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Plaid Hat Holiday Gift Guide: CARD Games

Card game selections from our collection and around the industry.

Happy holidays, everyone! This is part 3 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. Last week we discussed thematic games and strategic games. Today we take a look at card games.

Card games go back to Plaid Hat Games' mythical origins. Late one night, Colby Dauch was awoken with a revelation from the gods of the rules for Summoner Wars, and that day Plaid Hat Games was born. (Or something like that.) Needless to say, we love to both design and play card games. Besides the Plaid selections below, there is more than one card game currently (and secretly!) in development as we speak.

Plaid Hat Picks

AshesAshes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is the customizable battle card game with everything, designed by Isaac Vega. Best artwork ever! Custom dice as resources! A rich backstory world! Intense back-and-forth action! Custom decks! Play draft mode right from the base set! This game is genius and beautiful and addictive.

In the box you get SIX complete decks (no card overlap) and FORTY custom dice, so up to four players can play out of the box! There is a thriving online community for Ashes, and we have a full slate of expansions planned for 2017. Shovel some coal, get on the Ashes train and say hi to conductor Coal!

Ashes and its expansions are available in the store and at a local store near you.

Summoner WarsSummoner Wars is the classic card game of battlefield strategy. Summoner Wars is an all-time favorite and squeezes a crazy amount of variety and depth out of some small card decks. The battlefield is a grid, and your units are cards. Faithful commons, mighty champions, and unique spells make up your deck. Destroy the opposing summoner to win!

You can enter the world of Summoner Wars through a basic starter set or one of our two master sets. Summoner Wars has no product overlap - every release offers totally unique cards! 16 factions and 40 summoners are available, and it's playable right out of the box.

Summoner Wars and its expansions are available in the store and at a local store near you.


Staff Picks

Online Developer and Playtest Director Joe Ellis:

Joe EllisBaseball Highlights 2045Earlier this year I discovered Baseball Highlights 2045 and it has become one of my favorites. I had seen in on Kickstarter long ago, but the premise didn't interest me much. Futuristic robot baseball didn't seem all that compelling. But after listening to designer Mike Fitzgerald on the Ludology podcast a few times, I decided to look up his games and ended up reading the rules to Baseball Highlights and realized what a unique and awesome game it is.

In a single game of Baseball Highlights, you play a series of 3-10 games or so depending on the format. Each mini game involves drawing six cards and playing all six - your decisions are simply the order you play them. Between games you get a chance to upgrade your deck by purchasing a free agent or two. This game draws so many great decisions on a tiny number of decision points, it's amazing and a game design inspiration to me.

Communications Specialist Callin Flores:

Callin FloresThunder and LightningMy suggestion for an absolutely amazing card game is Thunder & Lightning by Z-Man Games. Normally, I like card games where you can customize your deck, adding and removing cards to improve your strategy. Thunder & Lightning is the exact opposite of that! Both players have the EXACT SAME DECK. You would think with such identical cards, the gameplay would be stale, but it's just the opposite! Every game is about reading your opponent's board and discard pile, probing their frontline for weaknesses and maintaining your own board state, as the number of actions you get every turn is dependent on it.  With multiple game ending conditions and complex combos and strategies, Thunder & Lightning packs a lot of game in a small box!

Game Designer Isaac Vega:

Isaac VegaDominionStaying on theme for the gifts this season I am going back again to the time I first started playing tabletop games. One of the games that will always stick out in my memory is Dominion. For those who haven’t checked out the game that started the deck building craze it’s time to do so! In each game players start with an identical deck of cards, but in just one turn your deck starts to evolve by buying the cards that are in the community pool. Dominion forces players to create their own engines that become more and more unique as the game goes on. This fact scratched the creative itch for me and made the game so much fun when I started getting into the hobby. I loved trying to come up with the most optimal deck that would grab me the victory. I think it’s a great game for gamers new and seasoned alike and offers a ridiculous amount of variety especially if you continue adding on the plethora of expansions that are available. For those reasons I highly suggest making it gift for someone this holiday season.

Thanks to all for reading our holiday game picks! Happy holidays to you!