2011 Gifts for Every Gamer Guide–Part 4: Tabletop Traditionalists

dice cakeThe holiday season is a time where we all crack open our piggy banks and wrack our brains to think of the best surprise for that special someone in your life. And we do mean best! While there are some inexpensive items on this list, we set a $200 spending limit and we’re not afraid to use it.

We’ll be breaking down the generic “gamer” moniker into it’s various flavors and choosing one item we feel would make prefect surprise for your target of holiday cheer.

Don’t care enough to send the very best? We’ll clue you in on the best gift card based on their gaming platform of choice.

For the final part of our four part 2011 Gifts for Every Gamer Guide we unplug for a while and turn our scrutiny to those Cravers of Cardboard, the Poobahs of Pewter, the Daimyos of Dice, the tabletop and board gamers. These are old school gamers who indulge is such alien concepts as friends, family, sunlight, and dice. Lots and lots of dice.

Board Games

While some may consider the time of board games long over, nothing could be further from the truth. The arrival of modern era classics like Catan and Ticket to Ride reinvigorated family board game night. Giant, hobbyist class games like Talisman and Arkham Horror are back in print and bigger than ever. There is a reason that a new themed Monopoly set arrives on store shelves every couple of months. Getting together with friends and family around a good board game and a bowl of chips never goes out of style.

Our gift selection for the board game lover in your life takes a classic of the genre and updates it with a whole new style: Risk Legacy.

Yes, Horus Heresy brings- Wait, what?! We’re going with Risk for this category? WTF?

This is NOT the Risk you know and are sick of. This is something very special. Risk Legacy is not simply a new take on Risk, it is a new take on board games. Over the course of several games, your lucky giftee and his cadre of gamers will build their very own unique version of the game. This is board gaming meets scrapbooking.

How extreme is Risk Legacy? Part of setting up the game for the first time will see one of the cards torn up and thrown away, removing it from the game forever. Subsequent plays will see stickers permanently placed on the board and landmarks named in permanent marker. Rules will come and cards will go as memories of past games forever leave their mark as gamers build their own unique, numbered version of the classic board game.

Risk Legacy is available from your friendly, local hobby shop for $60 or online via Amazon ($52 at Amazon)

Board gamer gift card suggestion: Most board gamers frequent local establishments for their gaming needs. We suggest the Amazon.com gift card as a default due to their selection.

Kiddie Board Gamers

Board games are important for the wee ones. They facilitate playing together, taking turns, and sportsmanship. The physical act of moving pieces, shuffling cards, spinning spinners, and rolling dice provide a fun means of building early coordination skills. They’ll learn about responsibility when they inevitably loose a piece and the art of repurposing when you show them how to use another toy to replace it. It’s also a great activity to do together that doesn’t involve carrying or swinging their bouncing baby bums around after a hard day’s work.

candy land 2011For these tiny terror tots there was one title on top: Candy Land!

You don’t have to be able to read or count to play Candy Land. The game relies on color recognition and matching. The colored cards can easily be replaced if lost or damaged thanks to affordable inkjet printers. Plus, you get to play as a gingerbread man. Sweet!

We recommend the plain-Jane version. The latest incarnation from Hasbro is actually titled Candy Land: The World of Sweets. Stay away from the Deluxe edition with its crazy 6 panel board. Likewise, avoid the large number of themed sets with custom figures as children will just fight over who gets to be the main character.

Candy Land: The World of Sweets is available pretty much everywhere for $10. We recommend ordering directly from Hasbro.

Kiddie Board Gamer gift card suggestions: None. Don’t give kids gift cards. Give snuggly blankets if your really stuck for idea.


Be it Pokemon or Poker, Yu-Gi-Oh or Munchkin, cards are not just a fun component of larger games, but fun games in their own right. We wouldn’t presume to guess how many boosters from which expansion to get for a dedicated Magic: The Gathering player, so we opted for a complete, self contained game.

51mW5tHZkhLBoy howdy, do we have one heck of a deal on a cool self-contained card game for your cardboard craving loved one today. Space Hulk: Death Angel: The Card Game takes the expensive, table sprawling Warhammer 40,000 original and boils the essence down to a fast playing co-operative card game suitable for one to six players. Yep, we said one. This gift gives even when your recipient can’t get his usual gaggle of gamers together. The co-operative nature of Death Angel is also a pleasant change from other card games that usually involve direct competition or backstabbing.

Space Hulk: Death Angel: The Card Game can be found in most book stores or hobby shops for around $20 ($15 at Amazon )

Card gamer gift card suggestions: As with board gamers, card gamers usually frequent local establishments for their gaming needs. We suggest the Amazon.com gift card as a default due to their selection.


Ah, the geeks of yesteryear. So adorable with their pencils and papers and books and charts and imagination. While classic forms of communication such as talking and writing move farther and farther from our cold, “connected” world, these troubadour warriors continue the fine tradition of storytelling that has captivated generations. Then there’s the dice. Oh, those lovely, lovely dice.

The tabletop role player can be a tough customer to shop for. What do they play? Dungeons & Dragons? Champions? G.U.R.P.S.? Pathfinder? What edition? No, that’s the wrong one! Everyone knows that Nth edition was blahblahblah. Odds are you’re not paying enough attention as they prattle on about their hobby to answer any of these questions. Fortunately, nearly all role play gamers have a couple of qualities in common: A love of storytelling and a bizarre sense of humor involving ancient supernatural evil. We just had to pick one for each. As a bonus, they’re both cheap!

First up is Rory’s Story Cubes, perhaps the most criminally underrated sets of dice ever. Each of these nine dice are covered not with numbers, but pictures. Rolling a few of these around the included tray is guaranteed to fuel the imagination, cure writers block, and doom adventuring parties at the hands of sadistic Dungeon Masters. These will be quickly repurposed by even the dimmest RPG gamer in a heartbeat. There is nothing better than a random story generator to a storyteller. The fact that they’re dice is just sweet, dragonberry jam on top!

Rory’s Story Cubes are in hobby and book stores for $10 or online at Amazon for $7. A second set, Rory’s Story Cubes-Actions, will be out soon for $10. Amazon is taking preorders for a December 18th release.

Secondly we have a pair of slippers in the likeness of the Great Old One himself, Cthulhu. You see, Cthulhu is a force of unspeakable evil slumbering beneath the sea in R’lyeh and if it ever wakes up the world ends… made into plushie slippers. Look, take it from a geek, this is as funny as a Shoggoth  emitting positive planar force while bowling. You don’t get that one either? Man, you’re lucky to have found this guide!

Cthulhu Slippers are available online from Think Geek for $30.
Role-play gamer gift card suggestion: Most role-play gamers tend frequent local establishments for their gaming needs. We suggest the Amazon.com gift card as a default due to their selection.

Tabletop Miniatures

To the untrained eye the miniatures gamer may appear similar to the D&D gamer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, they both use great tomes full of charts and mountains of dice, but these groups are smaller and there is less emphasis on telling a story and more on debating rules and stats. There are also a great many more toy soldiers involved.

Tabletop miniature gamers are also very busy people. They are don’t just play games, they build them! Miniature gamers assemble and paint, literally, hundreds of models in preparation for a game. Be it historical or fantasy or sci-fi, miniature gamers are equal parts consumer, model builders, and artists. Whenever you see a miniatures game in full swing realize you are gazing up hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise personally customized over months of loving labor.

VF-ML-001.paintedWith these factors in mind, and knowing full well the vast array of miniature game genres, we decided to choose a gift that would compliment, rather than augment, their collection.

The Terra-Flex Moorlands Gaming Mat is the perfect compliment to any miniatures battle. Fully textured, ready for painting, and shipping in a reusable sleeve for easy storage, the Terra-Flex Gaming Mat adds a wonderful new piece to your loved one’s collection in one of the most neglected categories: The ground.

While there are a number of sizes available, we recommend the 6’x4’ mat. This is a fairly standard table size for miniatures battles and the mat can be cut down for smaller tables. The Terra-Flex Moorlands Gaming Mat costs $53 plus shipping and is available directly from Zuzzy Miniatures.

Miniatures gamer gift card suggestions: Like most other tabletop gamers, miniature gamers gravitate towards local hobby shops for their needs. They also tend to be avid eBay users. While eBay does have gift cards, the forced ties to PayPal make us a little wary. We suggest our ol’ standby, the Amazon.com gift card.

Catch up on Part 1 – Console Commandos

Catch up on Part 2 – Mobile Marauders

Catch up on Part 3 – Computer Crusaders

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