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  • Writer's pictureInstant Game Night

My Christmas 2021 Board Game Haul

Check out the games I received for Christmas and my thoughts on them so far

This year’s Christmas was a lovely one spent with family and included a lot of relaxation and of course GAMES! This year’s Christmas game haul doesn’t quite rival last year's, but I was overall very pleased with the selections.

Below I will expand upon each game with my initial thoughts so far. I hope you enjoy!

Dice Forge

Designer Régis Bonnessée

Artist Biboun

Publisher Libellud

Players 2-4

Age Range 10+

Playing Time 45 Minutes

The first thing I will say about Dice Forge is that I really enjoy the decisions within the game. The choice between upgrading your dice and collecting various cards to create chain reactions is very satisfying to me. I’m not sure I was expecting this game to revolve so much around engine building, but I really enjoyed it and this is one game that did live up to the hype.

I do have to say though, that the game is fiddly. The customizable die faces are a really great idea but getting them on and off is a bit of a chore. As is tear down after the game, as you have to rebuild the starting dice and get all the faces back in the proper spot on the market board. Other than this though, Dice Forge has been a winner so far!

Ticket to Ride: Japan & Italy

Designer Alan R. Moon

Artist Cyrille Daujean, Julien Delval

Publisher Days of Wonder

Players 2-5

Age Range 8+

Playing Time 30-60 Minutes

So far I have only played the Japan map, I haven’t managed to get the Italy side of the board to the table yet. However, after one play I can say that I do really enjoy the Japan map. The bullet train addition is great because it gives players something else to focus on aside from their own route building. I really enjoy the minigame of the bullet train track and this map certainly rewards frequent ticket drawing (several times I drew tickets that were already competed thanks to the bullet trains).

My family was a bit more mixed on it but overall I would say it is a keeper!

Trekking the World

Designer Charlie Bink

Artist Csaba Bernáth, Sebastián Koziner, Marta Danecka, Aleksey Shirokikh, Alexey Shirokikh

Publisher Underdog Games

Players 2-5

Age Range 10+

Playing Time 30-60 Minutes

Wow, this is my surprise hit of the holidays for sure. I had a feeling my family and I would enjoy Trekking, but I didn’t think it would be quite so universally loved. This game firstly is beautiful to look at. Similar to PARKS, it has beautiful artwork on the cards and really gives off a relaxing vibe. I enjoy the area control and set collection aspect that the cubes provide, along with the multi-use cards. It is a pretty puzzly game that forces you to think several turns ahead, but it really rewards that effort with a very fun game experience. A winner in my book!

New York Zoo

Designer Uwe Rosenberg

Artist Felix Wermke

Publisher Feuerland Spiele

Players 1-5

Age Range 10+

Playing Time 30-60 Minutes

This polyomino game lives up to the hype. I really enjoy building out my own zoo and collecting all the various adorable animals in my pen. The movement track was also very interesting as you had to think ahead several turns to determine how far ahead you wanted to move.

If I had any complaints I would say that set up is quite fiddly with all the polyomino pieces. Also, the satisfaction of filling your animal enclosures is a bit of a letdown. Sure, it is great to get to take another tile but part of me wishes that there was a bit more than players got from filling their pens. Overall though I really enjoy this one and can see it staying in the collection for a long time to come.

Lost Cities

Designer Reiner Knizia

Artist Vincent Dutrait, Michaela Kienle, Anke Pohl, Thilo Rick, Claus Stephan, Franz Vohwinkel

Publisher KOSMOS

Players 2

Age Range 10+

Playing Time 30 Minutes

This was another classic 2 player game that I was very hyped to try out. Unlike the recent let down I experienced with Targi, this game is fantastic. I can see why it is so well loved. You are faced with so many tough decisions, as you have to decide whether to discard a card that you know your opponent will use against you, or play a card that you really aren’t ready to play yet. And the wager cards just add even more thought to your strategy.

Wow, I really enjoy this one so far!


Designer Serge Laget

Artist Jean-Marie Minguez

Publisher GRRRE Games

Players 2-5

Age Range 10+

Playing Time 45 Minutes

This is another winner. I truly was skeptical about adding this game to my wish list. Mainly I think this was due to the theming being something I am not particularly interested in. However, the theme on this bidding/set collection game really is only skin deep. Behind that though is a really interesting game of set collection. I love the way you are able to upgrade your bidding coins throughout the game but at the cost of most likely being that last one to select cards from that tavern. I also really love the decision of which hero cards to take when you fill a row.

There are so many strategies to try out here that I think it will take probably another dozen plays before I am ready to dive into the expansion (which yes, I absolutely will be getting). I am smitten with this game so far!

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, my Christmas 2022 game haul. What is your favorite game from Christmas this year? Let me know in the comments. Also keep a look out for my kids’ Christmas game haul, coming up in a separate post.

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