Stocking Stuffer Games
Trophies – $15 MSRP
Trophies is the perfect kind of game you can pull out of your stocking on Christmas morning, read the rules to, and start playing with loved ones within 5 minutes. One player is simply the judge who holds the deck of cards up for others to see the big letter on the front. On the back of the deck, the judge picks a topic from the five options, states it out loud, and awards the front card to the first player to call out a word that starts with the letter on the front card and fits the chosen topic from the back card. There’s also a fun bit of wiggle room for the judge to choose their favorite answer if multiple players call out words at once. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s likable.
Insider Black – $25 MSRP
Insider Black is a new edition of the best version of 20-questions you’ve probably never played. Instead of a limit of 20 yes-or-no questions, there is a sand timer limit where players must question their way to word before time runs out. But it’s not quite that simple…
Each round, players receive a secret role: The Master is the person who knows the word and answers the yes or no questions. The Commons are all on a team trying to ask questions and guess the answer. The Insider secretly already knows the answer, and they are trying to blend in as a Commons while subtly guiding the group to the correct answer before time runs out. If players get to the answer in time, then they must all discuss and vote for who they think the Insider was. If the majority votes for the wrong person, then the Insider wins and everyone else loses!
Insider Black adds in a few new elements including a Follower (who is secretly on the Insider’s team) as well as off-limits question cards and trickier topic cards to make things more spicy for the group. Best of all, that little black box will fit in just about any sized stocking you throw at it.
Sprawlopolis / Agropolis – $12 MSRP
Sprawlopolis is the best wallet card game that money can buy. That’s right, it’s an 18-card game that comes in a little wallet case, fits in your pocket, and can be played solo or cooperatively. This puzzly city building game is as simple as picking a card to lay out onto your growing table of blocks, streets, and parks. While an 18-card game sounds like it would quickly run out of steam, this one keeps every play fresh and interesting by having 3 unique objectives that change with every play.
You can even double-dip on this fun after the stockings are stored away by preordering the farm-building sequel, Agropolis, which is set to arrive early next year.
Love Letter has shown up on many of our past lists, including 10 Games Everyone Should Try and my own Top 50 Board Games of All Time (2020 list). It’s a bona-fide classic that, much like Sprawlopolis, contains a mere handful of cards. Best at 4-players, it’s the kind of addictive bluffing & deduction game that will see your group playing it over and over, as each round lasts only a couple minutes.
While I’m partial to the classic version, this evergreen game has had plenty of reskins and reimaginings including the most recent Marvel Infinity Gauntlet which pits one player (Thanos) against the rest.
Hive – $28 MSRP
Hive is a charming little 2-player abstract strategy game (in the same realm as Chess, but simpler) with pleasant chunky pieces and zero ounces of luck. It’s the kind of game that you play against your wife a few times, and she kicks your trash every time, and so you put it in a hidden corner of your bookshelf for a while as you try to forget your shame…
Continue on to Page 6: Games for Holiday Parties