Holiday List – Stocking Stuffer Board Games
It’s time to get into a festive mood here at Nerdologists. Thanksgiving is this week and the holiday season will swing into full gear. So what are some good Holiday options for your board game loving family and friends. Or if you are like me, what are some board games to put on your holiday list that you hope someone will buy for you. Let’s dive in and start with some stocking stuffer board games.
Stocking Stuffer Board Games
We’re starting off with the first and only solo only board game on the list. I’m going to do a list of solo board games, but that’ll be coming out in the next week or so. But For Northwood is a great stocking stuffer sized game and an interesting one in that it’s trick taking. Trick Taking isn’t something you often consider for solo because, well, you need someone to play against. In For Northwood, that someone is the deck of cards.
In For Northwood, you need to win a specific number of tricks, 0 through 7, for different parts of the woods. Now, just playing against the deck of cards, that seems too random. So they gave you some lords and ladies of the woodlands, the royalty, that offer you powers to use. You get three to use in the game, but you unlock new ones as you complete the objectives of the different parts of the woods.
These powers let you manipulate your hand. Draw more cards when you are on the seven to increase your chances. Or discard cards when you need to get zero because there’s a big risk that with any flip, any high number might win for you. Because, the trick is you need to win the exact number of tricks. So how do you make that work?
Ecosystem comes in the biggest or tied for the biggest box of the group. This is a drafting tableau building board game. By that I mean that you are building out an ecosystem in front of you. And how you build it, where you place animals and terrain types, is going to give you points. To add to that, you are then restricted to a five wide and four high grid. So as you play you get more limited spots to play.
And then there is the drafting. You pick a card from your hand and you add that to your tableau. But what I love about drafting games is that everyone is picking at the same time. So I am always playing and so are you. It helps keep people engaged in the game.
The final thing that I think makes this game intriguing for a stocking stuffer is the diversity that you need from your ecosystem. If you only focus on two or three creatures, do you really have a ecosystem? Not really, it’s a small slice of what one looks like in real life. So they give you points for building that diverse ecosystem, like you’d see in the real world.
Birds of a Feather
Next stocking stuffer board game is Birds of a Feather. This one is maybe the meanest game on the list. It can be mean how you draft in Ecosystem, but the rest of the board games, not that mean. Birds of a Feather is all about bird watching and seeing how many you see. Because the person who saw the most and the rarest at the end of the time wins.
Each round you play out a bird card. And you see the birds from that terrain type that everyone has played. In fact, you see the ones from the previous day as well. So it’s a good thing to be just one day behind. Except for the raptors. If someone plays the raptor from that terrain type, well, that scares away all the birds that were there yesterday.
Birds of a Feather is a fast little game and one that is easy to teach. I think that it works well with almost all groups and you can decide how cutthroat you want to be when you play out those raptor cards.
Patchwork Doodle is the next game on the list. I needed to put in a roll and write game because, well, it’s a roll and write game and I like them a lot. Patchwork Doodle is one of the smaller ones which is why it can fit into a stocking. There are several others I could pick as well, but I like Patchwork Doodle for a bit more of a game than others that fit into this size.
In Patchwork Doodle you are making the biggest quilt that you can. A patchwork quilt is where it is getting it’s name from. To do that, you, and everyone else, fill in Tetris like shapes on your board. And at the end of each round, which consists of a number of cards, you find your biggest completed square and rectangle. The square part matters because it gives you the most points. A 5 by 5 square is twenty-five points. But a 7 by 5 rectangle is only 27 points, twenty-five for the 5 by 5 and then two more for the extra rows or columns.
I also like this one because it has powers. Powers aren’t needed for a roll and write game, but I like the addition of them. Powers are going to give you little ways to tweak what shape you get or to fill in a single spot that is open. So a fun one with some good thinking to it.
SCOUT is a new game for me this year. But it’s one that after a single play, I found that I really like the game. Some games are about building the best hand of cards, SCOUT is about getting rid of all your cards. So it’s like a Phase 10 or Uno that way, but more game to it.
In SCOUT you get your hand of cards. And you need to play down runs or sets that are higher than what was previously played out. If you do, those previous cards go away to get added to your scoring. That doesn’t sound too hard. You start with a big hand of cards, just move things around until you get a great run. Just one issue with that.
The big hook of SCOUT is that you can’t rearrange the cards in your hand. So when you start playing, you decide which way your cards go, because they have different numbers top and bottom. And you decide that for the whole hand of cards. So, unless there is an amazing shuffle, it’ll never be in order. You need to play the little runs you have or a set of one card, to open up your hand and create those runs. And if you can’t play, you get a card from the previously played ones, making it easier to beat, and you put it anywhere in your hand.
SCOUT is a very good and clever game that way. One that I was hesitant to play, didn’t look all that fun, but it is great fun when you play it. And it is in a very stocking stuffer friendly size box.
Finally we have Dandelions. Dandelions is a game of area control. And in all fairness if you know what dandelions are, that is what it feels like with your yard. But this is with the dandelions here you are trying to compete with your opponents for majority.
You do this by playing out dice. That moves your dandelion pawn around and sees where you drop fluff. You want to have the most dice in areas because that is going to let you get their pip value. But you also get points for the dice you just have in areas, so the total number versus the pips. And some of the areas are worth more. That’s because they don’t have as many spots for the dandelion pawn to land.
Dandelions is a fun game and one where you get to start by rolling a handful of dice. I think the simplicity of how it works, you play a die, you move the pawn, and you place the die, is great with the strategy level of the game. In that it is more than you’d think to line-up your ideal turn and force your opponents dice out of controlling some of the areas.
These are only some of the stocking stuffer board games that I thought of, I actually have a whole shelf for small little games like this. Why, because they are great, not only for stuffing some stockings, but also for taking on trips, family vacations or up to the holidays. I’ll talk about some of those, though, later as we get closer to travel around Christmas time.
But just a quick hit one some other board games out there. Fox in the Forest Duet, for the person who like trick taking board games. Hanamikoji, for that one person who is always down to play board games so you play two player games. Or Medium for the person who really likes party games.
But which of these board games do you want to give or get this holiday season?