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2020 Gift Guide - The Kiddo's Picks

The Kiddo is 13 years old this year. He was pretty excited when I told him I wanted picks for our gift guide from him. All his choices are light and fun.

Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops—all in order to acquire the most prestige points. If you're wealthy enough, you might even receive a visit from a noble at some point, which of course will further increase your prestige.

This is a favorite game at our house. It even got a broken token box upgrade. The first thing people notice are the incredible poker chip tokens. It recently release in Marvel form. This is a great engine building game that is easy to get into.

In Railroad Ink, your goal is to connect as many exits on your board as possible. Each round, a set of dice are rolled in the middle of the table, determining which kind of road and railway routes are available to all players. You have to draw these routes on your erasable boards to create transport lines and connect your exits, trying to optimize the available symbols better than your opponents.

We play this game live often and maybe you have even played along with us! For more info about playing with us, check out our play with us page. Each box comes with two sets of expansion dice and all the dry erase markers you need. The Kiddo is hoping to get his hands on the newly kickstarted copies that come in a variety of colors.

In Steorra, players will take on the role of a protostar. Each player's protostar will absorb planets to grow larger and gain gravity points. They will draw planets into their gravitational pull to create a solar system and gain GP to score. The player with the highest GP score will win the game and become the greatest solar system of all time and space.

This pick is a bit of a biased choice, since it is the first published game that he designed. It is a good game and the print is high quality. Steorra is a short lightweight tile placement game. You can find it at The Game Crafter here.

In Villainous, each player takes control of one of six Disney characters, each one a villain in a different Disney movie. Each player has their own villain deck, fate deck, player board, and 3D character. On a turn, the active player moves their character to a different location on their player board, takes one or more of the actions visible on that space (often by playing cards from their hand), then refills their hand to four cards. Cards are allies, items, effects, conditions, and (for some characters) curses. You need to use your cards to fulfill your unique win condition.

Villainous is an interesting asymmetrical game. You can start with the big green box or any of the smaller expansions since the expansions work as a stand alone game as well. You can also get the Marvel version. We like the game and play it a lot since each character you play is like playing a different kind of game.

In Potion Explosion, 2 to 4 players brew potions by pulling colored marbles from a dispenser and matching them with the needed ingredients for the potions on the table in front of them. While basic turns are simple, clever players will strategically pull colored marbles that both fulfill a needed ingredient and cause matching colored marbles to stack up in a single column. When two or more of the same ingredients match, an Explosion occurs, letting players collect the like colored marbles and save them for later turns.

Fans of popular mobile matching games will instantly recognize the core mechanic of Potion Explosion and appreciate the extra layers of strategy introduced when playing against other students of Horribilorum. As you brew potions by filling in missing ingredients with marbles, you score points. But that’s not all! Each potion has a special ability that can be used once to help yourself or hinder other players, so choose which ones you drink wisely!

We have this game in app and board game version and both are fantastic. The game is very tactile with the constant clinking of marbles. The Tot (4) likes to help us play and set up the game too.

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