Every couple of years I like to do a Christmas list of some sort. This time it’s my Top 10 Christmas card games. They’re all small box, so perfect for stocking fillers or secret santa gifts. All 10 games have had editions released over the last five years, so shouldn’t be hard to find. And these little card games should all cost less than £20. If they say ‘+’ after the minutes, it means you can keep playing indefinitely. Many modern games have an optional campaign mode, so you can start next time where you left off last.
My last few Christmas lists are still relevant too. If you need further gift inspiration, check out my Top 10 stocking fillers. While there’s also my Top 10 family games you can teach anyone at Christmas. It’s going to be a weird year for everyone, so there’s never been a better year to bring some fresh games to the table. They’re not in any particular order, but hopefully there’s something here to suit any play style.
I’ll also give an unsolicited Christmas shopping shout-out to the Board Game Prices website. It’s unusual for a hobby this size to get a price comparison site this good. And if it keeps some of you on indie websites rather than the big boys, then more’s the better. Let’s show those independent retailers some love.
Top 10: Christmas card games
(2-5 players, 20+ mins, ages 10+)
Rather than fighting this Christmas, why not work together on a card-driven space adventure? It’s wholly abstract, but this award-winning trick-taker sees you co-operating to make sure the right players win the right tricks. Unique, simple rules and very well executed.
(2-6 players, 15-30 mins, ages 8+)
This is a simple set collection game with a clever twist. Each card has a veggie on one side and a way to score on the other. Choose wisely which way up to keep each card, to maximise your points. And be careful, as some cards score negatives for certain types.
(2-5 players, 20+ mins, ages 8+)
This clever little set collection card game slowly introduces new cards with different powers each time you play. So while the rules are always simple, these added little twists keep the game fresh long after a game this simple’s sell-by date.
(2-5 players, 30 mins, ages 8+)
In this pattern matching game, each card is split into six sections. These represent towns, woods, lakes etc. But they’re also numbered, so you play tricks to claim them. Land types score differently, so you try to make the best personal map by overlaying the cards.
(3-5 players, 30 mins, ages 10+)
This is at the opposite end of the scale from The Crew. Oriflamme sees you betting and bluffing your way to victory at the expense of your opponents. Character cards are played to a central row and affect each other in a variety of devious ways.
(3-5 players, 15 mins, ages 10+)
This is a clever co-operative puzzler. One set of cards has numbers, another rules showing how a card can be swapped. One of each type is put into a card sleeve. But only the holder of each card knows its rules. Swap cards until they’re all in order. So simple – but so tricky!
Fox in the Forest
(2, 30 mins, ages 10+)
The only game on the list I haven’t played. It’s here because it’s in the BGG Top 500/family games Top 100. And because friends whose opinions I respect enjoy the hell out of it. All I can say is, it’s a trick-taking game designed specifically for two players.
Games I’ve previously reviewed
Short notes here, but click through for full reviews. These are all games I’ve given massively favourable reviews in the past few years.
(2-4 players, 30 mins, 8+)
Play cards in sequence to rows – but don’t play the sixth card in a row, as you’ll have to pick them all up. A clever version of 6 Nimmt allowing lower player counts than the original.
(3-5 players, 30 mins, 10+)
The recent reprint of clever trick-taker Eternity. As well as evolving trump suits, you can discard rather than following tricks. Discarding as many as you win tricks to score bonuses.
(2-5 players, 30 mins, 8+)
Re-released more recently under the much worse title 5211 – but with much prettier cards. Players slowly reveal cards, with colour majorities scoring (or not) if they bust or tie.