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Goblin Grapple
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Christmas Gift Guide 2010 (11/26/10)
PAX East 2010 report (4/9/10)
Christmas Gift Guide 2009 (12/4/09)
Games of the Ninja 2008 (12/5/08)
Christmas Gift Guide 2008 (11/27/08)
Screams from the Cave 2008
Ogres' Choice Awards 2008 (9/12/08)
Christmas Gift Guide 2007 (11/30/07)
Ogres' Choice Awards 2007 (8/17/07)
GAMA Trade Show 2007 report (4/27/07)
Christmas Gift Guide 2006 (11/30/06)
Ogres' Choice Awards 2006 (7/28/06)
Christmas Gift Guide 2005 (11/29/05)
Christmas Gift Guide 2004 (12/10/04)
Night of the Living Gamer
(Halloween RPGs)

OgreCave's 2001 Shopping Guide - part 2
12 More Games of Christmas
One dozen games for $25 or less

By Matthew Pook, Mike Sugarbaker and Allan Sugarbaker

Christmas Day is half way through, and you're full of cheer and turkey, with nothing before you but an afternoon of holiday movies on TV, the annual family game of charades and plenty of gifts or under the tree. What could their colorful wrapping paper conceal? Hopefully a decent game or supplement that you can get your teeth into until the first gaming session of the New Year. Of course, the chances of that go up dramatically if you told everyone to look at OgreCave's gift lists and buy accordingly!

Our first list was the less expensive games ($10 or less), the stocking stuffers. This list has the more subtantial game items ($25 or less), the ones that can make your other Christmas loot pale in comparison. As before, you might like to show this list to your loved ones to keep their well-meaning purchases from going too far astray. Perhaps you'll be getting something other than a pair of socks from Aunt Pat this year. Well, there's always hope.

Let the suggestions commence...

The Complete Griselda
(Issaries, Inc.; $17.95)
There is gaming fiction and there is gaming fiction. This anthology of twenty-eight short stories, penned by Oliver Dickinson, should serve as an excellent introduction to Dragon Pass, the setting for the classic RPG RuneQuest. Told in the style of Damon Runyon, these are full of gentle humour and irony, and relate the exploits of the tougher than nails heroine, Griselda, along with those of her more criminal associates. Such exploits are what any group of players gets up to, making this an enjoyable read for any gamer.

If fantasy isn't your fiction of choice, 2001 has also given us two good anthologies of horror. For the zombie-lover, there is Eden Studios' The Book of all Flesh; and if Delta Green or Call of Cthulhu is your thing, then we should tell you about Pagan Publishing's latest, Dark Theatres.

(Steve Jackson Games; $24.95)
Every gamer likes a good dungeon crawl, and with Munchkin you can take yourself back to that style of gaming made popular by a certain First edition game. The cards in the deck represent a dungeon you and the players explore in a game where nothing else matters except your most powerful weapons and equipment, your level, and of course, killing monsters. A silly game that captures the flavor of the first dungeon you delved into.

Friends & Foes (expansion for Lord of the Rings); $21.95
(Fantasy Flight Games/Sophisticated Games; $21.95)
Take an already excellent game, Lord of the Rings, wherein the players work together to destroy the One Ring before Sauron can get his decrepit mits on it. Add in two more location boards (Bree and Isengard), more magical intervention cards compliments of Gandalf, special one-use ability cards for each of the five hobbits, and a whole deck of Foe cards to overcome. What do you get? A great new set that truly expands the Lord of the Rings game.

Weird War II: Blood on the Rhine; $25.00
(Pinnacle Games)
If Deadlands mixed the Wild West with horror, Weird War II mixes World War II and horror, with a liberal splash of the D20 system for good measure. Players are troops on the ground in Normandy in the days after the D-Day landings. The war takes a gruesome turn, as courageous G.I.s battle against the occult horrors and magic that the Nazis can throw at them in order to stem their advance. This game stretches the possibilities of the d20 System and can be run as a straight WWII RPG without the horror. But where's the fun in that?

Grave Robbers From Outer Space
(Z-Man Games)
A card game that has you constructing your own fifties B-movie and attempting to destroy those of your opponents, this is low on game-play and mechanics, but high on atmosphere. The mechanics are all too simple, but the cards are a scream with camp quotes, excellent illustrations and a running gag or two about poor Billy's body parts and the ever present tentacles.

Little Fears, the Roleplaying Game of Childhood Terror
(Key 20 Publishing; $20.00)
The darkest game on this list as it deals a strong subject -- that of childhood fears. In Little Fears, the "imaginary" things that keep children awake at night are all too real, lurking deep in Closetland from whence they can creep forth into the shadows. Since these are the fears of a child, the child determines how tough each minion of Closetland actually is. Children must defeat these minions if they are to overcome their fears. With simple mechanics, Little Fears conveys a complex worldview. This is a deep and disturbing book, yet written with such care that author Jason Blair warrants our praise.

Suppressed Transmission Vol. 1 & 2
(Steve Jackson Games; $19.95 each)
Each week at Pyramid Online (worth subscribing to, by the way), Ken Hite serves up a dose of alternate history, conspiratorial musings and high weirdness on everything from Antarctic Space Nazis to the Esoteric Truths hidden in Shakespeare's plays and a lot else besides. Each volume contains some 34 essays reprinted and annotated from their online versions in easy to digest formats. Not just entertaining to read, but a cornucopia of ideas for your own games and campaigns. There's something for everyone in both of these volumes. Yeah, that's two gift suggestions, isn't it? Consider it a bonus.

(Atomoton; $15/starter)
A set of two starters goes over our $25 limit, of course, but if you are looking for something truly different and slightly mind-twisting, you'd do well to look into this. This difficult-to-describe figures-and-cards game - scaled-down, glammed-up BattleTech? Skirmish miniatures with an army of one? Insanely convoluted rock-paper-scissors? - gets the full run-down in our recent review. Of all the new CCGs this season, Z-G probably has one of the best out-of-the-box two-player experiences.

To dive into the Z-G world more thoroughly, check out our full review.

BRAWL Catfight
(Cheapass Games; $7/deck)
The latest BRAWL expansion is all that and then some, for fans of fast action and tactics. Just remind someone how cool it always was to play Speed when you were kids, and bring up how neat it would be if there were any actual strategy to it. If that doesn't work, tell them it takes less than a minute to play, and they'll be hooked for sure. All three decks of the anime-themed Catfight set should run you about $24, not including shipping from the Cheapass online store. (Rumor has it that some very foolish WotC retail stores have deep discounts on BRAWL - they're talking about this all over the cheapasses mailing list, so we don't feel too bad telling you.)

(Rio Grande Games; $19.95)
This year's double winner of the Spiel des Jahres and Deutchen SpeilePries should let you know that something good is going on. But be not afraid - this is not a punishingly complex German throwdown. Build your small town by matching up tiles and building roads, making sets that score points. Carcassonne is fairly quick and involving, plays as well with four as it does with two, comes with beautiful components, and is cheap, cheap, cheap. Perfect for families.

(Journeyman Press; $19.95)
All that stands between you and escape from Any-Town, USA is one big horde of shambling undead. That's right, zombies have arisen and its up to you and your trusty shotgun in this tile-laying, town-exploring, zombie blasting race to the heliport. This simple game comes with a whole hundred zombie figures and that still isn't enough! Lots of gruesome fun and no that Journeyman Press is defunct, this huge hit of a game really -- and we mean really -- needs resurrecting. All together now:Brainss.. Brainssss...

(Kosmos/Rio Grande; $19.95) Of all the Kosmos two-player square-box games I've seen, this one's the most fun. Play cards from your hand to place bridges between tropical islands. Get the majority of the island's bridges and take control of the island, knocking your opponent's bridges off. It's finely balanced between luck and skill, and works a treat for two players - and two players only. Great for couples who can handle a little friendly competition.

Stuperpowers Deluxe
(Wingnut Games; $16.95)
Ever wanted to save the world while wearing spandex? No?! Well, have you ever felt like making a total mockery of the superhero genre? Us too. That's where Stuperpowers Deluxe comes in. With superpowers like Adhesive Snot, Prehensile Nipples, or Bake Pound Cake in 30 Seconds, your "hero" is set to face villains of all sorts. Unless they use the Become Anyone's Ex-Girlfriend power. Best of luck, buddy.

That's tweleve games plus a bonus track, all excellent suggestions for gifts. Now, some of you out there might be lucky enough to have generous grandparents or even (dare we say it?) a good paying job. For you lucky elite, we've a few suggestions beyond the $25 limit.

Slightly Beyond the $25 Limit
(Atlas Games; $27.95)
If we had to break the $25 limit, it would be for this, the RPG of the hack & slash computer game from Human Head Studios. Written by Robin D. Laws, this is the game of all Vikings, all day, all night. Rampage, pillage and bury your axe deep in the head of your enemy, as the forces of Loki must be opposed at every turn. Breaking from RPG tradition, this is a game in which points are scored by both players and GM, and there really is a winner at the end of every session!

Sound like your sort of axe-swinging fun? Ours too. Check out our Rune feature for a closer look at the game.

(White Wolf Studios; $25.95)
Though the last to be released, Adventure! is first in the trilogy of games continued with Aberrant and Trinity. Set in the early 1920s, this is a game of pulp action and low powered superheroes. Though Adventure! serves as the trigger for the events in the other games, the game is equally strong without them. Characters are members of the Aeon Society, exploring the world and righting wrongs that have come about as a result of their inspirational creation and the efforts of nefarious individuals. Scrape together some change for the extra $.95, you'll be glad you did.

Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
(Wizards of the Coast; $29.95)
A return to the original First Edition AD&D campaign, The Temple of Elemental Evil, but this time updated to the new D&D3e. This campaign pack takes the players from 4th to 14th level and should provide months of play in the process. Twenty-five years ago, an ancient evil threatened the World of Greyhawk, but was thought to be vanquished for good a decade ago. Yet the evil has returned, and once again the players must explore the old temple as well as the foe's new, far more dangerous base of operations along the rim of a volcano. The lesson learned? Always stick a fork in the bad guy to make sure he's done.

So there you have it, the second part of our Christmas Gift Guide. We hope you found some useful suggestions of gifts, either to give or receive. And should you need help trying a few products out, just give us a holler.


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