What are the top ten board games this Christmas?
On those aimless days between Christmas and new year when there’s only Mrs Brown’s Midwife Bake Off on the telly and you’re down to the Bounty chocs in the Celebrations tub, thoughts often turn to a board game.
But instead of pulling out the family argument in a box this year - otherwise known as Monopoly - there are plenty of excellent new games to bring everyone together for a fun afternoon.
Table top board games are more popular than ever, thanks in part to the success of nostalgic shows like Stranger Things where characters play Dungeons and Dragons. But also because modern games offer something for everyone - whether it’s story building, beautiful artwork or edge of the seat tension.
Charlotte Staffer, head of the games department at Heffers, has been following the latest trends and awards in board games to predict the biggest sellers at Christmas.
She says: “The game that is flying off our shelves this year is Wingspan. It has lovely artwork and it appeals not just to board gamers but to people who have an interest in birds as well. It’s been designed by an ornithologist so it has accurate bird species information. It helps that it's been hard to get hold of so that’s driven a desire to get it and it won the German connoisseurs’ board game of the year award - Spiel des Jahres. America and Germany have the big market for board games so anything that wins that award does well.
“I think it helps if a game is beautiful, especially when you are trying to appeal to a more casual market or when you are in a board game shop and there are so many games on the shelf you do need something that stands out and is more eye catching. Last year Azul was a really big seller because it had amazing box art.”
Another award winner is “The Mind”, which Charlotte says is a cooperative game that you play in silence while trying to work out from people’s expressions what cards they will play next.
She says: “This is an intense, addictive little game and it is quite cool that it is played in silence. We will be marketing it as a way to keep the kids quiet at Christmas.”
Heffers will be running their popular Festive Games Nights over the next couple of weeks so that customers can try out a game and learn the rules before they buy it.
However, Charlotte warns: “The games nights always get busy so it’s a good idea to be there early to secure your place.”
Saturday, December 14 and Friday, December 20 from 6:30pm - midnight. £3 entry, tickets on the door. At both events Heffers will have mince pies and mulled wine, as well as a 20% discount off all purchases to make shopping for Christmas presents a little less painful. There are more than 50 games to choose from in the games library and there will be with many gamers around to help you play.
Heffers’ Top 10 Christmas Games for 2019:
1) Wingspan (1-5, 60 mins, 10+)
This beautiful set collection game sees you as bird enthusiasts attempting to discover and attract the best birds to your own personal aviary boards. Each bird has it's own unique ability matched to the species type and every single aspect of the game has been lovingly and skillfully implemented.If you liked… Teotihuacán: City of Gods, 7 Wonders, Takenoko.
2) Just One (3-7, 20 mins, 8+)
This is a cooperative party game in which you play together to discover as many mystery words as possible based on one-word clues given by your teammates. However it's important to be unique as all identical clues are automatically cancelled out!If you liked… Linkee, Trapwords, Codenames.
3) Quacks of Quedlinburg (2-4, 45 mins, 10+)
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! If you liked… Sagrada, Mystic Vale, King of Tokyo.
4) Dice Hospital (1-4, 60+ mins, 10+)
Players take on the roles of hospital administrators tasked with curing as many patients as possible by balancing the skill of all of their staff. Patients are cleverly represented as dice in the game with a 6 on a dice showing a cured patient and a 1 showing a patient who is alas no more! Lots of fun with some very clever strategy!If you liked… Agricola, Viticulture, Alien Frontiers.
5) Everdell (1-4, 60+ mins 13+)
In this beautiful worker placement game take on the role of leader and utilise your group of forest critters to help establish the charming city of Everdell.
6) Azul (2-4, 45 mins, 8+)
Try to fill your factories with specific Portuguese wall tiles and then build the most decorative, but high scoring wall. This is a beautiful game of simple mechanics but high strategy.
7) D&D Essential Kit (2-6, 60+ mins, 12+)
Dungeons and Dragons provides a wonderfully creative outlet for the whole family and this follow on from the wildly successful Starter Set provides a new adventure module that can be enjoyed by either complete beginners or those who have already played the Starter Set.
8) Tiny Towns (1-6, 45 mins, 14+)
In this clever little strategy game you must carefully plan and construct a thriving town on your 4x4 grid. Use your resources efficiently and whoever builds the most prosperous tiny town wins!
9) MegaCity: Oceania (2-4, 60+ mins, 8+)
A combination of dexterity and light strategy, this is a city building game in which you actually build a unique city every time. Players race to collect contracts and construct beautiful buildings, which they then must add to the growing oceanic city of Oceania in the centre.
10) Unlock Series (2-6, 60 mins, 10+)
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.