As we get ever closer to Christmas it is that time of year where I start to think about what games I will be playing with my family and this year I would like to share my choices with you and why I have chosen them.
Christmas for me is all about spending time with family and friends and enjoying making happy memories together. This usually involves one or more game nights with my family and friends due to how many of us love a good boardgame. Due to this I have what I call a "Christmas Feast" which is a game selection that can be played on a game night which includes a starter game, main course game and pudding game to cover the evening. A starter game is a game that gets everyone involved and is there to break the ice, a main course game is something slightly more meatier that you can get some strategic thinking going and then your pudding game is a lighter game rules wise and a little bit silly to finish the evening with a few laughs.
The game I am going to use as my starter this year is in the Roll and Write genre and is about plotting out paths in the Himalayan Mountains. The game in question is Trek 12 by Lumberjacks Studios. In this game on your turn you are rolling two dice and then choosing to take the lowest die, highest die, subtract the lowest from the highest, add the numbers together or multiply them together. Once you have chosen the action you want to take you then calculate the result and tick one of the boxes next to that action. You will then write the number down on the trail and try to collect the number in one of two ways. You can either put groups of the same number together to create zones or you can place the numbers in ascending order connecting them each with a line to add them to a fixed line. The twist in this game comes in 2 ways, firstly you can never exceed the number 12 when calculating a number from the dice rolled and each action can only be chosen a maximum of four times meaning as you play you will limit your options more and more. The game ends once all available spots on the mountain are filled in and then you move to totting up your score. This is done by totalling up the value of each fixed line and zone and you also gain bonus points for your largest fixed line or zone as well as gaining negative points for penalties, the person who scores the most points is the winner.
This game is a great choice as it gets people thinking and talking as much or as little as they want allowing it to break the ice nicely. The rules are very easy to pick up making it an easy teach and the game play is fast paced and snappy. Due to it being a roll and write, this game scales really well going from solo play all the way up to fifty players with each player having their own impact on the game. There is also sealed expansions in the box which unlock when you hit certain goals providing more maps and new ways to play which is good fun to share with the family when an achievement is unlocked.
The Main Course
For the main we are going to go a little steampunk this Christmas and build some contraptions to race in Steampunk Rally by Roxley Games. This is a card-drafting, dice placement game where you will be inventing a contraption and racing them. You will be building engines using the energy they produce (in the form of dice pools) to power the other parts of your machine to create motion, prevent damage and repair it as it trundles along. Each round of this game consists of four phases. Firstly you have the Draft Phase where you will have a hand of four cards dealt to you comprising of one card from each stack of parts that you will then choose one of and pass on to the next player. Once chosen you then choose what you want to do with it; you can construct it, stash it, sell it for cogs or use it to generate power. Once this has been done four times you then move on to the next phase. The Vent Phase is the part of the round where you can service your machine by spending cogs to reduce the number of pips on a die that is currently taking up a slot on a part card because when they go below one pip they are removed from your machine freeing it up for later on. Then you are on to the best bit the Race Phase. In this phase you will roll the dice in your dice pool as well as any stored dice on your machine. You will then use the results of these dice to activate the machine parts in your invention and gain the associated racing effects. Once all the racing effects are resolved, you then move onto the Damage Phase where you check your damage dial. If it is on zero or above you are okay though if it is below zero your invention starts to fall apart and you have to remove parts equal to the negative value shown in red. These phases are repeated until one player crosses the finish line and is given the title of the Greatest Inventor of All Time.
The reason for me choosing this game is that it offers two things the people around me enjoy, engine building and racing. The phases are laid out cleanly in this game and after the first round or two you really get a handle on the flow of the game making the learning curve not too steep. The combination of card drafting and dice rolling is a really nice addition to this years Christmas selection game as it offers an opportunity to play strategically though is also in the hands of luck with the dice rolls meaning anyone could win the race. This game is a lot of fun especially for larger groups as it goes up to eight players with each person making their own invention and racing to the finish line resulting in very tight entertaining game. I am very much looking forward to sharing this game with my family.
To round off my Christmas game selection I feel we need something silly and fun before we finish up, so my choice is a dexterity game called Slap It. In this game you will be using your lightning fast reflexes to try and beat your fellow players in spotting the right monster and slapping it first to claim it. In this game there is a portal tile in the centre of the table with 6 monsters dealt from the monster deck surrounding it. At the beginning of the turn a player will roll the 2 dice and it will give you a rule to apply for that turn. The two dice are both different one will tell you what monster to start with and the second die is a direction die with arrows corresponding to the colour of the arrows on the portal which will inform you which monster to slap that turn. The game continues like this until there are only two monster cards left, you then count up your cards and the player with the most cards is the winner.
This game has made it onto my list due to how much fun dexterity and pattern identity games are and I can see my family enjoying it with how silly it is. The turns are super simple making it an easy teach to any group and it goes up to eight players meaning you can have a large group playing it together. Due to the fast paced nature and the game only taking ten minutes to play it is the perfect game to end on. This is definitely one I think everyone will enjoy of all ages.
So there we have it my "Christmas Feast" of boardgames that will be travelling with me to my family this Christmas. When creating your own "Christmas Feast" of games think about the players you will be playing with and the themes of the game, if you get the right theme you may get someone playing a game you did not expect. I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and get many hours of games in and I will speak to you in the next one!
Let us know in the comments below what three games you would make your "Christmas Feast" from?