SU&SD’s Christmas Gift Guide 2022

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Matt: Hello! Merry Christmas slash Holidays slash December internet folks and gentle folks!

Today we’ve got a little treat for you!

It’s our wrap-up of Christmas gifts that you might consider buying for people in your life, of the board game variety. We’ve got a whole bunch of different categories here, and the whole team giving their recommendations of the things that they think are going to be absolutely cracking gifts.

Without further ado, “games that you’ll play with a family” – maybe your family, maybe not. It’s not for us to judge.

games that you'll play with your family

Rush Out!

Rush Out

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Matt: Rush Out! is one of my favourite family games in years, mainly because it features everybody fighting against One Evil Wizard. It’s a game where everyone’s rolling dice rapidly at the same time. It’s frantic. It’s silly.

The team of animal heroes and the team of just one wizard have decks of cards they need to get through as quickly as possible by flipping them over and then rolling the correct dice results, putting those dice onto the cards, and then clearing them and moving through the dungeon. It’s a fabulous game with a campaign that unlocks new mechanics as you go.

It is raucous, silly, and I really recommend it.


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Tom: If someone you know might enjoy something that’s really good in a really small box, then consider picking up a copy of Scout!

This one comes with me every single time I go to the pub. We’ve got a review right here. Delicious, delicious little box.


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Tom: And if Scout’s not available because stock has been a little bit on the fritz recently, try getting a copy of Bohnanza.

We just talked about it on our Top 10 Games that Everyone Should Play list, so you probably should play it.

And Bohnanza, great little bean trading game, gets everyone around the table all raucous and angry about beans.

Talkin’ beans @42:53:


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Matt: Llamaland is the latest game from the person who came up with Bärenpark. That makes them seem like they invented the idea of bears in zoos, and I don’t think Phil did that. He did a lot, but he didn’t do that.

This is a game of trying to make high little tetromino mountains for your llamas.

You got some of that slightly bitey achievement style missions, but mainly you’ll be pulling your own hair out at the fact that now you’ve put a llama on that hill you can’t put another tile on top of it, because there’s a llama there, that’s how llamas work.

It’s not as good as Bärenpark, and you might still want to get that, but it’s incredibly adorable, it’s wonderful to look at, and it does contain llamas – and all of those things count for quite a lot. So I think it’s still a pretty great gift!


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Hey, That’s My Fish

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Tom: Another pub favourite for me is Hey, That’s my Fish!

It sounds like a joke, but this tiny little tactical game can be understood by literally anyone. You push penguins around a board trying to hoover up fish, and it’s actually one of my favourite games, maybe?

It’s simple, it’s fun, it’s immediate. Great little game!

The Initiative

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Matt: This is one of the most exciting things that I have played or reviewed in the past few years.

A family cooperative game about cracking codes that basically has you doing some homework and learning about ciphers.

It has a comic book story that you flip through, then there’s puzzle elements that I won’t spoil that tie those together, so the game is actually a game within story within a game. It’s sort of like Inception for kids.

I had a lot of fun with this having a pretty minimal level of challenge with another adult, but I think if you play this with children it’s gonna blow their minds.

A little bit pricey perhaps for a box this big, but trust me there’s some exciting stuff going on here, and it’s well worth a look.

Fire in the Hole!

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Ava: Fire in the Hole is probably the most family-friendly game I have ever seen. On your turn you will play a card that will either make everyone throw a cannonball, or in some way manipulate what is going on around you. There’s a bit of meanness in it, but it’s always optional, and you’re probably just going to have it done straight back to you anyway.

All of the parts are plastic free. Everything is biodegradable.

🎵Pirate ship, is a pirate ship. Oo yeah, pirate ship, ba-ba-bum!🎵

Switch & Signal

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Matt: Recommending now a game I don’t physically have because I’ve given it to someone else, Switch & Signal is an absolutely fantastic cooperative family game. It’s just a distillation of what trains are, why they’re great, and “Oh no. We’ve crashed the train again because we forgot to change the thing on the track and the lights.”

It is joyfully simple, brilliantly quick to teach and a ton of fun to play. It’s so good that I just lent it to somebody who had a family and had kids. It’s great. If you like trains, and you like families, check it out.

Matt: If you’re looking for something that you can just get on the table and immediately start having fun with lots of people – as many as you’re legally allowed to fit into a room – these are the gifts that you need to buy.

You don’t need to. You don’t have to do anything. It’s your life!


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Quinns: Shut Up & Sit Down has banged this drum a lot. But can we talk about Monikers again?

We’ve talked about this game so much, and we’ve done so many expansions for it that you probably are quite bored of hearing about it. But I think there are some of you out there who might not have bought this game, and if you haven’t bought it or played it you won’t know just how good it is to play at Christmas!

Monikers: Serious Nonsense

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Quinns: I don’t actually have a copy of it, but Shut Up & Sit Down recently did a new standalone expansion called Monikers: Serious Nonsense.

I was never sent it by the team, which, am I bitter about that? No. I’m not. Clearly. But YOU can own this game, and then YOU’ll own it and I won’t. And I’ll be cool with that as well. That’s something I’ll be completely fine with.

Welcome To

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Matt: Now, if the quantity of people you want to play with is a lot a lot, you can’t really go wrong with Welcome To. This is a roll ‘n’ write that plays up to as many people as you can find pencils for! It’s one of the original roll ‘n’ write games that got us excited about the genre, and it’s still probably the best one.

This is a game of trying to build a little neighborhood by drawing lines, and circling things, and putting swimming pools in places where perhaps you hadn’t planned to. It’s immediate, it’s addictive and it is wonderful just crossing off things and writing numbers on things.

If you like pencils, and bits of paper, and the idea of planning a road… [points at game].

Phantom Ink

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Ava: Phantom Ink might just be a Codenames beater. If you’re looking to have a party where people are playing a word and guessing game with someone sitting in the corner and knowing more than everyone else, while getting frustrated with their answers, I don’t think you can find much better than Phantom Ink.

Some players are ghosts helping their team to find the same word on both teams. This is really nice because it means anything said at the table can be part of the strategy, and part of how you’re playing this. The ghost communicates through knocks, and points, and writing in pen on a bit of paper.

It’s really thematically strong, and simple, and clever, and I have had some great parties with it. So yeah, Phantom Ink me up.


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Matt: On that note, if your friends and family haven’t experienced Codenames yet, there’s a reason it has taken the world by storm. Check it out!

Two teams go head-to-head being given clues by their spy master to try and crack the code before the other team crack theirs.

6 Nimmt!

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Quinns: 6 nimmt! It’s a horrible name. It’s German for Take Six. It’s a card game. This card game is so good. It is so fun. It is so flexible. It’s basically gambling for parking spaces.

Anybody can learn it, and also, interestingly, it’s a card game that plays a huge variety of people. You can play this with two people all the way up to 10 people. Absolutely crackers.

Matt: An important one now. It’s games for big nerds! I’m a big nerd. It’s great.


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Tom: If you want some really crunchy tile-laying action then Akropolis is one of the best in its class. A really morish puzzle, and absolutely brilliant from start to finish. And that’s good! Because start to finish takes about 30 minutes. It’s quick, but it’s crunchy. I like it a lot.

You can see me and Quinns take a look at this one in our Top 7 Hidden Gems special:

Dune Imperium

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Matt: A controversial one now for my fellow nerds. Dune: Imperium is a game that everyone else on the team wasn’t too hot on, but I thought was really very good, and it seems like the internet mostly agrees with me on that.

There’s an expansion for it that I haven’t tried yet but I’ve heard good things about it, too.

But yeah, if you’re still feeling that Dune love, there’s a ton of different Dune games out there, and while I’m not gonna say this is better than the classic Dune board game – which is massively beloved and for good reason – it’s a lot lighter, a lot more fun, and really tickles that nerdy part of your brain without being super trashy.

You’re going to be building your own deck of cards, drawing up each round, and trying to make the most of it. Getting resources, moving things around, and having little battles on a planet called Dune.

And I mean, a lot of it’s just cubes and numbers – but it’s really good. It’s a really good gift for somebody who’s a Sci-Fi nerd.

Dune (Classic)

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My City

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Quinns: My City is one of the most boring looking games of all time, but by the greatest board game designer of all time: Reiner Knizia.

My City is a campaign game in which you’re going to be building out a city with tetromino pieces, and that’s a boring theme, and it’s illustrated in a boring way, and yet Tom and I are both in agreement, it’s just ludicrously fun. It is so fun working your way through this mission – the core game is so good – it’s similar to Tetris, but with a different tweak every time, and it’s always evolving and giving you new components. Mmm. Mm, mm, mm, mm, mm!

Don’t let My City sneak you by.

Also, it’s just so cheap. It might be the cheapest Legacy game that Shut Up & Sit Down recommends.

Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion

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Matt: Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. It’s basically a dungeon crawling campaign in a box. If you like the idea of doing some sort of big D&D thing, but you don’t want to have an imagination – and that’s fine, it’s a lot of work – then this is probably the next best thing.

Also, the tactical card combat in Gloomhaven and the game around it is absolutely fabulous. There’s just nothing better.

It’s a bit slow, it will eat up huge chunks of your life, but gosh it is honestly one of the best things.

I recommend Jaws of the Lion as a gift here now for a very good reason. Yes, you could get full-fat-big-box Gloomhaven, but if you’re not sure that you’re going to have the time, or if the person is going to be super into it, this is such a great starting point.

It’s a fraction of the cost of one of the bigger games, and we’ve got Frosthaven coming out soon, too. If you want to have a little taste of this to work out if it’s for you or not, then this is a better option than getting one of the gigantic full-fat versions.

It’s really good. The characters in it are really fun. Also, it’s just so cheap for what it is. So if you’ve got a massive nerd in your life, then you can’t really go wrong with this.


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The Search for Planet X

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Quinns: The Search For Planet X is a deduction game that involves people trying to figure out where a planet is by publishing theories, or maybe rushing out that research a little bit before it’s cooked.

This is a game that is so good that I’ve just got my hands on the sequel. So even though it’s kind of a black matte abstract deductiony thing, don’t let that be the reason it passes you by.

If you’ve got someone in your life who likes deduction – I mean Sudoku’s already for dweebs, but what if Sudoku was even more dweebie? That’s how I would describe The Search For Planet X. It’s just great.

The Search for Lost Species

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Matt: Maybe you’re buying a gift for somebody who already has quite a lot of board games. Let me introduce now Gifts for the Seasoned Collector.


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Tom: I reviewed Watergate quite a long time ago now, but it’s still fantastic. It’s so fantastic that I actually gave it to a friend to borrow, and he still hasn’t given it back. So it must be a good gift if someone just treats it like a gift. You know who you are.

Mechanical Beast

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Ava: Deep into and back out of the belly of a huge Mechanical Beast, this is a tile-laying game where you’re exploring what is essentially the cube from the film Cube; but it’s not, it’s a giant robot that’s taken over the world, and you’ve got to run in, shut it down, save the scientists, and get out of there before the whole thing blows up!

You see, as you’re exploring the grid you will find cogs and gears stuck into the walls and corners and floor, which will allow you to manipulate the grid around you. Most of the rooms have these doors that slam shut behind you, so you’re going to have to work out a way to maneuver the rooms that have already come out so that your door is next to something else.

And what a lovely gift to receive because you could just play it with anyone. Except for people who don’t like doing weird logic puzzles and navigating mazes, or are scared of tummies.

Mechanical Beast.

Brass: Birmingham

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Matt: I’ve decided it is my New Year’s resolution for 2022 – took me a little while to nail it down – to just recommend Brass: Birmingham whenever I can, at any opportunity. It’s Brass: Birmingham! It’s a game of making clay, and beer, and coal.

It comes in a box that’s actually really very small considering it’s a gigantic, huge, economic puzzle, and it’s just the best. I just love it. If you’re looking to buy a gift for somebody who really likes crunchy, cube-y, grubby little games with trains and stuff, then it’s just the best.

That’s it, that’s my recommendation. Brass Birmingham. It’s just the best.


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Tom: Mandala is fabulous. You can take a look at that in one of Quinns’ reviews where he talks about lots of lovely card games. Mandala doesn’t really fit in the card games sphere for me, it’s kind of an abstract thing, but it’s really quite delightful. It’s quite hard to get across how good it is, but it is, trust me. You’ll get Mandala, and you’ll have a great time.


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Matt: I love Inis, I love Inis so much. Some people don’t like it, but they’re wrong.

Basically, this is a game of trying to decide who’s going to be the new Brenn – who’s going to be in charge of this lovely big land. It’s kind of a war game, kind of a negotiation game, but mostly quite nice, because you are all one big group of people trying to decide who’s going to be in charge of things. That means throwing passive aggressive parties, exploring new lands, and just generally wandering off to the edges of the Earth because you’re fed up with everybody else.

Seasons of Inis

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Matt: Also worth a look if the person you’re buying for already has Inis in their collection, is the expansion: Seasons of Inis.

It ups the player count to five, and just adds a bit of everything else new. You get new lands to explore, new god cards to use, new colors of plastic people to be, and some new systems that mix up the months a little bit.

It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it’s not very exciting to talk about, but it’s more Inis. And if you’ve played tons of Inis and you’re like “I really like it, but it’s getting a bit thin,” Boom. Season of Inis is a really good expansion. It’s just not very exciting to say that, right, but sometimes we just need to say the boring things. It’s good.

Heat: Pedal to the Metal

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Tom: If you want a big box game for, like, maybe the person who runs your regular gaming group that’ll sit lots of people, check out Heat.

We just did a review of this one, should be up on the channel roundabout now. [Check back next week 😉 ] A fantastic racing game, and a real juicy little system – oo – very very spicy, very very fun, fantastic game.

It’s a little pricier – 60 quid – maybe for someone who you really treasure, someone who really deserved it this year. Someone who went on Santa’s good list.

That’s Heat, and I think that’s my only sort of connoisseur recommendation – for lovers of all games.

Matt: A pretty crucial section in our gift guide video now: gifts for people who say that they don’t really play games.

Cockroach Poker

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Matt: If the people you love playing games with only seem to like games when they are mean and funny and immediately silly, then the best game for that by far is Kakerlakenpoker, or Cockroach Poker.

I don’t have a copy of it, because I literally never have a copy of this game. Every time I buy this game I take it with me somewhere, I play it with people, and we have so much fun that at the end of the night I go “you know what, you keep that” because it only costs about a tenner and I know it will bring them so much joy.

This is a game of lying, bluffing, convincing people you’re giving them scorpions when actually they flip it over and they’re grumpy frogs.

Splendor Duel

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Tom: Another recent favourite that I haven’t actually had a chance to talk about yet would be Splendor Duel. A really tight, tiny little puzzle-y game that takes what’s good about Splendor and crushes it into a tiny little box.

Lovely components and production on this one, a real little treat. We’ll probably talk about it on a podcast soon!


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Matt: Wavelength is a game we recommend an awful lot. We play it a lot at conventions and during live shows – this is just a conversation generator. When you get it out people won’t want to put it away, and they will have a really lovely time for a really long time. Plus, it’s beautiful.

One player is given a card with two different words, and then they get given a position on a dial which tells them where they’ve got to try and get people to. And then by giving one clue everyone else debates exactly where on the Spectrum it’s gonna be, and rotates this beautiful chunky dial.


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Ava: Dandelions has two to three players in a tiny little box. You don’t actually go into the box, but the game fits in a small box.

Each player will roll 11 of these lovely, pastel-y, roll-y dice. Each dice can be spent to move you around a grid, and if the dice that you drop off is the same number as a dice that’s already there you get to bump others to the left or right, and out of your way.

That’s just enough of a little bit of mean spiritedness to kind of make up for the simplicity of this puzzle.

It’s cute, and pretty, and so simple that I think just about anyone could get on with this.


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Matt: Possibly the perfect gift for somebody who thinks they don’t really like games or want to play games: Skull is tiny, it takes moments to teach, and it’s a game that unfolds as you play.

It’s basically Poker without numbers. You have discs in your hand, you’re trying to lie to people and trick them a little bit, simply by inferring things, and putting cards on the table in a slightly strange way.

That’s it, just cardboard discs on a table, and yeah, it might be the best game ever made.

But when a game is this big, and not terribly expensive, and over and done with in about 10-15 minutes, you can’t really go wrong. If somebody doesn’t like it, it’s fine, it’s only this big. If they really hate it, it’s fine, I’ll just take it home with me. I can almost fit it in my pocket.

Cheese Thief

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Tom: Honorary slot here for Cheese Thief. It’s not available at the moment, you can’t seem to get a copy on most of the sites that I checked, but when it is in stock Cheese Thief is just great.

This is a really good gift to get someone who like, might run your local Blood on the Clocktower night, or something like that, because it’s all of social deduction compressed into the goofiest version, where you’re just screaming about cheese.

You can see our SHUX preview for the game here – it’s not sponsored or anything, I just really like Cheese Thief and that’s the only footage I think we have of Cheese Thief other than we talked about it on a live podcast over at SHUX.

So Cheese Thief, great. Not in stock. If it is, hoover it up.


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Ava: Team3 is a slightly older game, and a game that I really want to recommend because I saw it at SHUX and I was just very very very excited by it.

It’s a game for three players and three players only. They are going to try and build a thing out of Tetris pieces: three-dimensional things. The card is being read by someone who is not allowed to talk, making gestures towards another player who is allowed to talk but isn’t allowed to touch the pieces. This inbetweener is trying to translate the information, and give it to the Builder.

It’s really interesting the way that you can play this in a group of three and play it in all sorts of different orientations and realize that everyone communicates differently. Am I recommending this game because I think it might fix your relationship? No, it’ll probably break it. But if you go into it with the gentle kind heart that you probably need for your relationship – try and do that – I think you might have a lot of fun, and you might learn something about people that you care about.

Matt: Finally this year, we have something very very special, Madame?

These are games that are expensive, and perhaps hard to find, but if you really want something that is going to POW! Then one of these suggestions might be a good angle.

Return to Dark Tower

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Matt: This is a very silly box. It’s so big that it’s casting a shadow on my face and blocking the microphone. Yet, Return to Dark Tower is something that is a reboot of an 80s game that had a big plastic tower in the middle of the table, and did silly things.

Guess what? It’s the same thing. But! It’s genuinely pretty impressive. There’s a gravitas to this big plastic flashing tower that makes noises.

The circular map is strangely a lot more interesting than it has any right to be, and as a lot of the game is controlled by an app that you’re going to have on a little screen somewhere to the side, there’s a ton of variety. And the campaigns are quite fun.

This isn’t an incredible game, I’m gonna say that it’s not the best game ever. But it is a lot of fun, and I think for families with kids of a certain age – the sort of age where it’s like “ooo, dark monsters” – this is pretty great!

It’s just very expensive. But if money isn’t an object, and you want to get something that is legitimately pretty special, then while this isn’t wonderful, I do think it is very special.


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Matt: If you want to get somebody something that is going to last for a long time, then Crokinole.


I haven’t got one of these, Quinns has one. I’m slightly jealous. It’s a big flippin’ wooden wheel. You flick things around, and it is just the most fun imaginable. It makes all other table games like pool look like boring nothing.

A smooth, beautiful table with a hole in the middle, where you flick little pucks and try and get them into the hole, and knock away other people’s pieces. Oof, it is delightful.

These tables, however, cost quite a lot of money, so it’s a bit of an investment, and if you want to get one for Christmas now you might be too late, because I think often they just get made by people out of wood. If you can imagine such a thing.

Still though, as gifts go, it’s very much “Madam, something special, madam.”

Detective: City of Angels

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Quinns: This game is like very hard to get in the UK, but if you’re in America this is the game to get if you want to have someone in your life unwrap something and be like “oh, whoa, I’m quite impressed by how good this looks.” Darn right it looks good, that’s the artist Vincent Dutrait.

If we pop it open there are boards, there are boxes containing crimes, there are envelopes. This is the kind of game where when you open it up and look at everything that’s in it, you get the sense you’re just going to have a good time. And you know what? You probably are.

If you’ve seen this site’s breathless recommendations of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, this is like that but a little less smart, a lot less reading, and a lot more fun.

There’s also some asymmetry, because one of you gets to be kind of like a Games Master who knows all the secrets – but you can also play cooperatively. Again, just like 6 nimmt! a very flexible box.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

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Inhuman Conditions

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Matt: If you’re looking to really treat somebody and you want to buy something that’s kind of going to blow them away and you know somebody who is a little bit dramatic or enjoys doing silly social games things, then Inhuman Conditions is just a remarkably great gift.

It comes in this box with all manner of frankly unbelievable things, such as stamps, so you can just be stamping documents and pretending you actually work in an office trying to determine if people are robots. It’s just the Void-Kampff test from Blade Runner, where you do an interview with someone, they behave strangely, and you have to work out if they’re behaving strangely because they’re strange, or because they’re a robot.

It’s a simple game, it’s a lot more fun than it might sound, and yeah, gosh, it’s just such a beautiful production. A beautiful object to own, ridiculously over the top, but again, a little bit pricey.

Rats: High Tea at Sea

Matt: A little extra bonus now – if you aren’t able to spend your holiday with the people you love, we have a free play-by-zoom roll ‘n’ write that we think is a pretty great way to see folks again when you can’t be together. I’m of course talking about RATS: High Tea at Sea, which you can download right here! Send it to your friends, put on some silly hats, and have a remote banquet at sea.

Matt: And that’s all the Christmas Gift Guide holiday time we have time for. Thank you so much for joining us this year!

If you’ve enjoyed this, then please do watch some of the aforementioned videos. A lot of the games we’ve talked about have been reviewed on the channel. Chunky videos that tell you why things are exciting, and fun, and cool.

Here’s our list from last year if you need even more ideas!


Finally, it is coming up to our Donation Drive time – it’s always awkward when we do this – so do keep your eyes on the channel. If we’ve given you a good recommendation here and you think “Oh! That’s good. I’ll get that for that person!” Then please consider chucking us a couple of quid.

The affiliate links above & on our game pages also help, or adding ?tag=shupsido02-20 to the end of the URL bar and pressing Enter to refresh the page before you make your Amazon purchases. It works for all your non-boardgame Amazon purchases as well, and doesn’t cost you a thing! Yay Bezos Bucks! If you have Amazon Prime you can also subscribe to our Twitch to give us more free Bezos Bucks. How To.

That’s my shamelessness gone. For now.

Hope you all have a lovely couple of weeks, and get a little bit of break, if possible. Goodbye!