The stockings are hung by the chimney with care…but they’re empty, painfully bare. Fortunately, board and card games make great stocking stuffers, so while Santa may be bringing you coal (I hope not, but it’s been a rough year so I wouldn’t be shocked), you can counter that “gift” with your own—games!
The following list of board games and card games are excellent options for stuffing stockings. With a variety of themes, difficulty levels, and sizes, there’s something for everyone’s sock!
The following games are presented in no particular order.
Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies (and Kingdoms)
The Tiny Epic line of games are heralded as some of the best small-box games with big-game feel. And, Tiny Epic Galaxies is frequently recommended as the best in the series. (I, for one, agree with that assessment, although I do love them all.) Well, Gamelyn Games has made some of their Tiny games even smaller, and #Ultra-Tiny Epic Galaxies takes center stage in its new form.
The gameplay is the same as the original Tiny Epic Galaxies, but the cards and components are smaller—so small that they fit in a small box that almost fits in your pocket (it’ll definitely fit in your cargo shorts pocket, though). As you might imagine, this is an excellent size for a stocking stuffer. But Ultra Tiny Epic Galaxies comes with a bonus—the Satellites & Super Weapons mini expansion!
Seriously, the amount of gameplay in this tiny box is remarkable. And #Ultra Tiny Epic Kingdoms is right there along with it! This comes in the same sized box and is the same gameplay as the second edition of Tiny Epic Kingdoms. Both of these ultra-tiny games will make any Christmas morning one to remember.
The only problem, though, is that the boxes are so small that you’ll need even more stuffing for your stocking!
Sprawlopolis (And Other Games by Button Shy)
Button Shy Games produces 18-card wallet games that are, simply stated, wonderful. I have played many of them, and #Sprawlopolis is one of my all-time favorites. This 18-card game has city districts on one side of each card, and a scoring condition on the other side. The game uses three random scoring conditions, and then you keep the remaining 15 cards to use to create your sprawling city. The way you build your city depends on the scoring conditions, and since there are 18 unique conditions (one per card), the combinations are practically endless. Sprawlopolis is one of my favorite solo games, but it’s also a wonderful cooperative game as well. Plus, it has a few expansions you can include to add new challenges.
Other excellent Button Shy games to consider include #Turbo Drift (a real-space racing game designed by up-and-coming designer Rob Cramer), #Circle the Wagons (a two-player boomtown-building game designed by the designers of Sprawlopolis), and #Tussie Mussie (a beautiful game of exchanging flowers, designed by Wingspan designer Elizabeth Harvrage)
#Love Letter is a deduction game for 2-4 players. From round to round, players must use their character cards to sort out who is who and, hopefully, be the last one standing. Games are quick and easy to learn, but make for a great addition to game night for all types of gamers. There are many variations of the game—everything from Batman to Lord of the Rings—so if the Renaissance theme isn’t your cup of tea, there will undoubtedly be something out there that will suit your fancy.
Head-to-head deckbuilding battles—in space! Fans of deckbuilding and head-to-head games in general will love #Star Realms. This comes in a small box—much like the Ultra-Tiny Epic games—and has loads of gameplay packed inside.
In Star Realms, players build their fleet from a common “market” deck, using those ships’ abilities to inflict damage upon your opponent. Match ships of the same faction to activate more bonuses to trigger some wild combos. The game plays quickly and there’s little doubt you’ll play multiple games in a row.
Tiny Epic Everything
Alright, alright, I know. I already discussed the Ultra-Tiny Epic games. But hear me out. The Tiny Epic line of games have huge gameplay in their little boxes. (Plus, they take up more room than their Ultra-Tiny counterparts). And, with a ton of thematic options and a variety of mechanisms, there’s always a winner regardless of game preferences.
Games in the Tiny Epic line include:
- #Tiny Epic Defenders (Second Edition) (and #Tiny Epic Defenders: The Dark War Expansion)
- #Tiny Epic Dinosaurs
- #Tiny Epic Galaxies (and the #Tiny Epic Galaxies: Beyond the Black Expansion)
- #Tiny Epic Galaxies: Blast Off (simplified/streamlined version)
- #Tiny Epic Kingdoms (and the #Tiny Epic Kingdoms: Heroes' Call expansion)
- #Tiny Epic Mechs
- #Tiny Epic Quest
- #Tiny Epic Tactics
- #Tiny Epic Western
- #Tiny Epic Zombies
WAIT! I know it says Monopoly, but stay with me on this. #Monopoly Deal Card Game is a fantastic card game. It plays quickly and is one of our family’s favorite card games. It’s a set-collection game where you play cards from your hands, trying to get three full property sets. There are cards that take money from other players (or property if they have no money), cards that take or trade property, and some that say “No thanks!” to anything your conniving opponents try to pull on you.
Really, Monopoly Deal is a great game and deserves to be at least considered.
This is a great game for kids and for those who want quick, light gameplay. There are a few different game modes, and #Spot It! helps kids with matching and other skills. It’s easy to learn and a great family game—especially on Christmas!
#Flag Dash is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated games out there. It’s a capture the flag game with action programming at its core. Characters have special abilities that add to the fun, and the various actions from other players can really mess with your pre-planned moves, which, honestly, is half the fun. Flag Dash is a wonderful game for 2-4 players and can be played in teams, 2 vs. 1, or head-to-head. This is a bigger box than most stocking stuffers, but it’s well worth it, even if it takes up the entire sock.
Twice as Clever (aka Doppelt so Clever)
This is another game with a slightly larger box than you might normally consider for a stocking stuffer, but is so worth it! This is a roll and write game where you assign certain dice results to their corresponding colored sections on your score sheet. The better you use and manipulate your dice, the more combos you’ll unlock and the higher your score will skyrocket. A fantastic solo game that plays up to 4 players, #Twice As Clever is sure to please.
Flip cards and say what you see. Unless you’re not allowed to say it. #Cockroach Salad can really mess with your brain. This fast-playing card game is full of laughs as players struggle to say a vegetable. Sure, you’re supposed to say what’s on the card, but you’re also not allowed to say what was played just before. And you can’t say what’s at the top of the second pile. And certain cards are corrupted by the vile cockroaches, so you can’t say those, either. With little time allowed for your brain to process what’s going on, Cockroach Salad is full of laughs. Enjoyable by kids to adults!
You’re in a small boat, being chased by a hungry crocodile, and trying to collect natural treasures to complete your personal objective. What could go wrong? Work together with your boat mates to avoid the hungry crocodile, but you also need to work for yourself so you can collect the treasures you need. There’s a fine line between accomplishing your objective and not getting eaten.
#Swamped is a wonderful semi-cooperative game that brings the stress as you try and stay as far away from the crocodile as possible. Unfortunately, your fellow expeditioners like to take risks as they detour for mushrooms, roots, and other natural treasures. The crocodile moves closer at the end of each turn, so sometimes you simply need to forfeit your treasure and get away!
Sunset Over Water
Not only is #Sunset Over Water gorgeous, the gameplay is easy to understand and deep enough for satisfying gameplay for many types of gamers. Sunset Over Water is a set-collection game from Pencil First Games where players must plan decide how early they want to “get up” (i.e. their turn order) and how many spaces to move. Cards are taken from the cards they move across, and those cards are traded in to fulfill commissions for points. As players play their planning cards, they are removed from the game so options diminish as the game progresses.
Sunset Over Water plays wonderfully solo as well as up to four players. This is another one of those games with a small box that packs a big punch.
What games are you stuffing in stockings? Let us know in the comments!
Benjamin hails from Canada but now lives in Kentucky with his wife and kids. He’s a certified copyeditor and a freelance writer and editor, covering everything from board game rule books to novels. An avid writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes as no surprise that his favorite board games are those with rich, engaging themes. When he’s not writing or playing games, Benjamin loves to play ultimate Frisbee, watch and play rugby, and read the most epic fantasy books available. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and Instagram @Benjamin_Kocher. You can also read his board game inspired fiction (among other things) at BoardGameImmersion.com.