During the holidays, my usual board game friends are busy with family or they've gone on vacation. And that's awesome - but not for me. I want to play games but I live with some uh...non-board gamer types so I need games that'll be quick and easy to learn and super fun so they don't get bored.
Therefore drumroll please TOP TEN GAMES FOR BEGINNERS.
I'll be picking up some of these to gift to the flat so hopefully we can have some good game nights together :)
I'm going to start with some more casual games and work up. Dutch Blitz is a nice easy, small card game which plays a lot like Speed (if you've played that). So, obviously, its a game of speed where players work to finish their piles of cards before anyone else.
It's competitive and stressful but it's a fun kind of stressful where everyone ends up laughing. The perfect game for people who don't play board games.
This one isn't your typical 'BOARD GAME' board game but hear me out. Unsolved Case Files plays more like an escape room game (think Exit or Escape Room the Game) and is a really fun, interactive crime solving experience where you guys can work together. It's incredibly satisfying to play as you work through the case materials and ultimately find the culprit. If you've heard your giftee watching crime docos or listening to the Crime Junkie podcast, definitely give this one a try.
Sequence is great for a number of reasons. It can be played in teams or single opponent-vs-opponent so it's good for any sized group. Its super easy to learn as it's basically connect four with a couple more steps. Its half strategy half luck so new gamers won't feel overwhelmed or feel too bummed if they lose. I feel like Sequence belongs on every board game shelf - including yours 😉
Call me a broken record but Articulate is another game that should be on every game shelf. It kinda mixes charades with trivial pursuit and results in a hilarious game of talking then yelling then SHOUTING WHEN CAITLIN DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT A PENNY FARTHING IS! ahem Sorry about that.
Its a game of description and its played in teams. So when you end up on a team with your bestie and you have all these inside jokes, Articulate becomes WAY more fun. Sometimes I can just wink at a teammate and they know what it is!
Its the perfect after dinner game and actually - would probably be even more hilarious if played after a couple wines. Just saying
I feel like Exploding Kittens has become pretty famous, even in non-board gamer circles. 'Yknow, the game with the kittens'.
It does a great job of introducing normies to more 'gamey' card games in a light hearted way (or a naughty way if you get the NSFW version). Again, its super easy to learn and play and a round doesn't need to take too long although I usually end up playing a few rounds at a time 😁
There are also a bunch of expansions so once the group has got used to the base game you can add in things like The Cone of Shame from Imploding Kittens or the Tower of Power Cat Crown from Barking Kittens. Really I feel like the ridiculousness of it all is enough to get people interested!
The perfect way to introduce people to Hidden Role or Social Deduction games. And actually hidden role games were what got ME into board games so there you go.
This kind of game takes a little more explaining to do at the beginning because new players often find it strange to be given a role and then not be able to ask any questions about it. Understandable. But after a round or two everyone gets the gist of it and you're all giving each other the side-eye trying to figure out who they are.
There are heaps of great hidden role games but I think Coup is the perfect starting point because 1. Its small and 2. There aren't too many roles so its a bit faster to get into.
Anyway, anecdotes aside Phase 10 is legitimately one of my favourite games to play with new gamers. Its super easy to teach but it can be brutal to play. Its a good mix of luck and strategy but the luck part is what makes this game so fierce. There have been multiple times where one player is 3 phases ahead but give it two minutes and we've caught up - I love when the tables can turn so quickly in a game!
Another nice little card game, slips nicely into the bookshelf. A fantastic gift!
Codenames is SUCH a common first game for people! I've had numerous people recount how a friend invited them to play Codenames and thats when they realised what a game could be! Ideally, you'd get Codenames for your SOCIAL friend - simply because Codenames is best played with a group of people (although Codenames Duet is an option too).
The best part of Codenames is how you're having equal fun whether you're the spymaster or a spy. Basically, the spymaster has to provide clues to the spys so that they guess the correct cards from a selection thats laid out in front of everyone. However, you don't want your spies to guess any of the opposing teams cards. So if you're the spymaster you're thinking really hard about the best clues to give and if you're a spy, you're trying to hold back the laughter as you watch your spymasters face while you discuss the clue. (technically the spymaster isn't meant to make any indications but mate...it's hard to keen a straight face).
Okay, lets get a little more board gamey. These next few are great for friends who have actively expressed interest in games
Whenever I introduce someone to AZUL, I liken it to chess. In truth - it isn't crazy similar to chess BUT they are both something called an 'Abstract Strategy' game and mentioning Chess breaks down that wall of hesitation. Because really - AZUL does take a little bit to learn. Who would've thought - its such a colourful, easy-looking game!
Now I don't want to scare you off because AZUL truly is one of my favourite games. Me and Winston play it whenever we have time at the office! But in terms of rules it does sort of align with chess; certain pieces can only go certain places for example.
But I can promise that if you get someone through a game of AZUL they will understand. And they will probably want to play again! If nothing else the game is beautiful, the tiles are very satisfying to hold (niche gamer stuff) and there's a few different versions which are all just as pretty 🤩
Pandemic is great. I believe it is the epitome of co-operative board games. But it is a BOARD game - as in there are a number of rules and mechanics to learn and people new to board gaming will take some time to get it. But once they get it they'll be asking to play all the time!
I really enjoy competitive games but I think that a good co-op experience is just so much fun. Discussing your moves to get the most out of each turn. Planning ahead to halt the spread of the diseases. And there are a number of different roles players can choose from so each game you might end up trying a new combination.
It is worth mentioning that you might not beat Pandemic the first time. Or the second. Actually it took me about six games to beat it. But every game has still been so much fun (hence why I've asked to keep playing).
If you are buying for someone who is really interested in getting into board games - Pandemic is a fantastic way to get them started. It's also relatively small for a board game and is quite affordable with lots of different versions and expansions AND Pandemic Legacy which I think is the next step once you've decided you enjoy Pandemic.
So there you have it. These are all games that I've had the joy of teaching to people and each time I've created a new gamer - just call me Doctor Franken-game! (Hm, that kinda sounds like I've created monsters).
I hope I've provided a good range for you. Everyone likes different types of games and its all about choosing one that will fit them. Of course this is only my top ten, there are so many more great games that are suited to beginners. Actually we've put a whole collection together of Games for Beginners so make sure you check it out!
Anyway, have fun gamers! xx