The Best Gifts for the Hobby Gamer Who Has it All [2011 Geek Gift Guide]

As I mentioned in my previous gift guide about buying gifts for the veteran hobby gamer, it can be quite hard to hunt down something they actually want. Sometimes, gamers make this process even harder by already owning everything under the sun!

If you are still set on buying them a gaming-related gift, then a fat wallet can always help. For high-rolling gift givers prepared to pony up some cash, here are some tips on how to surprise those that are least expecting it.

A Place to Game: Geek Chic Tables

What It Will Set You Back: Approximately $3,000, give or take a grand.

The Geek Chic Emissary, with inlaid Axis & Allies board

The pinnacle of gaming opulence. I challenge you to find any gamer who wouldn’t drool all over themselves at the thought of owning one of these tables. Geek Chic handcrafts all of their products from black walnut, maple, or cherry wood, and includes a laundry list of small touches that make their tables the best around. The following is just a small sample: drawers with fold out surfaces and privacy screens, multi-layer surfaces that can include blown-up versions of your favorite game maps, and a rail system that lets you snap in cup holders and other accessories wherever you want them.

These tables carry quite a price tage of course, but think of them as the gaming equivalent for those people who get a car in their driveway with a giant bow on top of it (who are those people, anyway?). Yet if you are reading this yet are not flush with cash, there is still an option. Geek Chic Labs offers individual accessories, so for just $60-85, you can grab a handmade walnut dice tower or deck box.

The Geek Chic Deck Box and Entropy Engines (Dice Towers)

A Way to Pack it All Up: BattleFoam

What It Will Set You Back: Roughly $200

The BattleFoam P.A.C.K 432 with custom foam loadout

Miniatures gamers truly put the “hobby” in hobby gaming. It takes serious dedication to collect a large army of models, assemble them, paint them, and customize them. All of this effort often leads to miniatures systems being all that their fans ever play, yet even in the face of such dedication, it is still tempting for gamers to cut corners on the accessories.

Nothing is more annoying than having to transport a large army, and nothing is more frightening than having lackluster storage solution results in a broken model. Eliminate both of these scenarios by making a gift of BattleFoam, the army transport bag that comes with customized foam inserts.

Rare Out of Print Titles: Axis & Allies 25th Anniversary Edition or The Settlers of Catan 3D Edition

What It Will Set You Back: $500-700

Some games look so nice I’d be afraid to actually play them

There are definitely a few “holy grails” of hobby gaming, especially when publishers limit popular titles to a small print run. Such was the case with two recent deluxe releases,Axis & Allies 25th Anniversary Edition andThe Settlers of Catan 3D Edition. These versions can include never-before-seen play varaints, such as Axis & Allies and with playable Italian and Chinese units, or upgraded components, such as Settlers and its downright gorgeous 3D sculpted tiles.

Unlike video gaming where you can just emulate a rare classic, there is no substitute for the real thing when you are talking about board games. That makes limited-run games worth ponying up for if you are looking to shock the gamer in your life with a highly unexpected gift.

Of course, if you really want to go grail hunting and have plenty of money to spend, you can track down a rare copy of the original Dungeons & Dragons rules, which has been know to seek upwards of $4,000 at auction.

Gaming on the Go: An iPad

What It Will Set You Back: $500+

Carcassonne is a must-own for any iPad gamer

We’ve posted at length about the explosion of mobile board game apps showing up on the iPad. It seems to be a match made in heaven, with many of today’s most popular games such as Ticket to Ride, Puerto Rico, and Ascension receiving grade A adaptations. With companies striking deals left and right, this trend is showing no sign of slowing down.

As an added bonus, you can load the iPad up with PDFs of rules and play references, making it a priceless gaming aid. Between its mobile gaming potential and the ability to make traditional gaming more efficient, the iPad makes for one heck of a gamer gift.