I love introducing games to new players. Twice a month I host a family board game night at my FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) where I bring a huge suitcase full of different games each night. And while I love big, long, complex 5 hour brain burner games, the games that I play most are usually quicker games that are easy to teach to new players. I love talking to people about board games, too!
When people find out that I design board games as a hobby people are generally fascinated. Usually the first question I get is something like "So, you're working on the next Monopoly?" That quickly turns into a conversation about how much games have changed from the Monopoly/Scrabble/Life/Sorry classics that people are familiar with. I usually quickly relate how I used to play games in high school and college - mostly the classics, but pretty much stopped after getting married and having kids. And after the kids were born games like Candyland just didn't hold my or my kids' interest. Until a few years ago we bought them Catan Junior for Christmas and a whole new world of board games opened up to us. I tell them about how interesting board games have become lately and how much fun my family and I have playing the games (stressing that I was once like them and had no idea what board games had become). Invariably the conversation turns to what games I would recommend for them to start on, either with friends, or, more often with their family. Over the past two years I've put together several emails and had numerous conversations about great games for people new to gaming to try out. So, instead of reinventing the wheel every time I'm asked, I've decided to put together a series of blog posts about recommended games if you are new to board games.
|Splendor is one of our favorite games both to introduce |
new players to and to play ourselves. We added the acrylic
gems and gold coins to the game, but the standard gem tokens
are still impressive enough to wow new gamers.
Gateway games are games that introduce concepts and mechanics that are used in more complex board games, but in a simple and accessible game. That’s not to say that Gateway games are inferior to their more complex counterparts. Some of the best and most popular games are considered to be gateway games. They don’t throw too much new stuff at a newer player and sometimes have simpler strategies that are great for younger players, but have enough meat to entertain even veteran gamers.
Gateway games also generally are great family games. They are usually pretty simple and straight forward, don’t take too long to play (generally 30-90 minutes), and have themes that are fun and accessible. They’re great for families of widely varying ages and are easy for people that haven’t played a lot of games to pick up and learn.
In this series, I’ll included each game’s name (linked to its Board Game Geek page), the basic board game mechanics or concepts that the game introduces, a quick description of the game, and a link to the game on Amazon (many are also available at Target or Barnes and Nobel, although I recommend purchasing from your Friendly Local Game Store whenever possible). You can also check out my two top games lists for 2014 and 2015, and reviews of lots of other games on my blog here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-10-best-new-to-me-games-of-2015.html and http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-10-best-new-to-me-games-of-2014.html
Most of the games on these lists can usually be found for under $40, with most between $20 and $35, but a few are under $20 and a few over $40. All of these are in my personal collection (or are games I've played several times) and have been played a number of times. These are the games we like to pull out both to introduce new players to modern games and to play casually as a family or with other gamer friends.
So, I'm not going to take up more space on this post, but I'll include here a Table of Contents where I'll link to each additional post as I write them up. Every game listed here is a game either in my personal collection or one I've played a number of times. I will mention other games that I am familiar with through reviews and commentary, but the primary listings are all things I've personally played. A few will be repeated on several lists, but I'll only do that where it's critically appropriate.
Gateway Game Roundup
- Cooperative Games
- Modern Classics
- Family Favorites
- If You Like _____, Try _____
- Great Two-Player Games
- Abstract Strategy
- A Game in my Pocket - Small Games
- For the Youngest - Kids Games that Don't Bore Adults
- And Now For Something Completely Different
- Educational Games Can Be Fun, Too
- Through the Gate - More Complex Games
|Star Realms packs a lot of game in a tiny box.|
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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends. Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games. Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play). I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game. Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing. Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.