Tabletop Gift Guide for Your Board Game-Minded Friends

So, your friend likes board games? Well, here is a list of some of my favorite board games that your friend might like. Some of these have been played on TableTop, the awesome Geek and Sundry show with Wil Wheaton as host. The cool thing about the show is they not only play the game, but they also teach the viewers how to play the game. So if you want to get an idea about how the games really play, check out the show!

Short Games

These games are super-short. They usually take about 15 minutes to an hour to play, and they’re perfect for your friends who don’t already love board games. They are all easy to play and really fun, so they’re great “gateway” games.

12 Days


This game is a trick-taking, Christmas-themed card game – so basically, the perfect Christmas stocking stuffer. Gameplay is fast, only about 15 minutes, and the rules are super easy to learn.



Mascarade is a bluffing game for 2-13 players, which makes it a great party game. It’s all about figuring out which character your opponents are and who you are too. It’s super fun and only takes about 20 minutes to play. Warning: it’s very easy to forget who you are, especially after you’ve swapped cards with people like a bajillion times, so watch out!

Zombie Dice

zombie dice

Braaaaaaains…the whole point of the game is to eat the most brains, but to not get shotgunned in the process. Each time you roll, you risk getting the shotgun symbol. If you get three shotgun symbols in one round, you lose all the brains you’ve collected and pass the game on. There’s a fun mix of strategy and luck to this one, and like the other two, it only takes about 10-20 minutes to play.



Pandemic is a cooperative game in which you have to save the world from four different diseases. The rules are simple, but the game is super hard. There are different settings, and once, my friends and I beat it on legendary. That’s right. Legendary. It was awesome. We were high on our victory for like an hour. Again, super fun, and depending on how badly the game gets stacked against you, it could last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Medium-Length Games

These games are generally a bit more complicated than the short games and can take anywhere from one to four hours. While the short games are great presents for less experienced gamers, these gifts are definitely for people who already enjoy board games.

Castle Panic

castle panic

I friggin’ love Castle Panic. It’s a cooperative game in which you have to kill all the monsters before they knock down your castle. If even one of the pieces of the castle is still standing at the end of the game, you win. This kind of game really brings the players together. There’s no rivalry, just “Holy shit, how are we going to stop these damn monsters?!” Really fun, and it takes about an hour to play.

Betrayal at House on the Hill

betrayal at house on the hill

This game is also a cooperative game, at least in the beginning. You’re a group a people who decide to explore the creepy house on the hill. Every time you play the game, the house gets built differently, because you lay tiles down as you explore. Sometime during the game, the “haunt” begins. This is also different pretty much every time you play, because there are around 50 different scenarios. One of you (usually) becomes the traitor, and for the rest of the game you compete against each other – and whatever monsters appear – and try to win. The win conditions are different for the traitor than for the group, and both are detailed in their own books. It’s super fun. It usually takes about an hour to play.

Shadows Over Camelot

shadows over camelot

Shadows Over Camelot also employs a traitor, but unlike Betrayal at House on the Hill, the traitor is in play from the beginning of the game. The game is set in Arthurian times, and as knights of the round table, you’re attempting to find the sword, the grail, and armor. You’re also having to fight off Saxons and Picts, catapults, and the Black Knight. All the while, the traitor is secretly attempting to sabotage you the whole game. The game is fun and hard; the rules are fairly simple, but it’s very difficult to win.

Lords of Waterdeep


Lords of Waterdeep is set in Waterdeep, a classic D&D city. You are the lords of the city, and as the lords, you’re attempting to gather adventurers and resources in order to complete quests. There are also ways to sabotage the other players, which come out through intrigue cards. What makes the game interesting is that there are limited spots to collect your people and resources, so if during a turn one player puts his token on that spot, you won’t be able to go there – so there’s definitely strategy involved. I really, really enjoy this game. I started playing D&D when I was a kid, so I love the flavor of the game. Besides the flavor, the mechanics are well-balanced and really fun! It normally takes about an hour and a half to three hours.

Epic Games

Epic-length games usually take over four hours. Some of them take a half a day or more to play. These games are not for the light of heart. The rules are normally pretty complicated, and you’ll probably need to take a break and eat at least once during the game. These games are no less fun despite their length; you’ll just need to actually plan time to play them. You definitely can’t just pull these out at a party. Instead, you’ll need to plan a “let’s play this one game” party. So, if your friend is super into board games, get them one of these!

Battlestar Galactica


Oh shit, do you like this show? It’s so good, right? Well, if you love the show, you’re going to freaking love this game. Basically, you’re trying to overcome crises in order to complete jumps and get to a certain destination (which varies if you have expansions). You’re also fighting off Cylon fleets the whole time. Oh, and some of the players are Cylons and they’re secretly sabotaging the whole game. Whenever my friends and I play the game, there’s pretty much constant shouting and finger-pointing: “ARE YOU A CYLON?! YOU’RE A FUCKING CYLON. OH YEAH? THAT’S WHAT A TOASTER WOULD SAY!” You get the idea. I love, love, love this game. A must-have for board game players and fans of the show. It takes around six hours to play.

Merchants of Venus


In this game, you play as explorer-merchants. The board is a galaxy with a ton of planets, and you go around and discover the planets. Each planet has a different race and a different good they sell. Those goods are only sold to certain planets. Oh, and as you move around the board, there are difficulties that you encounter, including pirates, which SUCK. It’s really fun, and will definitely make you flex your strategy muscles. It take about six hours to play.

Twilight Imperium 

twilight imperium

This game is the game to end all epic scale games. Each person plays a different race, and everyone starts with home planets. Over the course of the game, you’re attempting to build up your galactic fleet and conquer other planets. This gives you not only resources, but also political voting power. You have specific goals you’re trying to accomplish, and you can do this through political means, conquering planets, or waging galactic war on someone else. The game ends when one person makes it to a set number of victory points. The game has a lot of replay value because the galaxy map is different each time, and each race has a different set of strategies that work well with it. It’s super fun, but it can take anywhere from six to ten hours to play. Oh, and explaining the rules takes a while, and so does set up. You definitely should plan to break for food somewhere during game play. It’s really fun and epic; if your friend has been itching to play a galaxy-spanning epic game, this is the game to give them.

Those are just a few games that you can buy your friends! There are so many more board games, and I could go on forever. So what are your favorite board games? Think you’re going to buy any of these for your friends? Let me know in the comments!

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