Start with card games. I'd recommend Mama Mia. Or maybe Bohnanza! if you know the rules well yourself...
I have some friends who regularly get together for "game night," which usually involves stuff like Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and card games. I have a mind to try and gently push people into stuff that is a little more complex and just see how they like it. The next one is supposed to be at my place and that makes it a perfect opportunity to say "Hey let's try this."
What would you guys recommend? It can't be something complex or overwhelming (no Axis & Allies or Titan or anything like that, sadly). I keep hearing about this wave of "German games" that are more noob-friendly. I was thinking of picking up maybe Rails Across America or Settlers of Catan, which I recall people saying were really fun, but not complex or intimidating. Other suggestions? What would be best?
Start with card games. I'd recommend Mama Mia. Or maybe Bohnanza! if you know the rules well yourself...
I'd agree with Settlers and Rails. Also Ra, which is quite easy to learn and can be played in relatively short sessions.
Bang! is kind of amusing, though I found myself getting tired of it after a few sessions.Originally Posted by SorenJohnson
you know what old-school board game really surprised me in its hidden complexity when I tried it again as an adult? Clue. It's a lot of fun trying to piece all the bits of logic together that went over my head as a kid.
oh, and Scotland Yard. It's not German, but still a lot of fun and a step up in complexity.
Ticket to Ride: Europe is my preferred gateway game.
Settlers can be great, but I'm more burned out on it. And it's too easy for the dice to make people really, really angry when they go 500 turns without getting a single card, all because they chose a sub-optimal starting position.
Catan is a bit too long for beginners and casual play IMHO. Carcassonne is good, as are the aforementioned card games. Another quick and very easy board game is Clans.
Through the Desert is a bit more complex, but still very accessible and fun.
You might also like Mystery of the Abbey. A very easy to learn, a sort of guess-the-killer detective game.
Let me second the recommendation for Carcasonne.
At my store (Greenfield Games in Greenfield, MA) that game is the one "gamers" game that continues to pick up a big following among non-gamers.
Ok here are a few that I can name off the bat.
Shadow's Over Camelot
Family Business is fun and not too much of a step up in complexity, but try and get one of the older versions that has more information printed on each card.
Ticket to Ride is good, once people play through a few turns and realize that it really is that simple.
If you try Carcassonne, let me know how it goes. I think it should be non-gamer friendly, but haven't tried it.
I'd recommend Betrayal at House on the Hill. It's tons of fun and the horror genre setting is a lot more accessible and appealing to nongamer types than the fantasy or historical settings so popular in other games.
That one where you play executioners and try to collect heads is alot of fun.
I'm slowly getting into German-style boardgames, and had great success with Settlers of Catan with my neighbors.
I've had tremendous success (100% 'love-it' rate) teaching 'normal' people the original Ticket to Ride, but encountered a litttle more resistance with Europe due to its (slightly) increased complexity and less obvious tactics.Originally Posted by Odysseus
I recommend starting people off w/ the original Ticket to Ride, then graduating them to Europe when they're ready for more.
EDIT: Another bonus the original has over Europe and Marklin is that players (in the US) are more familiar with the locations, spellings, etc., which helps them feel more comfortable with the game...
Last edited by slantz; 07-13-2006 at 05:18 PM.
The most popular ones are probably best:
Ticket To Ride: Marklin
Settlers and Ticket To Ride have card game mechanics, which might help with your target audience.
I really, really, really wanted to like Zombies, but it turned into a neverending session of frustration. Especially with all the backstabbing cards.. it took 3 hours to get to the helipad and then someone inevitably pulls out the 'start over from the beginning" card that basically made us give up completely. I heard there are many revisions of it though so maybe they addressed the imbalances.Originally Posted by Shieldwolf
I've gotten success with Settlers of Catan and Casarone. I actually moved them up to Munchkin then Illuminati, and everyone is loving both of them as well.
Puerto Rico, on the otherhand, left everyone cold (including me). It's fairly complex and seems to need about 5-6 playthroughs before you start grasping the strategy. Another total stinker was Nuclear War (the cardgame). It seemed to lack completely in strategy, and was just generally not fun at all.
I was surprisingly disappointed by Puerto Rico... the rules seemed to be awfully fussy to me.Originally Posted by Jasper
I play a LOT of board games as cohost of an Atlanta based invitational event and who owns over 100 titles. Going over the suggestions so far:
If you are going to use a Ticket to Ride game as a gateway game to new gamers, start with the original version (neither Europe nor Merklin). The latter two add some new and entertaining rules, but it is far better to start with an American map and the basic rules.
Puerto Rico is an awesome awesome game, but definitely not a gateway title. It encourages flexibility in strategy and forces players to adapt on a moment's notice. Another recent title equally outstanding (but also not gateway) is Caylus.
Settlers is a classic and is similar in the most basic of ways to Monopoly (owning 'property', trading to advance) but with far better strategy.
Card games are a great idea, and in addition to Bohnanza, Too Many Cooks is another great title.
Clue is a good title if you get rid of the dice rolls and allow free movement. I would recommend Mystery of the Abbey instead though, like Shang did. Similar deduction, but more thought provoking.
Not to poop on anyone's opinion, but games like Munchkin, Illuminati, Guillotine, and pretty much anything Steve Jackson are 'funny' games, but they generally lose the funny after a few plays and you are left with titles lacking strategy.
I'm not a big fan of Carcasonne myself (too many expansions), but it does serve well as gateway game.
A couple of recent titles, but using heavy amounts of dice in different ways, but serve as great starter games is Pickominos where you play birds trying to pick barbecue worms off a grill. It is very much a push your luck kind of title and plays very well to new gamers. The other is King and Collar which is kind of a Yahtzee game mixed with cards with special abilites.
Ingenious has surprisingly simple rules with amazing depth and a beautiful (when completed) game board.
Ticket to Ride is very accessible.
Settlers is mostly accessible too, but it can be fidgety at first. The main problem is that there's a bit of a learning curve regarding resource management.
Carcasonne is good, but consider a turn timer to keep the game from dragging out.
Bohnanza, Guillotine, and Bang! are all card-based and fairly light.
I don't care for Munchkin or Fluxx (except when drunk or sleep deprived).
I like Citadels, but I'm not sure how well it works for beginners.
Ra is okay if you can get used to bidding.
Puerto Rico is not for beginners.
Oh sure, if you want to take it all slow and reasonable. But damnit, I'm trying to cultivate a group of people who might someday play a full game of Magic Realm before I die. I don't have time to coddle them.Originally Posted by Hiro_Antagonist
221B Baker Street. It's like Clue for grown-ups.
I'd second this reccomendation, I've had a lot of luck with "non-gamer" friends really enjoying this game.Originally Posted by Nick Walter
When I started playing pretty much everyone liked it, but it's left alot of players I've met more recently cold. Judging from boardgamegeek I'd still say it's quite popular, but on second thought it's perhaps a bit dry for a "gateway game".Originally Posted by SorenJohnson
I'd just go with Merklin, it's the better game, and not much more difficult. If desired you can get the original's simplicitly by removing passengers and destinations from the game, and then when you want a bit more you won't have to by essentially the same game again. The original has the advantage of people being familiar with the city games, which is important to some borderline gamers.Originally Posted by LionelThompson
Caylus has become one of my favorite games, since each decision you make is so important and interesting, but this definitely puts newer players off.Puerto Rico is an awesome awesome game, but definitely not a gateway title. It encourages flexibility in strategy and forces players to adapt on a moment's notice. Another recent title equally outstanding (but also not gateway) is Caylus.
There's also Settlers of the Stone Age, which is a bit more complex, but less random, less likely to have a runaway victor, and has a more interesting theme.Settlers is a classic and is similar in the most basic of ways to Monopoly (owning 'property', trading to advance) but with far better strategy.
I've had mixed reactions with Mystery of the Abbey, and would be careful of it unless I knew the players already like Clue.Clue is a good title if you get rid of the dice rolls and allow free movement. I would recommend Mystery of the Abbey instead though, like Shang did. Similar deduction, but more thought provoking.
Agreed. Munchkin in particular, as the jokes are only funny to people who've player D&D.Not to poop on anyone's opinion, but games like Munchkin, Illuminati, Guillotine, and pretty much anything Steve Jackson are 'funny' games, but they generally lose the funny after a few plays and you are left with titles lacking strategy.
Liars Dice can also be fun, as well as card games like Wizard.A couple of recent titles, but using heavy amounts of dice in different ways, but serve as great starter games is Pickominos where you play birds trying to pick barbecue worms off a grill. It is very much a push your luck kind of title and plays very well to new gamers. The other is King and Collar which is kind of a Yahtzee game mixed with cards with special abilites.
Another vote for Carcassonne.
Guillotine made my wife and I want to kill each other.
Did anybody mention the card word game Quiddler? Excellent fun.
Wabbit Wampage if the gaming is casual with a bit of inebriation, and the crowd grew up with Bugs Bunny cartoons.