Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, columnist Scott Thorne offers advice on gifts for TCG players and boardgamers.

Following up on last week’s column on gifts for roleplayers (see "Rolling for Initiative – Gifts for Roleplayers"), here are some recommendations for TCG players and boardgames.

The great thing about buying gifts for TCG players is that, as I have noted in the past, since TCGs are by nature collectable, buying any sort of booster for them is a welcome gift (see "Rolling for Initiative – Gaming Gifts for Players").  After all, theoretically no two booster packs should be the same.  Still there are some items that make better gifts than others:

Magic: The Gathering.  At this time of year, Magic Bundles make a really good gift.  They wrap nicely and make a bigger presentation when placed under the tree than do wrapped booster packs, though if you really want to see a Magic player’s eyes pop out, buy them a sealed box of Collector Boosters from any set, or a box of Modern Horizons, either Set 1 or Set 2, though Set 2 is likely more available.  If you are looking for a stocking stuffer, any Magic booster makes a good choice.

Yu-Gi-Oh!  This one is a bit more problematic, as Yu-Gi-Oh! does not release anything like Bundles with each new set release.  As with Magic, booster packs make a great stocking stuffer, but do not look that impressive wrapped under the tree.  Yu-Gi-Oh! products do tend to sell out quickly and Konami tends to only make a single print run of any set, so once a run of boosters sells out, they can be pretty hard to find.  A good choice, if you can find it, is the recent Tin of Ancient Battles.

PokemonStart shopping for this early.  Given the demand for all things Pokemon for the past 2 years, once the FLGS sells out, no more will probably come back in stock until 2021.  However, since the New Fusion Strike set releases in November, Elite Trainer Kits from that set would make a great gift, assuming you can snag one early.

Board games are still hot and likely to remain in high demand this holiday, especially as supply chain problems continue (see "Rolling for Initiative: Unraveling the Supply Chain").  Customers will likely shop early to have a good selection and online stores will probably move order dates earlier in the month to guarantee arrival by the holidays.

WingspanNot as hot as it was in 2019 and 2020 but still popular.  Hoping that the Europe expansion comes back into stock sometime before Christmas as customers still avidly look for it, but I am not holding my breath.

FluxxOne of my favorite games to recommend as a gift.  With 36 different versions of the game, one should appeal to anyone on your gift list.  Licensed versions, such as SpongeBob Squarepants, Marvel, and Firefly have big appeal but may be in short supply.

Dune.  Given the interest in the movie, it is not surprising that there are a number of Dune boardgames as well:  Dune Imperium, Dune: A Game of Conquest and Diplomacy and Dune: Betrayal all come to mind as games people will seek out.

What do you think people will look for as gifts this Hanukkah and Christmas? Post in the comments or email me at

For all of the ICv2 Gifts Week articles on 2021 holiday merchandising, see "ICv2 Gifts Week 2021."

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of