gaming

Christmas 2021: board game and RPG gift guide – from Dungeons & Dragons to Magic: The Gathering


Wrath Of The Lich King is back… in board game form! (pic: Z-Man Games)

Pick some Christmas gifts for the tabletop gamer in your life, including a Fallout: New Vegas board game and chibi Space Marine advent calendar.

Thanks to the lingering effects of lockdown, tabletop gaming has never been more popular than it is at the moment. This surge in popularity is complimented by some cool, innovative additions to the hobby, with a ton of new releases just in time for Christmas.

Innovations such as Arkenforge’s Master’s Toolkit, which allows Dungeon Masters to create animated maps with lighting, sound, and visual FX – to be run through any TV or digital gaming table – is one of the coolest new ideas of the year. Or there’s a similar buzz around Necromolds, which allows you to model fantasy miniatures from Spell Clay (a Play-Doh like substance) in plastic casts and encourages you to ‘smush’ them when they die.

If you didn’t manage to pre-order a copy of the new HeroQuest there’s still plenty of tabletop games worth investing in as a Christmas gift for family and friends, with options for all ages and budgets. From sci-fi and fantasy to quilt-making kitsch there’s something for everyone if you want to have some tabletop fun this Christmas. So put away that tattered old Monopoly box and invest in something more rewarding and creative this Christmas…

Better than the Netflix show (pic: Don’t Panic Games)

Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade

If you spent the last month rewatching the 1990s anime in great anticipation of the new live action Netflix series, only to be horribly let down, be happy you can console yourself by playing Cowboy Bebop: Space Serenade as a tabletop game. Space Serenade is a competitive deck-building game suitable for two to four players, which allows you to play one of the infamous Bebop spaceship crew.

Be your best bounty hunter by getting the most reputation points by the end of the game and defeating king of the emos, and gangster boss/love rival, Vicious. You’ll have to work together to capture outlaws wanted by the ISSP and buy cards that will allow you to upgrade your deck. Fly from planet to planet filling up on fuel, special abilities, and dog treats for Ein.

RRP: ~£40 by Don’t Panic Games

As Christmassy as Warhammer gets (pic: Games Workshop)

Da Red Gobbo and Bounca

Waaagh! No Christmas list would be complete without a festive squig, the less-than-cute war mounts of the Orks from Warhammer. Sculpted as if on their way to deliver joy and good cheer to all, Da Red Gobbo is packing the might of Da Revolushun with him in the form of his kustom grot blasta.

His faithful Bounca, who seems to have grown antlers, can even be given a red nose if you like, while painting up this beauty on Boxing Day. Da Red Gobbo can be used with Orks armies and comes with rules for use in Warhammer Legends play.

RRP: £23.50 by Games Workshop

Exit Advent Calendar: The Mystery Of The Ice Cave

If you ever played Until Dawn you know ski resorts can be pretty deadly. In this innovative advent calendar, it’s back to the sinister slopes as an avalanche comes crashing down the mountain. Just as you’re sure you’ll be buried alive, and might have to miss the next après-ski, you realise you’ve avoided certain death by slipping into an icy cave. But it’s cold and there’s seven items you need to find to make it out alive.

Behind each advent calendar door, you will find a new riddle, the solution to which will bring you closer and closer to escaping the cave. And if you don’t make it, well… at least it’ll be Christmas when you’re done.

RRP £30 by Thames & Kosmos

For a relaxing Christmas (pic: Asmodee UK)

Patchwork: Christmas Edition

If you’re a sucker for festive tabletop gaming fodder this festive redesign, including miniature Christmas tree meeples (aka playing pieces), is super cute. This tight resource management game for two will make you want to snuggle up in the irresistible quilt you build.

Just collect the most buttons to win, as you construct a Christmas themed patchwork quilt out of the game’s colourful tokens. This is a perfect light strategy and pattern recognition game that looks festive on the tabletop and has almost infinite replayability.

RRP: £21.99 by Asmodee UK

A very substantial Christmas present (pic: Games Workshop)

Warcry: Red Harvest

The spider loving mutants of the Tarantulos Brood face off against the Darkoath Savagers, a group of brutal barbarians, in this skirmish-scale game based on Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. The two groups are vying for control of Varanite, a precious resource, to gain favour with Archaon the Everchosen. The scenery is a blistered landscape of mines and machines, which on its own would make an awesome gift for any gamer in your household as it depicts the brutal environment of the Eightpoints.

The Red Harvest boxed set gives you everything you need to start playing, as a beginner or veteran, in this game of fast-paced warband combat set in the Mortal Realms. The introduction of branching quests shows a new commitment to narrative gameplay and allows you to choose your own destiny by co-operating with Skaven or Khainite’s in Chaos missions. Worth every penny of the somewhat hefty price tag and a great distraction while we wait for the showdown between The Everchosen and Sigmar.

RRP: £130 by Games Workshop

Magic: The Gathering – Innistrad Crimson

Did anyone mention a red wedding? It’s not Halloween anymore but we are back in the creepy lands of Innistrad for Crimson Vow. You’re invited to attend the biggest vampire wedding in Innistrad history (just check what’s being served for dinner) and a bonding between the Markov and Voldaren bloodlines. Olivia Voldaren is the bride and aims to form a pact with the Markovs to take control over Innistrad.

There’s some new mechanics to take note of, including new predefined tokens called Blood tokens which offer you a simple and versatile way to trade in cards in the late game, for a chance to draw something more useful – such as the new Cemetery Prowler, one of this expansion’s best cards.

At last! A new Fallout: New Vegas game (pic: Modiphius Entertainment)

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare

Fallen to the wayside amongst a tide of tabletop skirmish games, in Fallout: Wasteland Warfare you build your own crew using 32mm scale resin miniatures – choosing characters from a wide range of factions familiar from the video games. Now there’s also a New Vegas rules expansion you can play in the Mojave wasteland, so you can refight the battle for the Hoover Dam.

What makes this game so immersive is the huge variety of iconic scenery and settlement buildings (many you can print yourself if you have a 3D printer), from the Red Rocket to Sanctuary Hills, Nuka-Cola vending machines, and wrecked cars. Play through a solo campaign or set up computer-controlled forces as a third party in player vs. player or co-op games. Once you become accustomed to the dice mechanics and the simple rules, it’s a blast to play.

Fallout: Accessories – New Vegas Rules Expansion – RRP: £30

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare – Nuka World Parking Lot STL (still the best 3D printer models) – RRP: £44.99

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare – Terrain Expansion Dressing/Scatter STL – RRP: £12

RRP: £11.65 (for three booster packs) by Wizards of the Coast

The One Ring RPG

If your Christmas always consists of watching the director’s cut of The Return of the King on repeat until all the celebrations are gone, then you might want to consider the new edition of The One Ring role-playing game. The most successful tabletop role-playing game on Kickstarter in 2020, it’s now in its second edition, with updated and revised rules, a stunning aesthetic, and a focus on the land of Eriador – the lone-lands west of the Misty Mountains.

This includes new rules for travelling and a bestiary with stats for everything from orc soldiers to cave trolls and barrow-wights. There’s also new rules that allow you to create your own ‘nameless thing’ – those unknowable ancient beings that created the depths of Khazad-dûm by gnawing through the earth – which is especially fun. ‘Far, far below the deepest delving of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he.’

RRP £42.99 by Free League

D&D does Harry Potter (pic: Wizards of the Coast)

Dungeons & Dragons – Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos

Hogwarts may not have much to offer this Christmas, but Wizards of the Coast have stepped up to save the festive season with a different school of magic, as the world’s greatest role-playing game goes to school. The halls of Strixhaven University are home to some of the greatest minds in the Magic: The Gathering multiverse and includes rules for creating students in one of its five colleges.

You and your Dungeons & Dragons party can explore the setting over the course of four adventures, which can be played together or on their own. Each adventure describes an academic year filled with studying shenanigans, friendships that could turn into romances and of course hidden dangers (we’re not just talking cheap pints of snakebite at the student union). Life on campus is hectic a mixture of mishaps and ominous conspiracies and there’s definitely no time for homework, as it’s up to you to save the day.

RRP: £41.99 by Wizards of the Coast

World Of Warcraft Unplugged (pic: Z-Man Games)

World Of Warcraft: Wrath Of The Lich King Board Game

Even if you haven’t played World Of Warcraft in years you’ll probably still have a soft spot for Jaina and Thrall. The Wrath Of The Lich King board game offers a unique spin on the Pandemic board game formula and features all the iconic characters and locations from the original icy expansion.

Four difficulty options can make taking down the Lich King a tough but rewarding slog on a Friday night. There’s great co-op play for up to five gamers, and the build quality of the miniatures and on-point asset art means this return to Azeroth is the perfect Christmas board game to chill out with.

RRP: £59.99 by Z-Man Games

The Spirit of Fighting Fantasy lives on (pic: Modiphius Entertainment)

Five Parsecs From Home

Don’t fancy a big family get-together this Christmas? There’s not much better than this solo adventure wargame that comes in the form of a beautiful book outlining a fantastic set of rules. Play with any miniatures you have to hand to create some sci-fi shenanigans without the need for other players.

Who needs friends when you can assemble a crew in this galactic escapade, with procedurally generated battles, to play with your personal guardians of the galaxy? If you were a fan of Fighting Fantasy or the Lonewolf series, then you’ll definitely get a kick from this.

RRP: £25 by Modiphius Entertainment

Now you’ve seen it all (pic: Games Workshop)

Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Chibi Advent Calendar

Cute as a button, these two-inch, pre-painted collectable vinyl Space Marines are still looking to do the God Emperor’s work this Christmas. Each window of the advent calendar you’ll find a different cute but deadly Space Marines, with 24 Intercessors armed with bolt rifles and dedicated chapter markings and exaggerated, chibi-style proportions. It’s all presented on a round, black display base, so it’s a gift not just for Christmas.

RRP: £60 by Bandai and Games Workshop

By Lucy Orr

Email gamecentral@metro.co.uk, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter.


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