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2020 Gift Guide - Michelle's Picks

Times are tough right now and my brain capacity is minimal. I have been preferring lighter to mid range games during the pandemic. My gift guide suggestions will fit in that range. They can work well with new players and seasoned one alike. I hope you get a chance to try some of them out!

In Stone Age, the players live in this time, just as our ancestors did. They collect wood, break stone and wash their gold from the river. They trade freely, expand their village and so achieve new levels of civilization. With a balance of luck and planning, the players compete for food in this pre-historic time.

Players use up to ten tribe members each in three phases. In the first phase, players place their men in regions of the board that they think will benefit them, including the hunt, the trading center, or the quarry. In the second phase, the starting player activates each of his staffed areas in whatever sequence he chooses, followed in turn by the other players. In the third phase, players must have enough food available to feed their populations, or they face losing resources or points.

So, we don't actually have this game. But I really want it! We do like worker placement games and this is a medium weight one. It is a bit older, but it is a lot of fun. Adam and I had a chance to try it out on . Now we are looking for an English language copy to come into our local game store. Maybe we will cave in and get the French copy...I like it enough to do that.

Wingspan is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game from Stonemaier Games. It's designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and features over 170 birds illustrated by Natalia Rojas and Ana Maria Martinez. You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions).

We love this engine building game. The art is gorgeous. A great add on is the Wingsong app. It's free and allows you to hear what each of the birds sounds like. If you already have the game there are a couple of expansions that could be a fun add on too.

In Gingerbread House, you place domino-like tiles in a 3 by 3 grid, covering symbols that provide you with four different types of gingerbread and special actions. Tiles may also be placed on existing types of tiles, forming a 3D structure in front of you. Covering two of the same symbol is extremely valuable as it provides a bonus gingerbread or action. Victory points are awarded for building the tallest structure, completing orders by discarding sets of gingerbread, as well as being the quickest to achieve certain conditions. In the end, the player with the most victory points wins.

If you like Kingdomino or Patchwork, you will probably like this one. It just screams Christmas for me. We actually pack it away with our Christmas decorations and pull it out to play throughout December. It is light but fun.

You are a painter in Colors of Paris, and you've decided to participate in "Bateau Lavoir", a friendly competition between several painters in a workshop in Montmartre, Paris. The newspapers know about this challenge, so perhaps this is a good opportunity to become famous, following the path of Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, or Renoir... Colors of Paris is a management game in which you must take care of your paint tubes, mixtures, and time to create works, all the while anticipating others to perform as needed within a rotating set of actions.

This is a light weight worker placement game. There are limited options for placement. It still has great choices to make though. This is a great game if you want to get started with worker placement games as it is much easier to learn play than others in the category.

In Ex Libris, you are a collector of rare and valuable books in a thriving gnomish village. Recently, the Mayor and Village Council have announced an opening for a Grand Librarian: a prestigious (and lucrative) position they intend to award to the most qualified villager! Unfortunately, several of your book collector colleagues (more like acquaintances, really) are also candidates. To outshine your competition, you need to expand your personal library by sending your trusty assistants out into the village to find the most impressive tomes. Sources for the finest books are scarce, so you need to beat your opponents to them when they pop up.

A co-worker of mine once asked me if I would like being a librarian... I gave a resounding YES! I did throw him for a bit of loop there since he was trying to make it sound incredibly boring and undesirable. But it is true. There is just something about organizing things that makes me happy. This game has a bit of worker placement, but the draw for me is alphabetizing my bookshelf and organizing it in the most efficient way possible. If that sounds like fun to you too, you should check out the game.

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