Blizzard Watch’s geeky holiday gift guide 2017
Holiday shopping for the geeks in your life can be tough. You don’t always know what they like — even if you vaguely know which games they play or where there interests lie. While we’re focused on Blizzard Entertainment’s games here at Blizzard Watch, we’ve assembled a list of gift ideas that will appeal both to those who play Blizzard’s games and the geeks who don’t. We’ve also tried to include options for a variety of price points, from the small $10-20 gifts and all the way up to items that just might break the bank.
Blizzard Gear Store
One of your most foolproof choices when shopping for friends and family who play Blizzard Entertainment’s games is Blizzard’s own store. Blizzard’s store allows you to sort their offering by game, so if you know which of Blizzard’s games your gift recipient plays, you’re in business.
Blizzard’s store offers clothing, posters, coffee mugs, toys, and more. You can find expensive, high-end items such as this D.Va Statue for $450 and smaller, more reasonably priced items such as the Cute But Deadly line of products — perfect for slipping into a stocking. Clothing options include hoodies, t-shirts, beanies, and more — including amazing leggings for the lady in your life.
If Blizzard’s Gear Store is something that seems up your alley, you may also want to check out J!NX, who also sells merchandise for Blizzard Entertainment’s games. Select items appear both in Blizzard’s store and the J!NX store, but both have a spread of exclusive items.
If you’re looking to buy World of Warcraft gear, it might be a good idea to find out whether your giftee plays Alliance or Horde. WoW players can get a bit territorial about that.
Blizzard books and novels
If you’re buying gifts for a reader, you’re in luck — there are a lot of Blizzard books out there for almost all of its game franchises. While World of Warcraft players are eagerly anticipating Christie Golden’s Before the Storm, it’s currently only available for pre-order and won’t arrive in time for the holidays. However, there are a number of other Warcraft books available. Here are just a few examples:
- World of Warcraft: Illidan by William King is a tie-in novel to the game’s current expansion, focused on one of the expansion’s central characters.
- World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume 1 and Volume 2 are incredibly popular history books for the fictional world of Azeroth.
- Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War by Christie Golden focuses upon a character who will be relevant in the game’s next expansion.
Those are just a few choices. You can check out our Guide to Warcraft Lore in Print for so many others like them.
If your gift recipient prefer’s Blizzard Entertainment’s other games, there are books available for all of them, though not necessarily novels. For example, your Overwatch player will likely enjoy The Art of Overwatch or the Overwatch comic anthology. For the Hearthstone player, the game has recently released a thematic cookbook.
Star Wars books and novels
Star Wars is the new hotness all over again thanks to the new films. Alongside the films, though, the Star Wars franchise has released oodles of new books written by tried and true scifi and fantasy authors. Here’s just a few of the best:
- Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
- Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray
- Inferno Squad by Christie Golden
- Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
- The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn
All in all, if you’re buying gifts for a geek, it’s hard to go wrong with Star Wars in any form.
External phone charger
Pretty much everyone has a smartphone these days, and most likely, a tablet or ereader, too. Everyone who owns a smartphone has, at some point in their life, run low on their battery while nowhere near a charging outlet. An external charger can help! The device carries a secondary charge which you can use on-the-go, charging your phone while it’s in your purse or pocket. When traveling, it can be a real life saver. These chargers are compatible with anything with a USB charging cable — which is almost every gadget in one’s household: phones, tablets, ereaders, and so on.
There are countless different models of external batteries, but I personally lean toward models that provide some additional utility — this RAVPower portable charger, for example, is one of many models which include a flashlight function. I think it’s fair to say being caught without a charged phone is a rarity, but purchasing a model which includes a flashlight makes the item that much more valuable in an emergency — and doesn’t particularly inflate the cost of the item. You can find a decent external charger with a built-in flashlight for anywhere between $15 and $30. At the time of this posting, the RAVPower model mentioned above is currently $14.99 on Amazon.
Members of our own staff recommend this Jackery external charger which comes with built-in cables for both iPhone, Android, and other devices, making it convenient both in an emergency and on-the-go.
Even for someone who keeps their phone charged at all times, an external charger is a good item to keep around. If your car breaks down, you’ll have a flashlight and an extra charge for your phone while waiting for rescue. If your power goes out, the same applies — your flashlight and a spare phone charge will be right at hand. I’ve personally had one of these external chargers save my bacon during a power outage and I’m thankful I had one.
It seems ever holiday movie or television show has an obligatory joke about an “of the Month” club. Fruit, cheese, jelly, whatever — it’s always a gag, it’s never appreciated. That genre of gift has undergone a renaissance in recent years and, if you know your gift recipient well, can be a truly awesome gift. There’s an option for everyone.
The easy answer for the nerd in your life is Loot Crate. At $19.95 per month (or $17.95 per month if you pay for a year up front), each month you (or your giftee) will receive a box of nerdy swag valued at least $45 at retail.
Loot Crate is a monthly mystery crate for gamers, geeks and fans of pop culture, delivering cool (and often exclusive!) items like collectibles, t‑shirts, gadgets and more.
Boxes from Loot Crate are often themed and well-curated. For example, the theme for December’s upcoming Loot Crate is Explore and will include items from Destiny 2, Star Wars, and Guardians of the Galaxy. In my Christmas memories, my favorite gifts weren’t the big, wrapped packages. My favorite part of Christmas morning was digging into the depths of my Nightmare Before Christmas stocking. Think of Loot Crate as getting a stocking every single month of the year.
Starting at $9.95 per month, MunchPak delivers a monthly box of carefully curated snacks from around the world. One month you might be eating candy from Mexico, Japan, and Germany, and the next month you might be eating Canadian, Swedish, and Greek snacks. MunchPak offers a number of customization options. You can choose what you do or do not like, or you can choose between the MunchPak Mini with 5+ snacks, the standard MunchPak with 10+ snacks, or the MunchPak Family with 20+ snacks. If you want, you can even include a drink add-on that will toss a juice, soda, or other variety of beverage into your box every month.
Often, subscription services like these don’t include gifting options — but MunchPak does. You can either gift a friend a MunchPak directly, or send them a gift card so they can customize their subscription to their liking.
If you’re looking for a healthier snack alternative, Graze might be right up your alley. Like MunchPak, Graze also offers gift subscriptions. A Graze subscription is highly customizable, but a standard-size box costs $11.99 and includes 8 different snacks. Rather than choosing which specific items you want in each box, you set preferences — they first ask you a few questions (such as whether or not you want anything with nuts or bananas) to eliminate some potential snacks. After those questions, you rate items by whether you’d love to get them, like to get them, would be interested in trying them, or whether you want to trash them. Graze takes your preferences into consideration when packing your box, but you could get anything you haven’t outright trashed.
Personally, while I like bananas, I told Graze I didn’t — because I know they’re not likely to be sending me fresh bananas anytime soon, and dried bananas are awful. Since I told them I don’t like bananas, I’ll never receive one of their items which includes bananas.
While you can specify some allergy settings when signing up for Graze, the service does come with a great big warning you should steer clear if you have any severe allergies. All of their snacks are produced in the same location and some possibility of cross-contamination does exist. If you use this link right here, you can get a 4-snack sampler box completely free with a new subscription.
Degustabox is a personal favorite of mine as someone who likes trying new things. Each box contains a whole spread of food items — snacks, drinks, sauces, key dinner ingredients, whatever you can imagine, they’re all potential items you could get in a Degustabox. Considering you could get anything at all, it’s a nice middleground between a dedicated health box or a dedicated snack/candy box. Often, the items in a box are brand new to the market, or something just plain unusual that you might never have considered trying before, but end up pleasantly surprised when it shows up on your doorstep. Their website lists the items that appeared in previous months boxes, so you can get some idea of what you’re getting yourself into before you subscribe.
With this link here, you can get $10 off any new subscription.
For PC gamers, solid peripherals — keyboards, mice, headsets — are a must. When talking tools of the trade, nobody likes working with the old and the busted. There isn’t a gamer in the world who would turn down a shiny new mouse. Let’s visit some options:
Razer peripherals are the designer jeans of the PC gaming world. With their matte black finish and neon lights, they have the sexiest, most fashionable peripherals — which means they usually have the highest price point, too.
- Razer Naga This mouse is aimed specifically at gamers who play MMOs such as World of Warcraft. With 12 extra buttons in the form of a thumb pad, it’s a godsend to MMO players. While nice, it’s going to hit you for about $80.
- Razer Naga Hex The Hex variant of the Naga has only 6 extra buttons rather than 12. This version of the Naga is aimed at MOBA players — that is, games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and Heroes of the Storm. However, MMO gamers who have small hands find the Hex is useful for them, too. Small hands makes it difficult to utilize the Naga’s full suite of 12 buttons. Good news: the Hex is only around $60.
- Razer Deathadder The Deathadder is Razer’s most basic mouse option — and has built a reputation for being reliable and long-lasting. While many Naga users report the mouse might only last a year or two, there are people who have been using their Deathadder for the better part of a decade. If you have Amazon Prime, you can pick up a Deathadder for around $40.
Razer has also released a line of Overwatch themed peripherals:
Razer can be on the pricey end, but their peripherals are sleek, stylish, and made with gaming in mind.
If Razer is the designer jeans of PC peripherals, Logitech is the tough and rugged fit-for-construction-work bootcut jeans. Logitech’s hardware tends to last longer than other brands for a lower price point — but it isn’t as flashy. Logitech’s answer to the Razer Naga is their very own MMO gaming mouse — it has all of the same functions for only $40 with Amazon Prime. As long as you read the user reviews on Amazon to weed out the rare lemon product, you can’t go wrong with Logitech. Our only caveat to that is you may want to avoid their wireless peripherals as mileage may vary. Though most users have no issues with Logitech’s wireless peripherals, some users (myself included) report consistent loss of wireless signal, which can seriously ruin a gaming session.
Whether you’re looking for a mouse, a keyboard, or a headset, all of the above details apply. Razer has the cool factor, but it comes with a price. Logitech is your ol’ reliable at a great value.
Amazon Kindle, sci-fi, fantasy, and comics
While we all have some luddites in our lives who insist they’ll only ever touch a book in paper form, an Amazon Kindle (or other eReader) is a great gift for most readers. A Kindle puts Amazon’s entire ebook library at your fingertips. Nearly every book in the modern era is released in ebook format, and Amazon has an extensive library of ebook-only indie titles, too. And while Kindle alternatives exist, the popularity of Amazon’s platform puts it ahead of the competition.
The Amazon Kindle’s current generation offers a few options:
- Kindle 6″ $49.99 with Special Offers enabled ($69.99 without)
- Kindle Paperwhite $89.99
- Kindle Voyage $199.99
- Kindle Oasis $249.99
We highly recommend comparing models on your own. As you move up in price, the Kindle comes packaged with more features — built-in lighting and so on. If you’re unsure, don’t think you need all of the bells and whistles — the basic Kindle is great as it is if all you plan to do is read books. Personally, I get on fine with the standard $49.99 version. The “Special Offers” that bring down the price are advertisements that appear on the lock screen when you aren’t reading a book. In my experience, they’re completely non-intrusive and will never interrupt you while you’re actually reading anything.
If you do choose a Kindle as your gift this year, most of the World of Warcraft books mentioned in an earlier section are available in ebook format. For more general sci-fi and fantasy novels, Amazon has released their top 100 books of all time in that genre. We’ve also reviewed Jim Butcher’s Aeronauts Windlass and Sam Sykes’s The City Stained Red right here on our site. Heck — if your gift recipient reads Blizzard Watch, some of us have released ebooks, too. Check out Matthew Rossi’s fantasy fiction Nameless, Heartless, and Faceless. Or, if I may be so bold, may I recommend my own superhero adventure series, Lady Superior?
But if you don’t think books will make a perfect gift, there are also plenty of comics available in both digital and paper formats. (Though we suggest taking a surreptitious look at your gift recipient’s existing comic collection first.) Here are some of Team Blizzard Watch’s favorites:
- Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (if you want to get a feel for the character before the upcoming movie)
- Justice League (if you enjoyed the recent movie, which is actually pretty good)
- Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia (bundled with a few other comics, since Hiketeia is ridiculously expensive on its own)
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye (a favorite of Rades, among others)
- The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (the novel is also great fun)
- Hawkeye (anything by Matt Fraction is action-packed fun)
If you don’t want to pick up a single comic, ComiXology Unlimited is a subscription service that provides an all-you-can-eat buffet of comics (though it can only be gifted via gift card). All of these comics can be read on Kindle (including the app) or in ComiXology (as long as the reader has linked their ComiXology account to their Amazon account).
If you’re picking up a Kindle, you should also check out Kindle Unlimited with a 30-day free trial. Kindle Unlimited allows you to read thousands of ebooks absolutely free with your subscription, and if you read a lot of books, you’d have a hard time finding better value for your month.
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