Gifts for tabletop gamers and dungeon-delvers

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The holidays are fast upon us — and nerds have needs. Nerdvana has a few ideas to aid in your selfless quest!

The author received copies of some of the game materials below for review. Many of these games are available at your LOCAL gaming retailers. Check around!

Games make great gifts — but which ones? Low-tech tabletop games like board games, roleplaying games and card games are some of my favorite gift ideas because they are a great excuse to get together with friends. Here are some of my picks for this holiday season:


Dungeon! — This classic TSR board game, recently refreshed by Wizards of the Coast, takes some elements of the classic Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game and distills them into a more straightforward board game experience.

Dungeon!The most important part of any board game is the board, and Dungeon! doesn’t skimp there. (I wish the same could be said for the playing pieces. I would have preferred a traditional plastic or metal figurine to the cardboard punch-outs you must assemble. While made of good card stock, it detracts from the play experience, and I will be substituting some of my D&D Miniatures — as, I am sure, will many diehards. The other punch-out items — counters, tokens, etc. — aren’t as offensive, but for a game that comes from the halls of Wizards of the Cost, I expect more of my actual playing pieces.) That being said, this helps keep the cost of the game down and makes Dungeon! –– at just $20 –an affordable and fun addition to any gamer’s shelf, and the perfect alternate game to pull out when players don’t show up for a roleplaying adventure. (Check out the rules here.)

Dungeon CommandDungeon Command — Another Wizards of the Coast product, and not the last you’ll see on this list, Dungeon Command is the return of tactical miniatures gaming to the D&D universe after the end of the randomly distributed D&D Miniatures line. Each themed $40 set comes in a sturdy-ish storage box with a dozen prepainted plastic miniatures, as well as game cards, play tiles and rules. The minis are good for use in Dungeon Command skirmish sessions as well as tokens in D&D roleplaying sessions (and Dungeon! — see above). (Check out the rules here.)

Elminster's Forgotten RealmsDungeons & Dragons books — Just because the D&D game’s 4th edition is winding down and the next version is in active (and open) playtesting doesn’t mean there aren’t any new releases to add to gamers’ bookshelves. The more recent releases take the form of “edition-neutral” supplements that serve as world-building resources, like the recent Elminster’s Forgotten Realms and Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue. There are also premium reprints of the game’s 1st Edition and 3.5 Edition core rulebooks, with the latter benefiting a fund to erect a fitting memorial to D&D co-creator Gary Gygax. The coming “D&D Next” edition is supposed to embrace all versions of the game, so at this point anything from the vast D&D archives can serve as a good gift that either adds narrative flavor to an ongoing campaign or reaches back into RPG history to make what was old new again.

Dungeons & Dragons Fortune Cards — An optional gaming aid for D&D, Fortune Cards are sold in boxes and booster packs much like Magic: the Gathering (see below), but serve to mix things up by adding new rules options to the roleplaying game. If you know someone who already plays modern D&D, a Fortune Cards pack is a great inexpensive stocking stuffer.

Magic: The Gathering cards — Much like D&D’s books, Magic: The Gathering players are known to put away their cards for a while before being pulled back into this ever-evolving, deck-building game one way or another. Just a few booster packs or intro decks dropped into a Christmas stocking can be all it takes to inspire a former player to hop back into the world of the planeswalkers, or give a current player an added boost in their duels.

Cthulhu FluxxFluxx is a great card game where the rules can change with every move. It’s also proved versatile and an attractive platform for many pop culture franchises — and now the eldritch horrors dreamt up by H.P. Lovecraft have come “calling” with Cthulhu Fluxx Cthulhu is always a great ironic gift choice — there are even plush toys of the betentacled monstrosity. And even if your gift recipient has never heard of Lovecraftian horror (for shame!), the game is one they’ll turn to again and again due to its enormous replay value. (As as side note, Fluxx is about to debut on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch devices, and I’ll have a review of that soon.)

There are many more gift ideas lurking in the Nerdvana archives. Explore them now!

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