Look your opponents in the eye across the table. Through your piercing look, see inside their soul and determine what kind of gamer they are. And then, crush their dreams.

Happy holidays, everyone! This is part 2 of the Plaid Hat Holiday Gift Guide! Each article takes a game style and offers suggestions for you and your family and friends to pick up and play this holiday season, including both selections from the Plaid Hat Games catalog as well as picks from around the board gaming world. Earlier this week we discussed thematic games. Today we offer strategic games.

Of course, every game Plaid Hat Games produces offers a hefty dose of both theme and strategy - SeaFall in particular from our thematic article will both drop you into a rich story world and test your strategic mettle. Likewise, all the below games contain a great deal of thematic flare. But they will also tickle that thinky part of your brain with choices to melt your mind.

Plaid Hat Picks

Tail FeathersTail Feathers is the intense miniature skirmish in the world of Mice and Mystics. Mice and rats take flight on powerful birds, fighting in the air and on the ground. Test your piloting skill with the unique tilting flight system and 5 interchangeable pilots on 5 bird minis. Lead missions on the ground with the 13 included ground troops, and add in the figures from the Mice and Mystics base set!

Build your army, play action cards at the right moment, choose the right mission, and claim Meanderfield for your team! Tail Feathers has a story-driven campaign that spans multiple sessions and has everything you need in one box. Surf on a leaf, knock out some tail feathers, or lock your opponent in a death-spiral! It's all a part of the rich Tail Feathers gameplay system.

Tail Feathers is available in the PlaidHatGames.com store and at a local store near you. Step into the newest chapter of the Mice and Mystics universe and kick some tail (feathers).

Specter OPSSpecter OPS is a hidden movement game in which one stealth agent infiltrates a top-secret Raxxon facility to retrieve three mission targets and escape. 2-4 hunters drop the net, searching the facility and using special skills and the vehicle to track the agent down. But the agent is equipped with their own special skills, high-tech equipment and the cover of darkness.

Every move feels vitally important in Specter OPS, with the agent marking moves secretly and the hunters collaborating to find that agent and do whatever is necessary to eliminate their target. Get a glimpse of the agent and attack, taking her down. Unless that is she has a hidden trick up her sleeve!

Specter OPS is available on the PlaidHatGames.com store and at a local store near you. The war for society is fought in the shadows.

City of RemnantsCity of Remnants is the ahead-of-its time strategic dudes-on-a-map game from way back in the early part of 2013. Combining deck building, resource management, bidding, and battle tactics, City of Remnants is a deep strategic experience for 2-4 gang leaders.

On a planet of refugees, ruled over by the ruthless Yugai aliens, your only hope is to build up your gang it make it by via any means necessary. Open underground businesses, fight for territory, and defeat the Yugai on your terms. City of Remnants is the first design of famed game designer Isaac Vega and combines diverse mechanics into an evocative and intense game.

City of Remnants is out of stock on our store, but if you see it out in the board game wild, do not pass it up! You will be rewarded.

Staff Picks

Game Designer Isaac Vega:

Isaac VegaPuerto RicoMy suggestion for this gift giving season would have to be Puerto Rico. When I first started my venture into board games, Puerto Rico was one of my first favorites. Its tight resource management and interesting role selection mechanic sparked a love for strategy games in my heart. It was one of the main inspirations that lead me to the path of becoming a designer and I will always remember it for that. If my endorsement isn’t enough go check out BoardGameGeek.com where Puerto Rico currently sits as the oldest member of the top ten board games list. I haven’t played it in a while, but I am going to make sure it hits my table this holiday season.

Communications Specialist Callin Flores:

Callin FloresDice CityMy suggestion for a great strategy game is "Dice City" by AEG. In Dice City, you roll five dice and place them on a grid in front of you based on which number you rolled on each die. Then, you can spend the dice to get the benefit of the location underneath it. This lets you gain resources, which you can in turn use to upgrade your locations. I love the interaction between players as you use your military to attack enemy locations and steal their resources, all while you try to get your own engine going to purchase better locations and the coveted trade ships. Check it out!

Game Designer Jerry Hawthorne:

Jerry HawthorneQuantumI sure am a big fan of Quantum. To me, it has that perfect simple elegance I crave in a strategy game, and it marries so well with its chosen theme. The game is probably the finest example of sandbox style gameplay refined to its most minimalistic form. There is an economy of rules as the main component of the game performs multiple functions. The big chunky D6's are used to represent your empire's military dominance, your current level of scientific research, the type kind of battle capability each fleet has, and the colonizing potential you have in a given sector. Even the battles are resolved with the same chunky dice. The added icing on the cake are the 2 decks of advantage cards you can gain through reaching milestones in research and domination. Buying these cards radically improves your empire's capabilities, and provide an endless variety of game changing strategies. You control the direction of your empire's evolution! (Unless your opponents can foil your plans) Quantum plays in about an hour, give or take depending on number of players.

Warehouse Manager Sam Vega:

Sam VegaTerra MysticaMy "new" favorite game is an entirely well known gem named Terra Mystica. This game is clever. Really clever. It absolutely bleeds with intricate little details that make your decisions matter every turn. But it does so without becoming overwhelming by limiting every turn to one action.

True, you might gnaw on your fingers (only a little) as you decide whether to spend resources to build dwellings or terraform or do both. Perhaps you're better off upgrading this turn. Then again, you're probably gonna need more money if you want to do anything next round, so you shouldn't spend too much. Pssssh #YOLO, you gotta spend dat money to make money. Oh but wait! What about that that thing over there that will give me power? My precious... I needs it! (More power, more pizza. It is known.)

Terra Mystica is an absolute delight and I can't wait to play it again. In fact, after the first time I played it (YESTERDAY), I immediately wanted to play another round. That hardly ever happens. To me, that is. I should also mention that I say all this having, quite spectacularly, lost my first game, coming in dead last. Not closely either. I was like forty points behind... Still, much wow, I highly recommend.

Come back soon for our final article on expandable games! And check out our thematic games guide if you missed it earlier this week.


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