Daekon’s Top 10 board games for the Holiday Season
It’s the Holiday Season, and we all know what that means. Another year spending time with family, usually with uncomfortable conversations about life and politics or worse…..Sports.
What if I told you it didn’t have to be? As someone who has used the tactic of “Hey let’s play a board game” in uncomfortable situations like the above examples, on more than one occasion I may add, I can testify that having a few board games on hand can solve a lot of problems.
Make yourself comfortable, and let this frosty Dragonborn introduce you to “Daekon’s Top 10 best board games for the holidays.” Keep in mind these are my opinions of the best board games to pull out when needed, and not holiday themed in really any way.
Clue is a Classic, and most people have this game just lying around somewhere. You can really never go wrong with this game, it’s a simple concept, rules people typically already know.
Literally the only reason it’s this low on the list is because it is older and has been around since basically the Ice Age (but that doesn’t make it bad, some of my favorite board game memories are of Clue… It was my first board game ever actually)
Seriously if your family is scared of trying new modern board games grab Clue and have some fun solving a murder together. (It’s always Colonel Mustard though really)
9. Love Letter
GOD THIS GAME!
Love Letter is a beautiful and elegant game indeed. You start the game with one card and draw a card each turn, using the power of one of the cards in your hand to be the last one standing or have the highest value card. It is so simple but so beautifully done.
If you like short little bluffing card games where you try to outwit those around you (and do a bit of card counting) then Love Letter is a wonderful choice. It literally lands at number nine because of our next entry.
Coup is everything I love about Love Letter, but done a bit better I personally feel.
Instead of revealing a card every turn, you can just claim to be any card. You can literally change what you claim to be every round until someone calls you on it. Most everything is kept secret from the other players and they can never quite tell if you are lying or not.
If you love deception games (and there are plenty more on this list, they are my favorite games) This one is a great one to grab.
7. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Have you ever played Mafia or Werewolf? It’s a deception game where there’s a secret member of a bad team and they work usually with another player to kill everyone in town. Most of the time it takes a longer time to play and requires a lot of people to be played properly.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf Takes just 5-10 minutes. The box is small and perfect for travelling, and the narrator, a person who doesn’t typically get to play, is a role taken up by an app on your phone. This game is wickedly simple to learn, and will have you coming back to it again and again, and with short rounds, it usually means you can play multiple times instead of just once.
Seriously it’s a fairly inexpensive buy and it can lead to hours of entertainment, and is great for larger crowds. Actually the larger the better even.
6. Secret Hitler/Resistance
Secret Hitler is a game I love… I adore the concepts in it and I love the play style. I really hate the idea of calling my friends and family Hitler though. That said, I struggled to put it on this list, even as fun as it is and as much as I love it.
HOWEVER, I did find a reskin called “Secret Voldemort” which I personally have in it’s stead. If you too have a problem with the Hitler theme of the game, The Resistance has similar concepts and a similar play style. In both games you have a secret defector and their accomplices trying to sabotage the other players while keeping their identities hidden.
It is a LOT of fun and I look forward to teaching these to my family personally.
5. Betrayal at House on the Hill
In probably the biggest twist ever, Betrayal only ends up at number 5 on this list. As some of you know, Betrayal at House on the Hill is my favorite board game like….ever. Putting it this low on the list hurts my soul, but I can’t justify putting it higher on the list because of how rules heavy it is.
If you have a competitive family that doesn’t mind taking a little extra time to learn the rules of a game, Betrayal is a great choice. If, like me, your family and friends rarely enjoy playing board games and you really only get one shot to give your elevator pitch of a game before their eyes glaze over in boredom, maybe pass on this one.
This is a beautiful game and very well done, and again my favorite board game ever, it just may not be for every family. Your mileage may vary.
This game is so deceptively simple it hurts. It sounds a lot more complicated at first but usually after a moment or so it clicks and people get it.
One person plays a ghost and the rest psychics trying to solve the ghosts murder by narrowing down the field of weapons, suspects, and locations, much like clue. However, the ghost is giving the psychics hints in the form of cryptic scenic cards. It’s a game that I personally adore because of all the charm. It’s like Clue meets Dixit, and the best part is it’s a Co-op game so no overly competitive moments like in other board games.
I definitely recommend it if you have one of those competitive families for sure.
Speaking of Dixit, number 3 is Dixit!
Dixit is a party game where someone says a word that relates to something on their card and plays it and everyone else plays cards that relate as well. You want to be vague enough that not many people guess yours, but not too vague as you want to get at least one person to guess your card or you take a penalty.
It’s a beautiful game with wonderful surreal art and honestly every time I’ve ever played it I’ve had a blast.
2. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
I don’t own this game but I sooooooo desperately want to. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong takes everything I love about the hidden role game genre and improves on them massively.
You always feel like you have something to talk about rather than just kinda waiting awkwardly for someone to talk at the start like in One Night Ultimate Werewolf or other similar style games. You always want to talk about theories with other people and try to determine the murderer and accomplice’s plans. These kinds of social deduction games are some of my favorites because it bring out my favorite sides of people. I get to learn more about them and who is good at lying, who isn’t, who has tells, what those tells are, and it’s always fun to hear their theories on the murder and hear them help create this narrative of what could have went down.
I have played this game twice with friends and I so desperately want it myself because of how much fun I had. Even if you don’t want to bring this game out for the Holidays, I still highly recommend it, but at a price point of around $25, the size of the box, how many people can play, etc. This game is very high on the list and can accommodate a good bit of players, especially with the expansion. Definitely give this one a try.
This is not the game I thought would make the number 1 spot for sure, but after a lot of careful consideration, it makes sense. This game is beautiful. It’s simple, it’s elegant, its everything I want in a board game. You play as dragons following paths on tiles you place in front of yourself.
Your goal is to cause the other players to follow a path off the board or collide with another dragon. When you place one of your 3 tiles in your hand on the board you follow that pathway to the end, and you can place the tiles in any orientation.
This game is so easy to pick up and learn, My grandparents play this game, my young sister plays this game. All you have to do is literally just stay on the board. There is strategy involved but it’s never anything high concept or that’s too difficult to grasp. This game is usually around $20, less if you can find a deal somewhere, the box isn’t that big, it can fit 8 players or so at a time but honestly this is a fun game to watch as much as it is to play.
Tsuro is fantastic for most if not all age ranges, and I greatly recommend it this Holiday season if you need a game to bring people together.
And that’s it! I hope you get a lot of mileage out of these games, and I hope it helps you have an amazing holiday season, together with your family. Do you agree with my choices? What would you have chosen? Let me know! I’d love to hear it and maybe we’ll see more lists like this in the future!
Go forth and play games my friends, and until next time, Happy Holidays to you and yours.