With stockings hung by the chimney with care, you’re going to want a few smaller gifts to make sure you’ve crammed the spirit of giving into every nook and cranny. Luckily, there are dozens of great games that come in small packages. This week, I’m going to share 3 of my favorite small-box games that work great as stocking stuffers, Secret Santa gifts or just a little something for yourself while you’re out and about!
Love letter is a simple card game of only 16 cards. Thematically, these cards represent different members of a royal court – from the lowly Soldier all the way up to the beautiful (and totally available) Princess. Players are attempting to curry favor with these various members of court in order to gain the affection of the aforementioned Princess. Every turn, players will draw one card and play one card. Each type of card has a potent ability that, if played correctly can lead to another player’s elimination from the current game round. Each player will attempt to knock out their opponents by playing the right castle servant at the right time and by keeping a careful eye on which cards have already been played. Should the players reach the end of the deck, then they will have to compare the influence value of each of their final cards and see who has the highest. THe winner of each round gains an affection token and the first to 4 is the winner!
Love Letter is a great filler game. It is easy to transport and can be broken out in nearly any environment. AEG currently sells 2 versions of the game – The Kanai Factory Edition and the Tempest Edition. The difference between the two is purely cosmetic (though I prefer the artwork in the Kanai version). A 3rd version based on the Legend of the Five Rings setting is due to come out soon as well.
It certainly isn’t the right holiday for a game about the living dead, but Zombie Dice is too fun a stocking stuffer to pass up. This push-your-luck dice game is fast to set up, easy to play and tons of fun for those short breaks between bigger games or while the family is unwinding after a holiday meal. Players take on the role of zombies trying to be the first to eat up 13 sweet, sweet brains. Each turn a player will take 3 of the game’s 13 dice and roll them in an attempt to score brain symbols. As long as a player doesn’t roll the dreaded shotgun blasts they are free to keep rolling until they decide they’ve had enough for the round. However, if a player happens to roll 3 shotgun blasts, they’ll lose any brains they’ve accrued on their turn.
The dice in this game are gorgeous. They are thick, chunky and have a nice bit of weight to them. The iconography is colorful and easy to see even from across a gaming table. What’s more, the game gives players a nice tense experience as each player needs to decide whether to go for the gusto on their turn or play it safe and gather brains slowly. If you want to add a little holiday flair, there’s always the expansion that includes a Santa die!
Not every game that comes in a small package has to be a quick, fun filler. Kanzume Goddess is a serious deckbuilding game with a more adversarial tone than others of its genre. The game begins with players choosing from a suite of different gods and goddesses from Greek and Norse mythology. Each of these character cards lists various special abilities that the deity can leverage during the game. From there, play begins with each player taking a small set of basic currency and defense cards. Kanzume Goddess plays like many other deckbuilders out there, but has one unique mechanic that really sets it apart. A player in KG can only play multiple cards during their turn by linking them together. Each card has a primary type indicated by a colored symbol in the top left hand corner. This symbol has two smaller symbols beside it that represent which type of card can be played after it. Only by chaining cards together can a player hope to defeat their enemies. Figuring out which cards will create the most powerful combos takes a decent memory and a little luck, but can be very satisfying.
Kanzume Goddess has found a place on my game shelf as my current favorite deckbuilder, but it might not be for everyone. This has nothing to do with the game itself and everything to do with the game’s artwork. The various mythical beasts that players draft into their decks are represented by girls with…*ahem*…legendary proportions. The art itself isn’t any worse than say…a Soul Calibur game, but it’s worth mentioning because it is a bit over the top and may not be suitable for younger audiences.
Next Week –
The Holiday Mega-Guide will conclude next week with a feature on something a little more hardcore than what I’ve covered so far. Gird your wallets and prepare your souls for the wonderful world of miniatures gaming!
Tags: board game, card game, dice game, tabletop, tabletop tuesdays, zombies