Ryan’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

Ryan’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

Welcome to my annual Holiday Gift Guide! I love putting this together each year because it’s a way to feature games that will bring a smile to friends and family this season. This year I broke up my list for families, 2-player focused games, medium-weight games for people who want a challenge and the new category of “geeky gifts”.

None of these items are promotional pitches. This list is solely based on my love for these games and products. Just so you know, using the Amazon links on this page helps support this site.

Now let’s help you find a great gift!

For the Family

TRAILS

Publisher: Keymaster Games
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Full Review | Purchase at Target

TRAILS Review

One of our favorite family activities is taking time at our national parks. Earlier this year Keymaster Games released TRAILS, a spiritual successor to their hit game PARKS. This beautiful little game plays 2 to 4 players and is very accessible for around ages 7 and up.

Players will hike the trail, gathering resources and earning badges. The artwork is gorgeous and the game is small enough to throw into a bag when traveling. TRAILS is a game that the whole family can enjoy and it may just encourage a getaway to some beautiful scenery.

Hues & Cues

Publisher: The OP
Number of Players: 3 to 10
Full Review | Purchase on Amazon

Hues & Cues from The OP

Everyone interprets color in different ways. That’s what makes Hues & Cues such a unique experience. One player give a clue to the other players as they try to guess what color the clue giver wants them to guess. Points are scored based on how close players get to the color the clue giver picked.

This game shows up at most family gatherings because it’s been such a hit. Hues & Cues supports up to 10 players and the more you play, the better you get at giving clues. This is a great family gift for both kids and adults to enjoy.

Super Mega Lucky Box

Publisher: Gamewright
Number of Players: 2 to 6
Purchase on Amazon

Super Mega Lucky Box

Bingo on steroids is a pretty good description of Super Mega Lucky Box from Phil Walker Harding. Over the course of 4 rounds players want to complete as many cards as possible. Each card is a 3×3 grid that awards players bonuses for each row and column they complete.

Super Mega Lucky Box is so simple to teach and offers enough strategy to get the whole family involved. Players who plan well will rack up lots of bonuses. The game supports up to 6 players and we even purchased a second copy to play up to 12 for those bigger family events.

Kombo Klash

Publisher: Hub Games
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Full Review | Purchase on Amazon

Kombo Klash board

As one of our most played games of 2021, Kombo Klash is an easy game to recommend. Using a 5×5 playmat, 2 to 4 players work to create combos using 8 different fighters. Each fighter brings a unique ability to the table and scoring high point combos is super satisfying.

The illustrations on the tiles are kid friendly and new players pick up on the gameplay after two or three rounds. Players can choose to play a short game to 50 pts, a medium game to 75 pts or a long game to 100 pts. Kombo Klash is a real treat and a game that our teenagers still get excited to play each time it hits the table.

My City

Publisher: Kosmos
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Purchase on Amazon

My City from KOSMOS

I can’t think of a more accessible “legacy” game than My City from designer Reiner Knizia. This polyomino tile laying game allows players to build their new settlement, working around environmental items found on the board. Over the course of 24 games, slightly new mechanics and rules are introduced. My City introduces episodes in sets of 3 which is really great pace.

A game of My City takes around 20 minutes and it’s so much fun playing back to back games. After playing the first couple game sessions, flip over the board and play My City as often as you want or with players that aren’t playing through the campaign with you. This is a legacy game that is built for families in mind.

Skull King

Publisher: Grandpa Beck’s Games
Number of Players: 2 to 8
Full Review | Purchase on Amazon

Skull King cards

One of the best trick-taking games on the market has to be Skull King. This pirate themed card game from Grandpa Beck games has been a huge hit in our house and with our family and friends.

The latest edition of Skull King was released in the Spring and it’s the best the game has ever been. Newer players can start with the basic rule set and cards. After a couple games, toss in advanced rules and enjoy the game on a whole ‘nother level. This is a game that shows up at every family event and it’s been a big hit for our teenagers and even the grandparents. Don’t be surprised if this card game goes from under the tree to the game table in the same day.


For the Table of Two

Royal Visit

Publisher: Iello
Number of Players: 2
Purchase on Amazon

Royal Visit from iello

This Reiner Knizia game has been around for more than a decade but only recently caught our attention with the Iello reprint. Royal Visit is a 2-player tug of war style game using a deck of cards. The cards control the 5 wooden tokens on the playmat. Players work to bring the king or draw the crown token into their court

This is our go-to 2-player game this year. We’ve put in over a dozen plays in just a couple weeks. The game is strategic yet so easy to jump into. Royal Visit is a great gift for couples that game together. Don’t let this holiday season pass without giving this game as a gift.

Santa Monica

Publisher: AEG
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Full Review | Purchase on Amazon

Santa Monica player area

Last year Erin and I fell in love with Santa Monica, a game that has players building out their very own oceanside boardwalk. The game features quirky and fun artwork that’s reminiscent of a Where’s Waldo book. With a color palette of pastels, this is the perfect game to break out on a dreary day.

What makes Santa Monica so cool is how every game is different. At the start of the game you choose from 3 different end game scoring criteria and different actions that are available to players. While this game plays well at any player count, we love the competition of going head-to-head, attracting tourists and building the best boardwalk.

Unmatched

Publisher: Restoration Games
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Reviews | Purchase on Amazon

Unmatched: Little Red Riding Hood VS Beowulf battle

Erin and I play a lot of Unmatched. The pandemic was the catalyst for us starting our streaming series Friday Night Fight. This game pits unique fighters against one another. Players use their heroes deck to attack, defend and take special actions.

Unmatched is a great gift for gamers that enjoy 2-player focused games. Little Red Riding Hood vs. Beowulf is a great set to start with or you can pick up the 4 fighter pack of Cobble & Fog. There are loads of new fighters hitting retail in 2022 so this may just be the start of a new collection.


For the Gamer

Destinies

Publisher: Lucky Duck Games
Number of Players: 1 to 3
Purchase on Amazon

Destinies

Over the years I’ve played loads of RPG’s on numerous video game consoles. The minute we jumped into Destinies from Lucky Duck Games, I was reminded of those amazing experiences. Destinies is an immersive experience for up to 3 players that takes you through playable stories. Each player character has two different destinies and they must fulfill one of these during the course of the game.

Players use dice to complete challenges and unlock secrets in each story. The Destinies digital app instructs you on building the board and fills the room with music and environmental sounds as you play. This has been one of our favorite experiences of 2021 and hopefully it does the same for someone in your life.

Great Western Trail Second Edition

Publisher: Eggert Spiele
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Purchase on Boardlandia

Great Western Trail (Second Edition)

I played the original Great Western Trail a couple times in 2017. For some reason I never picked up a copy even though I loved the game. Fast forward to 2021 and now there is a second edition of this amazing cattle collecting game. This new edition has a box cover that is light years better than the original with updated art and components.

Honestly, this game is on my Christmas list this year. It’s a game that I should have owned years ago but now I’m glad that I can remedy this with this beautiful second edition.

Dune: Imperium

Publisher: Dire Wolf
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Purchase on Amazon

Dune: Imperium

Since Dune is all over the place in 2021, it seems like a Dune board game would be a nice addition to this list. Dune: Imperium is a 2020 release from Dire Wolf Digital. I went into this game thinking that I would need vast knowledge of Dune in order to play. Instead I found an excellent worker placement game that I really dig.

Honestly, if I knew anything about the book or movies, I feel like I’d enjoy the game even more. Dune: Imperium seems like the perfect gift for that friend or family member that loves this world. With an expansion to the game hitting stores this season, you may want to grab this one for that sci-fi lover in your life.

Gorinto

Publisher: Grand Gamers Guild
Number of Players: 1 to 4
Purchase on Amazon

Gorinto

If you like abstract games, Gorinto has to be on your list of games to play. Using plastic tiles representing 5 different elements, players build their Gorinto shrine and score points after each of the 4 seasons. With different objective and scoring cards being picked at the start of the game, Gorinto is puzzely and no two games are the same.

The game plays so well with 2, 3 or even 4 players. There are even variants in the rule book and a solo mode that players can jump into. Between it’s beautiful box to its colorful table presence, Gorinto is a great gift for the abstract game lover in your life.


Geeky Gifts

T-Shirts from Meeples Crossing

Website: https://www.meeplescrossing.com/
Price: $25

Meeples Crossing t-shirt

I received my first Meeples Crossing shirt at Origins this year and I fell in love. I’m a fan of the designs on these gamer-centric shirts and an even bigger fan of how these shirts fit.

As a bigger gentleman, it’s tough to find shirts that are long enough and are comfortable to wear. My shirt from Meeples Crossing has such a great design, the material is soft and the fit is just right. Check out some of the great designs and pick up a great new clothing item for your loved one this holiday season.

Gamer Spatula from Grand Gamers Guild

Website: https://grandgamersguild.com/products/the-meeple-spatula
Price: $29

Meeple Spatula from Grand Gamers Guild

Nothing screams “I love games” like a stainless steel meeple spatula! This Summer I had this spatula by the grill every time I was cooking. The wooden handle is comfortable and has the word “Gamer” engraved on it. The size of the metal meeple is large enough to support a large burger or delicious pork chop. At the end of the handle you’ll find a bottle opener that comes in handy since that one bottle opener from a friend’s wedding is always lost in the junk drawer.

Board Game Bag

Website: https://www.boardgametables.com/products/board-game-bag
Price Range: $6 – $48

Board game bag from BoardGameTables.com

I didn’t know how much I needed a board game bag until I actually owned one. I have an older version of the bag that Board Game Tables created. This bag goes everywhere! Friends game night, family vacation, board game convention, holiday parties, everywhere.

The most recent models of this bag are even better than the one I have from 3 years ago. Board Game Tables offers multiple types of bags to help your loved one carry all those awesome games they receive this season.

If you pick up one of these gifts for someone on your list, we’d love to know. Send us an email or comment below. Hope you have a safe and fun holiday season!