Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Gaming

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RFMag Holiday Gift Guide: Gaming
RFMag Holiday Gift Guide: Gaming

Skull and Roses

Skull & Roses

Skull and Roses is a simple game of bidding and bluffing that plays up to 6 and runs roughly 30 minutes per game. The rules are so straightforward they can be easily explained in about three minutes, making the barrier to entry extremely low. This is possibly the greatest example of an ‘easy to learn, hard to master’ game because despite the simple ruleset, the strategies concocted by master Skull and Roses players can get deviously psychological. It’s a perfect game to enjoy over a couple of beers and great to break out at bars since it’s small enough (about 6×6 inches) to fit in a messenger bag or purse without being a hassle to carry around all night. You and your friends are guaranteed to be howling with joy and anguish with every hand of Skull and Roses.

Total War: Rome II

Total War: Rome II

For the strategy gamer in your life who is also a history buff, give them the gift of leading Roman Legions against the Gallic tribes in the dark forests of the north. Give them Egyptian war elephants fording the Nile to clash with Macedon. Give them political intrigue and military coups. Creative Assembly has made numerous improvements and streamlined some of the series’ more fiddly systems to cut down on things like management fatigue when your empire starts to grow too large. Rome 2 is such a beautiful representation of what historical strategy games should be; nothing compares to zooming down to ground level just in time to hear the crunch of metal as your legionaries crash into the front line of Carthaginian scum.

XCOM: Enemy Within

X-Com: Enemy Within

Choosing to only be outdone by themselves, Firaxis knocks it out of the park with their ambitious expansion to Enemy Unknown. The introduction of gene modifications and mechanized soldiers, plus a new human enemy to contend with adds another layer of goodness atop the deliciousness that is X-COM. Be prepared for the triumphs of perfectly executed missions and mourning the loss of your most elite soldiers when they catch a plasma rifle critical shot to the face. This is the pinnacle of what X-COM has to offer, at least until Firaxes decides to put out their next expansion pack. Check out my full review to get all the details on this mecca of strategy greatness.

Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate

Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate

Our favorite curvy ladies are back! Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate features all the newly available features from the original DOA 5. This time around everyone’s favorite fighters are joined by newcomers from Virtua Fighters and NINJA GAIDEN. DOA 5: Ultimate features stunning backdrops, countless outfits, and Signature Finishing Moves. Not to mention the sometimes frustrating counter attack system that the franchise is known for. Nonetheless, this is the perfect gift for any fighter or fan of the Dead or Alive series.

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite

If you have someone that has never played Bioshock before, Bioshock Infinite is an excellent entry into the series. Brooker DeWitt isn’t your typical protagonist. With a dark past that Booker tries extremely hard to forget, he eventually encounters Elizabeth whom possesses the power to open tears and pull things from various timelines. Their adventures together ultimately lead them to discover the truth about one another.

However, once you complete the main gameplay, the game expands with newly released game modes and additional content which takes the Booker and Elizabeth back to Rapture.


LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is a kid-friendly super hero title that is chock full of many characters, side-missions, collectables & puzzles, laughs, unlockables and great nods to both casual fans and super-enthusiasts. This is one LEGO title you definitely won’t want to miss.


Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure, is packed full of DC characters that bring an equally impressive cast of references from the legendary comic book universe. Bring out your inner super hero (or villain!) with the all-new Super Hero Creator which allows you to craft completely original objects out of parts of existing DC Comics characters. Add unique properties to your creations and use them to solve puzzles, or share them online with friends A must have for die-hard fans of the DC universe who want to save the world by using words instead of just weapons.


Batman Arkham Origins

Batman Arkham Origins is a prequel set years before the original two games. Its nothing new or ground-breaking like its predecessors, but you still get to be Batman…which is still a lot of fun that’s worth a few hours of time for both comic fans and gamers alike.


SteelSeries Rival

Infinite_Ammo is a huge fan of gadgets, games, overclocking and other stuff that may squarely place me in the “geek zone.” 2013 had been an exciting year for all the things I’ve listed but if I had to choose one item that I would recommend as a “must buy” for gamers, it would be the SteelSeries Rival mouse.The mouse is ergonomically designed for right hand. I don’t want to sound like an anti-southpaw bigot but it’s just more comfortable than an ambidextrous mouse! That aside, the mouse is moderately priced. The mouse supports up to 6500 CPI (or DPI), has a CPI button to switch between two profiles on the fly, textured rubber grips, Teflon feet, customizable lighting, a slot for a 3D printed nameplate (specs are TBA on website), and switches that are rated for 30 million clicks. The tracking is smooth and the SteelSeries Engine software features a whole slew of things you can do with the mouse to really make it your own.

SteelSeries already has a number of mice that are gamer favorites such as the Sensei and Kinzu but the Rival hits a sweet spot with the thumb buttons and design. It’s a little hard to find at this time but it is available for pre-order on SteelSeries’s website and Amazon.


Marvel Earforce Seven Headset

High quality Turtle Beach sound coupled with every conceivable listening scenario thoroughly hashed out. Confirmed platforms include the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC, Mac, and mobile devices. Connectivity for each was executed well with any connectivity nuances thoroughly considered. The boom mic is removable, allowing for proper transition between console, PC, and mobile use. With the in-line amp control, you can tweak treble and bass on the fly, separately manage game and chat volumes, adjust the volume of your own voice to avoid shouting, and toggle the mic between mute, in-game, or phone call mode. At $199, this is the headset to buy today for any gamer. You’ll only gain additional points if the lucky owner is a fan of Thor. If not, which would be shocking, they are always free to browse the Turtle Beach library of speaker plates and plop in new ones closer to their liking.

I hear someone is giving away a pair right here!


Logitech’s G710+ keyboard

In the last few years there has been a resurgence in the popularity of mechanical keyboards. Typing on those babies is just pure bliss. I guarantee that once you try one out, you wouldn’t want to go back to the plain old rubber dome keyboards. Specifically, for gamers, I heartily recommend Logitech’s G710+ keyboard. It features Cherry MX Brown switches which offers the pleasant tactile feedback without the distinctive “clicking” or higher amount of pressure required in other switches to execute.
Mechanical gaming keyboards tend sit at higher price points compared their rubber dome counterparts but the G710+ can be had for around $150 from retailers such as Newegg, Fry’s and Best Buy. Sure, you can find some gaming mechanical keyboards for a bit less but Logitech’s G710+ features “G keys” that you can assign keystrokes and macros to – even on the fly. Logitech’s newly unified gaming software allows you to manage the keyboard and macros easily unlike some other gaming keyboard programs. Whether it’s really worth the money or not is always a subjective call but for the gamer or avid coder in your life, this may be the perfect gift.



Few board games capture our attention but at this year’s Pax East we fell in love with Ascension. It was fast and easy to pick up. And addicting. Additionally, the game can easily evolve with the inclusion of any new game expansion deck which is perfect for those who pick up game strategies rather quickly. Overall, Ascension is perfect for any fan of deck building games.

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