Episode 43: Unwrapped - 2007 Holiday Gift Guide

43: Unwrapped

2007 Holiday Gift Guide

Release Date: November 26, 2007

Running Time: 97 min.

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ep 43

Say no to lame gifts. Give a game instead. We recommend over 50 games in twelve different categories to fit almost any person or budget. With this great list, you might even make a wish list of your own!

Complete Show Notes continue after the break.

2007 Holiday Gift Guide

The games covered in this show fall into 12 categories. Within each category, we selected four games at different price levels from inexpensive to extravagant. Dave decided we should name each price level after different kinds of dice.

d4 - $15 & under

d6 - $25 & under

d8 - $50 & under

d100 - Sky's the Limit

The price levels are meant to be general guidelines, so your mileage may vary when scouring the web for the best deals. We also tried to predict each other's selections in each category, so in some cases there will be additional suggestions listed as well. Games are listed in the following manner:

Price Level | Game Title | Publisher | Board Game Geek link | TWS*

*Any title noted with TWS indicates a game carried by our sponsor, Time Well Spent. The fine folks at Timw Well Spent are going to compile a Spiel gift guide page from this show to make your holiday shopping a little easier! Drop by the Time Well Spent site for more info.

Feel free to add your own suggestions with comments below or email us. Have a happy holiday season and i i hope we can help you find some great game gifts.


Kid's Games

d4 - Cloud Nine | Out of the Box | BGG | TWS

d6 - Hey! That's My Fish | Mayfair | BGG | TWS

d8 - Akaba | HABA | BGG | TWS

d100 - (series) 10 Days in USA | Out of the Box | BGG | TWS

d100 - 10 Days in Africa | Out of the Box | BGG | TWS

d100 - 10 Days in Europe | Out of the Box | BGG | TWS

d100 - 10 Days in Asia | Out of the Box | BGG | TWS

Additional suggestions: Kids of Catan


Party Games

d4 - Attribute | Z-Man Games | BGG | TWS

d6 - Hollywood Shuffle| All Things Equal |

d8 - Bamboleo| Rio Grande Games | BGG | TWS

d100 - Cash 'n Guns: Yakuzas| Repos Production Asmodee |BGG


Beer & Pretzel Games

d4 - Rage | Fundex | BGG | TWS

d6 - Incan Gold (Diamant) | Sunriver Games | BGG | TWS

d8 - Ubongo (Extreme) | Z-Man Games | BGG | TWS

d100 - Piratenbillard | Abacus | BGG

Additional suggestions: Bohnanza


Gateway Games

d4 - David & Goliath| Playroom Ent. | BGG | TWS

d6 - 10 Days in Asia| Out of the Box | BGG | TWS

d8 - Cleopatra & Society of Architects| Days of Wonder | BGG | TWS

d100 - Pitch Car | Ferti | BGG | TWS

Additional suggestions: Zooloretto


Euro Games

d4 - Mu & More | Rio Grande | BGG | TWS

d6 - Mr. Jack | Asmodee | BGG | TWS

d8 - Jenseits von Theben | Rio Grande | BGG | TWS

d100 - Leonardo da Vinci (Master Print) | QWG | BGG

d100 - Yspahan (Master Print) | QWG | BGG

d100 - Demetra (Master Print ) | QWG | BGG

d100 - El Capitan (Master Print) | QWG | BGG

Additional suggestions: Pillars of the Earth , Mu & Lots More


Goober Games

d4 - Fish Eat Fish | Out of the Box | BGG | TWS

d6 - Darjeeling | Rio Grande | BGG

d8 - Age of Empires III | Tropical Games | BGG

d100 - Siam Deluxe| Ferti | BGG

Additional suggestions: Tide of Iron


Whacked Out Games

d4 - Boing | Espenlaub | BGG

d6 - Chopstick Dexterity MegaChallenge 3000 | Pair of Dice | BGG

d8 - King of the Dicemouths| Zoch Verlag | BGG

d100 - Hameln | Fragor Games | BGG

Additional suggestions: Bushwhackin' Varmints Out of Sergio's Butte


Two Player Games

d4 - Battle Line | GMT Games | BGG | TWS

d6 - Mr. Jack | Asmodee | BGG | TWS

d8 - Battle Lore | Days of Wonder | BGG | TWS

d100 - Le Passe Trappe Grand | Ferti | BGG


Back Shelf Classic Games

d4 - Razzle | Parker Brothers | BGG

d6 - Wild Fire Dominoes | Fundex

d8 - Talisman 4th Ed. | Black Industries | BGG | TWS

d100 - Dune | Avalon Hill | BGG

Additional suggestions: Mah Jongg


Abstract Strategy Games

d4 - Ingenious (Travel)| Fantasy Flight | BGG | TWS

d6 - Qwirkle | Mindware | BGG | TWS

d8 - Take it to the Limit | Burley Games | BGG | TWS

d100 - Blokus (Giant) | Educational Insights | BGG

Additional suggestions: Battleground Fantasy Warfare (not really abstract, but a great compact strategy war game)


Stephen's Wish List

d4 - Felix: The Cat in the Sack | Rio Grande | BGG | TWS

d6 - Coppertwaddle | Surprised Stare | BGG

d8 - Last Night on Earth | Flying Frog Prod. | BGG | TWS

d100 - Caylus Premium Edition | Ystari | BGG

d100 - Container | Valley Games | BGG

Additional suggestions: Fairy Tale , Ubongo , Tannhauser , Galaxy Trucker


Dave's Wish List

d4 - Carcassonne Abbey & Mayor | Rio Grande | BGG

d6 - Cutthroat Caverns | Smirk & Dagger | BGG | TWS

d8 - Kingsburg | Elfinworks | BGG

d100 - Box of Golf | Box of Golf Inc. | BGG

Additional suggestions: Power Grid Expansions , Age of Discovery , Amyitis , StarCraft


I'm sure there are some other goofs in there somewhere. Let us know if (when?) you find one!


After hearing The Spiel's 2007 Holiday Gift Guide, I was impressed with the list, the set-up, the games included, Stephen and Dave...and, of course, inclusion of Box of Golf in Dave's Wish List.

Dave, too bad you hadn't guessed Coppertwaddle from Stephen's d6 pick in his Wish List. I heard Stephen say he'd buy you your "Skies the Limit" pick...which was the Deluxe version of Box of Golf. Maybe Santa heard the podcast!

THANKS again for including Box of Golf! Good Luck to you guys! I enjoyed listening and heard about a lot of new games to me.

Peace and warm wishes for the holiday season!
Mary Cruickshank
Box of Golf, Inc.

Great list of games thanks for putting that together. I know some of them are on the personal gift site, which I like to used so I can add a cheeky message. Good stuff.

Hi Mary,

Great to hear from you! I'm glad you had a chance to check out the show. I discoverd Box of Golf a few months ago and thought it looked awesome - fun mechanics and amazing goober!! I recently talked our local game store into ordering Box of Golf. I hope that once it hits the shelves, everybody else will think it's as cool as I do.

I should have known that a game with a history as interesting as Coppertwaddle would never have flown under Stephen's radar. I expect to exact me revenge during next years Holiday Gift Guide.

Please keep us updated on anything new at Box of Golf, Inc. and have a great Holiday!!


Although we put the guide together for each holiday season, it can certainly come in handy any time of year! After all, games are always the perfect gift. :)

A couple episodes ago, you guys accused me of having a camera somewhere in the padded cell...now I want to know where you hid the camera in my room!

No fewer than 10 of the games on your lists are on my list for this year!

Great episode (as usual), and I hope we all end up happy come present unwrapping time :)

And if you indeed have a camera in my room, I apologize for last Friday night.

Turnabout's fair play! Heh. We'll have to agree to keep the cameras off from now on

The danger in putting together this show is that now I want everything on all the lists, so I feel your pain. I guess that's a good problem to have, really.We just need enough friends to come up with all the gifts. :)


Just finished listening to the beer and pretzel section, and had a couple of more expensive options that I think fit in this category.

Both flicking games, Pitchcar and a nice Crokinole board. Crokinole in particular can run a pretty penny for a nice board.

Crokinole is a great suggestion. It was on my short list of beer and pretzel games, too. And you can never go wrong with Pitch Car. That game is insanely addictive.

A nice Carrom board would also be a great gift in that category.

Hey guys,

I just played Ca$h and Gun$ recently: what a hoot! I checked into the Yakuzas expansion a little. The UZI seems to be exclusive to Essen Spiel 07. The other foam accessories you mentioned are printed on the box so I think they'll be in the U.S. edition. *Update* looks like the foam shotgun was previously exclusive to Essen Spiel 05, but now is included with this expansion.

I was surprised that this game was considered so expensive. I bought mine for $20 from a company called Hearthsong (a company I do NOT recommend doing business with, by the way). I'm not sure if they still have it, but surely someone else is carrying the game near the same price point.

I'm sure everyone doesn't agree with your lists (is it possible that ANY two gamers could agree on such lists?), and I'm no exception. Jenseits von Theben as your d8 Euro-Game?!?! There are SO many better choices there. Even if you're trying to stick to newer games, I'm surprised to see this one chosen.

For what it's worth, here are the games your podcast has led me to check out further and what I thought:

Hollywood Shuffle - This has some real possibility. It's really just a variation on other games like Apples to Apples, but I think the theme makes this more appealing.

Cash and Guns - Sorry, but this game just does not SOUND fun. I read the rules and didn't make it any better. Maybe if I actually played the game I'd feel differently, but I'm not likely to get the chance so this one is out.

Ubongo Extreme - Love Ubongo and I was intrigued to hear about a harder version. Didn't like it though. Those weird hex-based shaped just take away a lot of the visual appeal of the game.

Razzle - A timed word game where I don't have to write? Great! I used to be the Lord of Boggle but as I slowly lost functionality in my writing hand the game just lost any appeal to me. I'll have to keep an eye open for this one.

Cutthroat Caverns - It sounds so interesting... but so did Munchkin before I played it. For me it's going to boil down to the composition of the Action deck. A few "take that" cards are fine, but if it's as insane as Kill Dr Lucky, then forget it.

Cash and Guns - you have to try it. It is a riot in person.

Cutthroat Caverns is really fun as well, and I can instantly see that there is way more replayability than Munchkin. The game doesn't rely on humor, so it won't get old after one or two plays.

Again, not every game works for every person, but I just wanted to chime in for a couple games I enjoy.

Also, Pirattenbilliard I've only seen online at funagain games recently, and they want $130 for it...I've never seen it anywhere else.

Hi, Trump.

Welcome to the forums! We don't ever expect complete agreement with any of our lists or opinions. That's one of the many reasons we give people a chance to sound off here. If we're able to point you toward a few new titles you didn't know about or are inspired to give another shot, then we've done our jobs, I think. :)

You scored quite a deal on Piratenbilliard! I'll keep my eyes out for others, but like scooterb23, the only ones I can find are $100+.

Razzle sounds like a good fit, especially if you're a Boggle fiend. Shoving the little shuttle with the word dice should be a lot easier than writing everthing down. I've seen plenty of copies on ebya for just a few bucks. In fact here's a current sampling at the following link .

Jenseits von Theben might not be to your taste, but it was by far one of my favorite Euros of the year. And each person I introduced the game to really enjoyed it as well. What would you recommend as your d8 level euro game gift? That's an open invitation, all you lurkers, not just for Trump!

Happy game gifting!

I guess the only "problem" with Thebes is that it relies far more on luck than the average Eurogame. I know that of my play group, it got the coolest reception of the SdJ games we played. Using the Essen advantage I'd totally recommend Container or Cuba, but I know you haven't played those yet. :)

You HAD to go and play the Essen card, didn't you? :) If we're able to cobble together some additional sponsors and savings, I hope we may be able to BE at Essen next year.

That said, Cuba was available for play at the Rio Grande booth at CHITAG a few weeks ago, but I didn't have to to sit down and play. I'd love to try out Container, too (obvious since it was on my wish list, I know!)

Interesting observation on the luck element in Jenseits von Theben. From my perspective, I don't think a "euro-style" game has to lack an element of luck. But I can certainly see where the luck factor could put off some players. Even with Dave's consistent bad luck drawing from the bags, though, he still really liked it.

I would agree that euro games can have a bit of luck and I personally LIKE a little uncertainty helping to keep those who might not be perfect strategists in the game (and helping to keep hope alive, which makes the game more fun for them). Certainly, Settlers depends on dice and Carcassonne on draws, and even today's SdJ games like Thurn & Taxis and Zooloretto have chance involved in the draw. Some of our favorite games of late are To Court the King and Yspahan, again with dice and luck integral to the game but managed by tactics.

The luck element in Thebes is just much higher than in many other games, and it so directly hits your score that it leaves the people I play with a little cold. If you get a bad roll or draw in most of the other games I've mentioned, you can recover and adapt. But because SO much of your game is eaten by a single draw in Thebes, if you get a bad draw there is just NO way to recover, and that's what leaves my friends a bit cold on the game. I think it's more of a "right crowd" game than many of the others I've played this year. I personally quite liked it (the multi-bag goober is neat and the time=turns mechanic is fun -- when Bruno's new game comes out with it next year I'll definitely get that), but I'm not sure if it fits as a general recommendation as much as something like Cuba.

I have gushed here, on my LJ and on BGG about Container, so yeah, you're going to have to try it. :)

Oh, and if you guys are at Essen I certainly have been planning on making it again, so I'll be glad to run with you and get demos of all the new stuff!!

It seems like there are tactics to how luck is mitigated in Thebes as well, though. The tactics are just different than in other games mentioned. In Thebes you must plan how you want to spend your time and accumuilate knowledge to skew the percentages in your favor when you do go on an expedition. This doesn't eliminate the luck, sure, but you have the ability to shape it. It's sort of like using the basic strategy card in Black Jack. Following the card won't guarantee a win every time but over the long haul, you should win more often.

We'll keep you posted on Essen plans as they develop. Francie and I just got our passports renewed and we're itching to get them stamped!

"d100" - when price is of no concern. Just tell them to bring the truck round.

(or words to that effect)

So who are these people who get the d100 games ?? It just leaves me salivating and, a little, depressed.

Having said that, I own "Box of Golf". It's a nice little game and worth the price tag for the goober and the quality. Of course, that's easy for me to say as I won it in a Dice Tower competition :-)

Great show - a number of these games I have, a number were already on my 'must have' list and I learnt of a new one that I am seeking out, online, immediately. King of the DiceMouths ! awesome.....
We don't stop playing games when we get old...... We get old when we stop playing games

We must have been more nice than naughty this year, Simon.

A d100 rolled our way....

I was surprised to find a big box on our doorstep today. And what was inside? A sneaky secret santa gift from a WAY too generous listener..... Piratenbilliard! We'll out this secret santa at a later date (on the show), never fear, but let me say right now, he rocks! Heck, you all rock!

Dave convinced our local game store to get a few copies of Box of Golf to sell for the holidays so we'll get to give it a good look over. The goober is undeniably cool, but I had my doubts about the game. I'm glad to hear it actually plays well.

Don't you just love the BGG Secret Santa ? It's really made my Christams this year and I still haven't had my gift yet (and, I'd wait til Christmas day to open it anyway) !

I had such a blast choosing some games for my recipient - especially as he had such cool taste.

Count Zero received Game of Thrones AND Zooloretto which sounded like a result to me - but now I hear you've got Piratenbilliard I'm really jealous.

Box of Golf is a fun little game. It's not taxing in any way but it's enjoyable and plays smoothly with some nice non brain burning decisions to make.

hey - are Santa's Elves called Subordinate Clauses ??

We don't stop playing games when we get old...... We get old when we stop playing games

I'm still waiting for my SS gift. :( I sent mine off and saw my target happily get the package, but I haven't had either a package or a BGG taunt from Santa, so I am sad. But there's still time. :)

Great episode with some great tips for my wish list.

To save you some disappointments, keep following things in mind:
- King of the dicemouths? The best thing about the game is the flavour text. The rest can merely be defined as a toy. I have not found a single person yet liking this game and that includes my 4 and 7 year old kids. Stay clear of this one.
- Hameln? Nice looking Fragor game. 'Shear panic' and 'Antler Island' also look nice and are more of a game.
- 'Jenseits' in the euro-game category can be a disappointment. Go for 'Cuba' instead. Feels a bit like 'Pillars' but without the annoying luck factor.
- 'Hamburgum' seems to be missing on your wish list. Might be you already have it (good), might be you overlooked it(bad).

Thanks for the input, Musti.

Seems like King of the Dicemouths is certainly a game geared for kids. Not good when kids think it's lame, that's for sure. If I found a decently priced copy, I would still be tempted but mostly because it is so darn weird.

I played Antler Island at CHITAG and enjoyed it alot. I've read up on Hameln and it seems like it has some interesting mechanics I would like to try.

Alas, we didn't have time to mention all the great new titles that were released or announced at Essen on our gift list, especially since many are not quite avaialble yet here in the US. Hamburgum, though certainly is on our radar, never fear! Hopefully later in 2008 we'll get a copy in and give it a whirl.

I didn't sit down for Antler Island at Essen, but I watched it and ALMOST picked it up. Stupid luggage space.... But I do think it's a neat idea and I look forward to getting it when I can.

I played Hamburgum two-player with my Mom and have played it five- and four-player. I have some interesting observations, but I'll wait to see what you guys say.

Hi there, great gift episode again. Was a pleasure to listen. For the beer and pretzels section I also would recommend:

-Schrille Stille , which is a really nice game with some "gooberish" components. Basically you are representing a music label boss and maipulate the charts by using a cool wooden/cardboard CD mechanism. Works great AND every time I pulled it out, we had a blast playing it. Especially newbies liked it very much. Actually I could draw one person into the hobby by playing this. Can there a bigger compliment being made?

-The other on is "Schrecklicht ", a simple, but fast and fun card game with some bothering aspects. Liked it much and also my game group demanded playing it again and again. Great for closing or beginning the evening.

-Whacked out games? Nearly everything from Friedemann Friese, I would suggest. And then there is also "Tanz der Deriwsche " or "dance of the dervish" which I never played. BUT it looks cool and is said to be some kind of flipper. Also very expensive and (yes!) gooberish!

great suggestions, oxy!

The CD mechanism looks freaky cool in Schrille Stille. I can definitely see why this would make a good gateway game.

I wasn't aware of Schrecklicht or Tanz der Derwische. Looks like there's an American company producing a version of "Tanz..." called Bull in a China Shop (see link above). It does look gooberific!

I love your picks that I have played (Thebes, Hey That's My Fish, Darjeeling, Cloud 9, Incan Gold, Pitch Car, Yspahan, Age of Empires III, Take it to the Limits, Talisman, Blokus, and Felix - Cat in the Sack). All would be excellent gifts. I can't wait to try the others, and I hope to get a few this Christmas. I asked for Mr. Jack on your recommendation and the excellent reviews I have heard. You also make a very intriguing sell on King of the Dicemouths!

For a great gift idea, I urge everyone to try Bananagrams, $15.95. We have called it 'Scrabble on Speed' but that doesn't do it justice. I have only found them in Hobbytown stores in Wisconsin, but they have a website with links to retailers at www.bananagrams-intl.com . It is definitely one of the favorites of the family and it is great for two players through 8 players.

Having played several games of Razzle recently, it got me to thinking about other speedy word games and wondering what's out there. I know several people who need Bananagrams! Looks cool.


This one is not necessarily fast, but I picked up a game called Amuse Amaze at CHITAG that incorporates word spelling with some strategy board game elements. I have an interview with the the head of HL Games that will appear in Episode 45.

Hi, for test playing I would recommend the site: http://mrjack.biludi.de/

You can play Mr Jack online there and the site is also available in english. Keep spieling