Here are some of the games I thought were stand-outs this year. They may not have exactly come out this year (although many did), they came across my path this year and I really enjoyed them. Regardless if you’re looking for something to give, or something to get – I hope you find something on this list that works for you! To make life easy I’ve put them in order based on AGE:
Little Red Riding Hood – SMART ~$25, solo player, ages 4-7
Three Little Piggies made it onto my list last year because it was just so cute and I think the follow up is just as cute! The great part about this one is that I think kids as young as 3 (maybe even 2) will enjoy playing with this as a toy and not doing the puzzles until they’re ready. The added bonus of the wordless storybook makes it a great holiday gift. You can read more of my review HERE.
**If you’re looking for more game recommendations for pre-schoolers take a peek at my article on games for 3-4 year olds.
Dr. Eureka – Blue Orange ~$22, 2-4 players, ages 6+
Who doesn’t love a speed logic game where you’re moving balls from test tube to test tube? A card tells you what color balls need to be in which test tube and you need to figure out how to get it done without touching them or dropping them. (ie. you’re going to be pouring the balls from one tube to the next like they’re crazy potions.) Good deal of fun and problem solving in a ~15 minute game!
Loony Quest – Asmodee/Libellud, $30, 3-5 players, ages 8+
This unique hand-eye dexterity game is a great game for kids and families. Players look at a board and then have to draw a path on the clear sheet in front of them and hope they are able to navigate around any obstacles while hitting bonuses and completing the challenge. Once you’re done drawing you put your sheet over the challenge card and see how you did! Add in some of silly party-game-like-fun (such has having to draw without bending your elbows), the game is a fun one for a variety of ages. Read the whole review HERE.
Patchwork – Mayfair Games ~$25, 2 players only, ages 8+
This quickly took over as my favorite exclusively 2-player game. Seriously, I love it! Despite the somewhat off-putting topic of quilting, the easy-to-learn game play is great. There’s some strategy in how you choose your patchwork pieces and where you place them on your board, but it’s balanced with a little luck and you never quite know who is going to win until the end. It plays in about 15 minutes and doesn’t take up a ton of shelf space, so I’d recommend it for pretty much everyone’s game collection. I know it’s one I’ll enjoy for years to come! Read the original review HERE.
Sushi Go Party! – Gamewright, ~$20, 2-8 players, ages 8+,
I really enjoyed Sushi Go! and Sushi Go! Party brings so much more to the table. You can change up and customize the game in so many ways. I’m not usually a huge fan of “deluxe” versions simply because the added extras aren’t worth the money (which I’d rather spend on something new), but if you liked Sushi Go! I think Sushi Go! Party is worth a look. I’d also say that if you were thinking about buying someone Sushi Go! you should definitely spring for the Party version as it’s so much better! To read the full review, click HERE.
Lanterns – Renegade/FoxTrot, ~$35, 2-4 players, ages 8+, ~25 minutes
Every time I play Lanterns I think “shoot, I haven’t reviewed it yet” and then it gets put back and not put on my desk to get reviewed – which really isn’t fair to anyone who regularly reads my site. I enjoy this game quite a bit. It’s a beautiful light strategy game that relies on the idea that you need to think about what you want/need as well as what your opponent’s are going to get when you take your turn. When you place a tile, you receive colored lantern cards – but so do your opponents, as everyone will receive the color matching the lanterns that are facing them (so orientation of the tile is key!) Once you have a certain number/kind of lanterns collected you can trade them in for honor point tokens and the most honor point tokens wins the game. If you like Carcassonne or know someone who does, they’ll probably like this game too!
Quadropolis – Days of Wonder, ~$50, 2-4 players, ages 8+, 30-45 minutes
This was probably my favorite slightly geekier light strategy game that I tried this year. It’s been fun to play over and over and with an additional “expert level” right in the box it’s worth the price. The mechanic is pretty straightforward in that each turn you’re adding a building to your city, it’s the strategy of figuring out how you can score the most points, take the buildings you want – before your opponent snatches them up – that makes the game exciting. If you or the person you’re buying for are fans of Ticket to Ride, Splendor, etc. and are looking for something new, I’m pretty sure they’ll enjoy this one too. To read my longer review, click HERE.
Bring Your Own Book – Gamewright, ~$12, 3+ players, ages 12+, ~20 minutes
Out of all of the party games I’ve seen in the past few years I think this one is my favorite (and yes, it was on my stocking stuffer list too!) It’s going to be a different game each time you play it based on the book you bring to the game. You can make it as clean or as dirty as you want it, and it’s pretty much a game night in a box. Additionally, you can’t really find that many party games for less than $15. You can read my review HERE.
Looking for some lower price point games? Check out the 2016 Stocking Stuffers article!