21 Best Board Games And Tabletop Gaming Gifts 2019
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There's nothing quite like gathering a group of friends for a good old-fashioned game night. From crowd-pleasing party games and unique board games to elaborate role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, the world of tabletop gaming is vast and varied, with plenty of great games out there for both casual and advanced players. If you're not up to date on the best tabletop games of recent years, it might be tempting to pick up some new iteration of Monopoly and call it a day--but we're here to help you find a gift they'll actually be excited about. Below, you'll find some of our favorite board games and party games, as well as accessory ideas for people who play D&D or another tabletop RPG. Hopefully our suggestions will help you round out your list of gifts for board game lovers.
Need more gift ideas? Check out more of our 2019 holiday gift guides below for the best gift ideas across gaming, entertainment, and tech.
Holiday Gift Guide 2019
Betrayal at House on the Hill
Perfect for fans of horror and suspense, Betrayal at House on the Hill is a game for three to six players that follows a group of characters as they enter a creepy mansion and begin exploring its rooms. Everyone is on the same team--at first. Eventually, an event will be triggered that causes one player to betray the others, and the game becomes a race against the clock as the remaining players and the betrayer each hatch a plan to achieve their win conditions first. For the base game, 50 possible scenarios are possible, and the expansion, Widow's Walk, adds 50 more scenarios (along with new rooms, items, and more). With its thrilling storylines and high level of replayability, Betrayal at House on the Hill is one of the best board games you could pick up as a gift--and that's coming from someone who was personally gifted Betrayal for Christmas and subsequently spent the entire holiday playing it over and over.
The most annoying thing about loving board games is that you generally need other people to play with--and that's not always easy to organize. Scythe is a board game that can be played completely alone (or with up to five players) and has a highly developed solo system with well-designed AI opponents. Set in an alternate version of the 1920s, Scythe is an engine-building game about conquering territory, enlisting recruits, gathering resources, and growing the overall strength of your faction.
Gloomhaven released to critical acclaim in 2017, and it still maintains the No. 1 spot on BoardGameGeek, the top online community for board gamers. A co-op game for one to four players, Gloomhaven is a fantasy dungeon-crawler where you navigate your unit across a tile-based map, defeating enemies and picking up loot. The cards in your hand at any given time determine what actions you can take, including attacking, moving, and healing, and you draw a modifier card while attacking to determine damage. As someone who strays away from "complicated" board games and finds tabletop RPGs like D&D and Pathfinder overwhelming, I've greatly enjoyed Gloomhaven and find its overall gameplay much easier to digest. For someone who's into tactical combat and light role-playing, Gloomhaven will be a wonderful surprise to unwrap this Christmas.
Fog of Love
Fog of Love is a two-player board game that's like starring in a romantic comedy. Each player creates their own unique character (some role-playing is involved), and over the course of the game, the two characters will meet, fall in love, and face obstacles as their relationship develops. Based on the story you choose and the characters' respective traits and longterm goals, the game can end any number ways--and that ending isn't always happy. Funded entirely on Kickstarter, Fog of Love is a unique and entertaining game, especially for couples looking for something to do on an indoor date night.
There's nothing like a simple card game for passing the time, and Sushi Go has to be the most adorable set of cards ever made. In this charming party game, the goal is to grab the best combination of sushi dishes to have the highest score by the end of the game. From maki rolls and egg nigiri to dumplings and tempura, each card has its own points requirements, meaning you're constantly looking at your hand to see what card would be the best fit as well as keeping your eye on opponents' cards to anticipate what card they might grab next. This fast-paced game can get surprisingly competitive, but it's easy to learn and always a blast to play, making it great for kids, too.
Kodama is a cozy little game for two to five players where you build out the branches on a tree and try to have the highest score based on the combination of caterpillars, flowers, fireflies, mushrooms, and other small features on it. Taking place over the course of three seasons, your tree will expand as you strategically place down branch cards, and at the end of each season, a kodama (forest spirit) will award you extra points based on how well you've suited its needs. This is a chill game for a chill group of people, and with its gorgeous artwork, it's also a treat to look at as you play.
Mountains of Madness
Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's novel At The Mountains of Madness, this three- to five-player game has you working together with your team to slowly scale the mountain and reach the peak with your sanity intact. The cooperative gameplay grows increasingly harder as you and your companions pick up madness cards, which will hinder communication significantly. There are three levels of madness cards, and their requirements involve anything from speaking in an accent to having to say numbers as addition problems ("three plus two" instead of "five"). Mountains of Madness isn't the easiest board game to win and will test your group's ability to communicate under pressure, but it's incredibly fun with people who aren't afraid to get outside their comfort zone.
Even if your loved one isn't a board gamer, they'll probably like Codenames. Codenames is a spy-themed word game with two competing groups of players and two spymasters, one for each team. Looking down at a 5x5 grid of cards (each one representing a secret agent), each team is competing to guess which cards belong to their team based on one-word clues from the spymaster while also avoiding cards from the opposite team and the solo assassin card. Codenames is ideal for about four players, but you can play with anywhere from two to eight people (or even more). This party game is perfect for both adults and kids of all reading ages who love solving puzzles and word games.
Inspired by the video game series, Fallout is a post-apocalyptic, co-op board game for one to four players where you begin as survivors on the edge of an unfamiliar world. Throughout the game, you'll explore the map, fight enemies, deepen your survivor's skills, and complete various quests while ensuring none of the feuding factions within the game become too powerful. This is a lengthier board game that'll take you two to three hours for a single playthrough, but it's the perfect gift for the die-hard Fallout gamer or for anyone who likes role-playing adventure games.
Root is an asymmetric board game set in a forest kingdom occupied by four factions: Marquise de Cat, the Eyrie Dynasties, the Woodland Alliance, and the Vagabond. Each faction has its own strategy, abilities, and win condition, but all four groups are ultimately fighting for control of the wilderness. Root is a slightly more complicated game with a steeper learning curve, but its adorable art makes it easy to draw players in.
Tsuro is an easy but highly replayable board game where you put down tiles with various intertwining roads on them and slowly slide your piece across the board to follow the path, which twists and turns as you and other players place more tiles. The catch: You die if your piece goes off the board or runs into another player, so you want to have the last piece standing. At the board game nights I attend, we begin every session with Tsuro as it takes about 30 seconds to explain and start playing, but it always ends in laughter and hijinks as friends plot each others' demise (and sometimes unknowingly send themselves off the board).
The Resistance is a great game for larger groups, anywhere from five to 10 players. In this game, there are two sides: the Resistance, an underground group of fighters fighting against an oppressive leadership, and the government spies who have infiltrated their group. The goal of the Resistance is to successfully complete a certain number of missions, while the spies will win if they ensure a certain number of missions fail. The catch is that while the spies know each others' identities, the Resistance only knows the number of spies among their group, meaning those players must choose carefully when deciding who goes on each mission. The Resistance is similar to Mafia or Werewolf in that players must debate and figure out the identities of the spies based on people's actions and behaviors. From bluffing your way through as a Resistance member to throwing false accusations at other players, there are plenty of things you can do as a spy to throw other players off track, and it's incredibly fun.
Red Dragon Inn 5
The Red Dragon Inn 5: The Character Trove is a fast-paced card game for two to four players. The premise is that you and your party of companions have returned to town after a day of killing monsters and clearing dungeons to celebrate and have a mighty good time at the Red Dragon Inn. The game is all about drinking, gambling, and roughhousing with friends while making sure you don't run out of gold or get too drunk or beaten up (your friends will loot your body, of course). The Red Dragon Inn 5 makes a great gift because it comes with an extra-large box and various storage items designed to hold all the characters from previous expansions so you don't have to store them in separate boxes.
Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks Gift Set
This three-book set is the ultimate gift for someone who's new to Dungeons & Dragons and interested in being a Dungeon Master. The set contains the Players Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Monster Manual as well as a Dungeon Master's screen, and each of the books have reflective foil covers only available in this special set.
Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus
Released in September, Descent Into Avernus is a great Dungeons & Dragons Adventure for anyone looking to introduce new players to the seminal tabletop game, as this adventure is intended for characters from levels 1 to 13. With new play options like deals with devils and vehicles that can be piloted through hell, it also provides new material for experienced Dungeon Masters.
Eberron: Rising from the Last War
Wizards of the Coast is officially bringing Eberron content to Dungeons & Dragons' Fifth Edition with this new book, which includes a map displaying new and familiar locations like the city of Sharn. It also includes the Artificer, 5e's first new official class since its 2014 debut. Couple that with a range of new races and subraces, monsters, and group patrons, and you've got plenty of options for experienced players and Dungeon Masters.
Wiz Dice Bag of Devouring
One of the best gifts for board game lovers is a place for them to hold all their dice. This bag contains 140 polyhedral dice and 20 complete sets of varying gorgeous colors and designs. The perfect gift for a Dungeon Master or someone who wants to be ready for any dice game, the Bag of Devouring can also fit over 200 dice if needed.
CardKingPro Dice Bag
If they have plenty of dice but could use an easier way to organize and transport them, this huge dice bag would be a much-appreciated gift. With seven stitched compartments, this faux suede bag can hold over 150 dice, and it includes a built-in drawstring to close the bag securely.
Rolling dice on a crowded table quickly gets annoying (not to mention loud), and heavier dice can even damage your table. That's why most fans of tabletop RPGs appreciate having a good dice tray for a safe and enclosed area to roll their dice in. The sides of this octagonal tray are made of padded faux leather to reduce the noise. While designed for a game like D&D, you can use this tray for any game involving dice, making it a multipurpose accessory they'll get plenty of use out of.
A dice tower is another dice-rolling option that some may prefer to a dice tray. This dice tower made of laser-cut plywood is a more aesthetic alternative that can even be painted to customize it to your taste. Plus, some people prefer the ease of dropping dice into a tower and letting it do the roll for you. And for taking on the go, the tower can be folded into the base tray and even hold your dice while you're carrying it, which also makes it a near stocking stuffer.
RPG Battle Grid
A battle mat is another great accessory for Dungeon Masters, allowing them to visualize the map for players. This particular map is covered with a high-gloss, waterproof laminate so you can use dry-erase markers without leaving any stains. It also comes with a set of multi-color markers, an eraser, and an empty spray bottle for easy cleaning.