For many a board gamer, there’s always a starting point that exposed them to the hobby. Sure, it might have been time spent with family playing a house-ruled version of Monopoly, a Scrabble session with friends putting together bingos or triple word delights, or even a day-long game of Risk. Whatever it was, it contributed to you exploring the hobby in greater depth.
So with the holidays coming up, with its cold weather, and tendency to grab some hot chocolate and cozy up to the heater, that’s an opportunity to spend some quality time indoors, and engage in board games. Or something I do regardless of the season! Still, winter and holiday gatherings do make for a more conducive board game climate even if it’s on account of the captive audience problem.
Either way, if your board game priorities are the same as mine, you’ll be looking to expose a friend or family member to the world of board gaming. Here are 5 games that you may want to consider having them try out:
Settlers of Catan was my gateway game, the game that really got me to realize just how much breadth and diversity there is out there in the world of board games that isn’t relegated to chucking dice, buying property cards, and receiving a huge windfall from landing on Free Parking despite what the rules say. In Settlers of Catan, you take on the role of pioneers looking to colonize the island of Catan by building settlements, gathering resources, and trading with other players to get resources you need. It’s really easy to learn and I’ve been able to teach it to most people in about 10 minutes. One of the major plusses to Settlers of Catan is that it cultivates a lot of player interaction as people try to strike bargains in the endless wheeling and dealing that goes on in their attempt to get the best deal possible.
For many a budding board gamer, cards will provide a quick, yet easy introduction to slightly more complicated board games. This is especially the case if the person you’re looking to get a gift for has already played card games like Magic: the Gathering, Yu-gi-oh, or even the Blizzard game Hearthstone. But even if their experience is limited to poker, they might still be intrigued by the card game Dominion. Dominion is the best example of a game in the deckbuilding genre. In this genre, players are given a pool of cards in which to build their deck around, and the players’ goal is to look at the available cards and build their deck in such a way that it will bring in the most points. Plus, it can be gratifying to watch your budding gamer find this amazing combination of cards that will allow them to draw down their entire deck and accumulate the oh-so-valuable point cards needed to win!
3. Sushi Go
On the other hand, if you think that the sheer number of cards to go through in Dominion is just a bit too intimidating, you may want to try Sushi Go! instead. Sushi Go! is a card-drafting game, a game where players start out with a hand of cards, pick a card, reveal it, and then pass their hand to another player where the process repeats. The game is simple to learn because all of the point values for the cards are written on the cards themselves. And aside from the initial confusion caused by the chopsticks, players should be able to pick up on this game fairly quickly. The cute art is a plus, especially in getting people reluctant to play to try Sushi Go!
Maybe some of these card games don’t quite fit the bill with what you’re looking for. Maybe the person you’re looking to introduce to boardgames prefers games that are a bit more… tactile? Well, in Carcassonne, you lay down card tiles and then have the option to decide if you’ll also place a wooden figure on the tile you’ve just placed. The game plays a bit like a puzzle in that the tiles have to match the surroundings, but that’s pretty much the only main restriction! Carcassonne can be pretty challenging as players must figure out how to maximize their score from their wooden figurines and the shrewd player who can do so will have a well-earned victory. Plus, you can kinda dick over your friends by pretending you’re losing but then racking up a lot of points from the farmers at the end.
But if competitive games aren’t up your alley, you can never go wrong getting them Pandemic. In Pandemic, players assume a variety of roles like researchers, scientists, medics, and dispatchers who are all involved in trying to stop diseases from spreading around the world. The game, with its disease counters that steadily build up, can quickly become tense as the players all work together against the game to research the cure to all of the diseases before things spiral out of control. When you manage to win though, everyone feels great as there’s much to celebrate. Unless you don’t like it when everyone wins. In which case, you just might be a jerk.
With Christmas on the horizon, it’s also a great opportunity to buy gifts for those who you think might be interested in trying out board games. These 5 simple games aren’t the only ones out there, but the key is that they’re fun and engaging, and they definitely have the ability to pull many a person into the boardgame hobby. It’s basically up to you to try to keep them there!