Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Tabletop Gaming

As technology pushes to grander heights than ever, tabletop gaming has continued to grow in popularity and keep pace with the adrenaline rush of video games. There’s something different about gathering your friends around the table to spend an evening playing board games, or embarking on a roleplaying game adventure.

If you’re looking for gift ideas for a tabletop gaming afficinado in your life, look no further. CGMagazine has gathered a list of some of our favourite products from this year, and a couple evergreen suggestions as well. This is an incredibly diverse market with something for everyone, so even if nothing on this list is a perfect match for your shopping needs, it should at least help inspire some other ideas as well.

(And as always, don’t forget to check your friendly local game stores this holiday season for many of these products, and more besides!)

Marvel United + Spider-Geddon

CoolMiniOrNot (CMON) Games has personally been on my radar for the last decade or so, thanks to their classic board game Zombicide. In more recent years, however, Marvel United has leapt to the top of my personal favourite tabletop board games. Players choose a team of heroes and a villain to oppose, and take turns placing cards on a “timeline” to achieve certain goals, like saving civilians, beating up henchmen or lieutenants, or attacking the evil mastermind. Coordination is key, as the previous player’s decisions directly empower the current player’s turn.

With a sheerly staggering roster of expansions and additional characters, now including the X-Men, Marvel United is highly replayable, even with the base game alone. Its “chibi” art style lends itself well to dynamic miniatures, even in their unpainted form.

For expansions, however, the Spider-Geddon add-on brings a slew of different Spider-heroes to your tabletop. Heroes like Scarlet Spider, Silk, and Spider-Man 2099 can take up the fight against Morlun and stop his master plans. Any Spider-Man fan is sure to find a favourite variant in this set.

D&D Phandelver And Below: The Shattered Obelisk

If you play Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, the latest iteration of the premiere tabletop RPG, there’s a very good chance that you’re participated in the Starter Set campaign The Lost Mine of Phandelver at some point. As the edition’s tenth anniversary approaches next year, Wizards of the Coast went back to this seminal adventure and revamped it in spectacular style with Phandelver And Below: The Shattered Obelisk, a full-fledged campaign.

The classic adventure that has introduced so many to the world of tabletop RPGs has been remastered, and then expanded. Those who have played the original adventure will find the locales have been updated, while the story continues into even darker realms than before. If you know someone who’s been obsessed with Baldur’s Gate 3 lately, The Shattered Obelisk is a great way to get them into the actual tabletop D&D experience.

D&D Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse

For more seasoned tabletop adventurers, the Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse box set offers infinite realities to explore. Much like last year’s Spelljammer: Adventures in Space, this pack includes three tomes: Sigil and the Outlands, a sourcebook with character options and other details for playing in intraplanar campaign; Morte’s Planar Parade, a Monster Manual packed with the sort of adversaries you might encounter; and Turn of Fortune’s Wheel, an adventure for levels 3-10 that puts it all together.

This is a great idea for the Dungeon Master in your tabletop group—not only for the wealth of inspiration for an unusual, outlandish setting, but for the awesome DM screen that rounds out the package, keeping relevant multiversal info handy. Even if it’s not used verbatim, it can be a great sort of inspiration for original, homebrewed adventures that transcend the mortal planes. The independent retailer variant is an extra cut above as well, with its unique variant artwork by Tony DiTerlizzi.

Call To Adventure

Brotherwise Games’ Call to Adventure taps into the fundamental building blocks of epic storytelling to bring a creative and versatile experience to your tabletop game collection. Play progresses through three phases, resembling the three-act structure of classic fantasy—starting with playing cards resembling each player’s humble origins, moving through their trials and tribulations, and culminating in their heroic ascensions. Can you play the right cards and pass the tests to score the most points and fulfill your destiny?

The core game is intriguing on multiple playthroughs in itself, but Call to Adventure: Epic Origins presents an even more diverse range of experiences. Combine this expanded edition with the original for a massive pool of card options, or work through the Campaign mode. You can even convert the heroes you concoct through the game into Dungeons & Dragons characters with the included conversion guide. If you’re looking for a fun gift for a writer, Call to Adventure can even help them bust through writer’s block—take the character arc you end up with, and write their story.

Candela Obscura

Critical Role is a worldwide sensation, and thanks to the company’s publishing arm, Darrington Press, the actual-play podcast has begun to transcend its D&D roots—branching into a tabletop RPG engine of the company’s own design, the Illuminated Worlds System. In Candela Obscura, the first game using CR’s new system, players take on the role of members from an esoteric order that investigates occult phenomena and mysteries in a world of horror.

Candela Obscura uses 6-sided dice, and is designed to facilitate narrative, arc-driven play—which may be a welcome change for players who don’t like getting bogged down in the battle mechanics of other tabletop systems. The Candela Obscura handbook (also available in a limited edition) would make a great gift for fans of the podcast, or even horror fans in your life who want to embark on their own spooky adventures in a novel new setting.

Critical Role dice sets

Speaking of tabletop goodies that have arisen from an actual-play net, we’re smitten with these themed dice sets from Critical Role, representing characters or teams from the show. From the subdued, cosmic blues of the Vox Machina Game Master set to the more bombastic palates of Imogen or Fresh Cut Grass of Bells Hells, these sets come in fine leatherette drawstring pouches and bring a unique splash of colour to any game that relies on polyhedral dice.

Magical Kitties Save the Day

Sharing your hobbies with your kids can be fun and fulfilling for the whole family, but getting into a dense tabletop RPG is a tall ask for younger players. Atlas Games’ Magical Kitties Save the Day makes the whole process easier with a rules-light system and a charming concept: the players are cats with secret magical powers, which they must use to help solve their humans’ problems.

Character generation is quick and easy, helping players build their own kitty avatar with Powers, Talents, and a Flaw. When players need to face a challenge, they roll more dice if they use those abilities, and thus have more chances to score a resounding victory; but if they happen to fail a test, Magical Kitties isn’t too discouraging, and players still earn experience. It encourages players to roleplay by rewarding them with “Kitty Treats”—tokens that allow them to change the story—if they play to their Flaws.

Once you’ve learned the ropes, Magical Kitties has an array of expansions to keep your family tabletop fun going, with settings based on fairy tales and even more options for character building. It makes a great gift for parents on your shopping list who are into other RPGs (or even just adults who love their itty bitty wittle kitties).



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