See what our staff has to recommend this holiday season for gifts and gatherings!
Hey there everyone! This is Bubba to start us off, but we got all hands on deck today!
The holidays can be a great time for family and fun, but they can also be stressful if you don't know what to bring either to a gathering or as a gift. Well, we here at Greenfield Games are here to assist you by bringing you our years of expertise and give some recommendations! All three of our owners, Joe, Seth, and Yours Truly, as well as the latest addition to our team, Katie, are going to give some quick write-ups for games that we think will lend some fun to your Holidays!
Alright, team, who's going to go first?! SIKE!! I'm in control of the vertical and horizontal here! I'm going first! MWAHAHA!!
Okay, I'm done being mad with power. Time to talk about games! (Keep in mind that these aren't going to be listed in any particular order, just the order we want to talk about them).
This is one of the games that I tend to think of when I think of a creative ice-breaker. I love the look of the game and it's abstract art cards. In fact, nearly every expansion for this game doesn't add mechanics. It's just more cards with cool art. In Dixit, the active player looks at their hand of cards and chooses one to use for the round. They then have to describe it to the other players using /something/. Unlike Codenames where you have to use a single word, in Dixit you can use just about any vocalization. Do you want to use one word? Cool. Do you want to use a sentence? Awesome! Do you want to hum a line from a particular tune? Groovy! Do you want to use a single explosive onomatopoeia? KABLAM-O!! Just don't be too specific, nor too vague... Got it?
Once you've played your card face down, every other player looks at their hand and picks a card they think also fits the description. The cards are shuffled and then everyone (except the active player) votes on what they think is the active player's card. Now here is why you don't want to be too specific in your descriptions... If everyone guesses your card, you get no points and everyone else gets some. If no one guesses your card, every other player gets points equal to the votes for their card. The only way to score points as the active player is to have SOME people guess your card but not everyone. In that case, everyone gets a point for every vote for their card. Everyone refills their hand and the active player rotates. Definitely a great ice-breaker and a fun, creative party game!
2. Space Base
Even though this game came out in 2018, I didn't get to play it until a few weeks ago and couldn't help but buy it myself right after. What I find so clever about this game is that as turns go on, you actually find yourself doing more on other player's turns than your own! In Space Base you have 2 things you really do on your turn; first you roll the dice, and then you purchase a ship to add to your fleet. The ships all correspond to a number, 1-12, and you place ships you get on your player board. If you buy a new ship that would cover an older ship, you move that older ship up and turn it upside down. Newer ships give you stuff when you roll their numbers on your own turn, older ships give you stuff when those numbers are rolled on other peoples turn. It's totally your choice whether you decide to diversify as much across the board as you can, or stack up on certain numbers hoping to hit it big when that number is rolled! I love that this game keeps you fully engaged even when it's not your turn. Like I said above, I played it once and then instantly bought my own copy. Can't recommend this one enough!
3. 7 Wonders.... and other hand drafting games.
Okay, so I might be cheating a little here but I think that it's warranted here. So one of the quickest ways to lose my interest in a game (I'm looking at you, Catan!) is to have to sit... and wait... while other players take their turns. If the turns move quick, this isn't so much of a problem, but if turns are extensive... You might lose me. That's why I don't roleplay, honestly. I just don't have the attention span for it. But anyway... So what if I told you there was a way to fix that problem? "But how, Bubba?" you ask your screen even though I can't hear it. Well! Let me tell you! You play a drafting game. But what IS a drafting game? It's a game mechanism wherein every player looks at a hand of cards and secretly selects one, then passes the rest. Since everyone is doing this at the same time you're almost constantly actively playing. You might get a player with analysis paralysis now and again, but for the most part these games are perfect for keeping everyone engaged the entire time.
So what games do I recommend here? I'll give you two. One that falls on the lighter end of the spectrum and one that falls a bit heavier. On the lighter end of the spectrum we have Sushi Go. Sushi Go is a quick game where you're drafting really cute sushi cards to try and score points. Some cards are just worth points, such as Nigiri, while other are slightly more involved, like Sashimi, which gives you 10 points for having a set of 3. Cute little game in a super cute tin. 7 Wonders on the other hand is a bit more involved. At the start of the game you are dealt one of the wonders of the ancient world. You make choices as to whether to go to war, whether to develop science, and what resources to gather. The game in played in 3 rounds called "Ages." Make sure you get resources built in the first two ages, because the third doesn't have any resource cards. Once players learn all the symbols on cards, this isn't a terribly long game, clocking in at about 45 minutes. One of my top 5 games period, I'll always be happy if I see this on the table at game night.
Alrighty! Time for me to quit blabbing for a few minutes and let Joe take over for a bit. What are we thinking Joe? Good games?
"This is a lovely little game in the “roll and write” genre… even though there are no dice to roll. Each player draws their own little kingdom on a grid of paper based on choosing types of land and Tetris-style shapes from a couple of cards flipped up each turn that are in common for all players. Even though you are using the same cards, each kingdom quickly becomes unique as you try to figure out the best way to build out yours in order to score big points from the active victory point cards. Oh… and you get to draw the monster shapes on your opponent’s kingdom to keep them on their toes! Quick to learn, quick to play… the theme comes through well, the drawing part is a nice touch and it is one of my favorite games of its type. Did I mention that a Heroes expansion is on the way as well? Play with any number of people, including solo."
5. Lost Ruins of Arnak
"Oh this is a wonderful game! Lightly build up your deck of actions as you direct your adventurers into exploring or researching the mysterious island. Buy items and artifacts for your deck and fend off creatures who otherwise will fill it with useless fear cards. The game has a great balance of choices on how to proceed without getting bogged down in a heavy rulebook. Great game night fun for 2, 3 or 4 – working just as well with any player count - and it includes a good solo mode as well."
6. Dune: Imperium
"Take a deck builder and a worker placement game and mash them together, with a great use of the Dune license… and you have a unique, addictive, easy-to-learn and super interesting game. There is already strong competitive play developing around the game due to its excellent balance and multiple paths to victory… but like most folks, I’ll just play it casually. There is a board showing the factions and locations of Dune and you play your hand of cards to determine where your pieces can be placed in order to gain spice, money, water or other benefits. Buy new cards using values on every card that you didn’t play out of your hand that turn. It is a clever game for 2, 3 or 4 with a nice solo mode as well."
Thank you Joe! I haven't played any of those but now I want to! Let's move on to our next reviewer... Katie! What do you think are the best games to get a holiday going, Katie?
7. Isle of Cats
"Do you need even more feline-based games?? Come rescue brightly-colored kitties from the Isle of Cats!
I love this game for its theme, art and its gameplay. Players are trying to rescue cats over the course of several rounds. This requires both a basket to keep kitty safe and fish, of course! The kitties are highly stylized and brightly colored. One type of cat even sports antlers! Plenty of cat meeples too! Gameplay-wise, it features card drafting and tile placement, which I really enjoy. The game also contains the original ruleset and special "family rules", which allow this game to be played with a wider group of people."
"Do you like adorable cats? Do you like snuggling with them on a quilt? Calico has you covered!
On your turn, you select a hexagonal quilt tile from your hand and place it onto your quilt (board). You will check to see if any of the three kitties are happy! Each cat has a combination of pattern and shape that it likes. If that condition is met, you will place an adorable snuggly kitty token on your quilt! If there are three tiles of the same color directly adjacent to each other on your quilt, you sew on a button. Your turn concludes by refilling your hand. Play proceeds clockwise to the next player. The game ends once everyone's quilt is complete. Points are scored in three ways. Buttons are worth three points; kitten tokens are worth between three and eleven points. Players will also receive points for completing arrangements of particular colored and patterned tiles around pre-placed scoring tiles.
I love this game for both its aesthetic and for its puzzle-y nature. The artwork is by the incredibly talented board game artist Beth Sobel. The cats in this game are drawings of real-life kitties; their names and biographies are printed in the rulebook! The gameplay has some strategic depth if you're playing with gamers, but also has simple enough rules that you can play with your non-gaming family as well. Well, maybe not Fido and Spot; no dogs allowed!"
"So this game does not feature cats, but is a brightly-colored, quick game about building the best stain glass window!
In this game, players select pretty dice, which represent panes, to place in their windows. Placed dice must not be the same color or pip value as other dice orthogonally adjacent to it in the window. Some window spaces must also be specific colors. Players can break game rules by spending skill tokens to use tools, which vary game-to-game. At the end of the game, players will score points for public and private goals and leftover skill tokens. If a player could not place one or more of their dice, they receive negative points for each missing pane.
I like that this game due has very simple rules, but provides a lot of decision points. It has high re-playability, due to the number of different windows, goal cards, and tools. For you solo gamers, it a quick, satisfying play. The game is very high quality and looks great on the table!"
Thank you, Katie! If you guys haven't noticed, Katie really, really, REALLY likes animal themed games. Especially if the animals in it are cute. I totally understand that. Theming can really be important in keeping a player engaged.
Alrighty then! One more reviewer left! Seth!! Take us home!
10. Just One
"Still playing games from a distance? Just One is one of very few party games that can be played on a Zoom call! It's fully cooperative and very easy to learn. The crux of the game is taking turns randomly picking a word--which you don't get to see--and then having to guess that word based on your team mates' clues. However, if your team mates use the same clues, you don't get to see it. So, if the word was "cow" and two or more people offered up "moo" as a clue, you would not see that clue. It's a nice relaxing game social game where you can sit in comfy chairs, drink, and can easily play few rounds, while still chatting."
"What a great party game of teams, trivia, charades, confusion, and laughter!
"Here's one that replaces Mysterium and Dixit for me. It's a challenging cooperative game of image-based clues, deduction, and a little deception. You are all attempting to escape the library. One of you plays the part of the Grimoire, a magical book, attempting to help you make the right choices about which doors lead the way out. However, one of you is a triator, trying to slow the group's decision-making process, leading to traps that make deduction tougher.
I like this one for all the cool imagery. Also, while there is a strong social aspect, discussing clues, choices, and motivations, there's not direct confrontation of traitor. No one has to be put on the spot, forced to bluff in the face of direct accusation. It's more about suspicion and just making smart choices with limited time. The role of the grimoire is unique and challenging. Often, we'll finish a game and immediately want to play another round with a new person playing the grimoire"
And thank you Seth! There we have it! Our own little lists of games that we think will brighten your holidays! We really hope this helps if you need it this season!
As always we really want to thank you for shopping with us and helping to keep the doors open. We also want to wish you a warm, safe, and happy holiday, no matter which one/s you celebrate. May your plate, your cup, and your heart stay full.
Catch you on the flip, zip!