This is the very popular trading card game and the very first suggestion from my son. My teens play weekly with a group of friends and really enjoy building their decks to best suit their strategy. If the teen you're shopping for already plays, booster packs and accessories are always appreciated.
This is a dice building game with a "Magic the Gathering feel". It's less of a commitment than Magic and combines luck and strategy in a game that can be pulled out and played in a short amount of time. The tin, cards, and dice should appeal to most teens who enjoy this type of game.
"Go down in the dungeon. Kill everything you meet. Backstab your friends and steal their stuff. Grab the treasure and run."
For the teen with the tongue in cheek sense of humor, Munchkin is a fun card game that pokes fun at roleplaying games (and yet is beloved by many RPGers). We love this game and the many (many!) expansions and sequels. Be aware though, there is a smattering of what some may consider questionable humor. Know your audience for this one.
4. Apples to Apples
The teen you're shopping for isn't into fantasy or the quirky humor? Check out Apples to Apples. This party game is loved by most and easy to learn and play. An adjective card is played and the other players pull out the best noun card from their hand and hope theirs is chosen as the best fit. There are always a lot of laughs as the cards are played and the "discussion" begins!
5. Pirate's Cove
"Come aboard and sail to Pirate's Cove... the legendary hideaway of thieving pirates and cutthroat buccaneers... Armed with a secret map and starting with a modestly outfitted sloop salvaged from last winter's storm, you set sail to Pirate's Cove - your eyes filled with visions of treasure and fame, your lungs filled with the salty air of the High Seas."
Argh! Who doesn't love pirates? This Days of Wonder strategy game is both beautifully made and a heck of a lot of fun to play. Battles, buried treasure, plundering, and fame! What's not to love? This was a family favorite for years and is in dire need of replacing on our own shelves.
Everyone's talking about the zombie apocalypse these days. I say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! This simple game of dice let's you have a taste of being a zombie. It's all about the brains, roll those for points, but watch out- three shotguns and you're one dead zombie. But wait...isn't that somewhat redundant?
This game never sounds like fun on the surface. Build roads, trade resources, gain victory points. Yet somehow the gameplay of this resource building game provides hours of fun and hasn't gotten old after many years. Do you want to get this teen hooked on great board games? Pick this one up and sit down to play with a few people. I can practically guarantee you'll have a great time and create a new Settlers fan!
Star Trek Expeditions
Have a sci-fi or movie fan you're shopping for? This is a great cooperative game based off of the new Star Trek movie, making it an excellent choice for a teen. The cooperative aspect makes it different from any other game on this list and the opportunity to "boldly go and kick some Klingon butt" should make it appealing to many.
"... a new kind of "whodunit" game of deduction and intuition, set in a medieval abbey"
This is Clue meets Guess Who in an abbey. It's a great game for those who enjoy the deductive gameplay, it's not complicated to learn, and it appeals to a broad range of people. Plus, it's from Days of Wonder so it's well made and visually appealing.
Lords of Waterdeep
This is a game that keeps sneaking up on me. I was surprised when my son mentioned this one, as I didn't know he had played. When he said he couldn't wait to play it again, I realized I felt the same way. Hm. There's more to this DnD themed resource gathering game that first met my eye. Check out the review link above for more info!
What games would you recommend for teens? Do you enjoy sharing your love of gaming through gifts? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section!