Deck the halls with boughs of holly, it's time to indulge in some wallet-crushing folly.
I'm sorry, that won't happen again.
Where was I? Oh yes; it's Steam sale time. And you know what that means: ludicrous amounts of games on sale for silly prices, with regular special deals offering even deeper discounts on select titles.
If this is your first Steam sale, there's only one important rule to bear in mind: to get the biggest discounts on games you're interested in, wait for them to become a Daily Deal, when they're often reduced by as much as 75%. Of course, the 25-50% most of the Steam catalog enjoys for the duration of the sale is nothing to be sniffed at, either, but if you're looking to expand your collection significantly, it's worth waiting until the best deals are available.
Since the Holiday Sale is one of the major events in the Steam calendar, Valve is marking the occasion with some special holiday-themed metagame content that can earn you some free goodies. The system largely revolves around the Steam Trading Cards system, whereby you can earn special virtual cards for various achievements and then trade them with friends or sell them on the public marketplace.
The Holiday Sale introduces Snow Globe cards, which can be acquired in several ways: crafting a game badge from its cards; earning one card per $10 of purchases in the sale; voting for the next Community's Choice flash sales three times; trading them with others; or buying them on the communal marketplace.
Collecting the complete set of Snow Globe cards -- there's 10 in total -- will allow you to craft a Snow Globe badge, which will in turn give you a freebie item for one of Dota 2, Path of Exile, Ragnarok Online II, Realm of the Mad God, Spiral Knights, Star Conflict, Stronghold Kingdoms, Team Fortress 2, War Thunder or Warframe. All of the item rewards are both tradable and marketable, so if you don't play the game you get a reward for, you can either sell it or trade it for something you do want. Alternatively, this might be just the incentive you need to try some of these games for yourself. (Some might say this is, in fact, the entire point of this little exercise.)
The Steam sale runs until January 3, 2014, and at that point your Snow Globe cards will disappear, so be sure to use them before then.
Not sure what to pick up this time? Cassandra and I discussed just that during the Autumn Sale, which actually doesn't feel like it was all that long ago. Take a look, and be sure to let us know if you find any exciting bargains!