back with us. God bless us everyone.*
*So following the creation of this list good old GW strike again. The original expected not in anyway limited 2016 version of Space Hulk is actually limited and has sold out!! I had this confirmed after sticking my head into the inner GW sanctums this week. Blood Bowl is still available and will continue to be, although according to the staff of my local store its going to online only in the new year. So we’re still dancing that strange GW dance. The Others looks good?
Chris Says – Over Hyped, Over Priced and Underwhelming! I’m not a fan of Blood Bowl, I wanted to be, I desperately wanted to be. I’ve owned a couple of editions, as well as a couple of the PC editions and I just don’t get the “fun”. I also disagree with the way the game is being sold. It’s being sold as a boxed game, but every review I’ve seen so far suggests that you need more teams or more star players to really make the game fun. So, it’s a £65 starter set then? And if you want to play any of the new teams that are coming out you need an additional rulebook that is being released alongside the game, other than to make more money I can’t see any reason “Season 1” was not included in the box.
P.s. I may be a little mad that GW split from FFG and killed the vastly superior (and cheaper) Blood Bowl Team Manager… maybe! *Steps off the soapbox*
So, you’re looking to blow some cash? Well, have you perhaps met Fantasy Flight Games? FFG is basically the schoolyard bully that used to pick you up and shake you until all the change fell out of your pockets. Of course in that scenario you just left the encounter with a punch to the gut, here you get lots of shiny cardboard goodness.
So all my picks follow the same train of thought, all of these games are good games, but when you add in every expansion they are amazing games!
Lord of the Rings The Card Game
I love the LCG format and I love Lord of the Rings and I love Co-ops so this was an insta-buy for me. And do you know what, I didn’t love it, so I bought some expansions and still I found the game a little ho-hum. Now, I’m £630 into this hole and there really is no way out!
LOTR LCG offers a unique experience that I have yet to find elsewhere. Many trading card games have uber decks which can beat almost anything, Lord of the Rings though offers scenario driven play and each scenario challenges you in different ways and forces you to build different decks. In this way LOTR LCG is actually a deck building game where you construct your deck and then test it against the scenario, lose, rebuild, lose, rebuild, lose…
I sound like I’m bashing on the game but I actually do really enjoy it, the variety of quests coupled with the vastly different play styles between decks makes for a very interesting and deep experience. Yes, the difficulty is high and the game likes to deliver blow after gut wrenching blow but when you finally beat it, the euphoric high is pretty great!
Mike says – Charlie from the podcast is another huge fan of this game, I own the base set and have played it a couple of times. It is very good and I can totally see the fun that this can offer, I think the reason I haven’t allowed it to completely absorb my soul is I don’t really have all that much free time to sink into something like this and I’m terrified or more importantly my wallet is of falling down this particular rabbit hole. But that new Arkham LCG oh lordy me I can feel that naughty box drawing me ever nearer and my resistance is weakening.
For the same reason that Lord of the Rings makes this list, X-Wing is on here because of the sheer amount of content available for the game. Out of the box X-Wing is okay but it’s a starter set at best, two TIE Fighters and one X-Wing isn’t going to keep anyone playing this game for long. At the very least you’re going to buy another X-Wing and a TIE, probably another starter for the best savings available. Of course, Star Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars without the Millenium Falcon and should you get the original version or the new Force Awaken set that comes with Poe’s X-Wing?
These fundamental questions will continue to plague you until one morning you wake and realise you own several hundred pounds worth of prepainted plastic ships but that your house is being repossessed.
So, for those who don’t know, X-Wing is a fast paced tactical miniatures game of dogfighting starships set in the Star Wars universe. Players take command of one of five factions and fight each other over an asteroid strewn battlefield. The game ships with some scenarios and more come with the larger expansion packs, including fully fledged campaigns in the huge ship expansions like the Corvette or the Raider, however you can also play the game as a straight dogfight til only one man is left standing.
Mike Says – You see just like the LOTR LCG X-Wing is something that I briefly dabbled with by picking up the base set and a couple of ships. The models are gorgeous and the game itself is really, really fun. And then I took a breath and knew that I just couldn’t justify diving headlong into owning this stuff it would break me. I instead opted for Rebellion which is the original trilogy compacted into a board game which really really came close to being on this list and I heartily recommend (I snuck another game stealthily in here snigger).
Yes, I know Mike already stole this for his gamers game but this is a different list and he’s already pinched my choice of Imperial Assault for this list! Eldritch Horror is a game set in the Lovecraft universe, many characters from the Arkham Files setting make a reappearance in this one and this time they are on the global stage.
Each turn consists of two actions and an encounter. Each action is simple, move, buy, do something written on a card etc. there is nothing that will flumox even a casual gamer. However the consequences of your simple actions are broad and far reaching. You can fall into debt and end up getting your legs broken, you can take a dark pact with an evil entity to save your own skin only to end up sacrificing one of your friends when the debt comes due. You can go insane, find wondrous treasures and even become blessed or cursed by ancient deities. You will travel the world from Sydney to San Francisco, use inter-dimensional gates to explore parallel realities and defend the innocent from rampaging monsters.
Eldritch Horror benefits vastly from its expansions. Each of the small boxes adds to every deck, bringing in new items, new adventures and new investigators and ancient ones. While each of the big box expansions adds a new side board along with additional content for each of the decks. All of this adds to the story and the immersion.
Two caveats, it’s long and it’s brutally hard! Personally I like it so much that it’s worth the investment of the time and the money, it’s my number one storytelling game.
Mike Says – What he said. It really is just a totally absorbing and great way to sit around the table with your friends spin some great monstrously horrid yarns and all die and have a jolly good chuckle about it. There hasn’t been an expansion for about 6 months so jump on quick before it becomes even more expensive to collect this one, because it’s something that you can’t just have a bit off, you need it all.
About the Authors
Chris Bowler is the lead author at Unboxed The Board Game Blog and The Duke of the Blood Keep. He also runs the UK Gaming Media Network and in his spare time he likes to… yeah… like he gets spare time!
Gaming since birth Chris enjoys a vast collection of Board, Card, Miniature and Role-Playing games, with eclectic taste in both Style and Theme.
Mike B is the founder of Who Dares Rolls, Host of the sporadic Who Dares Rolls Podcast that nobody listens too and occasionally produces videos on the WDR You Tube channel that nobody watches.
Mike displays almost no taste or appreciation of the finer points of game design despite this potentially debilitating personality defect he continues to critique board games.