Thursday, December 21, 2006

Four Days Until the Fat Man Arrives

If for some reason you haven't purchased all the Christmas Cheer you are required to satiate the ravenous desires of your familial unit, or a friend surprised you with homemade cookies or a bottle of chianti, then this post is for you. Yes, folks, it's my "Very Last Minute Gift Guide of Gifts You Can Buy at a Comic Book and/or Game Shop." You'll notice a lot of these images are from the Chapters website. Sorry copyright laws, I was rushed.

Let's Begin:

For Comic Book Fans of All Ages

I don't think you can go wrong with Don Rossa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck or the new collections of Carl Barks Greatest Duck Tales Volumes 1 and 2. If this person should already own The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, then the Companion should go along nicely with the original.

For the New Reader

Have a niece, nephew or a friend with a child at the age where reading is new and a great adventure? Then I don't think anyone can ever go wrong with having some Tintin to read. Honestly, any of them are great. The series true start is Tintin in the Land of the Soviets but it's not all that relevant to today's kids and if you want to avoid some paternalistic racial stereotyping then I think The Cigars of the Pharoah is where you should begin, although there's probably some evil bedouins or something. If anyone is Scottish then Tintin and The Black Island is a must.

For the Person Getting Back Into Comics but Doesn't Know What to Buy Other Than X-men or Star Wars Comics

I think there's really two ways to go here, you can either pick up the first Essential X-men volume - uncanny or original recipe or help open their horizon. If I can assume people buying comics are anything like me then they will be creatures of habit and are suspicious of change or the unfamiliar. That means helping them get over this fear. Once a new door is opened then the healing and learning process begins. That being said, I finally purchased Manhunter and it is a truly amazing comic. I think if you're looking for a hidden gem of a comic to pass along then the first trade is the way to go.

The Comic Book Stocking Stuffer

Otherwise known as the all purpose gift. Not sure what to get someone that is quick and easy and sure to please? Pick up Issue #1 of Darwyn Cooke's The Spirit. It's a great comic that just came out so should be easy to find on the shelves. Add it to a few other single issues and you've got the gift people want to trade for at the office party.

Perfect For the Bookshelf but Won't Bankrupt You

I think these books could work for anyone, not just comic book folk. And if money isn't an issue then get the new Absolute DC: The New Frontier. Otherwise, I thinkWill Eisner's Contract With God Trilogy or New York (especially if you or they are from New York) are beautiful books that will entertain anyone. Same goes for David B's Epileptic.

For the Family Sick of Playing Monopoly

Okay, you don't hate it totally but you're tired of landing on Park Place while you don't own any of your own monopolies. Then pick up The Settlers of Catan. Yes, it's a German boardgame but it was like they took Monopoly and reduced it to the best elements. You need to wheel and deal every single turn or there is simply no way you will win. The rules are simple and the board is set up different every single time. Plus there are great little wooden bits that will remind the older men about marathon Risk sessions. This one has less killing and more jokes about having wood for sheep.

If you like the wheeling and dealing but want something a bit cheaper than Settlers, you can always pick up Bohnanza. Yes, it's about planting bean farms and it has cartoony cards but it can become extremely cutthroat if that's how your family rolls. Again, you need to trade every single turn or you can't maximize the profit of your bean farms. And who doesn't like trying to get a monopoly on Cocoa beans during Christmas? If you can get over the cutsy theme and remind everyone that they can't rearrange their cards in their hand, this is a heck of a fun game for up to 7 people.

For the Family Sick of Playing Trivial Pursuit

You can't go wrong with Wits & Wagers. In this game you can win without ever answering a trivia question correctly. That's because you bet on the other answers (they're all numerical answers) like The Price is Right - whoever is closest without going over. So all you need to know is the group playing and hedge your bets on things like "who is the most likely to know the length from nose to tail of the longest whale on record?"

For the Family Sick of Playing Scattergories

Apples to Apples is the way to go. You can get as many people as you want engaged in this game, as well as people of almost any age. One person puts down a green adjective card like "hot" and everyone plays one of the red noun cards in their hand anonymously, like Cocoa, Black Lingerie, Alfred Hitchcock, or Fried Chicken. The cards are collected and whichever one the adjective player thinks is best wins the round. And it goes around the table. There are over 1000 cards so you are unlikely to ever get the same answers or combinations. There is also a junior version for the younger people.

For the Couple

Looking for a simple distraction for two people? Then Phoenix is the way to go. It's beautiful to look at and simple to pick up but most importantly it's a heck of a lot of fun to play. You randomly draw coloured squares out of a bag and place them in a line. Then both players draw out their pawns randomly. The object of the game is to use the cards in your hand to arrange your pawns into the same order as the colour spectrum in the middle. Me and the wife have been playing this almost too much recently. We threw the scoring method out the window and just keep track of who arranged their pawns first and start the next round. Three rounds can be done in about half an hour. And the pieces are actually a treat to hold and look at.

For the Young One

I picked this one up for a five year old and he loved it. Heck me and my wife are tempted to get a copy for ourselves. It's called Tier auf Tier (Animal upon Animal) and it's sort of like Jenga in reverse. You roll a die to see how many wooden animals you stack on top of the alligator. One or two, do you choose the animal for one of your opponents or do they choose one for you? And the animals are the strangest combination I've ever encountered from the alligator base to sheep, penguins, running lizards, snakes, hedgehogs, and monkeys. The best part - once the kid goes to bed it doubles as a drinking game.

For the Risk Fan

Instead of listing games that cost a foolish amount and re-enact the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy or WWII I'll suggest a game called Nexus Ops. It has day-glow aliens and spacemen that are trying to own a bunch of mines on a new planet. It has a modular board and really great bits and pieces. Plus the victory points elements means that games won't last the entire holiday season. Great for getting a bit of conflict out of the way.

The Stocking Stuffers

There are quite a few really cheap card games that are available for all ages. For the younger crowd there's games like Loot, about pirates, No Thanks, Coloretto, or Turn the Tide about a sinking island with poor unfortunate sheep.

For the slightly more mature there are games like For Sale where you want to become a real estate baron selling anything from a cardboard box to a space station. Or Fairy Tale where you try to disrupt other people's fantastic tales although it isn't exactly literary. And Guillotine where you try to collect the most popular heads of French nobles during the revolution. But probably the cheapest game that will get everyone around the table having fun is Bang! There's one sheriff, one Renegade and everone else is a deputy or outlaw. You collect better guns and ammo to shoot the people next to you or further down the line. You drink beer to get better and try to avoid the idiot with the TnT.


H said...

Good game suggestions. Some of those have been on my list to try for a while.

Bang! is one of the most fun large group games I can remember.

To return the favor, I suggest Niagara and Mause-Rallye as two great games for the younger set.


joncormier said...

Yeah, I've heard good things about Niagra and it looks real purdy, but I haven't played it yet, same with Ticket to Ride, hence no recommendation.

Then again I haven't played most of those kids card games...