Best Games for Introducing Newcomers to Board Games
Whether you are looking to introduce friends and family members to hobby board gaming, or you are a potential new gamer yourself, it is hard to overstate the importance of selecting the right game for a budding potential enthusiast. While there are hundreds of new titles being released every year, only some of those games are a great fit for someone new to the hobby.
You may love dry, theme-less Euros, fiddly 18XX games, and complex mechanisms; but those games are as likely to turn someone off from gaming overall as a home-ruled session of Monopoly.
We surveyed our Power to the Meeple insiders and came up with this list of 10 games most likely to help create a future hobby gaming enthusiast.
The Codenames family of games took board gaming by storm upon the release of the original title in the series in 2015. Codenames is set in a world of spies and intrigue as teams of players try to identify their own secret agents while avoiding agents of the opposing team. Codenames is a hit for party game night and is sure to create many memorable moments at your next game night.
Codenames probably won't even feel like a "board game" to new hobbyists. The unique mechanisms and pace of play won't carry the stigma that inviting someone to try a "board game" might bring to mind.
The popularity of the game has led to expansions of the game to encompass a picture based variant, a game for two players as well as branded versions of the game featuring such properties as Disney and marvel.
Diamonds is a trick-taking game like Hearts or Spades before it, but with a decidedly modern hobby twist. Instead of merely taking tricks to score points, Diamonds introduces "suit actions" that allow players to collect and manipulate acrylic crystals that represent the points scored throughout the game.
Players receive bonus actions for taking tricks, playing off-suit cards, and collecting the most cards of each suit over the course of a hand.
Diamonds is a great transition point for card players into the board gaming hobby and never outstays it's welcome. A four player game is only four hangs long and finishes up in 20 to 30 minutes.
Peace has come at last to the great Bunny Kingdom! Lead your clan of rabbits to glory by gathering resources & building new cities across the land.
Bunny Kingdom provides a fun and simple entry point for players into board gaming with cute characters, beautifully illustrated card, and a wagon load of carrots full of whimsy.
Take turns drafting cards representing territories on a grid of spaces, tools to improve territories you own, and precious scrolls providing a variety of end game scoring opportunities. Bunny Kingdom is a great game for 2-4 players that comes with chunky plastic castles and adorable bunnies. The rules are simple, but the strategy offers a variety of challenges for the seasoned gamer.
King of Tokyo
Play mutant monsters, gigantic robots and other monstrous creatures, rampaging the city and vying for position as the one and only King of Tokyo! Combine your dice to gather energy, heal your monster or just slap the other monsters down! Spend your energy to trigger permanent or one-shot special powers: a second head, body armor, even the nova death ray...
At the start of each turn you will roll six dice up to three times (like Yahtzee) using the symbols on those dice to power healing and attacks in order to claim spaces on the board as your territory. The giant cardboard standees representing your monster will be a hit and the game is simple enough for new players, but with enough variability and decision making to keep long time gamers engaged as well. King of Tokyo plays in about 30 minutes and you are sure to want to get it to the table time and again.
Happy Salmon makes it's mark from the second you pull out the unique, fish-shaped pouch. This is a simple, ultra-fast, super silly card game that will have players roaring with laughter from the second they start the game.
Happy Salmon plays in about 2 minutes as players race to match cards, acting out one of four energetic and zany actions in order to be the first player to rid their hand of cards. It's that simple!
Happy Salmon's base game is loud and frenetic, but an alternative rules set allows the game to be played in absolute silence. Replace the shouted requests for matches with mimed versions of the actions and the only sound will be the laughter of those watching the play.
Happy Salmon is a game for up to 6 players, but combine the original game with the Blue Fish expansion and crank the action up to high by allowing 12 players join in on the fun.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
The harvest is in, and the artisans are hard at work preparing for the upcoming festival. Decorate the palace lake with floating lanterns and compete to become the most honored artisan when the festival begins.
In Lanterns: The Harvest Festival, players take turns placing tiles representing arrays of floating lanterns, earning bonus points both for themselves and for their opponents. Maximize your points while minimizing what you hand to your opponents in order to garner the most honor and win the game.
Lanterns is a Mensa select award winner and was recognized as a game of the year nominee by SXSW back in 2016.
In the super-fast sushi card game, SushiGo!, you are eating at a sushi restaurant and trying to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by. Score points for collecting the most sushi rolls or by making a full set of sashimi. Dip your favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value! Once you've had your fill of dinner, finish your meal with all the pudding you can grab! Be careful what sushi you allow your friends and family to take, it might be just what they need to beat you.
Sushi Go! distills a common board game mechanism of "draft and pass"--selecting one card from a set and passing the rest of the set to the next player--into a tight 20 minute game that anyone can enjoy. The rule set of the game is simple, and keeping things moving quickly is all part of the fun.
If you remember the chaos of a game of telephone at all, then you've got a small idea of what can ensue during a game of Telestrations.
In this fun party game, the more really is the merrier! Each player will be given a secret word or phrase that they must write down on their dry erase flip pad. That player then quickly sketches out their interpretation of that phrase and passes the pad to the next player. The next player will try to guess what they think has been drawn and pass the pad to the player after them. That player then will draw out the guess that the previous player made...and so on. When the pad makes it back around the table to the original player the whole table gets to explore the journey from original phrase to whatever it is that it has become.
Telestrations features rules for scoring, but in many groups the fun is in the activity and scoring is ignored. If you've ever thought that your drawing skills weren't good enough for Pictionary, than Telestrations is for you--terrible drawings only up the fun factor in this game!
The Empire must fall. By destroying their key bases, we will shatter Imperial strength and liberate our people. Yet spies have infiltrated our ranks, ready for sabotage. We must unmask these traitors to the cause or die trying. We are the Resistance!
Resistance is a game low on rules, but high on player interaction. Players are either a member of the Resistance or are loyal to the Empire. On a given turn, the active player will choose a number of players to set out on a mission. If the mission is approved by the other players at the table, each player sent on the mission will secretly decide to Support or Sabotage the success of the mission. Based on the results, either the Resistance or Empire wins the round. When a team wins three missions, they have won the game.
Sounds simple, right? But how well do you actually know your friends. This game of negotiation and deduction will have you questioning the motives of your best friend and ready to call your significant other a traitor--but all in good fun! The Resistance plays in about 30 minutes and is a game for 5-10 players.
Welcome to the city of Machi Koro. You've just been elected mayor. Congratulations! Unfortunately, the citizens have some pretty big demands: jobs, a theme park, a couple of cheese factories, and maybe even a radio tower. A tough proposition since the city currently consists of a wheat field, a bakery, and a single die.
Armed only with your trusty die and a dream, you must grow Machi Koro into the largest city in the region. You will need to collect income from developments, build public works, and steal from your neighbors' coffers in order to find success (just make sure they aren't doing the same to you!)
Machi Koro is a fast pace game. Each player will independently develop their own city to claim the title of largest in the region. On your turn you will roll one or two dice, collect income, and buy a new building or landmark. Some buildings will even allow you to collect income on another players turn! The first player to construct all of their landmarks wins the game. Machi Koro plays in about 30 minutes.
We hope you've enjoyed our list of games that are a great fit for introducing new players to the hobby. If you'd like to learn more about games, make a recommendation to us of other great family games, or want to engage with us for any other reason feel free to click the "Message Us" button at the bottom of the screen or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org