The best Christmas gifts for fans of board games

If you're looking to buy Christmas gifts for a board game lover, here's a few ideas to get you started.
flamecraft christmas gift guide board games

Buying board games for another person can be extremely difficult. Not only are there countless variations, adaptations, and gameplay styles to choose from, but there are also more board games releasing by the day. Given taste is very subjective, getting it right is a difficult art. But luckily, there’s plenty of room to move in the world of board games – and it’s only the really rare titles that can’t be enjoyed by everyone.

That said, if you’re looking for some pointers on your quest, and you’re not quite sure what the board game lover in your life wants for Christmas, read on for a list of tried-and-tested recommendations, from stocking stuffer ideas to full-scale tabletop adventures.

Let’s break down our recommendations by genre:

The best board games for younger kids

If you’re looking to buy board games for a younger kid, who may be just starting out in this brave new world, the good news is there are plenty of simple board and card games for early starters. You’ll need to test the waters to get a sense of dexterity and knowledge retention, depending on how old your gift receiver is, but any of these games are great for young and inexperienced players:

  • Hive – AU $24.98 – This pocket-sized tile-laying game tasks you with keeping your bugs alive in a competitive game of Tetris.
  • Mouse Trap – AU $23.20 – This timeless adventure game sends you on a grand quest to collect cheese and avoid a variety of traps, which can be deployed by other players.
  • Kingdomino – AU $34.30 – This tile-based board game invites players to build out kingdoms by connecting terrains on a colourful grid.

Adventure board games for everyone

If you’ve got an older kid on your hands – or perhaps a family that loves to play games together, it’s best to look for more mature board games for Christmas gifts. This includes games with a few more rules, but just as much fun and adventure. Your chosen game should involve everyone in its gameplay, and provide scope for creativity, exploration, and experimentation.

Here’s what we’d recommend for older kids, or family groups:

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood – AU $56.22 – This board game and storybook hybrid sends players on a grand romp through Sherwood Forest, with the action being determined by choose-your-own-adventure instructions.
  • Cluedo – AU $23.20Cluedo has remained a board gaming classic for a reason – it’s simple to learn, extremely tense, and makes for some absolutely raucous group puzzle-solving.
  • Meadow – AU $73.99 – This cutesy puzzle-adventure board game is all about exploring a field, and recording every cute animal and beautiful plant you find in your path.
  • Machi Koro – AU $44.00 – This tile-laying board game sees players carving out their own cities by establishing monuments, and listening to the demands of each NPC citizen.

If you’re looking for other recommendations, check out our comprehensive list of the best narrative adventure board games.

Co-op and party board games

A party isn’t complete without a few good board games. If the person you’re buying for this Christmas has a particular penchant for hanging out with friends, they might benefit from owning a party or co-op board game (or two). These can be fun backups for when party ideas get stale, or the main event, depending on the vibe of each party.

Consider purchasing any of these as gifts for a guaranteed good time:

  • MonsDRAWsity – AU $54.80 – This abstract board game tasks players with solving the identity of mystery monster by undertaking mini-drawing competitions.
  • The Last Message – AU $39.95 – Like MonsDRAWsity, this board game is all about sketching out a criminal in the hopes of solving a crime – but with the criminal able to erase bits of drawings, the clues are less clear.
  • Incohearent – AU $31.45 – This ridiculous party game is all about guessing what gibberish phrases actually mean – like ‘mocks suck curb berk’ turning into Mark Zuckerberg.

For more recommendations, check out our lists of the best co-op board games and best party board games.

Solo stories to explore

If the person you’re buying board games for is more into calmer, self-guided adventures, they might enjoy solo board games. These are tabletop romps that are completely playable at their own pace. You won’t need to gather the troops for a board game night, or wait ages for when everyone is next free – you can simply jump in and go for it.

Here are a few we love and heartily recommend:

  • Mansions of Madness – AU $124.95 – This multi-story adventure sends 1-4 players on a haunted romp through terrifying regions – all of which are illustrated in graphic detail via hex-based tiles.
  • Dinosaur Island – AU $72.00 – This complex management game tasks you with running the perfect dinosaur theme park, while driving scientific innovation forward.

For more of the best solo board games, check out our highly recommended solo board game list.

Escape room and puzzle board games

If you’re looking for a brain-scratching board game this Christmas, then look no further than this list of the best puzzle board games around. From tile-laying games like Azul to horrifying escape rooms, there’s no shortage of great, affordable puzzle board games for everyone.

Here are a few to get you started:

  • Calico – AU $67.89 – This tile-laying game has you creating the perfect quilt to attract the fussiest, cutest cats to your domain.
  • Unlock! Mystery Adventures – AU $51.87 – This timed ‘escape room’ style puzzle board game contains three unique adventures to solve with quick thinking and ingenuity. The themes for this collection are high seas, haunted mansion, and deep underwater.
  • Azul – AU $49.00 – This tile-laying game is all about creating patterns on individual player boards to score the most points, and create a dazzling display.
  • Cat Crimes – AU $22.99 – If you’re looking for a light puzzle game everyone can enjoy, look no further than Cat Crimes, a detective game where the suspects are adorable kittens.
  • Surrealist Dinner Party – AU 43.00 – This gorgeous puzzler is all about inviting world-famous surrealist artists to dinner, and serving them a delicious meal. It’s extremely well-illustrated, very compact, and features plenty of unique strategy mechanics.

For more, check out the list of our favourite puzzle board games.

The best new board game releases of 2022

There’ve been so many excellent board games released in 2022 – some of which you unfortunately can’t buy just yet, thanks to slow Kickstarter fulfilment processes and global manufacturing shortages. Despite this, we still have plenty of newer titles to recommend (yes, some of which technically came out in 2021) to keep your Christmas gifts relevant, and reduce the likelihood of double-ups. If you’re looking to gift the latest and greatest board games, here’s what we’d recommend:

  • Flamecraft – AU $165 – This dragon-rearing simulator is absolutely gorgeous, and allows players to live their dreams of managing a thriving fantasy business in a colourful, enchanting world.
  • The Night Cage – AU $110 – This spooky dungeon crawler tasks players with finding their way through endless corridors filled with unseen shadow beasts, one tile at a time.
  • Meeples & Monsters – AU $87.99 – This management game is all about recruiting and training bands of warriors to help save a magical kingdom from the clutches of war.
  • The Gardens – AU $70.48 – It’s rare that Australia features in board games, but this gorgeous strategy game is a very rare exception. In the adventure, you’ll be wandering the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, placing landmarks on your path.
  • In Too Deep – AU $82.79 – This futuristic sci-fi game is all about recruiting characters and avoiding the deep arm of the law in a terrifying society ruled by a sinister organisation.
  • Wonderland’s War – AU $88.55 – This Alice in Wonderland adaptation takes a spooky tilt on the classic myth by turning it into a war-based area control game.

If you’re looking for other gift guides in the lead-up to Christmas, check out:

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Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.