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Hot Games for the Holidays

Nov 30, 2015 06:12PM ● Published by Vanessa Orr

When families get together over the holidays, it’s the perfect time to bring out the games—and we’re not talking about Grandpa’s old Monopoly set, either. From Loonacy to Pandemic to Star Wars-themed miniature sets, this year’s hot games require a lot more than just passing Go.

“Whether you’re already into games, want to expand your collection, or are a new gamer, there’s something out there for everyone,” explained Ken Frederick, store manager at New Dimensions Comics, which is located in Cranberry, Ellwood City, Clearview Mall in Butler, Pittsburgh Mills and the Century Three Mall. “And if you’re not sure about a new game, we offer demos in the store, and there’s always someone here to help you out.”

Frederick predicts that this year’s top games will include Magic: The Gathering—Battle for Zendikar, which is being released as a holiday gift box for $19.99. “Munchkin is also releasing Munchkin Steampunk Deluxe, which is a new version of the Munchkin game geared to steampunk fans,” he added. Sold as a standalone for $29.95, it can be integrated into any Munchkin game or expansion.

Frederick is also seeing a lot of interest and pre-orders for HeroClix Superman/Wonder Woman ($12.99 pack), and Retro Loonacy ($15). “This is one of our personal store favorites; it’s a great game for a family to play together,” he said. “Retro Loonacy has a real throwback feel, with cards featuring VHS tapes, Lava lamps and cool, nostalgia-type items.”

Philip Glotfelty, who owns Game Masters with his wife, Laura, says that customers are looking forward to Mysterium ($50), a game that was introduced in Europe but is now available stateside. “It’s a wonderful family game, and one of the most unique party games I’ve ever seen,” he explained. “The premise is that there has been a murder, and the victim’s ghost is trying through dreams to tell everyone what happened. Players work cooperatively to try to beat the game by solving the mystery; they all win or they all lose.” Pandemic Legacy, another cooperative game in which players try to keep four deadly diseases at bay for a year, will be available this holiday season for $69.99.

Families will also enjoy Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5—United Kingdom and Pennsylvania ($50), which is the latest installment in the Ticket to Ride series. The game comes with a double-sided board and new rules, and it enables players to create train lines in both the UK and Pennsylvania.

“One other game that will be big this year is Dead of Winter, a survival zombie game,” Glotfelty added. “It’s been hard to find because it’s been in and out of print, but we’ll have it on sale for $59.99.”

Rob Pernell, owner of Legions Hobbies and Games, predicts that Magic: The Gathering—Commander 2015 is going to be a big seller this year, as will Open Fire, the starter set for the popular game Flames of War. The set includes everything that players need to become involved in World War II war gaming, from assembling and painting miniatures to playing games on the table top.

“We stock the entire line of 1,000-plus models that expand this starter set or allow the player to build an army on their own,” said Pernell, adding that the store has eight gaming tables dedicated to Flames of War as well as 30 tables set up for other games.

Star Wars fans will appreciate The Force Awakens™ Core Set, which allows them to take command of a Resistance X-Wing or two First Order TIE fighters in this X-Wing™ miniatures game. Opponents can battle for the fate of the galaxy in this two-player game of high-speed dogfights that comes with expansions and rules for squad building.

And while there are many board and miniatures games available, there are also new games coming out this holiday for the electronics crowd. “I think the biggest sellers this year will be Fallout 4 for DS4 and Xbox 1, and Star Wars Battlefront,” said John Fascetti, manager at the GameStop in Mt. Nebo. “These are the games that everyone has been clamoring for.” Both games retail for $59.99 and come with a separately priced season pass.

Fascetti also recommends Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox 1, and PS4 that comes with a $50 season pass that covers a year of downloadable content. Rainbow Six Siege ($59.99) and Just Cause 3, ($59.99) will be released for the holiday season on Dec. 1.

If you’re not a gamer, don’t despair. All of these businesses offer in-store help and game demonstrations, as well as gift certificates for the gamers in your life.  

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