The top 10 board games for Christmas 2022 recommended by Cambridge expert
It’s practically the law that you have to play a board game at Christmas – even if you never touch them for the rest of
But if you’re feeling glum at the thought of another round of Cluedo or Monopoly, take heart. Games now are much more sophisticated – and fun – and there is something for every age group, whatever your Christmas Day family situation.
Whether you need something that will include young children but still be enjoyable enough for the adults too, or you’re doing a
grown-up festive season, there is a bewildering selection of new games to choose from.
We’ve spoken to a games expert at Heffers bookshop in Cambridge to find out what the big trends are in board games this year and what is flying off the shelves.
Karl Webb spends his time searching out the latest offerings and has even ventured to European games expos to hunt down the best board-based fun to be had. Apparently, these involve a room full of people trying out new games and he knows he’s found a winner when grown-ups refuse to leave the playing table.
“The games market is really booming,” says Karl.
“During the pandemic, families were looking for other forms of entertainment than just TV and things that they could do together. And since then board games have taken off.”
His number one favourite in the family games this market is a marching game called Dodo which encourages players to work together and save a dodo’s egg that is rolling down a mountainside.
“It’s definitely for players on the younger side. However, I will say that my first encounter with this game was in an expo where it was being showcased in a demonstration, and I did see two grown men playing it and they looked like they were having a great time trying to stop this egg falling off this mountain, which was quite a good sign.”
His personal favourite for creating family laughs is Throw Throw Burrito, a game which involves chucking a soft toy burrito at the person you have just defeated.
Karl explains: “This one has got some energy to it. It is a card game. But there’ll be some challenges that get thrown in there as well. Whoever wins that challenge does get to grab the soft toy burrito and throw it to celebrate their victory. I think that’s quite cute.”
He reckons he has the formula sorted for the best type of game to bring out on Christmas Day, and his recommendations below will match up to those needs.
He says: “An ideal family game is attractive and accessible. If it has simple rules that allow players to get into the action right away, while still providing meaningful and engaging decisions, then it has succeeded in being a family game.
“Games should be social and interactive by taking an item someone else wanted or blocking someone’s next move. Gone are the days of rolling a dice to decide your fate and instead exploring strategy in a fun and fair way.”
Karl’s top 10 games for Christmas
Karl’s top 10 games for Christmas
2-4 players / about 10 minutes / age 6+, £29.99
An adorable, co-operative game of memory match. In the middle, you will have a built mountain with the Dodo's egg sitting at the top. When the egg is released it will roll down the ramps. Taking turns, players will roll the the dice and attempt to match the result with a token flip of available tokens. A successful match is one step closer to adding the next ramp to the mountain before the egg falls off. Can you work together to help the egg reach the bottom safely without falling off?
The dodo has proudly laid her egg on the highest mountain peak… but watch out! A moment later it falls from the nest and rolls at high speed down the mountain to the edge of the cliff … Can you and your team save it? All players have to work together to build the bridges and bring the rolling wobbly egg safely to the rescue boat at the foot of the mountain. Speed and teamwork are essential in this frantic, fun game for ages six-plus. Save the egg and win the game!
2. Throw Throw Burrito/Avocado
2-6 players, 30-60 minutes, age 7+, £29.99
This a challenge duelling type of activity game. It is a frantic game about completing an action the fastest, and being the first to pick up the toy burrito or avocado and throw it at the other player. It will get competitive in an entertaining, silly way.
3. Cobra Paw
2-6 players, 15 minutes, age 5+, £14.99
Prove yourself as master ninja with your speed and reflexes. Compete to be the first to spot and grab the domino piece in the centre that matches the result on 2 dice. This game has a lot of energy and fun competitiveness.
4. Quacks of Quedlinburg
2-4 players, 60 minutes, age 10+, £41.99
In this quick-to-pick-up game, you play as quack doctors attempting to cure the silly ailments of local peasants. Players brew secret concoctions by pulling ingredients from a shared bag and they can choose to push their luck to improve the potion, but doing so risks the entire pot exploding!
2-4 players, 45 minutes, age 8+, £35.99
A very cute game of expanding a garden to score on three types of cards; you need use the gardener to grow bamboo shoots, feed the panda’s tummy bamboo, and expand the garden in specific ways.
2-4 players, 40 minutes, age 10+, £33.99
Become a grand architect in ancient Egypt. This game has very simple turns with interesting decisions and strategy. Aim for goals at the different scoreboards and watch where to stop other players - an excellent game to introduce families to modern strategic games.
7. Stella - Dixit Universe
3-6 players, 30 minutes, age 8+, £33.99
This a follow up from the very successful game, Dixit. Stella acts as a standalone game and an expansion to Dixit, as they use the same backed cards with unique artwork. Players are each given a board to mark which pictures in a line-up can be associated with a target word. Then in turn, players reveal one of their choices in hopes that they have matched with someone else. Failure to match someone takes you out that round. You want to stay in the round to score as much as you can.
2-4 players, 25 minutes, age 8+, £19.99
This easy-to-play, award-winning game involves building a kingdom of terrain domino pieces. The best dominoes have crowns on them and score the most points, but also dictate that you go later in choosing your tile next round. Once everyone has made a 5 by 5 square kingdom, we see who scored the most.
9. Unlock 10 - Game Adventures
1-5 players, 30-60 minutes, age 10+, £29.99
All the excitement of an escape room in a tabletop game box! This series utilises an innovative card-searching mechanic, which means the game is not left unplayable at the end and instead can be passed on to others to play after. Players need only turn over the first in a deck of cards to start play and then proceed to pull numbered cards from the deck when riddles are solved. This latest instalment features cases based on classic games Ticket to Ride, Mysterium and Pandemic.
10. Sushi Go Party
2-8 players, 20 minutes, age 8+, £24.99
Sushi Go is a fast and simple pick-and-pass card game. Players are dealt a hand of cards depicting adorable sushi but can only select one for their meal, with the remaining passed to the next player. You then choose one card from the hand passed to you, and so on. You want score as many points as you can collecting sets and combinations.
And a Boxing Day bonus one for good luck (because 10 wasn’t enough for Karl...)
1-4 players, 30-45 minutes, £24.99
A colour-matching domino-laying game. Gamers play hexagon domino pieces on a board until the board is full, matching colours along the way.
It is a super simple game but feels different as you need to match on all colours because your end score is on the colour you matched least.