Got a gamer in your life who needs some sweet board games? Buying for “grown ups” who never want to grow up? Not sure what to get your teenager? Want to get started in board gaming and have no clue where to start? I’ve got you covered. From backstabbing games I love to inexpensive games that make great stocking stuffers, I can totally help. And if you want more suggestions…feel free to ask questions or tell me about your gift recipient. I’m sure I can help you find the right game for him or her!
As a disclaimer, I’m also here to inform you that any purchases made from my links may earn me a small commission at no cost to you. That commission helps me continue this writing journey with a fully stocked cheese drawer. So thank you for sticking around. Brian says “thank you” too.
Tabletop games I just adore
I love playing games, you guys. These are some of the ones I’ve been playing a lot of.
Cash ‘N Guns (Asmodee — $27)
This game is stupid amounts of fun you guys. We like to play with accents to fit the characters. You’re all mobsters, but you want to get as much money for yourself as possible, so you’re trying to kill off the other guys. Lots of bluffing, big wins, and FOAM GUNS. Need I say more?
Above and Below (Red Raven Games — $35)
This is one of my new favorite games. I received it as a Redditgifts gift last year, and it has seriously been such an awesome game to play. It’s got a lot of little details, but the best of them is that it’s a storytelling/choose your own adventure game! You’re building a little village both above and below the surface, but to go below, you need to experience an encounter, based on the roll of your dice. The encounters are found in a story book and each one can reward or punish you based on your answers and how successful you are at the task (rolling dice). It is truly so much fun to play, I would recommend this to anyone and everyone who loves storytelling!
Oregon Trail: Journey to Willamette Valley (Pressman Toy — $40)
We went into this game unsure whether it would be more of a classic board game or a more intense strategy game, and we were super stoked to find a really fantastic strategy game that was enjoyable and had a lot of replayability. Additionally, the added theming of a classic from my childhood gave me that nostalgia my generation craves without riding solely on the nostalgia wave. Brian, who wasn’t an Oregon Trail kid—and also is a very serious gamer) really enjoyed it and has confirmed that he will happily play it again, because he has some strategy ideas he wants to try out.
Mice and Mystics (Plaid Hat Games — $60)
This game is near and dear to my heart. Brian and I play it together when it’s just the two of us. It’s our date game. The entire game is a connected campaign with a fantastic storytelling element that weaves through the plot. There are a number of “chapters” which can be played as standalone games. We have made it all the way through the initial game and moved on to the first of several expansions. It plays up to four players, but can be played with fewer people managing all of the characters in the story. It’s detailed but not super difficult to learn. Some of the chapters are harder than others, so you’ll have to replay them if you want to beat them before moving on. We love it.
Tabletop games under $20
Gaming on a tight budget.
Fluxx (Looney Labs —$12)
I really like this free-for-all card game. The base rules are simple: draw one, play one. But that escalates quickly. The cards you draw and play can change the rules, the win conditions, and more. It’s a super fast game and comes in dozens of themes, including licensed versions of Doctor Who, Firefly, Star Trek TNG, and Batman.
Trash Panda™ (Gamewright Games — $13)
I really like Gamewright Games. The card games we own (Loot™, Frog Juice™, Alien Hot Shots™) have simple mechanics with fun themes that make them entertaining to play whether we’re looking for something between longer games/waiting for the people to arrive or playing with kids. Trash Panda is one of their newest card games, and we actually played this with a friend who was also playing another game at the same table (so you can see how your focus can be divided while still enjoying the game!). The theming is SUPER cute and I would definitely play this again.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (Pressman Toy — $15)
I really enjoy this game, and everyone else really enjoyed my rendition of the theme song, as performed by Rockapella (maybe). The dynamic is similar to Clue, in which you need to use logic to eliminate possibilities and determine where you’ll find Carmen. I love Clue, and I was a huge Carmen Sandiego fan (books, TV, song…yes please), so this nostalgic, but timeless, game was a no-brainer for me.
Okey Dokey (Tasty Minstrel — $15)
I really enjoy playing this game with other people and by myself. By myself, it’s essentially like playing solitaire, but with other people, there’s a whole new dynamic that makes it really interesting. You can’t tell each other what cards you have so you have to communicate who is playing which cards when with a little more strategy. It’s a great game for building trust and communication and for people who like cooperative challenges.
Forbidden Island (Gamewright Games — $18)
This is a super fun cooperative game, and probably the easiest of the Forbidden games. It was one of the first cooperative games that we owned, and it plays really nicely between two to four players. You have to work fast to collect four treasures before the island floods. There are several ways to lose and only one way to win, so it can be tricky for new players.
Tabletop games for Harry Potter fans
Harry Potter™ Magical Beasts (Pressman Toy — $17)
This game is perfect for classic board game (Clue, Monopoly, Life) lovers who are also huge fans of Harry Potter. Kids especially will really enjoy the play and theming, and the mechanics are simple enough that you can learn it quickly and play it right away! The design is beautiful and the components are very well made. My favorite part is the switching game board, which flips from inside to outside in a neat way. I also really appreciate that the four players are Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny (instead of Neville, which happens in a lot of games). Because I would TOTALLY play Ginny Weasley.
Codenames Harry Potter™ (USAopoly $25)
I demoed this at GenCon this summer and it was really fun. If you’ve played original Codenames, this one is a little bit different, as it’s cooperative, like Codenames Duets. You have to work together to find all the right clues before time runs out. Both people or teams (this can be played with two players or with full teams) have a marked board with their own answer code, and you need to have all of them completed together. It’s fast-paced and fun without being competitive.
Munchkin Deluxe: Harry Potter™ Edition (USAopoly — $35)
I haven’t played this, but OMG. Munchkin meets Harry Potter and there is no way this could go wrong. Munchkin is a dedicated deck card game infused with so much humor and cleverness. We currently have five different versions of Munchkin and various expansion packs for them, as well. It’s fun to play with two players, but it’s so much better with a group of 4-5. Dear Brian. Pretty please with chocolate frogs and butterbeer on top?
Harry Potter Clue (USAopoly — $40)
I played this with some friends and their children, and it was lots of fun. The board game moves (just like the moving staircases) on spinners so things can be rearranges and swapped to make it trickier (or easier!). Otherwise, it plays just like regular Clue.
Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ Battle (USAopoly — $50)
This is one of my all-time favorite board games. It’s a cooperative deck-building game for up to four players, and, just like the books and movies, the game is designed to grow with the players. In the base game, there are seven varying degrees of difficulty, each year adding new components, rules, and villains. It’s really fun to play through and has a lot of replayability. At this point in time, I do not recommend adding the expansion because the difficulty level is INSANE. We’ve only played through the first level (and lost every time — we won’t move on until we’ve beaten the round).
Tabletop games for Disney addicts
Codenames Disney (USAopoly — $27)
Another spin on Codenames, this one is so perfect for DIsney lovers of all ages. Like the Harry Potter version, on one side of the cards is pictures, and the other side has words associated with the House of Mouse, so you can play either side. We’ve played with a five-year-old, and she had just as much fun as everyone else.
Disney Villainous (Wonder Forge — $35)
I raced out to buy this game as soon as we got home from GenCon (because it sold out at the con. Any opportunity to play Maleficent in a board game already has my vote, but it was also a really fun game. Each character has their own strategy and win conditions, so you have to learn to play the game and then understand your character’s motivations. There is a lot of room for expansion here, so I hope Wonder Forge runs with it.
Snow White Gemstone Mining Game (USAopoly — $35)
This is a push-your-luck style game in which you are competing to get the most and best gems from a mystery bag. I demoed this at GenCon as well, and I really enjoyed playing it. Honestly, I’m just a total Disneyphile and want everything that says, “Disney” on it.
Party games for casual gamers
Listen, I know Cards Against Humanity is still supes popular, but let’s give some other new party games some love, shall we?
Monikers (Monikers — $25)
I love this game. It’s part Taboo part charades and based on speed as well as memory. Each player chooses several of the choices that will be used in the deck, and you play three rounds with the same deck. Each round gets harder. in the first round, you can say anything but the words on the card. In the second round, you can say one word. The third round is charades. It is so much fun.
Pantone™ the Game (Cryptozoic — $25)
Guys, if Disneybounding were a game, this would sort of be it. Like Monikers, it’s played in three rounds that get progressively more difficult. Basically you have a selection of Pantone™ swatches to create an abstract design to get other people to guess what pop culture character or characters you are referencing. I love this game, but Brian hates it.
Friend or Faux (Games Adults Play — $25)
I talked about this super inappropriate game over the summer with my GenCon haul, and we’ve played it a couple of times since. This is great for a group of friends who know each other, but it’s surprising even with people who don’t know each other that well. The first two rounds are all-ages appropriate, but by round 3, you’ll want to leave the kids (and your Great Aunt Lorraine) at home.
Blank Slate (USAopoly — $25)
This was a super fun party game that felt like the opposite of Scattergories, which is one of my favorite OG party games that I refuse to play with my family. With Scattergories, there’s always fighting. It’s always crazy. Because you want the most unique answers, people get defensive and yelly super fast.
What do you Meme? (What do you Meme — $30)
This was another game from my GenCon haul, and we had a lot of fun playing it with a gaggle of friends. If you’re playing with kiddos, make sure you go through the entire deck of memes before playing to pull out the NSFW pics.
Tabletop games that might actually break the bank
Serious gamers only. Make sure you’ve got plenty of refreshments.
Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition (Fantasy Flight Games — $90)
This is a badass freaking game. Based on the H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu stories, this game uses an interactive app to guide you through a changing mansion set up as you fight bad guys and try to solve the mystery before time runs out. If you can’t tell, I love story based games, and this is another one. The theming is on point, and the app integration is perfect. This is a loooooooong game. Even the shortest game is a few hours. But it is worth it for a day of intrigue and madness. We have the first and second edition of this game because the second edition is superior (Less set up and no need for someone to manage the game villains and bad stuff because the app takes over).
Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game (Flying Frog Productions — $90)
I really like this game with its Indiana Jones-esque adventure theming and the intricacies that come with it. Not for the faint of heart, this game has also been known to go all day (it plays up to eight people, and the more people, the longer the game), but when you’re fighting Nazis and zombies with movie-style cliffhangers (and hopefully eating lots of snacks), you don’t even notice how much time has passed!
Cthulhu Wars (Peterson Games — $200)
This is one of Brian’s favorites. It’s big and bold and there was no making these miniatures miniature. Another Cthulhu game to call out. The world has ended and the elder gods are vying for control. The few remaining acolytes are assisting you, as you take on the roles of the various elder gods, and your minions on a giant world-map board. For as big and badass as this game is, the play time is actually very doable, even on an evening game night. There are different strategies for each role, and tips are provided to help you succeed. If you can find it on sale, I highly recommend it. There are also several expansions that can increase the player limit and change things up with more characters and sweet miniatures.
WOWEE that was a lot. I hope you found it helpful and can find some great gifts for your friends and family! If you’re still looking for other gift ideas, I’ve got you covered!
Need more gift ideas for everyone else on your list? Consider some of these other guides I’ve created: