Critical Hits Gift Guide 2007: The Games

Hello, and welcome again to the Critical Hits gift guide! Each year, we’ve taken a different tack for making recommendations. This year, due to some regrettable server downtimes, we’re compressing our recommendations. So first comes the most important category, games! Herein contain the best games that came out since the last holiday that make great gifts for the Critical-Hitters on your shopping lists.

In order to facilitate your game shopping experience, the categories have been divided up the type of gamer you might be shopping for: Casual Gamers, Regular Gamers, and Hardcore Gamers.

Casual Gamers

Get Bit! by Dave Chalker

Get Bit! Box

Yes, I had to pimp my own game. But it is a simple and quick board game that lets you experience holiday cheer by feeding your friends to a ravenous shark. Grown-ups will like the strategy involved, while children will be delighted by the shark and plastic people. Or, vice versa!

Available from RobotMartini.

Uptown by Kory Heath

Uptown Box

You have 9 letters, 9 numbers, 9 shapes, and 1 wild to place on a board to make as few groups as possible. Only problem is that they come up in a random order and your opponents will try to block you and capture your tiles. A simple games with tons of emergent strategy, it calls to mind the classic board games you grew up with. Not only good for gamers, but good for parents too.

Available from Funagain.

Wits & Wagers Second Edition by Dominic Crapuchettes, Satish Pillalamarri, & Nate Heasley

Wits & Wagers

Yes, I recommended this awesome party game last year. But now the game is for sale in your local Target, and it features improved gameplay and a better payout chart. There’s also new and tweaked questions, so even if you already own the game, it’s worth picking up. The most requested party game in my collection, Wits & Wagers manages to take the trivia game from a memory exercise into a fun-loving time.

Available from Target.

Zombie Fluxx by Andy Looney

Zombie Fluxx Box

The game of ever-changing rules… and zombies. For the zombie-lover (eww) in your life, this quick playing card game is great fun. Lots of thought has been put into improving on the basic Fluxx formula and adding in more gameplay options, all the while trying to dodge the dreaded Zombie Victory. It has the added bonus of picking out all the zombie movie tropes!

Available from Funagain.

Rock Band by MTV Games

Yes, the full bundle including all the instruments is difficult to find. But did you know that you can buy the game separately? Yes, if you already have a guitar, you can jam in Rock Band. If you’re a Guitar Hero fan, there’s tons of new songs here, and it features a better sliding scale of difficulty than any of the GH games. Add in being able to customize your rocker and you’ve got a quality gaming experience. And if you’re a vocalist, you can take a USB microphone and use that to play through the vocalist single-player. No matter what instrument you play, you can always take it online to jam with friends.

Available from Amazon.

Regular Gamers

Super Mario Galaxy by Nintendo

The flagship of Nintendo’s line, a Super Mario platform game finally comes to the Wii. And by all accounts, it’s awesome. Intuitive game play and unique controls that just avoid being gimmicky makes this a winner for gamers of all types. It also features a new kind of cooperative game play experience that allows a second player to help Mario out while not being under any real pressure.

Available from Amazon.

Rules Compendium by Chris Sims

Yes, the days of third edition Dungeons & Dragons are coming to an end. But if you’re not yet ready to upgrade to fourth edition, Wizards still has you covered. This book features clarifications and updates to all the rules you need to know from the lifespan of D&D 3rd edition. Essential for those who want to get the most out of their 3.5 D&D books.

Available from Amazon.

Ticket to Ride: Switzerland by Alan R. Moon

TTR Switzerland Box

Formerly only available online, TTR: Switzerland is an expansion for any of the Ticket to Ride games, since it includes the map and tickets you need while letting you provide cards and trains. It’s designed only for 2-3 players, making it a small and nasty map for those who want a bit more interaction than your normal open TTR matches. Alan Moon has called this his favorite map for the game, and if you find yourself playing TTR mainly with 2 or 3, this is well worth picking up.

Available from Funagain.

Mr. Jack by Bruno Cathala & Ludovic Maublanc

Mr Jack Box

One player plays Jack the Ripper (and gets to choose who it is.) The other player is trying to catch Jack the Ripper. But both players get to control everyone. So it’s a struggle between Mr. Jack trying to keep the other player guessing (while also trying to escape) and the inspector to block off any potential suspects and narrow things down. A great two-player game that combines strategic elements with some bluffing/analysis without being overly complicated.

Available from Funagain.

Hardcore Gamers

1960: The Making of the President by Christian Leonhard & Jason Matthews

1960 Box

While some of us are wildly speculating about the upcoming US Presidential election, 1960 takes us back to one of the most controversial elections of the century between two very well known presidents. 1960 simulates that famous election by having one player take the role of Nixon and one player Kennedy as they travel around the country and influence states for their electoral votes. The media, endorsements, and the issues must all be carefully balanced in the days leading up to the debates and the election itself. A great gift for political buffs and fans of two-player non-war strategy games.

Available from Funagain

The Orange Box

A ridiculously good deal. Half-Life 2, along with its two expansions. Team Fortress 2. And oh yeah, one of my picks for best game ever: PORTAL! There’s so much goodness contained in one disc it can hardly be explained. While hardcore gamers may have already blasted through Half-Life 2 when it first came out, it’s worth it even just playing everything else contained on this disk. And Portal can be fun for everyone, since it’s not your typical first person game at all.

Available from Amazon.

Halo 3 by Bungie

While I was disappointed with the single-player campaign, it does provide closure and is easy to get through in around 7 hours. But the game play and graphics have improved quite a bit over previous versions, and it’s easily going to be the first person multiplayer console game of choice for a while. Also, the gravity hammer rocks.

Available from Amazon.

Starcraft the Boardgame by Christian T. Petersen & Corey Konieczka

Starcraft Box

While not quite the simulation of the video game that many hoped, Starcraft still pulls the setting and characters well from the games. Those looking for a science fiction combat game that features balancing between your objectives and your limited resources need look no further.

Available from Funagain.

Pathfinder by Paizo LLC

When Dungeon and Dragon were folded, the company that had been making the magazines decided to respond by making Pathfinder. Three issues have been released, and each one is a complete adventure that ties into a 6 issue arc of stories, intended to take PCs from 1st level and advance them in time with each release. They are incredibly well-written and take very little time to prep for, so it’s the perfect gift the harried GM on your list.

Buy individual issues from Amazon, or a subscription from Paizo.

Agree or disagree with my picks? Have I left anything out? Let me know. And stay tuned next week for the OTHER gift guide!

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.


  1. Man I want the Starcraft boardgame so bad.


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