2017 Curiosity Gift Guide

10 of the Best Game Gifts for 2017

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Ten years ago, every party ruled. You'd show up, the guests would be playing "Guitar Hero," and everyone patiently waited their turn to rock out. Since then? The plastic guitars have been forgotten in closets and parties haven't rocked the same. That's why Curiosity is here to make all your gatherings more fun with our picks for the best games of 2017.

1. For The Friend Who Loves Game Night: Dixit

The mechanics of Dixit ($45) are very similar to those of games like Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples, but the cards display artistic illustrations, not words or phrases. The images are G-rated, so even a five-year-old can play. Each turn, a player plays a card face-down and says any word, phrase, or sentence to describe the illustration on his or her card (anything at all – this is where the creativity comes in). Everyone else then plays a card trying to match that description, the cards are shuffled and revealed, and points are awarded when people correctly guess who played which card. The game allows you to be super creative, and no two games are the same since every illustration is open to interpretation. Plus, if you get bored of the base set, there are a half-dozen expansions (and counting) for you to add to your collection. – Cody Gough

2. For The Competitive Party Host: Codenames

If you prefer to play on a team, then Codenames ($26) is another super-simple party game that's easy to understand, but challenging to win. In this game, you lay out a set of cards and give one-word clues to your teammates to help them to guess which words (or pictures) you're describing. I've played this with casual and hardcore gamers alike, and it's always a good time. One version features words on the cards, and the other features images; I recommend picking up both. There's even a 2-player version ($20) if you just want to play with one friend. – Cody Gough

3. For The Gamer Who Needs The Last Word: 5 Second Rule

I first played the 5 Second Rule game ($14) last year with my family around the holidays. Maybe I should blame the spiced wine, but it was A RIOT. Someone reads the topic on a playing card, sets the timer for five seconds, and then it's up to you to quickly spit out three things that fit the topic. Sooner than later, you'll without a doubt start blurting out things that are not even real words. Hilarity ensues immediately. The 5 Second Rule is family friendly, and wildly entertaining for people of any age. If you want to take game time into after hours, gather just the adults to play 5 Second Rule Uncensored ($16 — gotta spend a few extra bucks to take it to PG-13). I haven't played this yet, but I am so happy to know that it exists. – Joanie Faletto

4. For The Gamer Who Likes Things Old-School: Dungeons and Dragons

I don't play video games like I used to, and the five-hour Uno marathons I grew up with kind of put me off of cards. But in 2015, I had a (relatively) late-in-life epiphany: Dungeons and Dragons. It took me one game to realize that I was born to be a Dungeon Master (for the uninitiated, that's the player who runs the game; all the other players each take on the role of a single character). Now I'm three years deep into a game for my friends and family, and it's exploded into a full-blown obsession.

To play D&D, you first need some players. Then, if you're going to be the DM, you'll need three books: the Player's Handbook, the Monster Manual, and the Dungeon Master's Guide. And every once in awhile, you get the chance to up your game with an expansion pack. This year, Xanathar's Guide to Everything ($30) is due out on November 21. I can't wait. It's full of new spells, new classes, and new, well, everything. It's going to be awesome. – Reuben Westmaas

5. For The Gamer Fighting The Robot Apocalypse: Go

If we're ever going to best our robot overlords, we're going to have to start training now. Surely you've heard about AlphaGo, the Google brainchild that was the first AI to beat a professional human player at Go. If you're anything like me, you responded to that news with "What the heck is Go?" I wasn't prepared for the revolution, but you can be.

Go is a little bit like chess, but the rules are way simpler. Like chess, two players play with either white or black pieces on a grid, and, like chess, the game is inspired by war strategy. You compete against your opponent to surround the most territory by placing one piece at a time on an intersection of the grid, connecting your pieces and trying to choke off your opponent's connection options. As simple as the rules are, the game can get really complicated, which is why AlphaGo's achievement was so impressive. To get started, pick up this bamboo Go board ($98) from Yellow Mountain Imports, a prominent name in the Go world. Then try your hand at the game! You'll need the skills when AI takes over. – Ashley Hamer

6. For The Head-To-Head Gamer: Quarto

My friend picked up Gigamic Quarto Classic ($27) at Gen Con 2017 this year, and we played it nearly all weekend. Quarto is a strategy game for two players and is VERY easy to learn (but difficult to master), with thousands of possible placements for every game. The game includes 16 sleek wood playing pieces, a wood game board, a fabric bag, and instructions, and has an extremely nice design that will make you feel classy just by playing it. Best of all, even the more competitive games don't typically take more than 15-20 minutes, so it's something you can pull out at a party for some quick games with friends. It's really, really fun. – Cody Gough

7. For The Slow Turn-Taker: 7 Wonders

My main problem with playing certain advanced board games is that sometimes you end up sitting around for a very long time doing nothing, because everyone else is taking forever to take their turn. 7 Wonders ($50) is a more advanced board game (the kind where it takes an hour to explain the rules), but the beauty is that everyone takes his or her turn at the same time. When you play a card, you pass your hand to the next person, and everyone reveals his or her card at the same time, picks up the hand, and goes again. Sure, sometimes you'll get hung up on that one person who takes too long to strategize, but by and large, the game flies by, and once you get the hang of the rules, you can definitely finish games in an hour or less. It supports up to seven players, appropriately, and there are a couple expansions available if you want to really get into it. This might be my favorite board game. – Cody Gough

8. For The "Mafia" Lover: Avalon

Avalon ($20) is one of the most addictive party games you will ever play. It's similar to Mafia or Werewolf, which are social deduction games in which you and all of your friends have to discuss and debate who among you keeps "killing" everyone in the game. Free-form games of Mafia or Werewolf can last for hours and become so meta that it's hard to tell what's going on after a while. Avalon reins in the rules a bit and operates based on the same general principles, only in this game, everyone stays "in play" through the duration of the game, so you don't have to worry about being killed off early and having to sit out hours of gameplay. I play this game every year with hardcore gamers at conventions, but I've also played with family members and various friend groups, so it's super versatile. Just be warned: there will be heated debates. And that's why it's so awesome! Just remember: it's only a game! – Cody Gough

9. For The Dungeonmaster With A Sense Of Humor: Munchkin

Unpopular opinion: I hate game night. Give me the choice between sitting around a table chatting with my friends over drinks or sitting around that same table with those same drinks being competitive with my friends over a board game, and I'll choose the first option every time. That's why when a friend of mine pulled out Munchkin ($22), she was hesitant. I assured her that since everyone else was in favor of the idea, I'd take one for the team. And you know what? It was a blast. Munchkin is a witty and irreverent card-based tabletop game that's kind of a cross between Dungeons & Dragons and a Bizarro comic strip. You have a character that you level up by beating monsters and collecting treasure from dungeons, all while trying to prevent other players from leveling up themselves. The game has some complex rules, but once you figure them out, it's a piece of cake. – Ashley Hamer

10. For the Gamer Who Thinks Reality Is Overrated: Oculus Rift

I went with some friends to a virtual reality lounge this year and it blew my mind apart. I'll admit, you're going to look like a fool while wearing a big ol' headset and carrying two clunky controllers, but it's worth looking stupid to have fun. (That will be my epitaph, I'm sure.) First, you'll have to drop $399 for an Oculus Rift, but once you've done that, the world is your oyster. Space Pirate Trainer ($14.99) was probably my favorite game from that night. You're standing on a space station platform firing your laser guns at various drones that are shooting back. At times, the action goes slow-mo, so you feel like Neo dodging bullets in "The Matrix." It's as close as I'll ever come to being Han Solo. – Ben Bowman

Bonus: An Audio Upgrade for All Your Video Games

HyperX Cloud Alpha headset

Today's video games involve incredible soundscapes crafted by sophisticated engineers. But that puny TV speaker won't provide the full immersion you're paying for. That's why it's worth picking up the HyperX Cloud Alpha gaming headset. Because it's designed with gaming in mind, it splits up the low- and high-end frequencies into two different chambers. The bass frequencies reverberate through the first chamber, and the mid and high frequencies are split into the second. Its detachable noise-canceling microphone allows for even greater clarity. We tried these babies in the Curiosity office and we loved how they brought our favorite games to life. - Ben Bowman

Written by Curiosity Staff November 22, 2017

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