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Best Board Games as Gifts for the Casual Player

Best Board Games as Gifts for the Casual Player

Looking for the perfect gift that brings joy, laughter, and a touch of strategy to your casual gamer friends and family? Why not consider a board game? In today’s digital age, board games stand out by offering an engaging, screen-free alternative that pulls people together around the table.

They are a fantastic way to enhance family and social interactions, making every game night a special event. Whether for a birthday, holiday, or just because, a board game is more than a gift—it’s an invitation to connect, compete, and create lasting memories. Explore our top picks for the best board games to gift the casual player, guaranteed to be a hit on any occasion.

Why Choose Board Games as Gifts?

Why opt for board games when considering gift options? The reasons are as delightful as they are compelling. Board games are not only a source of fun; they also offer significant benefits for cognitive development and social bonding. These games challenge the mind with strategies and puzzles, enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Meanwhile, the cooperative and competitive elements foster communication and teamwork, crucial for building strong relationships.

Moreover, board games possess a universal charm that transcends age and setting. Whether it's a cozy family night, a friendly gathering, or even a corporate team-building event, board games fit seamlessly, inviting players of all ages to participate and enjoy together. This versatility makes board games an ideal gift for virtually any occasion, promising not only entertainment but also meaningful engagement and interaction. So, whether you're shopping for a young nephew or your grandparents, a board game is a thoughtful gift that encourages connection and fun for everyone.

Best Board Games for Family Gatherings

Choosing the right board game for a family gathering means finding something that's easy to learn, enjoyable for all ages, and designed to promote interaction and laughter. Here are some of the best board games that hit all these marks and are sure to light up any family game night:

1. Spheres of Life: Mythical Forest - Our own original game of heroes, mythical creatures, magical abilities, and more! In the Spheres of Life you'll team up with a powerful hero and gather an army of noble animals to fight the evil corrupting the Mythical Forest. It is a fantastic card game for family gatherings as it combines fun gameplay with strategic layers, wrapped in a stylish dark-fantasy world.

2. Ticket to Ride - This modern classic is perfect for families, as it's simple to grasp but also offers strategic depth. Players collect cards of various types of train cars, and use them to claim railway routes on a map. The game is competitive but friendly, and it sparks plenty of interaction as players race to connect cities and complete their destination tickets.

Related: Ticket to Ride Review

3. Azul - A visually stunning game that has players drafting colored tiles to complete patterns on their board. Azul is easy to learn and plays quickly, making it ideal for family gatherings. It's a game of planning and pattern recognition, which can be enjoyed by younger players and seasoned gamers alike.

4. Codenames - Great for larger families, Codenames divides players into two teams, each trying to guess words related to given hints. It’s a social word game that encourages creative thinking and teamwork, filled with moments of suspense and bursts of laughter.

5. Exploding Kittens - A card game that combines strategy, luck, and a quirky sense of humor. Players draw cards until someone pulls an exploding kitten and is out of the game, unless they have a defuse card or can avoid the explosion in other clever ways. It's fast-paced and hilarious, perfect for families looking to share some fun and excitement.

6. Sushi Go Party! - An expanded version of the beloved card-drafting game Sushi Go!, this game is all about grabbing the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. It’s easy to learn and quick to play, with a delightful theme that appeals to younger players and adults alike.

7. King of Tokyo - A game where players are mutant monsters, rampaging robots, or even abominable aliens battling for control of Tokyo. King of Tokyo involves dice rolling, power-ups, and light strategy, wrapped up in a fun and rowdy monster-themed game that's a hit at any family gathering.

Top Board Game Gifts for Casual Gamers

For casual gamers ready to delve a bit deeper into the world of board games, choosing titles that offer a step up in complexity without becoming overwhelming is key. These games introduce more strategic elements and engaging mechanics, perfect for those looking to expand their gaming horizons. Here are some top picks that strike the right balance between depth and accessibility:

1. Carcassonne - A tile-placement game where players draw and place tiles to build cities, roads, fields, and monasteries. Players then decide to place their followers, known as "meeples," on these features to score points. The rules of Carcassonne are simple, but the strategies can be as complex as players choose, making it a fantastic bridge into more strategic gaming.

2. Splendor - In this game, players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, and shops. Splendor is known for its simple mechanics and quick gameplay, involving collecting chips and card development. It offers just enough strategic decision-making to engage more serious players without excluding those new to this type of game.

3. Pandemic - A cooperative game where players work as a team to treat infections around the world while gathering resources for cures. Pandemic introduces players to the concept of cooperative play versus competitive, with a moderate level of complexity in terms of strategy and planning. It's engaging and educative, perfect for gamers looking to contribute to a common goal.

4. 7 Wonders - This card drafting game has players gathering resources, developing commercial routes, and affirming military supremacy in an environment inspired by the ancient world. In 7 Wonders, players get the feel of building a civilization and the satisfaction of seeing their strategic choices play out over three ages.

5. Catan - A trade-building game set on the island of Catan. Players collect resources like wood, grain, brick, sheep, and stone to build roads, settlements, and cities. It's competitive but straightforward, with a greater depth of strategy that can lead to hours of fun.

6. Dominion - As one of the first deck-building games, Dominion challenges players to draw and purchase cards to create the most efficient path to victory points. Each game can be different as players choose from a selection of card types to include in the game, making it highly replayable and strategically rich.

These games are ideal for casual gamers looking to explore beyond basic board games. They offer enriching themes and mechanics that are easy to grasp but will keep players engaged and eager to play again.

Premium Board Game Gifts for Bigger Budgets

Selecting the perfect board game gift often involves balancing cost with entertainment value. Whether you're looking for an affordable gem, a mid-range staple, or a deluxe edition for a special occasion, there's a board game out there to fit every budget. Here are some excellent choices across various price points:

  1. Scythe - For a more lavish gift, Scythe is a visually stunning board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It combines area control, resource management, and a powerful narrative structure, making it a showpiece in any game collection.
  2. Gloomhaven - As one of the highest-rated board games, Gloomhaven is a sprawling co-op dungeon crawler with deep strategic gameplay, a persistent and shifting world, and an intricate combat system. It's a premium game ideal for serious gamers and special occasions.
  3. Divinity Original Sin: The Board Game - Based on the video game by Larian Studios, the board game enriches the Divinity universe with new characters, stories, and interactive elements like the Divine Atlas, guiding players through a 20-hour adventure across varied locations. Ideal gift for RPG loving board gamers.

Perfect Games for Every Occasion

Selecting the right board game as a gift can greatly depend on the type of occasion. Whether it’s for a birthday, a holiday gathering, or just a casual meet-up with friends, choosing a game that matches the mood and setting of the event is key. Here’s a guide to picking the perfect board game for every special moment:

Birthdays: Consider the interests of the birthday person when choosing a game. For those who enjoy fast-paced, engaging activities, King of Tokyo provides a lively battle for control between mutant monsters and aliens, perfect for adding excitement to a party. If the recipient prefers more thoughtful, strategic games, Splendor is an excellent choice, where players compete as Renaissance merchants striving to buy gem mines and attract nobles.

Holidays: Holiday gatherings often bring together family members of all ages, so choosing a game that is accessible and enjoyable for everyone is crucial. Carcassonne is a fantastic option as it’s straightforward to teach and offers both competitive and cooperative play styles. For Christmas or winter holidays, Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries is thematic and fun, designed specifically for 2-3 players, making it ideal for smaller family gatherings.

Casual Get-Togethers: For informal social gatherings, games that are simple to understand and quick to play are ideal. Sushi Go! is a delightful pick as it’s a fast-paced drafting game that is easy to set up and has everyone strategizing over which sushi to grab next. Alternatively, Quacks of Quedlinburg, where players mix potions in a risky push-your-luck scenario, can provide plenty of laughs and excitement.

Special Occasions: For more significant events such as anniversaries or important milestones, a luxurious game edition can be particularly meaningful. Consider the Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra Deluxe Edition for its beautiful aesthetics and engaging gameplay that appeals to both casual and serious gamers. Alternatively, Everdell with its stunning artwork and charming woodland creatures offers deep strategy and a visually impressive setup that’s perfect for a memorable gift.


Board games stand as timeless gifts that do more than entertain; they connect us, challenge us, and create lasting memories. From fostering critical thinking and strategic planning to strengthening bonds among friends and family, the benefits of gifting board games are profound and far-reaching. Whether you're looking for a game that invites laughter at family gatherings, a strategic challenge for a friend, or a beautifully designed game for a special occasion, there's something in the world of board gaming for everyone.

As you consider the perfect present for your next occasion, remember that a board game is more than just a gift—it's an experience that can bring people together in the most meaningful ways. So choose one of these carefully selected games, and give the gift of joy, engagement, and togetherness. Whether they're unwrapping a quick-play card game, a strategic adventure, or an interactive party game, they're sure to find something that will be cherished and played for years to come.

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