24 Days of Gaming Stocking Stuffers – Part 1
Games are a great way to relax, have fun, and interact with friends, family and even acquaintances. They also make great presents, hostess gifts and even stocking stuffers – if they’re small and inexpensive enough.
To assist you in your search for the perfect gaming stocking stuffers as well simple games you can play with anyone during the holiday season, I’ve put together this list of 24 games. One for each day between now and Christmas. Treat it as a gaming Advent calendar or a shopping list – or both!
Oh, I almost forgot: you don’t need a giant stocking to hold any of the following games, your regular-sized Christmas stocking will do just fine. These games may be small in size, but they’re packed with hours of fun. So, without further ado, on to the 24 Days of Gaming Stocking Stuffers!
Day 1: 6 nimmt!
6 nimmt! has been a classic go-to card game in Germany for 20 years. While it has enjoyed a few printings in the U.S. under the names Slide 5, 6 Takes!, and Category 5, it wasn’t published here under its own name until this year by Mayfair Games and it just released in November.
“6 nimmt!” is German for “6 takes!” The game’s 104 cards are numbered 1 to 104. Each card features 1 to 7 bullheads. You don’t want to take any bull if you can help it. Setup is quick: place 4 cards on the table face up to start 4 rows and deal 10 cards to each player – up to 10 people can play.
Play is simple, too: players each select a card from their hand and place it face down in front of them. When everyone’s ready, they reveal their cards and play them to the appropriate rows in ascending numerical order. Always play cards at the end of the row where your card is greater than the last card. If your card could be added to more than one row, place it at the end of the row whose end card’s number is closest to yours. If your card is lower than any of the rows’ end cards, then you must choose a row to take – it could be only one card. The card you played becomes the new start card for the row. If you play the sixth card in a row, you have to take the first 5 cards in the row and your card becomes the new start card for the row. Whenever you take cards, place them face down in front of you to form your Bullpen.
The hand is over when everyone has played all of their cards. Players then score the number of bullheads on the cards in their Bullpens (if any). If someone has a score of 66 or higher, the game ends and the player with the lowest score wins. Otherwise, shuffle the cards and deal them again to play a new hand.
6 nimmt! spawned a whole family of games, including: 6 nimmt! Junior, 11 nimmt!, Bullenparty, and Hornochsen. All fit comfortably in a Christmas stocking. Play time 30 to 45 minutes. MSRP: $11.99 to $14.95.
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Day 2: Age of War
Age of War, designed by Reiner Knizia, is a quick-playing, dice-rolling game of conquest. The 14 cards featuring castles to conquer are placed face up on the table. Players take turns rolling 7 dice depicting archery, cavalry, daimyo and 1 to 3 infantry symbols and using the symbols to attempt to conquer one of the castles – each castle is worth a number of victory points. Players can also conquer castles owned by other players, with one exception: when a player owns/has conquered all of the castles of a particular clan, those castles are protected from capture by other players – they’re also worth more points. There are one to four castles associated with each clan. When the last castle is claimed, players count their points and highest score wins. Play time 15 to 30 minutes. MSRP: $12.99.
BraveRats, first released as R with anime-style artwork, is a simple and short 2-player simultaneous action selection card game. The pictures and character abilities ooze theme. Both players have a hand of eight cards, numbered 0 to 7, with each card having a special power. Each round, both players choose a card, then reveal them simultaneously. While the highest card wins the round, the cards’ special powers can mitigate this and lead to unexpected results. Players play until one player has won four rounds. A quick, fun game for 2. Numerous variants in the rule book provide additional options for play.
R offers the same quick game play as BraveRats. BraveRats comes in a tin and features cute, kid-friendly artwork. R is a limited edition re-print of the original version of the game, packaged in a small white envelope, with artwork by the designer’s long-time collaborator Noboru Sugiura who has illustrated more than 15 of Kanai’s card games. Play time: 5 minutes. MSRP: $9.99.
Day 4: The Builders
The Builders is a sweet little micro game in which players vie to be named First Builder of the Kingdom by earning the most victory points by game end. To achieve this, you must combine wise choices of construction sites with recruitment of appropriately skilled workers. As you complete construction of buildings you’ll not only earn renown (victory points), but also the necessary money to hire more competent workers who can build even more prestigious and lucrative buildings. Each turn you have 3 free actions, but for an added cost you can buy additional actions – if you have and are willing to pay the price.
The original game in the line is The Builders: Middle Ages. I reviewed it here a few months ago. The newest, The Builders: Antiquity, offers new challenges and features the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the pyramids of Egypt and the Greek Parthenon, among other ancient wonders. Both games come packaged in a sweet little tin and support 2 to 4 players ages 10 and up. Playtime is about 30 minutes. MSRP: $18.
Day 5: Fluxx
Ah, the flavors of Fluxx. So very many to choose from: Holiday, Batman, Cartoon Network, Regular Show, Oz, Cthulhu, Pirate, Star, Zombie, Family, Eco, Monster, Monty Python, and plain old regular Fluxx. No matter what your gamer’s interest, there’s a Fluxx game to match it.
Fluxx is an ever-changing card game. It starts simple: Draw One card and Play One card with no way to win. However, as you play, the rules change, including: how many cards you draw, how many you have to play, and even the Goal you need to meet in order to win the game!
The rules in all Fluxx games are basically the same. There are 5 types of cards:
- Keepers which you put on the table in front of you – you need them to meet a Goal and win the game.
- Goals played to the middle of the table to set the winning condition – it can and will change!
- New Rules which change game play such as draw rate, number of plays, hand limit, etc.
- Actions that provide a one-time use like drawing cards or stealing someone’s Keeper.
- Creepers that are sort of a bad type of Keeper – they might keep you from winning or be just what you need to meet the current Goal and win the game!
Once you play one Fluxx game, you’ll know how to play them all. You can even mix and match the decks to form fun and/or weird combinations: they all have the same card back. Whichever flavor you choose, Fluxx is a very light-hearted, casual card game for 2 to 6 players and plays in 10 to 40 minutes. MSRP: $14 to $20.
Day 6: Get Bit!
You don’t have to be the fastest robot in the water, just faster than the guy next to you when the shark following behind takes a bite! That’s the premise of Get Bit! Everybody starts with a robot and a set of cards numbered 1 to 7. Each round you choose a card to play and place it face down in front of you. Then everyone simultaneously reveals their cards and moves their robots in order accordingly. Then the last robot in line get’s bit by the shark and loses a limb. Play continues until only two robots remain. Even though they may be nothing but bobbing heads or torsos.
There are two versions of Get Bit!. Get Bit Deluxe comes in a square little tin and includes stickers to dress up your robots as Pirates. The artwork on the cards features Pirate Robots, whereas in the original robots they’re just colored robots. Both versions support 3 to 6 players ages 8 and up. You can buy Robot Expansions to allow more players. There’s even a Sharkspansion, so one player can play the shark! Game MSRP: $25 to $26. Expansions $5.
Day 7: Card Sleeves
To sleeve or not to sleeve, that is the question when most gamers open a new game. For some, it’s not even a question, it’s an absolute certainty. For me, it’s always a matter of whether the cards need protecting or not.
Whether your gamer is an avid sleever or sometime sleever, card sleeves make nice stocking stuffers. So when you pick out a game, pick up some card sleeves to go with it. You can put the card sleeves in their stocking as a teaser: make them guess which game they’re for!
If you need help figuring out which sleeves to get to match a particular game, just ask us! MSRP: $2 to $6/pack.
Day 8: Incan Gold
Incan Gold is a push-your-luck style card game that’s quick, fun and tense game. The theme: you and your fellow adventurers are exploring an old Incan temple in search of gold and treasure. In each of the five rounds, you secretly choose whether you want to continue exploring the temple in search of more treasure or retreat to the safety of your camp tent with your share of the currently discovered booty.
Each time an explorer braves new territory, there’s a risk: more treasure may appear or some danger may present itself. When a second type of the same danger occurs, all exposed treasure is immediately buried, leaving the remaining adventurers with nothing for all their hard work. Will you push your luck and explore more deeply into the temple for the chance of finding richer treasures? Or will you escape the dangerous temple while you can with your valuables intact – paltry though they may be?
After five rounds of exploration, the adventurer with the most treasure wins the game. Incan Gold supports 3 to 8 players ages 8 and up. I don’t see any reason younger folk couldn’t play this light, family-friendly game. Playtime runs 20 to 40 minutes. MSRP: $26.
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Well, that covers the first 8 days. I’ll post Part 2, with the next 8 next week.