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Gift Ideas for the Casual Gamer on your List

Gift Ideas for the Casual Gamer on your List

Not everyone is a hardcore gamer, willing to pore through pages of rules before play time. A lot of people just want something light, easy to learn, enjoyable, and that will wrap up quickly. If you’ve got folks like that on your gift list, here are some of the top game gifts you should think about.

Haggis/Tichu

haggisTichu is a trick-taking or climbing game. In this partnership title, each player gets fourteen cards (a complete Tichu deck has 56 cards). The first player puts out some combination of cards, either a single card, a pair, a full house, a run, etc. Each other player can, in turn, also play that same type, but has to play one of higher value. When all players pass, the last to play gets the stack of cards and starts the next round. The goal, generally, is to use up all of your cards first.

Tichu is an easy game to learn, but can be quite challenging once you start to explore various strategies. You have to learn when to hold back your cards so that you have good stuff to play later. And you have to decide when to break up those good sets in order to stop an opponent from running the table. You’ll learn the value of the lead and how best to use the four special cards. Plus, playing well with your partner is critical.

The only down side to Tichu is that it is a partnership game. So you need exactly four people. If you have two or three, though, Haggis is a great alternative. Haggis uses many of the same central mechanisms–card climbing, bombs, even bidding–but tweaks it for a two or three player game. With Haggis, you can play a fantastic trick-taking game with your significant other or your kids.

Arboretum

arboretumA peaceful walk in the woods will do you good. The only trouble is, Arboretum may not be as peaceful as it first looks. In this title, players compete to build paths of trees through their own personal arboretum. Each tree is basically a suit and numbered from 1 to 8. You just need a path that increases in number and starts and ends with the same kind of tree. Easy, right?

Well, the catch is that only one player can score each type of tree. So if I have a great Maple path, but someone else gets to score Maple, then I’m out of luck. And what determines who scores the path? Whoever has the highest numbered cards still in their hand. So if you play that 8 Dogwood, it might get your more points. But by playing the 8, you might end up without enough points in your hand to score it.

The result is an extremely fun game that is easy to play right off the bat. After a few plays, casual gamers will still find an enjoyable bit of depth to the forest. Arboretum leads to fun and interesting choices in a package that’s quick to play.

Timeline

timelineMost trivia games are a bore, but Timeline does a great job of packaging trivia in a way that is fun and gives players who aren’t good at remembering exact dates a fighting chance to win. Each player gets the same number of cards and each card has an event on it. Like “discovery of penicillin” or “invention of the microscope.” Each also has the year it occurred on the back, but players can only look at the front.

From there, one additional card is put on the table with the date showing. Maybe “invention of the traffic light.” Then the first player takes one of their cards and adds it. Was the discovery of Australopithecus before or after the traffic light? They add it to the timeline. As the timeline extends, it becomes more and more difficult to insert your card in just the right place, which creates a fun challenge.

Timeline is great because you don’t need to know the exact date that something happened. All you need is a sort of general sense about what came first. Since you don’t need to know specific dates, anyone can play this. And often, things are invented or discovered a little before you thought they were, providing an interesting challenge and a few surprises in every play. Plus, there are tons of different versions (more than a dozen), all compatible with each other. So it’s easy to grab a few in areas your gift targets enjoy and have a great time.

Image Credits: Indie Boards and Cards, Z-Man Games, and Asmodee Games

Featured Image Credit: Abacusspiele

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