*Due to a busy day for the Rules Christmas elves yesterday (what with our Christmas party 'n all that), there will be no 'eighth day of Christmas' recommendations, and we'll move swiftly on to today's! Don't worry though - we've got plenty of game suggestions to last us a lifetime!*
We all know how crazy Christmas is - all your free time's spent shopping, you still haven't figured out what you're buying for gifts, you've got wrapping paper and Twiglets coming out of your ears and to make matters worse, every Christmas film starring Tim Allen seems to be playing on repeat. So when you set aside a 30 minute 'me' break, you need something that really is just 30 minutes! When you've got a precious hour spare and you're desperate for a game, you can play one and STILL have time left over for a brew! It's like Christmas came early!
2-4 players, 30 minutes, age 8+
A Great Time To Play Is: when you've still got a little time to wait for last year's 'Father Christmas' costume to come out the wash. This game's light, fast and super cute!
You've just been elected Mayor of a city - look at you, moving up in the world! Problem is, you've only got a wheat field, a bakery, and a bunch of hungry citizens who want a bit more than bread. Add that to the 4 landmarks currently under construction, too. Luckily there are loads of establishments you can add to your growing metropolis! A cheese factory, a restaurant, a business centre, a TV station... loads! Except you kinda need to the dice to roll certain numbers for you to collect money from the bank, and the other players. And then you need to build your money pile in order to buy all these fancy places. And even after all that, you could have the biggest, loveliest city on earth - if you haven't constructed your 4 starting landmarks then you're Mayor toast, buddy. First to construct them all is the winner and gets to wear the biggest, shiniest gold chain! Note: gold chain not included.
2-8 players, 30 minutes, age 8+
A Great Time To Play Is: before you hit the streets for Christmas shopping, get some racing tips from the game - you might crash into something, but you'll get everything you needed!
Step right up and place your bets, folks. What, horses? Nope. Greyhounds? Nah. You'll be betting on the most majestic and elegant of creatures - the, er, camel, of course! This year's Spiel des Jahres winner is a game of shouting at tiny wooden playing pieces as you move them around a cardboard pyramid and if that doesn't scream 'award-winning' then what does?! However, your camel's grace might falter, meaning they could land on top of another or have to be carried to the finish line! Use the hollow pyramid as an Egyptian dice-shaker and use the dice to decide which camel goes when. Remember - he who bets first has more chance of winning points and glory, as the saying goes!
2-4 players, 30 minutes, age 10+
A Great Time To Play Is: just after you've finally got round to putting up the tree and all the fairy lights. A handful of jewelled cards and shiny poker chips look even more mystical with a Christmas glow!
Ugh, peasants, right? Pick up Splendor and transform yourselves into merchants of the Renaissance, more desperate to be wealthy and grandiose than the contestants on 'I'm a Celebrity'. On your turn, collect chips or collect cards - whatever your current funds will allow! Pay for cards using your chips, and later on you could pay for more cards using old cards! It's a real 'working up the ladder' game, and what you all really want are prestige points. These will come when a 'noble' visits you - the Renaissance equivalent of getting caught by paparazzi when you're out clubbing with a celeb. Now you're bound for success! The first player to reach 15 prestige points is the winner and is therefore exempt from having to untangle last year's Christmas tree lights - the greatest prize of all.