Erin’s 2017 Christmas Buyers Guide

Thanksgiving was yesterday, and we had a blast introducing family members to several new board games at my grandmothers house. It helped us realize even more how board games can change the atmosphere by allowing people to get to know each other in ways they might not have otherwise. We strategized together, laughed together, argued, and ultimately had so much fun! My uncle even became addicted to Downforce (check out Ryan’s Buyers Guide) and we ended up playing this game six times!

My Christmas Buyers Guide consists of games that I have personally loved playing this past year, and I hope that this list will give you some direction when you start shopping for those you love most.


I attended a girls night a couple of weeks ago, and we broke out Tokaido. In Tokaido, you are traveling down the exquisite “East Sea Road” in Japan, exploring the countryside, eating at amazing restaurants, collecting fine items and artwork, and enjoying time at the spa. You travel down a linear track and choose what you want to explore. There is definitely strategy to this game, but it also contains a peaceful “chill” quality that I really enjoy. One of my favorite aspects of this game is that the player in last place always goes first on the next round. This keeps the game balanced, and allows the player in the back to catch up and gain a slight advantage.

Deep Sea Adventure

Deep Sea Adventure

We first played Deep Sea Adventure at Atlanta Game Fest last year. The game contained in this tiny blue box has become lovingly known as the “friend ender.” All players are deep sea divers who are trying to collect as much treasure as possible. The trick is to make it back to the submarine before the oxygen runs out. The more treasure you collect, the more oxygen you use. However, you are not only taking up your own oxygen, you are using the combined oxygen of all players. The more treasure you try and carry, the less time your fellow players will have to make it back up to the submarine. I love this game for it’s intense competition, fairly short play time, and it’s size. It doesn’t take up much space, so this game travels with us often.



Clank! has been the game I’ve enjoyed playing most in 2017, mostly because it’s a deck builder that includes a ton of variability. You’re delving into a cave to gain treasure, while trying to remain as quiet as possible so that you don’t wake the dragon. You have the option of traipsing deep into the cape to obtain the bigger treasure, or staying near the surface and playing it safe. The deeper you go, the more of a risk you take. Once a player decides to leave the dungeon, each remaining player has only 4 turns left to make it out. This game is full of strategy and competition, and when you win, you know you’ve earned it!


Photosynthesis trees

Photosynthesis is an absolutely beautiful game and unlike any other I have played before. Players are able to choose from Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer trees, and place them as seedlings on the board. You can turn those seedlings into trees. As the sun rotates around the board, these trees earn “sunpoints” as they receive direct sunlight. These points are used to upgrade your trees into larger trees until you decided to harvest them. However, if your tree is in the shadow of another tree, you won’t receive any points for that tree during that round, so placement is key. This game is full of strategy and beautiful to look at.

These are only a few of the games that we have enjoyed this year. Our wish is that these Buyers Guides will help you decide what board games would be a good fit for your family, and if you decide to purchase one of them, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Have a Merry Christmas!

Erin Gutowski

A lover of strategy games and a hater of Monopoly. Board games have been a gateway for meeting new people and building great friendships.

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