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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > December 2018 (#25) > The 12 Plays of Christmas

The 12 Plays of Christmas

As the festive cheer is replaced by the dread of playing Cluedo with tipsy r elatives, our writers and readers pick out their modern favourites that will keep you merry long into the New Year



As we look ahead to the New Year and the new us, it’s time for a reffection on what brought us to this point. No, not the double sherry or the fifth piled plate that marks the final nail in our get-in-better-shape resolution. No, we’re talking about evolution, an unimaginably long process that has shaped the first single cell to the plucked and roasted dinosaur descendent sat in the middle of the table. As a concept, it’s quite a lot to take in – but that’s where Evolution finds its comfortable position. It might not cover the full history of the emergence of life on Earth, but it does take a few key concepts and create an intense strategy experience around them. Christmas is a time of giving, a time when we stressfully hunt through the concrete or digital jungles for some thoughtful gift that will make our loved ones see just how much we appreciate them. And in much the same way, Evolution is a game about giving. As each round progresses you ‘gift’ your species with new traits that will help them survive. But be careful: you can only afford to give so much, so be sure not to spread your efforts too thin by having too many frien- er, species!

With the ultimate goal of Christmas being to eat as much as you can (right?) and Evolution having the same objective, it just makes sense to play during the festive season. So put some horns in their stockings, wrap up a hard shell and gift your friends some fat tissue this year. ANNA BLACKWELL

Martin Carr Cards Against Humanity is perfect for when the kids have gone to bed and everyone has had a few glasses…

Dom Lafford Betrayal at House on the Hill: Nothing says “Merry Christmas!” like turning into a werewolf and eating Grandma.

@ctrattackgame Machi Koro, so long as you have four or five players.



There was a time when the very suggestion of a family board game at Christmas time would fill me with consternation. One year, a “girls against boys” bout of Pictionary at my Auntie Barbara’s almost ended in a full-on fistfight. That was the last time I ever played a board game with my side of the family at Christmas, and that was around 20 years ago.

Which is why I was initially unbothered by the fact that my in-laws weren’t really into board games at all. There was none of that pressure to force a ‘fun’ group activity with them. Everyone would usually just get on with their own thing: my father-in-law would watch football, my motherin- law would shoot zombies on her PC, my wife’s eldest would have her nose in a book about real-life gangsters…

Then, a couple of years back, I suggested a Christmas Eve game of Codenames. Having recently acquired Vlaada Chvátil’s hit party game, I felt its deft blend of espionage theme, engaging team-play and word-association dynamic might – might – just get everyone around the same gaming table; something I’d never witnessed in all my years of marriage. Surprisingly, they were all up for it – even my mother-in-law who’d once cheerily told me she hates board games.

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About Tabletop Gaming

Getting into the festive mood for this month’s magazine, the Tabletop Gaming team and you very readers have put together a list of the 12 Plays of Christmas – over a dozen modern classics that you should play with family and friends during the holidays. We’ve even set them all to a song, if you’re in the mood for a gaming carol. As the nights grow long, we gather around a candle with Great Western Trail and Mombasa creator Alexander Pfister to take a look at his new game, Blackout: Hong Kong. Set in a powerless city plunged into chaos, it promises to be something unexpected from the accomplished designer. There might not be a new Star Wars hitting cinema screens, but the Force remains strong with the galaxy far, far away. We travel back to the beginnings of the saga and look at the history of Star Wars in roleplaying games, discovering how the tabletop redefined and saved the sci-fi space opera. In a very different sci-fi universe, Warhammer 40,000 creator Rick Priestley takes us back to the genesis of the grimdark galaxy and considers how it’s shaped the state of sci-fi on the tabletop more than three decades later. Most people know Matt Edmondson as a BBC Radio 1 DJ and TV presenter, but he’s also been behind some of the funniest party games in recent years. As he follows up the ridiculous rhyming of Obama Llama with Santa Banter, he tells us about getting into games and what comes next. Plus, we’ve got the definitive verdict on this winter’s biggest games, including reviews of KeyForge: Call of the Archons, Betrayal Legacy, Discover: Lands Unknown, Arkham Horror: Third Edition, Warhammer Underworlds: Nightvault, Legend of the Five Rings RPG, Reef and more!