Hi all, first time poster, long time on the up-and-down. I’m hoping for advice on games to surprise my wife with for Christmas. We’ve been hitting the cardboard for a few years now and have a respectable collection, so that combined with her fairly particular tastes makes it a little bit of a challenge to surprise her with new games that she’ll like without getting her input beforehand. She leans toward cooperative or low conflict games (funny/party games work too but not in this climate) that are light to medium in complexity; deck builders, engine builders, or deduction games tend to get her interest; and given our jobs and the 1 year old slumming in our house, we more often get into games that take 30-60 minutes these days. Here are some of her favorites:
-Marrying Mr. Darcy
-Sheriff of Nottingham
-Quacks of Quedlinburg
-Feast for Odin
Gloomhaven is our household favorite but for my wife only because it’s exceptional–hard to imagine she’d ever be excited for something similar. To my surprise, she is NOT interested in Wingspan.
I’m not sure I have a lot of great advice because my partner’s tastes are similar but distinctly different at both Suburbia (neither of us like it, but she hates it and just shut down the one time we played it) and I would be wary of trying Feast for Odin with her.
The one I might recommend is Isle of Cats which we got recently and we both enjoyed
What about gloomhaven jaws of the lion? You know she likes GH and more of the same might work.
Boardgames feel like a tricky surprise gift to me. You should be 101% sure she’ll like it.
Having said that have you seen “remember our trip”? We played it once over the weekend and it’s this cute Japanese game with this clean art style and has that Azul feel of drafting with half a mind to helping yourself and half a mind on ruination.
Co-op in the 30-60 minute window is tough to do I think. Most the really good ones are going to run longer. Since you mentioned deduction, if you haven’t yet looked into the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective series or the Unlock series, those might be possibilities, but they are all things with limited play times as once you do each case, then you know the solution and can’t replay it.
Low conflict deck/engine building types have more options for sure.
Clank! might be a good choice building off the push your luck element of Quacks of Q. which you mentioned enjoying. Or Quest for El Dorado for a different take on using a deck to move around a map.
Mystic Vale is a slightly different take on deck building.
Not necessarily deck/engine building but a nice puzzle of a game in a short time would be Tiny Towns. It’s got a spatial placement element that could scratch a similar itch to Azul even though they are very different games.
I could definitely come up with more but those are the first things that popped into my head based on the things you said y’all like.
Welcome! Taverns of Tiefenthal is another one from Wolfgang Warsch, the designer of Quacks of Quedlinburg. It’s one of my favourites, it’s very chill and a deck builder with a few quirks thrown in. It might be pushing 60 mins a bit tho depending. Another favourite if you haven’t tried it is the og deck builder Dominion low conflict, and games are about 30 mins. I haven’t played too many of the expansions but the base box is excellent. Hope this helps!
To try something a bit out there for a surprise Helionox might be worth a look. It’s a fairly standard deck builder with a nice little spatial twist thrown in but more importantly a coop mode the gets out the way. The art is very anime but manages to avoid the most egregiously sexist things it could have given the genre.
I’ve only ever played it coop and I really like it for the about an hour slot. It managed to hit the deck builder satisfaction well and the solo mode is tweakable to your preferred difficulty level. So coop, deck builder, medium-light weight. Depends on tastes on the theme/art as much as anything I’d say. Plus it’s not a massively popular game so I found a copy cheap
Based on the list some ideas: Concordia could be something she would like, bit longer than an hour. Splendor and Sagrada, which are both good looking, never bad for a gift.
As coop the Forbidden-“Series” might be worth to check out.
Touching a few of the elements you mentioned; co-op, light-med complexity, play time under an hour, deduction - I’d suggest Codenames Duet could work? If you have a regular set, or use a companion app for base codename grids it covers the party game side too
It’s straightforward but challenging enough to feel a real accomplishment in beating it together
Thanks, folks, I’ve got it figured out for this year! I won’t spoil the surprise yet since she might peak over here, but I expect everyone here to keep us in mind so you can give me recommendations next year.
It’s a bit late but just in case anyone needs any inspiration for next year or for birthdays, my top tip is not to buy new games as gifts but instead give an upgrade to an existing well-loved game, such as inserts, deluxe components or (to a lesser extent) expansions.
Or something generic that will get a lot of use, e.g. a really beautifully made dice tray (if you play a lot of dice games).
I think those kind of things make great gifts because they enhance the experience of something the recipient already enjoys but that they’re probably unlikely to splash out on for themselves. (Expansions probably less so than upgraded bits or inserts, which is why I listed it last.)