Around here, we like games. A lot. They’re great to play, and they make great gifts. But you don’t have to break the bank to give someone a game. There are plenty of affordable games. So today, in honor of Black Friday, here’s the stocking stuffer edition of our holiday gift guide. All of these games play quickly and cost less than $20, making them the perfect last-minute gift.
Zombie Dice is a really simple game. I carry it in my bag when I suspect I might need some amusement while I’m out. The premise is simple: You’re the zombie. You want brains. You roll the dice to reveal your fate: If you’re lucky, you get brains. If you’re having an off-day, your victims get to run away, and if you’re really unlucky, you get blast by a shotgun. If you’re a smart zombie, you’ll quit while you’re ahead and keep all the brains you’ve earned to nom on. After three shotgun blasts, you’re done with your turn and you lose any brains from that round. First zombie to 13 brains wins!
No, it’s not exactly the most Christmassy of gifts. That’s why I recommend the expansion, Zombie Dice 2. It introduces a special Santa die. Good zombies can earn double brains or get an energy drink that lets them capture brains more easily. There’s also Zombie Dice 3: School Bus Edition.
Play time: 10 minutes
Love Letter is a game of deduction and risk. Your goal is to get your letter to the Princess of Tempest and edge out other potential suitors. Players start with one card in their hand. Every round, they draw a new card and play another in an attempt to knock other players out of the game and get their letter in the right hands. The question is how much of a risk you’re willing to take. Big risks have big rewards but they’ll make you a target for other players, while smaller risks may never pay off at all.
Play time: 20 minutes
Bananagrams is the perfect gift for Scrabble fans. Each player is given a handful of letter tiles. The goal is simple: Be the first to make your own crossword puzzle using all of the letters you’re given. No board means Bananagrams travels a bit better than Scrabble, and there’s no pencil or paper required.
Play time: 15 minutes
Dungeon Roll is going to sound a bit similar to another game on our gift guide, Dungeon Dice. It’s a “press your luck” dice game: Players assemble a party of various fantasy races and raid a dungeon. Each turn, a player rolls his or party dice, while another player takes on the role of Dungeon Lord and rolls the dice that determine what evil creatures the party will face. The worst of them all of course is the dragon. But defeating bad guys earns players experience points as well as treasure.
Play time: 15 minutes
I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for anything King Arthur. Avalon is a stand-alone spin-off of the original game Resistance, with an Arthurian twist. Players either support Arthur or his nemesis Mordred. The play is mostly similar to the original game, but the game adds a new character, Merlin. Merlin is on the side of good, but he knows from the beginning who Mordred’s minions are. The more players you add to the Avalon game the more special roles you see, with appearances from Percival, who knows Merlin’s identity and protects him, Mordred himself, and Morgana.
Avalon is a stand-alone variant, but you can combine it with The Resistance for more interesting play.
Play time: 30 minutes
What games have you given as stocking stuffers? Tell us about them!
Melissa is an independent writer and editor, as well as a board game lover. When she's not creating or perfecting web content, she's usually playing games with her friends or experimenting in the kitchen.