Can you believe 2017 is almost over??!! Every year I compile a list of my holiday picks — mostly they’re my personal favorites from the year but they also have to be ones that I think that a lot of people will enjoy too! My play testers liked all of these and they’re highly rated on Amazon and elsewhere too. These are not the only great games from this year (I can’t play them all!), but I try to keep the list reasonable so here are my 8 picks listed by age. Do you think I missed one? Feel free to comment!
You know those toddlers who fall into the “too young for games” category? Monkey Around is for them! Learn to take turns, follow directions, and pretend to be a monkey all at the same time in this cute little co-operative game! And there’s a fabric banana, which gives it a leg up on Roll and Play which was the big game in this category for a long time, because who doesn’t love playing a game with a fabric banana?!
Panda Rollers • Educational Insights, ~10 minutes, 2-4 Players, Ages 3-5, $20
Panda Rollers makes every kid I’ve played it with crack up every time they have to roll the dice — why? Because the dice are the panda’s eyeballs! Once rolled, all players race to find the left card and right card to make a matching panda face! This my game concept, I love what EI did with it and I’m super proud that it has so many 5 star reviews (so it’s not just me who loves it!)
Nibbled • Winning Moves, ~20 minutes, 2-4 Players, Ages 4+, $15
This is another game of mine (whoohoo!) and it comes with tons of plastic fish clips that the players wear. (It’s called Nibbled, get it?) Call out a color, flip a card, and if it matches you get to take a fish off you and nibble someone else. If you’re the first to remove all of the fish nibbling on you, you’re a winner! (This one is an Amazon’s Choice for being highly rated and well priced. nice!)
This came out last year but I didn’t review it until this year so it’s eligible for this list and it would be a shame if it wasn’t on it. In Karuba each player has a board and one player is the tile number caller. They call a number and everyone else will find their tile of that number and chooses where to place it on their board. The goal is to collect the most gems and treasure by creating paths and traveling along paths that go to hidden jungle temples. Great for families with kids who enjoy games!
This is a great game for 3-6 players (I didn’t love it with just 2). It’s easier to explain than Sushi Go!, and it’s about DONUTS!! May I suggest getting this plus a gift card to a local donut shop for someone because it would be the best themed gift ever! The game is about ordering donuts and you can’t order the same one as someone else because neither one of you will collect it and the goal of the game is to have the most donut points by the time the donut shop runs out!
5-Minute Dungeon • Spin Master, 5-30 Min, 2-5 players, Ages 8+, $17
5-Minute Dungeon is a fast-paced, cooperative card game in which players all work together to defeat monsters and get passed obstacles in the dungeon, to eventually meet the “boss” that they must defeat — all in 5 minutes or less. Each dungeon card has symbols on it and the players must use cards from their hand with matching symbols to get passed that card to the next. Each player also has special powers and some cards give you special skills too. Overall, it sounds super-geeky, but it’s just fun to see if everyone can go fast enough and be resourceful with their cards to finish within 5 minutes. And if you’re into the theme — the artwork is great!
Sagrada is not only a beautiful game, it’s a really annoyingly enjoyable one too. I say annoyingly because no matter how great your strategy is if the dice refuse to cooperate you’re out of luck! Now, this game is by no means a deep strategy game, but it helps to have a game plan but it will likely go out the window and you’ll be asking whoever got the best gifts from Santa to blow on your dice hoping to roll the dice you need. (Note: this may be easier to find and cheaper at your local game store)
I love Kingdomino! It’s simple to learn, easy to play, and the 7×7 variant is one of my all-time favorite 2-player games (maybe behind Patchwork which I have a deep love for.) Did I mention that it won a Spiel Des Jahres this year? It did and that’s a really big deal so it’s not just me raving about it. Also keep your eyes peeled for Queendomino — It launched at Essen, I haven’t played it yet, but I have high hopes (obviously!)
For some smaller and possibly lower-priced ideas check out my Stocking Stuffer article COMING SOON, or look at the 2016 Holiday Picks article for some other solid choices!