Ah, yes, December, when we look at the year’s highlights and, of course, give you the chance to win stuff (like, so much stuff) that we think would look good under any tree.
We have games, toys and books galore this season, with plenty of goodies thanks to our chums Hasbro UK and Asmodee UK.
Below you’ll see some of our favourites from the year, along with mini-reviews of each and links to the full reviews. We’ve categorised them by who we recommend them for – we’ve even got a Secret Santa suggestion or two!
There’s a bit of overlap, so use your judgement :)
GAMES (BOARD, CARD AND MINIATURES)
Best for… Nerdy, IP-loving Geeks
Harry Potter fans… Stupefy! (reviewed HERE) – A ridiculous (riddikulus?) shouty game of wand waving and dueling for all ages.
Star Wars (Classic) fans… Star Wars Rebellion (reviewed HERE) – A massive, immersive game that places you as the Empire or Rebels telling your own Star Wars Saga.
Star Wars (Prequel/Clone Wars) fans… Star Wars Pandemic: The Clone Wars (reviewed HERE) – Using the Pandemic engine to show the Separatists’ droid armies overrunning the galaxy and facing down villains in lightsaber duels may seem unlikely but is a sure-fire winner.
Marvel fans… Marvel Champions LCG (reviewed HERE) – Use your favourite Marvel heroes and build custom decks to face off against a host of classic foes, great as a solo or co-operative experience. Yes, it was on last year’s list as well and, no, I don’t care.
Batman Fans… The Dark Knight Returns (reviewed HERE) – Although it’s a solo outing, this truly immerses you in the pages of Frank Miller’s classic.
Dune Fans… Dune Imperium (reviewed HERE) – Wormsign spotted! Part deck-builder, part worker-placement, all Arakis!
Best for… Couples
Splendor / Marvel Splendor (reviewed HERE) – The esoteric game of medieval jewelery design, along with its infinity gem reskin, may seem an unlikely premise but is a tense and deceptively simple game that’s sure to lead to divorce.
7 Wonders: Duel (reviewed HERE) – Probably the best 2-player game on the market; highly focused, completely brutal and utterly devious.
Best for… Families
Dixit (reviewed HERE) – Charming, whimsical and abstract, Dixit revels in storytelling and allows players of all ages to have a genuinely satisfying shared experience.
Ticket to Ride: First Journey (reviewed HERE) – Remarkably, the streamlined version of the Days of Wonder classic is just as playable as the original yet completely accessible to kids and adults alike.
Best for… Solo play
Viticulture Essential Edition (reviewed HERE) – The newest edition of the original Stonemaier is an absolute classic, but is profoundly satisfying as a solo worker placement as well.
Best for… Novice (but keen!) gamers
Wingspan (reviewed HERE) – It’s so mainstream it’s been on Corrie!! The beautiful game of ornithological collection continues to delight
Akropolis (reviewed HERE) – Quarrying stone to build an ancient city has never been as exciting! A great entry game with some surprisingly subtle (and cutthroat) tactics!
Best for… Veteran Gamers
Brass: Birmingham (reviewed HERE) – If you want to pit your wits against a modern heavyweight masterpiece, then this is the game for you: the industrial revolution in exquisite microcosm.
Best for… A Mixed Ability/Experience Group
Red Rising (reviewed HERE) – Stonemaier’s hand-management gem requires a lot of thought to master its deceptively simple core mechanics; this is a seriously challenging and thrilling game that will push gamers of all abilities, with readily scaleable difficulties through the different Houses.
Best for… Miniature Gamers
Firefight (reviewed HERE) – Perhaps the best entry-level one-box miniature gaming experience on the market, everything you need to play Mantic’s fast, furious game of sci-fi combat is simply an absolute belter.
Best for… Miniature Painters
Marvel Crisis Protocol (reviewed HERE, and pretty much every other Geeking Out!) – As well as being one of the most popular miniature games on the market, the core box still features some of the best hard plastic figures out there.
Harry Potter Miniature Game (reviewed HERE) – Yes, this a bit of left-field choice but the simple fact is that, as scale models from movies go, these are frankly unbeatable quality.
Best for… a Big Box Deluxe Treat
Carcasonne – Complete Edition (reviewed HERE) – One of the true classics, this luxurious compilation includes an array of the best expansions and looks darn pretty on the shelf to boot.
Best for… Secret Santa
Love Letter: Jabba’s Palace (reviewed HERE) – Simple, straightforward and ruthless, as you battle it out to secure Jabba’s favour: my kind of scum.
Best for… Retro Gamers
Heroquest (reviewed HERE) – The classic dungeon crawling board game rerelease still stands up as tremendously accessible and family-friendly gaming delight – a step up from Cluedo though!
Best for… Teenagers (whether they’re gamers or not)
Best for… Non-Gamers
Bagh-Chal (reviewed HERE) – Help keep alive tradition with Nepal’s ancient game of goats and tigers; accessible, but with a strong social message too!
TOYS & FIGURES
There’s been some amazing releases from Hasbro this year. Whether it’s the retro perfection of the pocket-sized treat that is the new Legends and Vintage ranges (reviewed HERE), or the Action Figure gems that are rolling out of Star Wars Black Series (reviewed HERE) and Marvel Legends (reviewed HERE).
Or, how about checking out a couple of these brand-new treats just in time for Xmas?
Power Rangers Dino Knight Morpher
RRP £39.99 | Ages 5+
The Dino Knight Morpher is inspired by the Dino Fury TV programme, worn by the Red Ranger when he upgrades his powers! It has lights and sounds, is motion reactive (so it responds to kids’ movements), and includes a Dino Knight key that unlocks even more morphinominal sounds!
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther Legacy Collection Wakanda Battle FX Claws
RRP 38.99 | Ages 5+
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther Legacy Collection spotlights one of Marvel’s most historic and iconic characters! Children can dress up as Black Panther and pretend to save the world against Wakanda’s enemies! Gear up with these Black Panther Legacy Wakanda Battle FX Claws and get ready for action play by performing the Wakandan Salute, and activating left-hand claws, lights and sounds.
We’ve not really touched on geeky reads this year, but I couldn’t let the year bow out without a couple of recommendations from Aconyte books. As an English teacher (and occasional parent) IRL, I know that it can be desperately difficult to engage certain types of readers – but Aconyte’s range of IP-fiction is a great way in.
They have a huge range set in different gaming universes – everything from Computer (e.g. Assassin’s Creed) to board (e.g. Terraforming Mars) to Card & RPG (e.g. L5R) – and there’s no denying it’s great to delve deeper into the fluff behind your favourites. However, for me (and more importantly, my kids), it’s the Marvel tie-ins that are the real treat.
Sometimes, a good way in is the novelisation of the comic or a more in-depth look at a set of events, and the likes of Triptych: Marvel Xavier’s Institute explores fan-favoutire character’s like Fantomex in an engaging, accessible way.
Equally, there are times when you want to delve deeper into something that’s never been fully explored – that’s where the Marvel Untold line comes in, such as Dark Avengers: The Patriot List.
Of course, you could always go REALLY retro with a dash of Choose your own Adventure, in the Marvel Multiverse Missions Adventure Gamebook such as She-Hulk Goes to Murderworld or the frankly hilarious (if a little bit more grown-up) You Are Not Deadpool.
Whilst I’m a massive advocate of the benefits of comics and graphic novels for impacting youth literacy, there’s no denying the appeal and impact that the Aconyte range can have.
So to fill you with festive cheer we’ve tried to give you something for everybody, whether it’s smallfolk, grown-up goodies, or overgrown kids.
Here’s what you can win:
BOARD GAMES – Splendor
MINIATURES – Sentinels MK4, Red Skull & Hydra Agents, Harry Potter Gryffindor First Years, Professor Quirrell
TOYS – Legends Megatron, Power Rangers Dino Knight Morpher
ACTION FIGURES – Marvel Legends MODOK (what, it’s not a toy, it’s an action figure, blithering imbecile!)
BOOKS – Fantomex: Xavier’s Institute
That’s over £300 of festive fun! Thanks once again to the brilliant folk at Hasbro UK and Asmodee UK, particularly Ellie @ Hasbro and the guys at Asmodee – massive supporters of the blog and the site as a whole. You guys, quite frankly, rock.
So to win, just let us know: what are you hoping to find stuffed in your stocking this season? Let us know in the comments!
And remember to Like, Comment and Share across your socials (FB, Insta and/or Twitter) tagging us @bigcomicpage & @games_with_graven to bag yourself a bonus entry! UK only unless you’re willing to fork out the postage, alas.
As ever, we’ll do the draw at the start of next month – but don’t forget to pop back mid-month, where we’ll be taking a look ahead to 2023 and Star Wars: Shatterpoint, the new 40mm sci-fi character skirmish game coming in 2023 from Atomic Mass (and of course, blag a contest bonus entry too)!
And finally, the winner of our Marvel Champions LCG Giveaway is… Ross McLatchie!
Congratulations! Remember to get in touch with email@example.com within 30 days to claim your prize!