10 Next Step Board Games
A while ago we posted our article on 10 gateway board games for new players. That list was great for people who want to dip their toes into modern board game but don’t know where to start. However once players have experienced some of those titles, they may be in the mood for some meatier fare. Enter the next step game. These are games that have a bit more depth than the average gateway game, yet still aren’t too complicated for budding gamers. We’ve tried to keep the categories the same as the previous list, so if you had a gateway game you enjoyed, then you know where to go next.
10 Next Step Board Games for New Gamers
Style of Gameplay: Eurogame, Deck Builder
Dominion is the grandfather of the deck building genre. In Dominion, players all start with a deck of 10 identical cards. During the game, they will use these cards to buy new and more diverse cards that will be added to their deck. In essence, you are building your deck as the game progresses. Dominion is the most accessible of all the deck building games, and also boasts many expansions for those who want even more game play variety.
2-4 Players • Ages 10+ • 30 Minutes • $30
Style of Gameplay: Set Collection Game
Once you’ve graduated from Ticket to Ride, you might be looking for something a bit heavier to try. Five Tribes takes the familiar mechanics from the ancient game Mancala, and gives it a new spin. In Five Tribes, players are trying to collect different sets of meeples, each of which have their own special ability. With some unique gameplay, Five Tribes has won more than its share of board gaming awards.
2-4 Players • Ages 12+ • 60 Minutes • $35
Dead of Winter
Style of Gameplay: Cooperative/Betrayal Game
Sheriff of Nottingham gave players a taste of negotiation, but now they get to experience the possibility of betrayal. In Dead of Winter, players must work together to survive the winter in a zombie filled town. However, each player will also have their own secret agenda that they must fulfill to win. And further, there is always the chance that someone will be a betrayer and secretly be working to sabotage the rest of the players. Is that player just being selfish or are they actually a traitor? Dead of Winter provides both tension and tons of enjoyment.
2-5 Players • Ages 12+ • 90 Minutes • $46
Lords of Waterdeep
Style of Gameplay: Worker Placement Game
Lords of Waterdeep is usually my go to worker placement game after players have experienced Stone Age. Don’t let the Dungeons and Dragons theme on this game fool you, the theme is definitely friendly to new players. Instead of slaying monsters, you will be taking on the role of one of the Lords in the city of Waterdeep. Players will be sending out their agents to the board to recruit adventurers, play intrigue cards, construct buildings, and complete mission. And once you’ve got a feel for Lords of Waterdeep, the Scoundrels of Skullport expansion adds some great variety to the game.
2-5 Players • Ages 10+ • 60-90 Minutes • $35
Tides of Madness
Style of Gameplay: Micro Game
After Love Letter introduced the world to the Micro Game, publishers ran to take advantage of this emerging genre. Of the many games that followed, Tides of Madness has to be one of my favorites. It’s a two player only game that takes about 10 minutes to play. Tides of Madness is actually the sequel to the acclaimed Tides of Time, however in addition to trying to collect sets, players must also be careful to not acquire too many madness tokens or they will go insane and lose the game immediately!
2 Players • Ages 10+ • 10 Minutes • $10
Style of Gameplay: Cooperative Game
One of the more unique games out there, Mysterium tasks a group of players with working together to try and solve a mystery. One player takes on the role of the ghost who must try and communicate with the rest of the players as to who his killer was. The key is that the ghost can only “talk” to the players by passing them cards with abstract pictures on them. No talking, no non-verbal clues, just pass a card and hope they get your meaning. As with most great cooperative games, Mysterium is a challenge to win, but so satisfying when you do.
2-7 Players • Ages 8+ • 45 Minutes • $36
Style of Gameplay: Party Game, Dexterity Game
From the department of games that are way more fun than they have any right to be, comes Coconuts. In this dexterity game, players are trying to fling little rubber coconuts into cups on the table. It’s silly, easy to learn, and a stupid amount of fun. With the optional expansion, Coconuts also scales perfectly up to 6 players. You will never have so much fun playing a game that’s so goofy.
2-4 Players • Ages 4+ • 20 Minutes • $27
Isle of Skye
Style of Gameplay: Tile Laying Game
If you are ready for a tile laying game with more depth than Carcassonne provides, Isle of Skye will fit the bill. In this game, players will be building out their own area instead of a combined one. However to actually acquire the tiles, they must purchase them from other players. There are a lot of innovative mechanics in Isle of Skye and it makes a great next step from Carcassonne.
2-5 Players • Ages 8+ • 45 Minutes • $33
Style of Gameplay: Card Drafting Game
If Sushi Go! was the baby of card drafting game, 7 Wonders is the grand father. This was the game that started the genre and still hasn’t been knocked off as the best card drafting game out there. It’s creative, fun, and scales perfectly from 3-7 players. The two player game isn’t my favorite way to play it (it involves a dummy player), but for 3 or more, there isn’t a game I’d rather play than 7 Wonders.
2-7 Players • Ages 10+ • 30 Minutes • $30
Style of Gameplay: Auction Game
I’m usually not a huge fan of auction games, but RA is pretty fantastic. There is no money in this action game, just biding tokens. Each player gets three of them, and when they use one of the tokens to bid, the next player to win an auction will collect that token to use. So there is some nice swapping of “money” in this closed system that creates a very nice balance between the players. Before you give up that high value token to win an auction, you also have to decide if the new token you will be taking is worth the swap.