Not sure what to shop for this holiday season? Chase gives you the low down on some great stuff.
Well, it’s about that time of the year again. Usually, I like to give Thanksgiving a chance to enjoy its time in the spotlight before looking towards Christmas, but this year I’ve had a change of heart (i.e. my editor told me to do it). As such, I’ve taken a look at all things geeky and found five things that would be a joy under any Christmas tree, especially mine. And as an added bonus, I’ll be the only person that includes video games on his list and doesn’t bring up the WiiU, which is likely to drive most parents and gamers insane by its rarity alone. You’re welcome.
(Quick point before we get to the list: I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve seen talking about their WiiU preorders not being there on time or being defective when they did arrive. I thought the whole purpose of preorders was to determine the number of people that wanted the product on the first go around so this kind of thing wouldn’t happen. Way to go, Nintendo of America. You sure do know how to build loyal fanbases for years to come *cough* 3DS *cough*)
Disclaimer: This is a good list of gifts for teens and adults that share my interests. If you have a young child, please don’t buy the M rated video game or the fantasy book filled with swears and some sexual content. I will not be held responsible for any lack of research on your part, though if you genuinely feel misled, I will gladly refund the price of this column.
The Fantasy Epic
Cold Days by Jim Butcher
The Dresden Files is currently my favourite fantasy series, and Jim Butcher is easily one of my favourite authors. His clever use of sarcasm makes Harry Dresden one of the most likable protagonists in recent memory and makes the novel a joy to read. For those of you who don’t know about the Dresden Files, the premise is simple: Harry is the only wizard detective in the city of Chicago (it even says so in the Yellow Pages), and he solves crimes that have supernatural elements to them. There’s a whole lot more to it (read the first book, Storm Front, at the earliest available opportunity), but the premise enough adds a new flavour to the parallel fantasy universe genre. Personally, I’ll be counting down the seconds until I can get my hands on Cold Days, the latest in the series, and you should be too.
The Gamer’s Paradise
Dishonored by Arkane Studios
I love stealth games. I love games in which I get to plan out sneaky assassinations and escape without being noticed. I love atmospheric games that bring me into a strange and unique world that makes me want to explore, and I especially love exploring those worlds. So when I found out a game was coming out that sought to include the best elements of the Thief, Bioshock, Arkham City, and Assassin’s Creed series (four of my favourite games of all time, might I add), I was sold instantaneously. Making it a steampunk world was just additional icing on the cake. Seriously, this game looks incredible, and adding supernatural elements to the assassin formula creates tons of unique ways to slice a guy’s neck open. And really, isn’t that what matters in the end?
The Hobby Starter
Return to Ravnica Fat Pack, Wizards of the Coast
I’ve loved card games since I was very little (I was a big fan of both Yu-gi-oh and the Pokémon trading card games), but it wasn’t until very recently that I finally immersed myself into Magic: the Gathering. Boy, am I glad I did. The card game is every strategist’s dream. There are many different card mechanics, each of which is perfectly viable towards a winning strategy as long as you build a deck around it. Of course, to be the very best, you’re going to need cards. Enter, the fat pack. Fat packs give you everything you need to get started: 9 booster packs, 80 land cards, a player’s guide, a life counter, and some additional materials that help you learn how to play the game. For bonus value, throw in an intro pack (I recommend Selesyna, but that’s just my favourite) to help set the groundwork for your deck and show you how a standard deck should be built. It’s a great game for any budding strategist, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
The Ultimate Value
As I said in my Avengers Disassembled review, my entrance into the world of comics was rather recent. As such, I don’t have that much background knowledge about the Marvel or DC Universe. While the DC reboot makes this less of a problem, Marvel continuity is still building upon itself, and that can make it intimidating to just pick up an issue and start reading. That said, Marvel has created the best digital comics service for people like me I’ve ever seen. For $60, you can read as many digital comics from their database (over 10,000 comics with more added weekly) as you can. Just from sheer value alone, this is one of the best deals you will ever find.
Math time: 1 comic can cost somewhere between $3 and $4 (average cost of a Marvel comic is $3.50, since they tend to even split between price points). If you read more than 2 comics a month, you’re guaranteed to save money (monthly cost of this subscription is $5 if you buy the full year’s worth). So, access to 10,000 comics for an entire year for the price of about 17 comics off the shelves? Yeah, I think I know where the value is.
I know this one is a little pricey ($200) and risky (they haven’t officially announced what will replace the suitcase replica they forget to get copyright permission for, or the new bonus features included), but how could anyone call himself or herself a superhero movie fan and not salivate at the thought of this collection. All six movies from Phase One, four of which also come with Blu-Ray versions, with tons and tons of bonus materials. If you’re a movie buff who loves these superhero movies, it’s almost a must buy. It may not be the most practical item on this list, but for the opportunity to own my own Tesseract alone, it’s more than worth it in my mind. This is the ultimate gift this holiday season.
Actually, there is one greater gift: the one you can give to someone else. I’m a big fan of the Toys for Tots Foundation because I’ve done service for them before, and I love being able to help little kids in need have the Christmas celebration they deserve. But honestly, any gift, whether it be of money or time, given to those in need is one worth giving. No matter what items make it on your list and magically appear under your tree, there’s nothing that quite matches the joy of knowing you made some young child’s Christmas dreams come true.