The 2023 Dice Hate Me Holiday Gift Guide

Seasons Greetings, Dear Readers! It’s  time for that annual tradition – the DHM Holiday Gift Guide! This will mark the 13th year I’ve put this together. Inconceivable.

It’s a tad late this year, but there’s still plenty of shopping days to grab some gaming glee for your loved ones. Or, use them to make a Grinch’s heart grow three sizes in just one day. Regardless, have fun around the table with whomever you wish to bring cheer. Happy Holidays and Happy Gaming!

Best Gift for Uncle Danny Who Hates Fighting Games
Unmatched Adventures: Tales to Amaze

For the uninitiated, the original Unmatched Game System is a reimagining of the old Star Wars: Epic Duels game from 2002 that now pits mythical legends, historical figures, and superheroes in a head-to-head battle royale. It’s a wonderful game, easy to play, and provides lots of variety because of the myriad characters from which you can choose. Unfortunately, there a couple of drawbacks: one, it’s best as a two-player affair, and two, it involves PvP combat, something that some gamers just don’t cotton to. In a stroke of brilliance, publisher Restoration Games realized they could reach more gamers by creating a co-operative version. In Tales to Amaze, players can join forces to save the world against the cryptid Mothman and its minions, or Martian invaders. The Tales to Amaze box set includes four great characters, but the game is also compatible with all the other Unmatched games that have been produced before. That means you can have Nikola Tesla and Sherlock Holmes (with Watson) work to take down the Jersey Devil, or Bruce Lee and Alice (of Wonderland fame, with the Jabberwock) defeat the little green men, one by one. I will caution that the co-op mode is not exactly easy, but it’s as much fun getting trounced as it is saving the world. The whole system is now suited to any type of gamer and that is truly a tale to amaze.

Unmatched Adventures: Tales to Amaze is a game for 1-4 cryptid crushers by Jason Hager and Darren Reckner for Restoration Games. It retails for about $60 and you can find it online here or at your Favorite Local Game Store.

Best Game for Little Timmy Who Used to Draw on the Walls

Typically, I like to suggest games in the gift guide that I’ve actually played, just so I know what the heck I’m talking about. With Freehand, this is not the case. Full disclosure, I’ve never played this game, but when I saw designer Julio E. Nazario post about it on Facebook I was convinced I had to include it. The concept of the game seems pretty simple, but also super cool – players pick an image from the center of the table and then try to recreate it in an effort to get others to guess that image. The catch is that they must use what looks like a wooden crayon to push around mini cubes to recreate their chosen art. I’ve played many of Julio’s designs and they are all unique and fun. I doubt this one will be any different. I’ve already ordered two for presents, and I will probably ask Santa to send over a third… just for me.

Freehand is a game for 3-6 aspiring artists by Julio E. Nazario for Indie Boards & Cards. It retails for about $25, and you can find it online here or at your Favorite Local Game Store.

Best Game for Cousin Patty Who is Always Trying to Guess What Everyone is Thinking
Green Team Wins

If you’ve ever sat around a table debating with your friends and family about what might be the deadliest natural disaster in the world, or asked what they might say comes to mind first when you say the word “street” then you’ve played Green Team Wins. Unofficially, of course. Green Team Wins is a game that asks the group a question in one of three formats: fill in the blank, pick this or that particular thing, or choose from multiple choice. Each player then puts an answer down on their dry erase board. The catch? The right answer isn’t necessarily what YOU think is the best answer, but what you think everyone else might say. If you guess the most popular answer then you join the Green Team and get points. Or, if you’re already on the Green Team, you get even more points. Guess wrong and you get put on the lowly Orange Team and score nothing. No one wants to be on the Orange Team (cough, losers). This is a party game that definitely spurs discussion, laughter, and lots of meta thinking. Everyone wants to ultimately think like everyone else, unlike the usual heated chit chat that happens at the holiday dinner table.

Green Team Wins is a game for 3-12 metagamers by Nathan Thornton for 25th Century Games. It retails for about $10 and you can find online here or at your Favorite Local Game Store.

Best Stuffer for the Stocking
No Thanks!

Anyone who has ever met me has probably played No Thanks! with me. And if you haven’t met me and have been around the website or The State of Games podcast before you’ve heard me sing everlasting praises about this game. I included No Thanks! on the Holiday Gift Guide before – way back in 2011 – but it’s worth mentioning again. And again. And again. In the game there are 33 cards with values from 3 to 35. You remove 9 before play. Each turn, a card is revealed. If you want it, take it. If you don’t want it, put down one of your chips and say “no thanks” – if you have any chips left. That card then passes to the next player, and they have to make a choice. At the end, cards in front of a player are worth the amount of points indicated by their value. Chips in a player’s hand are each worth -1 point. The player with the least amount of points at the end of the game wins. It’s just that simple… and yet, it’s not. Players can create runs of value cards, like tucking the 24 under the 23, to help decrease their score. The fun part is speculating on which cards are missing from the deck. You could take a gamble and take the 34 since you have the 32, but there’s no guarantee the 33 is in the deck so you can string them together, or if someone else might take it if it is revealed. There’s elegant game design and then there’s No Thanks! that transcends elegance. It’s one of the greatest games of all time, and no family or group should be without it during the holidays or, well, ever.

No Thanks! Is a game for 3 to 5 gamblers, by Thorsten Gimmler for AMIGO. It retails for about $10, and you can find it online here or at your Favorite Local Game Store. For more information, check out the Dice Hate Me mini-review!

Best Game You Might Want to Ask Santa for Immediately
Santa’s Workshop

Like No Thanks!, I’ve recommended and talked incessantly about Santa’s Workshop before. This time, however, it’s because there’s a new edition – and it’s magnificent. The first edition of Santa’s Workshop was released around Christmas in 2017 and it was a fun worker placement and resource management game that was easy for beginning and experienced gamers to enjoy equally. The second edition brings all new – and so, so nice – artwork to the North Pole. But it also brings some tweaks to gameplay and two game modes: one for the whole family, and one with a little more edge for advanced gamers. One thing that hasn’t changed, thankfully, is the greatest score track in all of gaming. I recommend ordering this immediately from Elf Creek Games’ website (linked below) as that’s the only place from which Santa’s elves will deliver this Christmas. I guarantee a good time for friends and family, not only around the holidays, but all year long. 

Santa’s Workshop is a game for 2-5 elves by Keith Ferguson for Elf Creek Games. It retails for $40 and you can only find it online here at the moment.

Best Game for the Marvel Zombies in Your Life
Marvel Remix

Marvel Remix is a reimplementation of the amazing Fantasy Realms card game. If you haven’t played the original, you definitely should. In Fantasy Realms you have a hand of seven cards and you must either draft from the deck blindly and then place a card face up on the table, or take one of the face-up cards that are already on the table and then place a card. What you’re looking for are particular synergies that will grant you a ton of points, all while dodging detriments that will take your score down. In Marvel Remix you can also choose to draft from the Villain deck (or choose a Villain on the table). They are often battling against the Marvel heroes in your hand that are creating synergies, so you must choose wisely. The caveat is that you must have at least one Villain in your hand of seven cards at the end of the game or you can’t win the game. At all. You lose. Good day, sir. During the game you’ll often find yourself waiting for that perfect card to show up all while discarding something that one of your opponents snaps up immediately. There might be some light cursing when this happens, but it’s not a mean game. It’s super fun, and super quick, meaning it’s the perfect filler for when you’re waiting on another game to start up… or while the turkey is taking its sweet time getting up to temp.

Marvel Remix is a game for 2-6 superheroes by Bruce Glassco for WizKids. It retails for about $22 and you can find it online here or at your Favorite Local Game Store.

Best Game for Your Favorite Pencil-Pushing Gearhead
Motor City

While VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game may have, arguably, kicked off the modern roll-and-write revolution (ok, maybe it was Roll Through the Ages), it was the team of Ben Pinchback and Matt Riddle that probably perfected it. Fleet: The Dice Game and Three Sisters were instant roll-and-write classics. This time they brought along the brilliant Adam Hill to craft Motor City, and it may just be their best yet. In the game you’re running an automotive plant in Detroit, cranking out cars and testing them on the track. You draft rolled dice (shocker) to activate areas on your blueprint board, marking various spaces on your paper sheet. There’s the usual combotastic gameplay you’d expect (and you know you love) from these designers, but it’s also super crunchy. So, if you know someone who’s looking to scratch a deep strategic and tactical itch with a pencil, Motor City should be in Santa’s Dodge Charger this Christmas.

Motor City is a game for 1-5 mechanics by Adam Hill, Ben Pinchback, and Matt Riddle for Motor City Gameworks and 25th Century Games. It retails for about $35 and you can find it online here or at your Favorite Local Game Store.

Best Game That I’m Shocked I Haven’t Mentioned Before
7 Wonders: Architects

Most of you Dear Readers are probably familiar with the original 7 Wonders, and may have even gifted it on past holidays. 7 Wonders is a great game, a modern classic. But, for non-gamers, it can sometimes seem daunting. There are a lot of crazy symbols that often require a glance at the rulebook, and the options when drafting cards can sometimes be difficult to parse. And then there are the war-mongers sitting to the left and right who keep drafting military; if a player doesn’t “keep up with the Joneses” they are penalized and their neighbors are rewarded handsomely as the ages progress. 7 Wonders: Architects fixes every bit of that. It’s super easy to teach and learn, drafting is a simple process, and warfare isn’t punishing if you lose. Plus, it’s ridiculously over-produced – each ancient city comes in its own custom plastic tray that makes set-up an absolute breeze. All this makes it a Wonderful gaming gift for the whole family.

7 Wonders: Architects is a game for 2 to 7 archaeologists by Antoine Bauza for Repos Production. It retails for about $45 and you can find it online here or at your Favorite Local Game Store.

Best Game to Move ‘Em On Up From Ticket to Ride
Imperial Miners

Some of you may be familiar with the original Imperial Settlers, released in 2014. Imperial Settlers is an amazing game that rewards clever gaming with awesome combos from engine building. However, those awesome combos could sometimes take awhile to complete. We once sat for 20 minutes while TC Petty took a full turn as the Japanese. This is not hyperbole. In comparison, Imperial Miners takes only about twice as long to play as a TC turn. Imperial Miners is basically an engine builder where you’re digging down into the depths of the earth to mine gems and such, then working your way back up to activate the mines you’ve already built. It’s incredibly satisfying and incredibly fast – all players take simultaneous turns, so there’s very little downtime. Plus, it has all the cute art from the Imperial Settlers world and all the tiny fonts that anyone over the age of 20 will need a magnifying glass to read. No matter, this is a game that will appeal to beginning and advanced gamers alike, making it a precious gem to find under the tree.

Imperial Miners is a game for 1-5 underdwellers by Tim Armstrong for Portal Games. It retails for about $30 and you can find it online here or at Your Favorite Local Game Store.


Although I provide convenient links to buy many of the games in the gift guide online, I highly encourage all of you dear readers to shop at and support your local game store. Without the heroic efforts of the intrepid brick and mortar store owners, the hobby wouldn’t be half as amazing as it is today. Here is a list of Dice Hate Me-approved local game stores that I have either visited or have been helpful to me and the hobby. If you’re near one of these, buy there and give small business owners a warm glow this holiday season!

Don’t forget to check out previous Holiday Gift Guides below – there are 12 more years of great gift ideas!

Related posts:

  1. The 2022 Dice Hate Me Holiday Gift Guide
  2. The 2020 Dice Hate Me Holiday Gift Guide
  3. The 2018 Dice Hate Me Holiday Gift Guide
  4. The 2019 Dice Hate Me Holiday Gift Guide
  5. The 2017 Dice Hate Me Holiday Gift Guide

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