A 2022 board game gift guide
It’s time for my favorite November tradition at Don’t Eat the Meeples! Here are 15 games for your consideration.
Hello all! I’m glad you’re here for what’s become one of my favorite things about writing about board games here at Don’t Eat the Meeples. I love recommending and talking about games, and this annual list is my favorite tradition here. This is the third time I’ve put together this list (you’ll find links to the others at the bottom of this), and I hope you find it useful.
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Without further ado, my 2022 board games gift guide.
Three great card games for the whole family
I know there are a ton of card games out there right now, and a lot of them come in well-designed boxes, feature memorable characters, and try to lay claim to being about the quirkiest topic possible. But I have good news for you: There’s more out there. Here are three card games for your consideration that can be good for everyone in the family. (A disclaimer here: I don’t know if these games would be great for toddlers. In at least one case, there are pieces that they could accidentally swallow, in the case of 7 Wonders Architects. You know your family better than me, so let your judgment be your guide.)
Point Salad is a great little card game that can be taught in just a couple of minutes. The premise is simple: Collect fruits and vegetables, and also collect point cards that give you points for those fruits and vegetables. It’s an easy teach, a fun play, and a great game for the whole family. [AEG, $25]
Sushi Go is a nice introduction to drafting games, with relatively straightforward scoring and delightfully cute art. On your turn, you’ll pick just one card (unless you have chopsticks and can pick two) from your hand, then pass it to the next player. [Gamewright, $13]
7 Wonders Architects is a spinoff from the now-classic 7 Wonders, and I think in some ways it might be an even better family-weight game. It’s a drafting game, but instead of racking your brain between seven-plus decisions, a plethora of strategies, and having to evaluate your opponents each time you draft a card, your decision space is intentionally limited. You just select from three spaces — from your left, your right, or a central deck that anyone can use. It still hits a lot of the same beats as 7 Wonders, with science, combat, victory, and resource cards still being at the core. But this one feels easier to teach and plenty of fun. [Asmodee, $50]
Three great trick-taking games
I wrote about trick-taking games just a few weeks ago, and all three of these games are listed among the crowd I wrote about there. I’ve picked out three that I think could be good options for gifts, but there are so many great options out there, too.
The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a cooperative trick-taking game I can’t stop talking about, and it makes a great gift. It takes just a few minutes to teach the basic rules, and the more complex rules layer atop previous plays in a beautiful difficulty ramp. [Thames and Kosmos, $15]
Maskmen pits wrestling promoters against each other, booking bouts that aim to determine the strongest wrestler each round (“season” in the game’s kayfabe, if you will.) [Oink Games, $23]
Take the A Chord is a really neat spin on the trick-taking genre, with the cards representing chords and having a value relative to the top spot on a rotating disc — it’s not quite a circle of fifths, but it’s there in a way that gives the game a really great connection with its theme. [Board Game Geek Store, $35]
Three great games for word lovers
Don’t just run out and buy Wordle: The Board Game — here are three great games for word lovers. (Seriously, that game does exist, but don’t do it. The joy of Wordle is that there’s just one a day. It’s a little boost in the morning. But that doesn’t mean you need a board game version. There are so many great games out there; you don’t need a replica of a video game.
Paperback is a deck-building word game that merges the play of games like Dominion with classic word-building ideas. You’ll aim to build words from the cards in your hand, use the money you earn doing that to buy more words, and build a deck that nets you the letters you need to build the words you want. [Fowers Games, $31.82]
Wordsy takes the idea of a word-building game and adds a key element that makes it an excellent party game: You don’t have to just use the letters that are on the table at any given time. If you do use those letters, you’ll earn more points, which gives you a greater chance to win, but your word-building can go wherever your imagination takes you. [Formal Ferret Games, $15]
Letter Jam is a cooperative word-building game in which each player has a letter in front of them, but you can’t see your own letter. One player tries to lead everyone else to figure out the letter in front of them by placing number tokens in front of every letter, spelling out a word and hopefully giving everyone a hint as to their letter. [Game Nerdz, $18]
Three great roll-and-write games
Think Yahtzee. Not just the word or the action of getting all of the dice to match up on number — no, just think about rolling dice
That’s Pretty Clever, or Ganz Schön Clever, is a quintessential roll-and-write game: As you place numbers on your sheet, you’ll find opportunities to chain together actions — fill in on a square on one track, then fill in on another for free, which might trigger yet another opportunity to fill in a square. You’ll roll six dice each turn, picking three of them to use on your board. Everyone else at the table gets to pick one die to use of the three you didn’t. It’s a tricky little game that reveals a lot of strategy as you play. [Stronghold Games, $20]
Super Skill Pinball is pinball, but it’s a board game, and instead of being about skill (or, more accurately, the illusion thereof), it’s about rolling dice. On each turn, you’ll use one of two dice to determine where on the board you are, from the flippers at the bottom, bumpers near the top, or any number of other features, depending on the board you’re playing. [WizKids, $25]
Three Sisters is a roll-and-write game about growing the “three sisters”: Squash, maize and beans. They’ve been planted together historically by Indigenous peoples in North America for thousands of years, and the game respects that agricultural tradition. It makes for a nice step up from some of the less-complex roll-and-writes out there. Check this one out if you like sitting down and puzzling out your best strategy while being limited in your action selection by a rondel. It’s a cool one. (Thanks to my past self for having written about this one at the start of October.) [25th Century, $30]
Three great cooperative games
… that aren’t Pandemic. I mean, I love Pandemic, and I’d recommend it for anyone interested, but there are more games out there for you to explore. (If you’re just looking for more Pandemic, I wrote a deep dive into the Pandemic series in March 2021.)
The Adventures of Robin Hood is a game that has you reading from a book, moving characters on a board, and generally just exploring the adventures of, well, Robin Hood. It has some really neat interactive elements that move this beyond most storybook games, and I think it’s well worth your time. [Thames and Kosmos, $60]
Spirit Island takes the usual cooperative game idea, in which each player is taking the same sorts of actions, and it instead gives each player a unique set of actions and a spirit to control. I wrote about it in 10 great cooperative games that aren’t Pandemic, which I’ll quote here: “As a player, you’re not an explorer — you’re instead playing as a native of the titular island, driving away the “explorers” who will eventually build on, then ravage, your land.” [Greater Than Games, $90]
Now Boarding is a real-time cooperative game in which players act as airlines ferrying passengers around the United States. There are two distinct phases, essentially planning and execution, and that gives this a nice spin from many real-time games, in which all play is happening at breakneck speeds. This gives you a little extra time to focus. [Fowers Games, $42.82]
Three great party games
Sound Box is one of the weirder party games I’ve played recently. It’s a cooperative game in which players all simultaneously make noises, and another player (or two, depending on player count) has to try to figure out the noises they’re making — but they’ll be blindfolded (sort of — the game comes with cardboard eyeglasses with no holes for your eyes.) It’s so cool, and it plays up to 7 players. Neat! [Horrible Guild, $25]
Anomia is one of my absolute favorite party games, with players forgetting words and shouting about it. The game’s made up of just cards, with each card having a symbol on it and a category. If the symbol in front of you matches the symbol in front of another player, you have to quickly name something that matches their category. It gets increasingly chaotic and wacky as the game goes on, too. [Anomia Press, $16]
Don’t Get Got is a game that you don’t play outwardly — instead, it’s a game that you play while you do other things. That’s why it made my 5 Games for Fall list in early October — and it’s going with me to Thanksgiving. (Unless I forget it at home. That’s possible, but it would be a shame.) [Big Potato Games, $22]
Need other ideas?
This isn’t the first time I’ve done a gift guide. In fact, it’s the very fourth time I’ve done one. Back in issue 37, I put together a gift guide for 2021. I’d stand by all of those picks today. I also wrote a list in 2020, back in issue nine. And in issue 10, I wrote a gift guide focused just on games in small boxes. I think all of those still make pretty good choices, although some may no longer be in stock. I’ve checked all of these games. When I wrote this, they were all available. If you can’t find one of these that does sound interesting to you, let me know, and I’ll see if I can help you find a reputable place to buy it online!
Finally, if you have some more specific requests — like, say, a deep Uwe Rosenberg worker placement game that doesn’t involve a farm and isn’t Le Havre — well, just let me know, and I’ll see what I can do to help out. The comments section here would be a great place to do that.
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