This year’s been massive for board games, with plenty of new and returning hits gracing our shores. As always, we had a flood of new Monopolys from The Mandalorian to Disney Villains, but we also had some shockingly good new adventures like Detective: City of Angels and Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. They join a long list of excellent RPG-style board games that should rightfully take their place on your Christmas wishlist this year.
These are the biggest and best board games you should consider gifting (or being gifted) this year. While not all of them are new for 2020, all of them are fantastic romps worth putting a few hours into.
Detective: City of Angels is one of the newest games on this list and the most intriguing. In this solo or multiplayer tale, players explore Los Angeles in the 1940s amidst a backdrop of crime and corruption. As an LAPD homicide detective, you’ll have to work together to uncover the mysteries behind multiple violent crimes and close cases by whatever means necessary.
You’ll be able to use your power to interrogate suspects, ruin the active investigation or bring justice for the victims of crime. The choice is in your hands.
You can grab Detective: City of Angels from Amazon AU for $167.
Buying a Pandemic game for a friend might be the best or worst choice you have this holiday season, depending on how well they’re coping with general life circumstances right now. Regardless of global happenings, the entire Pandemic series is an absolute treat and the latest in the line, Legacy: Season 0, is looking like a fresh new take on the classic formula.
In the game, you’ll be tracking down a Soviet bioweapon and attempting to save humanity from yet more deadly, life-destroying viruses. All eyes will be on you as enemy forces (seen and unseen) approach from all directions.
You can grab Pandemic Legacy: Season 0 on Amazon AU for $110.
Mansions of Madness is an incredible board game tied into an app where random events and strategic encounters chart your path to victory. In the game, you’ll play as an investigator tending to a crime scene and trying to work out what hideous events are taking place around you. You’ll need to keep your wits though, because you can die fairly easily through sheer, dumb luck.
Exploring the game’s various scenarios is an absolute delight regardless of whether you win or lose. If you like story adventures or just a good, solid scare, this game is for you.
You can grab Mansions of Madness on Amazon AU for $114.
Betrayal Legacy is a modified version of Betrayal at House on the Hill designed for long-term gameplay. Rather than having one-off adventures into haunted mansions like in the original game, you’ll be experiencing a generations-long tale where every move you make has an impact on later gameplay. It’s an effective twist on the Betrayal formula and a fantastic game for casual hangouts with mates.
You can grab Betrayal Legacy on Amazon AU for $85.50
If the sheer bulk of the original Gloomhaven was a bit too much to contemplate, Jaws of the Lion might be a good option for you and your friends. This adventure is a slimmed down version of Gloomhaven with everything you need to get started ASAP. There’s fewer quests and items involved, but it makes for a much more streamlined and easy to pick up adventure. You should be able to set up Jaws of the Lion and get started questing straight away, which is the ideal way to play board games, really.
In Mage Knight, you’ll explore new lands, conquer cities, fight monsters and collect gems. It’s basically an entire feature length RPG in board game form, and there’s plenty to do, see and fight along the way. You can play solo if you can’t find a friend willing to invest hours into a new game, and gameplay is consistently exciting enough to keep you absolutely hooked. The world is your oyster in Mage Knight, and it’s waiting for its new king.
You can grab Mage Knight on Amazon AU for $121 (plus delivery if you don’t have an Amazon Prime subscription).
Horrified is perfect for any fans of horror or the Universal Monsters franchise. Essentially, this game operates as a twist on the Villainous formula, but players will be tasked with hunting down one of the classic Universal Monsters (Dracula, The Wolfman, The Invisible Man etc.) instead of actually being them.
It’s got a pretty easy set-up and very fun mechanics making it perfect for hardened RPG board game fans or their less-experienced mates. Each monster requires a different technique to beat and has unique goals, so there’s also a great deal of replayability in Horrified, too.
You can grab Horrified on Amazon AU for $80 (plus delivery if you don’t have an Amazon Prime subscription).
Arkham Horror: Final Hour is another Lovecraftian adaptation from Fantasy Flight Games, and features all the hallmarks of a great horror adventure. There’s monsters, dark curses and a city under siege. In this economy, what more could you ask for? In Final Hour, you’ll be tasked with stopping the demon uprising and keeping the Miskatonic University safe from intruders. It’s fast-paced, very stressful and also a whole bunch of fun.
You can grab Arkham Horror: Final Hour on Amazon AU for $57.
Have any board game suggestions for your fellow Kotaku Australia readers? See something you like on our list? Share your favourites in the comments below.