Keen’s Christmas List

The first wave of holiday shenanigans is over, and it’s back to the grind for another few weeks before one begins. As part of our usual posting this time of year we like to put up a Holiday Buyer’s Guide. This year we are going to do something a little different.  Instead of showcasing a bunch of games we’ve likely already reviewed, I’m going to share what’s on my personal Christmas list. These are things I want but haven’t yet purchased or received as a gift.

Board Games

This year is going to go down as the year of board games. Last year, and much of the earlier part of this year, Graev and I started collecting and diving into the world of dice and meeples. Board games have provided a much more imaginative and at times deeper ‘gaming’ experience than video games. While our video games have become more shallow and repetitive, board games are growing in complexity and offering all sorts of adventures. Clicking on any of them will take you to Amazon where you can learn about the games and read reviews (very helpful actually).

Shadows Over Camelot

7 Wonders



Other games on my list include: Dominion, The Settlers of Catan, and various expansions to all of these games.

Video Games

Here’s a category I’m really quite sad about this year. Usually I have at least 4-5 strong titles on my list, but this year my list is smaller and I’m not positive about some of them. I really, really wish EverQuest Next or H1Z1 were out so that I could put a Station Pass on my list, or some Station cash. I just have no reason to buy any of that yet. I think 2015 will be an easy year for PC gaming.

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire


Pretty simple list this year. I’ve tossed in the idea of an iPad if anyone is feeling particularly rich this year, but otherwise this is it. I benefit from having a Birthday in February, so anything I miss or that releases just after the new year carries over quite nicely.

I’m also, for the first time ever, in this weird mindset of wanting non-gaming things. I’ve spent the last week pouring over my wedding registry and spending way more time in Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Macy’s than I ever imagined I could possibly stomach. I find myself wanting spatulas and towels…

What’s on your list this year? Did I forget anything? Please let me know so that I can get my list out there to the people who are starting to form a mob threatening my life if I don’t tell them what I want.

  • To say that video games are becoming more shallow and repetitive is just flat out wrong.

    This is the age of Dwarf Fortress and Crusader Kings 2. That games like CK2, and Dwarf Fortress, to a lesser extent, have a mainstream presence just points to sophistication of gamer tastes. There is a large and engaged audience for complexity.

    It is true that AAA games are dumbing down to chase the mass market, but that is just one segment of the industry.

  • When Minecraft is the most popular game in the world, you just cannot make the argument the main body of gaming is not complex or unsophisticated.

  • Sorry, but I can’t agree that games are getting dumber. It’s not really an argument that is worth having since an objective test to settle the question is impractical. I’ll just say to watch out for cherry picking, and remind you that when you compare the games of yesteryear to today’s top sellers, it’s unfairly weighted against modernity as only the good stuff survives in our memories. 🙂

  • “I’m also, for the first time ever, in this weird mindset of wanting non-gaming things. ”

    That’s called growing up 😉

  • @Maljjin: Nevar! I’ve avoided it for 30 years. I bet I can avoid it for another 30.

    @Fidjit: Everything is relative.

    @Tristan: I agree that this is not an argument worth having. It wasn’t my intention to start one. I’m actually shocked that people disagree with me. Games as a whole were much deeper and complex — for better or worse — back in the day (as far as 10 years ago even). Technology has streamlined much complexity. Games used to take a great deal of time and thought, even planning, and today it’s homogenized into bite sized snacks of playtime in order to capture as many people as possible. Is this bad? No. Something can lack depth and be phenomenal. For the most part they simply haven’t been, and I find more depth and enjoyment in a board game than I do many video games released in 2014.

  • Just as the Devil’s advocate, while I also frequently talk about the dumbing down of games, I really am talking about the high profile AAA corporation extruded games. The gaming genre is now so extensive that a general argument of games being dumbed down doesn’t hold water to me. My STEAM library is overflowing with games that are thought-provoking and will only get larger with the anticipated Winter Sales Event.

    The same may be said about movies, but now with NetFlix and AmazonPrime my restriction to shallow movies is no longer relevant; I know they exist, but I don’t even read about them in favor of the massive number of superior choices out there.

    This holiday (i.e. Winter STEAM sales event) I am looking to add to my library (to name only a few of the 52 games on my STEAM wishlist): Shadows of Mordor, Wasteland 2, Road Redemption, Alien: Isolation, Dominions 4, Space Hulk Ascension, Worlds of Magic, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, Lords Of The Fallen, Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms, Plague Inc: Evolved, Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series, Mordheim: City of the Damned, and Divinity: Original Sin.

    I don’t feel the games I just listed qualify as shallow and repetitive, but I’ll have to play them to find out; maybe in a relative sense Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth will be compared to CIV IV, but at the price point I am willing to buy it at I am sure I won’t mind too terribly.

    “spatulas and towels”, …kinky Christmas celebrations ahead!

  • I waded unsuccessfully into the realm of non-popular (compared to RISK and monopoly) board games last Black Friday and purchased Dominion (with the expansions) and Mage Knight. It was found that Mage Knight was overly complex and took a few hours just to start learning how to play it. While I kind of found it fun, noone stuck around long enough to continue learning it. And lets just say that with Mage Knight in their memory, I didn’t even get a chance to try Dominion. :-\

  • @Steel:

    You may have better luck trying to put together a game at a traditional gaming store.

    I have never had success gathering a bunch of friends as a captive audience in my home and trying to instruct them on how to play a complex board game, as their interest quickly wanes.