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7 tips for gifting a game your friends will love

A title-free guide on choosing the right tabletop game gift. As the holiday period is approaching I am trying to get my shopping done as early as possible so that I can relax later. This year, I decided to buy board games for as many people as possible. I have three reasons for this:

  • Games are a great way for people to get together and have fun, especially during the holidays

  • I want to support the board game industry

  • More imporantly: I get to play with them!

I purposedly kept this guide without specific game recommendations to allow you to find your own choices. So, let's look at the parameters for choosing the right game for the right person(s):

(1) Depth: Some of my friends are casual game enthusiasts while some are hardcore gamers. What depth and duration do you think your friend is most likely to enjoy? Would they prefer a light card game, a long and complex game or something in between?

(2) No of Players: How many people are most likely to be playing this game. Also think about whether they are likely to want to play with children.

  • If your friend has people over a lot, maybe a party game for 5+ people would be great for them.

  • If they are a couple that often play by themselves it's important that the game is not only playable by two people but also really fun with two players.

(3) Budget: Just like any other present, you need to set a budget, especially when buying gifts for multiple people. Otherwise you may find yourself in board-game debt.

(4) Mechanics: What mechanics do you think your friends would enjoy?

  • Do they like thinking a lot about a situation and having a plan? Try worker placement, area control or deckbuilding games

  • Do they like negotiations and heavy interaction with other players? Consider identity, auction, bidding or voting games.

  • Do they like puzzles and brain excercises? Try memory, pattern recognition or simultaneous action selection games.

  • Do they dislike confrontation or playing against others? Consider co-operative and role playing games and definitely avoid player elimination.

(5) Theme: Theme can be a huge deciding factor for selecting a game. If someone enjoys H.P. Lovecraft, they are very likely to like a Cthulhu themed game. However, don't buy a game just for it's theme, if you don't want it to end up a decoration on the person's shelf.

(6) Duration: Linked with depth but different. How much time do you think they are willing to dedicate playing a game? I recognise three distinct categories: 30min or less, around 60m, 90m or more.

(7) Popularity: Different people have different preferences in terms of how recognisable their games should be. Is it important for them to have a game that they have seen somewhere and wanted? Or would new they rather get something they didn't know about?

Finally, my overarching advice is to avoid making assumptions based on your personal preferences. Buying gifts is about what your friends will enjoy and what is important to them.

Enjoy buying and -most importanlty- enjoy playing your new games! Join the discussion, how do you pick the best gifts? Comment below.

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