Fascinating games

13 beautiful and strategic board games that make great Christmas gifts


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Giveaway season is upon us, which means it’s giveaway season, too. For geeks, whether friends or family, board games often make interesting and impressive gifts.

A beautifully designed board game can be displayed on a shelf as a decorative piece of art and of course can serve as a social activity where friends and family come together to meet and have fun. Board games allow people to engage in a shared experience, and vouchers can be visually striking as well. They make great gifts because they are both tangible and experiential. Besides, what’s not to like about games in general?

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Here are a few board games that will make a fun board game night and also give that stunning visual factor when unboxed.

Span

Players: 1 – 5
Playing time: 40 to 70 minutes

Span is the board game that served as the entry point that introduced many gamers to the wide world of well-designed and more complex board games.

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In this game, players take on the role of avid bird enthusiasts, all of whom seek to make their aviary the most attractive. Each player will “collect” various birds by luring them with food by rolling custom dice, then adding them to their collection to earn points. It’s a fairly straightforward game for the family to learn, yet intense enough to keep people on the edge of their seats. There is a meditative quality to the gameplay that often surprises those who don’t know what to expect.

Moreover, the art of the game is so magnificent that it catches the eye on its own!

Oath: Chronicles of the Empire and the Exile

Players: 1 – 6
Playing time: 45 to 120 minutes

Oath: Chronicles of the Empire and the Exile is made by the same team behind Root. In this game, one to six players take on the role of agents trying to ruin a kingdom. Behind his magnificent illustrations hides a game full of political intrigue, betrayal and mistrust.

Players will play a crucial and practical role in the rise and fall of dynasties and make history themselves. But whether the outcome is satisfactory for their characters depends both on how the game unfolds and on the decisions of other players around the table. It’s a game that will seem to grow beyond the limits of the box and components, and will make a great gift for board game connoisseurs. Speaking of Root

Root

Players: 2 – 4
Playing time: 60 – 90 minutes

Root is absolutely adorable game where players control different factions of woodland creatures and compete for control of the wilderness. Despite its charming craftsmanship, this is an intricate game with a lot of strategic depth designed for those who want to try something heavier than the typical family gaming fare.

It offers an asymmetric wargaming experience, with each faction having their own unique abilities and victory conditions. It’s not a fairy tale where everyone gets warm duvets. It’s the war. Think Game Of Thrones kind of political stampede, but with a huge dose of doe-eyed cuteness to go with it.

Everdell

Players: 1 – 4
Playing time: 40 – 80 minutes

Everdell has a very eye-catching board. Which is a point in its favor, as one would think that the board in a board game should be a key element when it comes to aesthetics and table presence.

The Ever Tree focuses the attention of the players, towering over the players. They will play and draw cards, and place their workers, trying to build the most beautiful and the most magnificent village. The art is also irresistibly cute, which makes playing cards even more enjoyable.

This is a simple board building game to learn but complex enough to interest the whole family.

Tokaido

Players: 2 – 5
Playing time: 45 minutes

TokaidoThe artwork is clean, sleek, and classy. Light pastel colors have a heartwarming, almost meditative quality.

Thematically, players are travelers enjoying a scenic and rewarding journey on the Tokaido Road. They collect a series of interesting experiences such as good meals, new friends, great panoramas, visits to beautiful places, etc.

While Tokaido is a lightweight game with a non-combative theme, it’s competitively priced. Players compete against each other to see who ends up as the one with the most varied experience. However, the Zen-like artwork makes the game less adrenaline-charged in-game, and the game is still fun to bring to the table.

Kanagawa

Players: 2 – 4
Playing time: 45 minutes

In Kanagawa, the players are disciples of the painter Master Hokusai. They will build a panorama of 13 maps, forming a multitude of watercolor works of art on the theme of Japan.

The cards, which not only have multiple functions in the game, are also sets of myrioramas, where they will form a fully connected tableau regardless of the order of the cards.

It’s a light family game that captures the feeling of getting better at your craft, gradually dealing with more complex work, and having the space to make more interesting decisions. In the end, it’s as if the players are contributing to the mind-blowing piece of art that Kanagawa understand.

Azul

Players: 2 – 4
Playing time: 30 to 45 minutes

In Azul, players take turns drawing beautiful tiles so that they can make the most beautiful bathroom floor for the king.

It’s a colorful game that’s easy to pick up and play. With tiles drawn at random and players trying to match them to the colors of the board, the joy of Azul does not come from trying to outdo or sabotage other players.

Instead, it’s all about enjoying the process of creating a tile collage and then seeing what other players have been up to. The game can encourage players to score as many points as possible, but just arranging the tiles in the prettiest way is also a fun and worthwhile way to approach. Azul.

Mariposas

Players: 2 – 5
Playing time: 45 to 75 minutes

Mariposas is the second game designed by Elizabeth Hargrave, the creator of Span. Hargrave has a certain design sensibility that makes his games appeal to a very large audience, evoking an urge to open the box and give the game a try.

Set collection game played over three seasons, players have their butterflies heading north in the spring, spread out in the summer, and back south in the fall. The educational aspect of migrating butterflies in Mexico fits very naturally into the mechanics and visual design of the game.

This is a simple game that is a great gateway game to the larger world of board games.

Era: Medieval Age

Players: 1 – 4
Playing time: 45 to 60 minutes

In many board games, when players have to build cities, those cities tend to be either abstractions that only exist in the imagination or represented by maps. In Era: Medieval Age, players actually build solid three-dimensional cities.

Players roll dice, get resources, or end up with disasters happening to them or their opponents. In the end, all players will have their own little town on a pegboard, which is always a great photo-taking moment.

Era: Medieval Age is a simple and fun game to learn and play in minutes.

Bristol 1350

Players: 1 – 9
Playing time – 20 – 40 minutes

Bristol 1350 comes in a magnetic book box, which gives it a touch of whimsy and also mystery. The principle of the game is intriguing. The players are villagers from Bristol trying to escape the plague.

There is a bit of cooperation, social deduction, and strategy. While selfishly trying to get to safety as soon as possible.

It’s a pretty unique game, especially given its theme. The way the box harmlessly fits on a shelf also gives it an added freshness factor.

PARKS

Players: 1 – 5
Playing time: 30 – 60 minutes

In PARKS, the players embody a duo of hikers exploring the different trails throughout the seasons in 59 national parks in the United States. An afternoon at play PARKS is more like flipping through an art album than playing a board game where each player tries to outdo the other.

The art of the game is breathtaking, drawn from posters that were originally used to commemorate the many national parks. This is not a game that will be rife with tension and put players on the edge of their seats. It’s a game that’s relaxing and calming, perfect for those looking to chill out with friends and enjoy the wonderful art that the game has to offer.

Imaginarium

Players: 2 – 5
Playing time: 90 minutes

Imaginarium literally takes the “engine” part of “engine building games”. Players collect resources to build machines that produce more resources to build better machines that produce even more resources.

The players try to fight for the components, competing to complete the projects given by the design office in order to gain victory points in order to win the game. While a bit more complex than the average family board game, it’s certainly an easy game to pick up and start playing without too much hassle.

Packed in a beautiful steampunk aesthetic, this is a game you feel good about playing just to see and enjoy more of the art.

Sagrada

Players: 1 – 4
Playing time: 30 to 45 minutes

In Sagrada, players make exquisite stained glass by drawing dice of different colors in grids. The placement of the dice will be limited in terms of the number appearing on the dice and the permitted color combination. In addition, dice of the same number or the same color cannot be placed next to each other.

This means that in each game, players will form different mosaics of dice with varying dots and splashes of color. This is a family friendly game, and while there is a scoring aspect, Sagrada can also be seen as a light arts and crafts project that taps into the creative side of players a bit.


These are just a few games that are visually striking. There will be more to find in places like Amazon. The ones mentioned above are just a sample of the sheer beauty that board games are capable of providing. The range, in terms of gameplay and complexity, means there is something for everyone. Maybe one of these games can be gifted to your friends and bring out the as yet unknown board game geek in them.


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