It’s the time of the year to be festive. With many of us, we are looking at our favorite online retailers this year to purchase and possibly ship gifts to our friends and loved ones. With so many games out there, WiscoDice is here to provide some guidance as to what to buy your board gaming friends.

It’s worth noting that we have not played any of these titles. These are games that we are excited about ourselves. After reading reviews, watching game play, and doing enough research to make ourselves a little jolly, this is the list that we settled on.

For this list, we have looked at the top games that have either just released or are expected to release before the Christmas (December 25th) holiday. The list will feature both stand alone board games as well as expansions to popular games. Gamers can be very difficult to buy for. Anything that has just released going into the holiday season is something your gamer just might not have in their collections yet!

I hope you are excited for our holiday board game top 10 shopping list!!!

10. Viscounts of the West Kingdom

Viscounts of the West Kingdom

Viscounts of the West Kingdom is the third game in the “West Kingdom” series of games. The previous two games, Architects of the West Kingdom and Paladins of the West Kingdom, are fabulous games that I would also recommend. Each game is a unique game experience making it very worth while to own all three games.

In Viscounts of the West Kingdom players will accumulate victory points by constructing buildings, writing manuscripts, working in the castle, and acquiring deeds. To start the game, you will have a handful of resources such as townsfolk that you will be able to use to accomplish your goals, travel the kingdom, and increase your influence.

  • Retail Price: $55
  • Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
  • Designer: Shem Phillips, SJ Macdonald
  • Release: Available Now
  • Players: 1-4
  • Playing Time: 60-90 minutes

9. Spirit Island: Jagged Earth Expansion

Spirit Island: Jagged Earth

This is the first expansion on the list. I have played Spirit Island at various player counts now and love it. I have also played with the current expansion Spirit Island: Branch and Claw. Both are brilliant and it’s a game I would highly recommend to purchase if they don’t own either.

In Spirit Island, you take on the role of a spirit who has overseen an island and it’s natives. Each round you will go through a process of determining what your spirit will do using cards that represent your powers, activate powers, cause fear, watch the invaders damage to the land, watch the invaders build cities and towns, and then activate some more powers. As the game progresses and the more fear you can generate the winning condition will change and become easier. However, as the land becomes blighted and the invaders become more numerous there may be no hope for your island’s ancient spirits!

This is the only game on this list that I have tried out some of the mechanics for. We were able to get a preview of this expansion at GenCon 2019. Spirit Island: Jagged Earth is the expansion that adds a ridiculous amount of new content including 10 new spirits and the ability to play up to 6 players!!! In addition to a new Badlands mechanic, this expansion is a must have addition to anyone’s Spirit Island game play experience.

  • Retail Price: $59.95
  • Publisher: Greater Than Games
  • Designer: R. Eric Reuss
  • Release: Estimated November 20, 2020
  • Players: 1-6
  • Playing Time: 90-120 minutes

8. Gates of Mara

Gates of Mara

At the core of Gates of Mara is a worker placement game that combines with area control. You will lead your asymmetric powered tribe gain control of the various gates and locations around the realm. You will be able to upgrade your workers as your span of power and control grow.

In addition, there is a great mix of short-term objectives as well as your ultimate goal to win the game. You will need to ensure that you have the most influence if you will lay claim to the Gates of Mara!

  • Retail Price: $69.99
  • Publisher: Wizkids
  • Designer: J.B. Howell
  • Estimated release was originally scheduled for October 2020, but it is still listed as a pre-order
  • Players: 2-4
  • Playing Time: 90-180 minutes

7. Atheneum: Mystic Library

Athenium: Mystic Library

Atheneum: Mystic Library features a magical world where you play as a student of magic who must study for your exams. Yet, with all of the magic in the school, you are still needed to clean up the mess before the library closes. While I am not sure entirely of the theme here, the game components and play have me intrigued.

As you play the game you will place books on library shelves. Doing so correctly will score you points. On top of just the books, you will be able to place decorative candles. Shelve your favorite topics, complete rows of books and have a decorative display of books all score you points towards victory.

The books are various small tokens and you will be solving a puzzle as you place the books on the book shelves. I think that’s going to be a lot of fun. Add to the fact that game play is in the 30-45 minute mark makes this attractive as a game that you might get a couple of plays in on a board game night.

  • Retail Price: $45
  • Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
  • Designer: Veronika Fedorova
  • Release: Available Now
  • Players: 2-5
  • Playing Time: 30-45 minutes

6. Tiny Towns: Villagers Expansion

Tiny Towns: Villagers

The game of Tiny Towns has become a bit of a favorite game of mine. During the game you will obtain building materials that you have to store on your little player board. Assemble the right materials in the right patterns and you can turn in those materials for a building. That in turn frees up space so you can build more buildings. But be careful, you will quickly run out of space as the game progresses.

In Tiny Town: Villagers you will see more building cards to provide great, new in game structures you can create. In addition, it looks as though they are adding some new large critters that will impact your game play and give you some more bonuses.

  • Retail Price: $29.99
  • Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
  • Designer: Peter McPherson and Josh Wood
  • Release: Available now
  • Players: 1-6
  • Playing Time: 45 minutes

5. Era: Medieval Age: River and Roads

Era: Medieval Age Expansion

I picked up the core game for Era: Medieval Age at Gen Con back in 2019. I walked by their booth on the opening day of the convention and was just awestruck at how cool this game looked. I found myself circling back to the booth the next day and ended up with an unplanned purchase.

Era: Medieval Age is best described as a roll and write game. Just no writing! Exchange your notepad and pencil for a player board that has 3D castle walls and structures. Roll your dice to create resources and build actions. Build your city. Feed your dice workers. Threaten your neighboring players and exploit them for their resources. All in all, I have loved playing this game and getting it to the table!

In the Era: Medieval Age: River and Roads you are going to get more of what makes the core game so good. More structures you can build to get bonuses is going to be great. What’s more is that in the expansion you will add roads and rivers to allow your board to somehow connect to the “domains outside”. I can only hope that means that you will create the means to interact more with your opponents.

  • Retail Price: $24.99
  • Publisher: Eggertspiele
  • Designer: Matt Leacock
  • Release: estimated for November 19, 2020
  • Players: 1-4
  • Playing Time: 45-60 minutes

4. Lost Ruins of Arnak

Lost Ruins of Arnak

One of the things that attracts me to board games is theme. Lost Ruins of Arnak looks to do this and that has me excited. You play as explorers on an expedition of an uncharted island. Just the thought of that makes me think about the crack of a whip as Indiana Jones or Lara Croft solving puzzles and overcoming challenges.

The mechanics promise a deck builder which is a great mechanic and one we really like. Your deck will allow you to interact with the game board to unlock new locations, place workers, and open up new actions. As you explore the island, you will collect resources that you will need to manage. Some actions require a resource cost to complete. Actions are limited to one per turn and you will be competing for action spaces against your opponent. All in all, it sounds like a great blend of worker placement with deck builder making this game very intriguing indeed!

  • Retail Price: $59.95
  • Publisher: Czech Games Edition
  • Designer: Min & Elwen
  • Release: Q4 2020
  • Players: 1-4
  • Playing Time: 30-120 min

3. Troyes Dice

Troyes Dice

Troyes Dice is the only true roll and write game on the list. I will be honest, the genre of roll and write isn’t really my favorite. While the games I have played have been fun, I much prefer having at least a component that I can interact with and place to represent what I am doing with the dice result.

Troyes Dice stands out to me though. I own the games Troyes and the successor Black Angel and really enjoy those games. This makes me excited for Troyes Dice and I am hopeful that this will be a roll and write that I really enjoy.

In Troyes Dice you play a rich Champagne family trying to leave your mark in history. Just as in Troyes, you will have to fend off various invaders in the form of events, develop the market, build the cathedral, and work on other prestigious buildings in the city. Much the same types of things that you are doing in the original Troyes game.

  • Retail Price: $25
  • Publisher: Pearl Games
  • Designer: Sebastien Dujardin, Xavier Georges, Alain Orban
  • Release: Available Now
  • Players: 1-10
  • Playing Time: 20-30 minutes

2. Praga Caput Regni

Praga Caput Regni

Ready to build buildings in medieval Prague? Take on the role of wealthy citizens in Praga Caput Regni to do just that!

Ok, so the theme of this game doesn’t thrill me. Praga Caput Regni does have, what appears to be, really good mechanics and game play experience though! During your turn you will use the “action crane” to choose between 6 different actions on the board. These actions are always available, but just shift in cost and reward based on the current game state. The key to this game will be timing when to use those actions to the best effect for the least cost to accomplish what you need to do.

Praga Caput Regni really seems intriguing and there has been a lot of buzz in the board game community about this game. If your gamer likes a game that has really crunchy decisions, but not too over complex rules this game might be the one to get.

  • Retail Price: $74.95 
  • Publisher: Delicious Games/Rio Grande Games
  • Designer: Vladimir Suchy
  • Release: Estimated November 2020
  • Players: 1-4
  • Playing Time: 30-120

1. Tawantinsuyu: The Inca Empire

Tawantinsuyu: The Inca Empire

The designer David Turczi has produced some of my favorite games such as T’zolkin and Teotihuacan: City of Gods. The game board and complex rules mechanics immerse you in a rich game where you feel as if you are a taking part of the ancient culture loosely depicted in those games.

In David Turczi’s latest game, themed on the Tawantinsuyu and the Incas, you will place your workers on locations on the board doing the normal worker placement things – gather resources, convert resources, construct buildings, and so forth. What makes this game different than many other games is that after you place your worker they are committed and will never leave that placement for the rest of the game.

The key here is that each worker is connected to three action spaces and will be able to trigger one action normally. However, for each adjacent worker, you will be able to do additional actions equal to the additional workers. On top of that cool little trick, you have different types of workers that will give bonuses to your placements, if you use them.

There’s a lot going on in this game. So much, yet much like David Turczi’s other games, I expect that once you understand all of the locations, actions, and such that you will find yourself in an incredibly intuitive game with many very complex actions that build to an epic, thematic experience. That’s why I am so excited about this game!

  • Retail Price: $60
  • Publisher: Board and Dice
  • Designer: David Turczi
  • Release: Available Now
  • Players: 1-4
  • Playing Time: 60-120

What’s next?

Well, go shopping for gifts of course! With so many games on the market, I hope this helps you know what new titles you will want to pick up for that board gamer in your life. Join the conversation on our social media and let us know what games you are excited for this holiday season!