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One of Raine's biggest hobbies has always been gaming. It all started with an Atari and spread out to Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: the Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons. As an artist, Raine takes pride in painting models for games as well as making his own terrain. He's also been a writer for many years, working both in the journalism industry and writing pieces of fiction. He decided to create Initiative : Tabletop as a platform to talk about all things gaming that he simply thought were cool, and reviewing games became a part of it!

Raine’s Christmas 2014 Game Recommendations


Though there isn’t any snow on the ground here in the great state of Texas, holiday spirit is in the air. You know what that means, don’t you? Of course, it means holiday game recommendations from your favorite I:T staff! We’ve had a whole year to play new games, make new favorites, and clear out the closet of old gaming, and we’re ready to bestow upon our readers the great gift of gaming recommendations. I know I’m excited, as brand new games have made it on my list this year, so there’s new stuff to see. With that being said, let’s get started!

Light Game – Coup: The Resistance – Indie Boards & Cards

Coup the Resistance

Last year my go-to light game was The Resistance. It’s a really fun game about betrayal and deduction where you work together with fellow Resistance members to snuff out spies and succeed on missions. Since then I’ve picked up another game set in the same world, though the gameplay is quite different. Coup: the Resistance sees players vying for control by utilizing the influence of different officials in the government. Through deduction and bluffing you’ll decipher what officials your opponents are hiding all while trying to keep yours a secret to win the game. Coup: the Resistance plays very fast, and it’s extremely easy to learn. It’s another light game that you’ll get to the table over and over again during game nights, breaks at work, and even while on trips.

Heavy Game – Firefly: the Game – Gale Force Nine

Firefly the Game

Though it’s not a brand new game by any means, Firefly: the Game is vying for the top spot in my heavy games suggestions. Just like my choice from last year, Firefly plays out just like the show does, although some of the details are lost since there’s no on-foot exploration or anything of the sort. Still, Firefly offers a ton of fun for fans of the western space flick, especially if you’re into pirating and misbehaving. You’ll work to gain crew, complete jobs, and stay a step ahead of both the Alliance and Reavers while out in the middle of the ‘Verse. With expansions like the Pirates and Bounty Hunters recent release, there is some player interaction that greatly adds to the overall theme of the game. The life of Firefly: the Game is greatly growing, and it’s a perfect time to jump on board!

Family Game – Livestock Uprising – Dog Might Games

Livestock Uprising

Little did I know that when I picked up Livestock Uprising for a review that it would become my favorite family game of 2014. In this game you play one of four different factions – Goats, Chickens, Cows, or Pigs – as they raise armies and fight across the barnyard for supremacy. Each faction has a special ability that helps them along the game, and you’ll have to be smart with resource management in order to build a strong enough army to overthrow your enemies. The game mechanics are simple enough to learn, and once you get them under your belt you’ll be squawking across the fields in no time flat. Livestock Uprising is a game with fantastic artwork, humor, and tons of fun. If you’re looking for a game for the family to enjoy this holiday season, please don’t overlook this one!

Party Game – Lake Billy – Dog Might Games

Lake Billy

If you can’t tell already, Dog Might Games really captured my heart this year. While at Gen Con I stumbled across a card game of theirs called Lake Billy. Now, being raised in the south I absolutely could not pass this game up. Not to mention it’s pretty much the life story of my best friend in the whole world. Lake Billy is a hilarious party game for 2-4 players where your job is to load backwoods hillbillies up on boats and send ’em on out to the lake. The destination will be different every time, and the boats you have will each have different abilities. There are even ways for you to mess with your opponents and mess up their plans by putting people on their boats, stealing boats, and more. I cannot help but laugh my rear off while playing this game and it’s a hit everywhere I take it. We’ll be reviewing it soon, and I’ll show you just how hilarious it is!

Two Player Game – Regnum Angelica – Black Locust Games

Regnum Angelica Cover

Back in the day before I got as into board games as I am now I played a lot of chess. I mean, A LOT of chess. I’m still no good at it by any means, but I do enjoy it. Now if you take chess, dress it up with wings and insane armor, and send it to church you’d get Regnum Angelica. This two-player card game has concepts from both chess and another favorite game of mine, Magic: the Gathering. The artwork on the cards is some of the best I’ve ever seen and the team behind it is one of the most heartfelt in the business. Regnum Angelica is a great two-player game that sets up quickly, gets deep before you can blink, and will have you hooked within a handful of plays. It’s got the strategy of a heavy game mixed with the lore of a thematic game and it keeps you interested all throughout. One player will choose the Archangels with the other being the Fallen (read THE BEST). The goal is to get your angels through your opponent’s gate to score points, and the first to 35 points wins. At $50 MSRP you really can’t go wrong!

Stocking Stuffer – Sellswords – Level 99 Games

Sellswords Level 99

Back in my video game heyday I remember playing Final Fantasy VIII like it was going out of style. In that game there was a card game that you could play with people in the world called Triple Triad. Level 99 Games has recently released Sellswords, which is essentially the same idea of Triple Triad, but with additional mechanics that add to the game’s flavor. In Sellswords you’ll take turns playing down cards that have different numbers on their four sides. If a player places their card adjacent to yours and it has a higher number on the matching side they flip your card over to their color. Once you play out all of your cards you total up a score based on the number of cards of a color you own in a row and column. The player with the most points after a certain number of rounds wins. The game is easy to learn, a lot of fun to play, and fits perfectly in any gamer’s stocking!

 Thematic Game – The Black Rose – Agate Publishing

The Black Rose

Very few games hit me like The Black Rose did. As I was leaving Gen Con this year I was stopped by a great gentleman by the name of Sebastian. He asked me if I’d like to hear about his game, The Black Rose. It’s set in the world of Esteren, the fictional land of horror from the Shadows of Esteren RPG that’s been taking the world by storm. The Black Rose is a game about deduction (Can you tell I’m fond of these?) that reminds me a lot of clue. One player takes the role of the Rector at a monastery who has committed several murders. The other players are investigators and their job is to figure out who the Rector’s two accomplices are. One of the investigators, however, has become possessed by the soul of the most recently murdered, and their goal is to kill the two accomplices and exact revenge. The game uses a lot of bluffing, deduction, and trickery to get players to become confused and riddled. The game adds ton of theme in the addition of role cards that allow players to play actual characters from the Esteren universe. Players who like role-play will enjoy adding character personalities to the game, making it even more immersive. Not only this, but the game’s artwork is some of the best I’ve seen yet. Make sure this game is on your list this year, and watch out for our review coming soon.

Breakout Game – Fantasy Frontier – Gamelyn Games

Fantasy Frontier

When you mention Gamelyn Games the first thing someone is likely to say is, “Oh, the company that made Tiny Epic Kingdom?!” Well, that is correct, but they also made another game that released this year that I consider to be the breakout title of the year. That game would be Fantasy Frontier; a game about airships, exploration, worker placement, and resource management. We were lucky enough to receive a copy of the game from Game Salute earlier at Gen Con and once we got it to the table I was blown away. The game reminds me somewhat of Catan, which surprised me when I realized how much I like it. In the game you choose a faction to play as and set out with an airship to explore and ultimately earn Victory Points. You gain points by upgrading your airship, engaging in combat, and by switching around terrain tiles to fulfill map cards you pick up. The game has some great components, and it’s packed with a TON of fun. Seriously. Fantasy Frontiers, I feel, flew under the radar this year but it’s not something you’ll want to skip on if you like, well, just having a great time playing a board game. We’ll be reviewing this one soon, so keep an eye out for it!

Well there you have it. I’ve added a couple of new categories that I feel you’ll enjoy and I’m pretty satisfied with my recommendations this year. Whether you’re looking for something light to play again and again or something that your gaming crew will want to sink hours into, these games have you covered. Be sure to click on the links above to order a copy of any of these games yourself, and you just may get them in time for the holiday if you ship two-day! I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year readers, and may you play plenty of games this holiday season!


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  1. Quick News Dec 13 – Dec 19 | Initiative : Tabletop - December 19, 2014

    […] a week away from Christmas. Did I make you panic? Check out holiday recommendations from myself and Raine for last minute gift ideas for the gamer you love. Here is your Quick News for this […]

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