The Thoughtful Gamer’s Super-Mega 2021 Holiday Gift Guide Spectacular

The time has come for everyone to scramble for those last minute Christmas gifts to pile up under the tree and once again The Thoughtful Gamer, well-known around the globe as an authority on all things new and hot in the board game-o-sphere, is here to help with all of your shopping needs. 

The face of holiday cheer

In case you forgot, I follow a tight biennial coverage schedule for these holiday guides. I don’t forget to do them the other years, I just like to give my recommendations space to breathe, like a fine wine or a human. In 2017 you got a family games guide. Two years later I shocked the world with a list of games at least 20 years old. Following the pattern, this year I’m recommending you play the games you already own that you haven’t played yet. 

Don’t deny they exist. We all know you’ve got them, sitting there all lonely and sad and dusty. This is a safe space. I’ll begin. According to my comprehensive list (a list I made in lieu of playing a game) I currently own 38 unplayed games. How did this happen? I wasn’t going to be one of those people and yet here we are. Now I bare my soul and confess to the world my list of unplayed games, accompanied by a bunch of sad excuses.

First, the wargames. Look, some of these are long and complicated and who wants to play long and complicated games? I mean, I know a few people, but, you know, scheduling is hard, and sometimes you discover a new youtube channel and it’s really good–well, not that good but at least entertaining, or perhaps not completely mind-numbing, and once you see the new one you’ve got to go back and watch the rest, right? You know, for context.

American Revolution Tri-Pack (I would have counted this as “played” even if I only played one of them, but it’s not even punched)

Fort Sumter (I always spell Sumter as “Sumpter” and this has made me resentful. This is my excuse and I am going to stick with it)

Conquest of Paradise


Paths of Glory

Navajo Wars (the one solo game holdout. I tried to play them all, I swear!)

Fog of War


Supply Lines of the American Revolution


Guns of Galicia


Sorry GMT. I guess you’re a bit overrepresented here. But next we get to the games that really work best with a certain number of people, and I can confidently blame COVID here. I mean, I do have a small group of friends I game with regularly, but we don’t quite reach 6 people so Westphalia is out of luck. Pretend Versailles 1919 and Pericles also require 6 people and we can just move on here without incident.

Aha! A couple of games I only got in the last couple of weeks, and that’s a real excuse. Time is finite, and games are plentiful. Why even buy more games? What are we looking for? Are we going to find something we don’t already have? Is searching for something unknown while you have greatness at hand a deep metaphor for life? Does this make me profound and wise? Is life indeed the greatest of all legacy games? I’m just asking questions here. 

Anyways, I look forward to playing Nightlancer, Silent Ships, and White Eagle Defiant soon (I repeat to myself).

The following games have intimidated me either through actual knowledge or some weird mental barrier I have about their complexity and I am not too proud to say that.

Urban Sprawl

The Colonists



Bios: Origins

The Great Zimbabwe

I legit forgot I owned these. Which shelving unit are they on?

Lawyer Up

Mafia de Cuba


Pathfinder card game


Universal Rule

Apollo 13

Here I run out of excuses. None of these are particularly long or complex, I think. Will they be the first to jump from this list into the heavenly arms of played-ness or will I continue to neglect them like the sad chip in the plate of nachos that found itself sitting in the shade of other, luckier chips and therefore missed out on receiving any toppings?

Coal Baron the Card Game

Rising 5

An Infamous Traffic


Bruxelles 1893

Porta Nigra

Welcome to Centerville

There it is, my list of neglected games laid bare for the entire internet to see. Will this confession be a salve or a source of deepening guilt? Do I have more games I’ve preordered or requested on the way, right now, in the mail? No, really, do I? I’ve forgotten.

Oh, and if you do actually want to buy someone a cool new game it should be My City. Trust me. It’s got broad appeal and it’s super fun. That’s the one to get. See? I’m not entirely a scrooge.

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