The best board games for Christmas 2017

High-tech board games to banish Boxing Day boredom

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Discard those dog-eared property trading games, bin those long-forgotten games gathering dust, and step into an ever growing niche on the board gaming scene – app infused. 

A few years back the big players tried to kick start the category and, simply put, it was a miserable failure. However, smaller publishers have inspired the way for this genre of gaming to continue to grow, with a steady stream of titles hitting store shelves that appeal to both those after quick pick-up-and play, and those after a more immersive experience.

What follows is T3's carefully curated top picks of the best new high-tech board games to play today.

8 best board games to play at Christmas 2017

1. Beasts of Balance

A top game and a fine piece of shelf candy when not in play too

Reasons to buy
+On-screen graphics are works of art+NFC-infused artefacts+Competitive game mode incoming

Each of the artefacts are infused with NFC chips and, when placed by the plinth, pop up via Bluetooth on your iOS or Android device screen. You’re playing across the air, land and sea, and are able to crossbreed to create some magical and slightly weird creatures. If you topple the stack it’s time to rebuild before the volcano blows. Stunning graphics and a battle card element arriving in the coming months.

2. Doctor Panic

Undertake emergency surgery, despite being wildly underqualified

Reasons to buy
+Whoopee cushion included+Fast and frantic+Co-op play

Play cooperatively with your crack surgical team to save the patient before time runs out and he/she cops it. The app brings along various unexpected events for you to overcome. Play as the surgeon or an overseer, get the dosages right on the physical pieces, undertake stitching with the supplied needle and thread (cardboard subject of course). Complete all your tasks before the heart attack sounds on the app and you’ll avoid the virtual tribunal.

3. Lightseekers

Collectable characters and an innovative card game to boot

Reasons to buy
+Much more than just “toys to life”+Intuitive card based play combines with on-screen action+Collectable characters

Toy giant Tomy teamed with with Play Fusion and have created this Lightseekers environment which, despite being given a toys-to-life label early on, offers much more. The playing cards are available in six distinct sets and offer an innovative analogue game. Download the Lightseekers app and these cards being elements to life on the screen, and then we have the highly collectible characters that don’t just appear as characters on the screen but can be used as actual controllers. Nicely done. We have a collection of the best Lightseekers toy deals too.

4. Dropmix

Drop decent beats even if you’re tone deaf

Reasons to buy
+Developed by the folk behind Guitar Hero and Rock Band+Expansion packs increases longevity of the game+Variety of different modes

The developers of Dropmix, Harmonix, have a solid gaming musical history so it is no surprise that this innovation from them is totally impressive. Teaming up with Hasbro the gameplay involved NFC enabled cards, different artists and tracks on each which must be played, in a number of different modes onto the long black reader device. This, hooked up to the iOS or Android app running device, plays your mixes as you lay down your deck on the decks.

5. One Night Ultimate Alien

A popular game with a top app at its heart

Reasons to buy
+It's electronic hide and seek with aliens+Completely pointless fun+Other varieties available

Following on the huge success of its predecessor game Ultimate Werewolf, this is a game where the app is at the centre of the gameplay. Press the prompt in the app to get started and as you progress it will instruct players to avoid certain actions, like not talking for a few rounds, the aim being to uncover who is the alien in  your group with the app both helping and hindering your progress.


A superb transformation from digital to analogue gaming

Reasons to buy
+App negates the need for reading a rule book+Great group co-operative gameplay

Originally a PC game it has been developed into this app-enabled board based play. Playing the part elite soldiers, you’re pitted against the classic UFO foe. Gather together four players and expect to be in mission mode for a couple of hours at least. The app assists to guide you along through the game and adds ambience and narrative too.

7. Mansions of Madness

Like being hands-on in a horror film

Reasons to buy
+App offers a great narrative to the gameplay+Lots of quality pieces

Definitely make sure you get this one shipped, as it’s a whopper of a box weighing in at over three kilos. Packed with playing pieces aplenty just setting this one up isn’t for those looking for a quick gaming fix, this one needs a session. There are so many rules and twists and turns as you battle together against demons and bad spirits but the app helps develop a story-telling side to the game.

8. Monopoly Gamer

The classic game infused with Mario and chums

Reasons to buy
+New gameplay mechanics+Great gamer artwork and characters+Boss battles

Gone are the banknotes, here we play with video coin tokens, but it isn’t all about money as you’ve bosses to battle and power-ups to invoke with the special die too. The artwork will appeal to any Nintendo fan and it is easy enough to pick up but we do wish the coins weren’t cardboard. No, there isn’t any app in existence but how could we resist including a game with the worlds most notorious digital characters included.