10 Gateway Board Games For New Gamers
In case you haven’t heard, we are in a golden age of board gaming. Thanks to the rise of Kickstarter, more and more exciting games are coming to the market every day. If you thought board games were still for kids, or regulated to the common party games like Trivial Pursuit or Balderdash, then I have good news for you. There is a whole world of amazing tabletop games out there just waiting to be discovered.
But where to start? With so many choices out there, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of ten “gateway games” for you. Gateway games are games that are light on the rules, yet still introduce you to many of the game mechanics found throughout tabletop gaming. Like getting into a hot tub, we are here to help ease you into the bigger world of modern board gaming. So pick one that sounds interesting to you and welcome to a whole new world of fun. And once you have played a few of these, be sure to check out our 10 Next Step Board Games for when you want to move on from the entry level ones.
Ten Gateway Board Games for New Gamers
The Settlers of Catan
Style of Gameplay: Eurogame, Resource Management
The eurogame that started it all. The Settlers of Catan is decades old, but still remains the king of gateway games. With its simple mechanics, it’s very easy to jump in and start playing. The Settlers of Catan features minimal direct conflict, a family friendly theme, and its negotiation and resource mechanics will keep players engaged even when it’s not their turn.
Ticket to Ride
Style of Gameplay: Set Collection Game
With millions of copies sold, you can find Ticket to Ride not only in your local game store, but also big box stores like Target. In Ticket to Ride, players are using rummy-like mechanics to build routes of railroads across a map of the USA (or other countries with the expansions). The rules are simple: draw cards or play cards. Turns will go by quickly and rules explanation should take only minutes. Publisher Days of Wonder is fairly well known for making high quality and accessible games with engaging mechanics.
Sheriff of Nottingham
Style of Gameplay: Negotiation Game
Like to wheel and deal with your fellow players? Then Sheriff of Nottingham is the game for you. In this game of bluffing and negotiation, players take turns acting as the Sheriff, while the other players must try to transport goods (and perhaps contraband) into the city of Nottingham. Cards are placed into a sealed bag and it’s up to the Sheriff to decide if the players are telling the truth about the contents of their bag. With lots of social interaction, Sheriff of Nottingham is a great game for players who like being sneaky.
Style of Gameplay: Worker Placement Game
If you are looking for a more traditional eurogame, then look no further than the worker placement mechanic. A staple of many, many eurogames, worker placement games involve sending your supply of workers out to the board onto various action spaces, each of which is usually limited to the amount of workers it can hold. Stone Age is a fairly light game, so it makes a great introduction to this often used mechanic. In Stone Age, players are trying to build their pre-historical tribe by collecting tools, resources, boats, and growing tribe members.
Style of Gameplay: Micro Game
Proving that a game doesn’t have to be long or heavy on components to be fun, the award winning Love Letter introduced us to the micro game. Named for its minimal rules and components, Love Letter features just 18 cards and a single page of rules. Everyone starts with a character card face down, and each round you will draw a second character and choose which card to keep. The fun in Love Letter involves both the interaction between the different characters and also trying to figure out who your opponents have in front of them. Games can be played in a matter of minutes, and the small footprint of the game allows it to be played anywhere.
Style of Gameplay: Cooperative Game
If you enjoy working together as a team more than fighting each other, then you would enjoy a cooperative game. Pandemic is a game where players must work together to fight off a series of four infections that are threatening to destroy the planet. It’s everyone vs the game in Pandemic and the diseases aren’t going to hold back. Don’t expect to always walk away a winner, as the game play in Pandemic can be quite challenging to win. Even still, when you win the game, being able to enjoy the victory with your teammates makes it all the more satisfying.
Style of Gameplay: Party Game
When you have a large group, yet you are tired of the common party games you’ve played about 400 times, then look no further than Codenames. In this game of deduction, players separated in two teams around a grid of random words. Each team has a captain who must give his team a one word clue to try and lead them to choosing the correct cards on the grid. The challenge is that if your clue isn’t good enough, your team might select an opponent’s card, or worse, the assassin which causes you to lose immediately! The game play in Codenames is both highly entertaining and very unique.
Style of Gameplay: Tile Laying Game
Tile laying games are a staple for players who enjoy building things. In Carcassonne, players are building out this region of France by placing tiles onto the table. Each tile might contain part of a road, city, monastery, or field. Once a player places their tile, they can use one of their follower tokens to claim that location. Most locations will require multiple tiles to complete, but once finished, they will earn the player victory points. Carcassonne has super simple gameplay, yet entertaining enough to have you coming back for more.
Style of Gameplay: Card Drafting Game
Playing a card drafting game can give players that great feeling of discovery each round. Also called a “pick and pass” game, Sushi Go! has players trying to acquire sets of different pieces of sushi over the course of the game. Each round, players will start with a hand of cards, select one, and pass the rest to the person on their left (or right). This brilliant mechanic was first introduced to us in a game called 7 Wonders (which is fantastic), but Sushi Go! is the best place to dip your toes into the card drafting mechanic. It’s easy to learn and the game plays quickly. If you think you’d enjoy Sushi Go!, but want a bit more variety, then check out the newly released Sushi Go Party!
Style of Gameplay: Auction Game
Buy low and sell high is the core concept of For Sale. In this quick playing card game, players are real estate moguls, buying and selling properties. The game takes place in two phases. This first phase has players bidding on several buildings and, after all have been bought, the building are sold for the greatest profit possibly. For Sale plays in about 20 minutes and can accommodate up to six players.
That’s our 10 Gateway Board Games for you to try out. When you are ready to move on from these, don’t forget to check out our 10 Next Step Board Games list.