10 Board Games That Are Great If You Are New To The Hobby
In the past decade, you may have noticed that there has been an explosion of new board games on the shelves at stores. Every store is carrying from Target to Barnes & Noble, even Amazon.com. These new games look good and the box art is eye catching. When you open the box, you find that there is a sizable manual inside on how to play and a ton of game pieces! This can be frustrating and very overwhelming.
Here is a list of 10 games I think will be easy to learn if you are new to the hobby of board gaming. These games should be in every board game collection as well since they are easy to teach, easy to learn, and they are a blast to play.
When I have questions about rules or game play on a new boardgame I turn to YouTube. Through the years I have watched countless hours of boardgame tutorials, reviews and walkthroughs. I can’t recommend this channel highly enough, Watch It Played, Rodney Smith does a fantastic job of setting up and teaching how to play the game. His instructions are easy to understand and you can always reach out to him with any questions you may have. All of his videos are family friendly, so grab your children and get ready to learn an awesome new game for family game night.
In 1998, I was introduced to Settlers of Catan. It didn’t take long to learn and it and I immediately ran out to purchase a copy for my collection. Every version of Catan just bangs. Every age 8 and up can master this game. This is an obligatory game for every collection.
“In CATAN (formerly The Settlers of Catan), players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. On each turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players build by spending resources (sheep, wheat, wood, brick and ore) that are depicted by these resource cards; each land type, with the exception of the unproductive desert, produces a specific resource: hills produce brick, forests produce wood, mountains produce ore, fields produce wheat, and pastures produce sheep.
Points are accumulated by building settlements and cities, having the longest road and the largest army (from some of the development cards), and gathering certain development cards that simply award victory points. When a player has gathered 10 points (some of which may be held in secret), he announces his total and claims the win.
CATAN has won multiple awards and is one of the most popular games in recent history due to its amazing ability to appeal to experienced gamers as well as those new to the hobby.”
In 2013, my family was introduced to Ticket To Ride. Personally I thought this game was beneath me, till I started to play. I got over my bias and fell in love with it. It takes no time at all to teach and the game is played pretty quickly. You always are left wanting to make more moves when you get to last turn. I love this game and I highly suggest getting the 1910 Expansion as it improves gameplay.
“With elegantly simple gameplay, Ticket to Ride can be learned in under 15 minutes. Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.
Since its introduction and numerous subsequent awards, Ticket to Ride has become the BoardGameGeek epitome of a “gateway game” — simple enough to be taught in a few minutes, and with enough action and tension to keep new players involved and in the game for the duration.”
My family loves playing this game. My daughter has been playing it with us since age 6. Its a game about who can best take care of a Panda’s needs and it brings nothing but smiles and giggles. This game will have every member of your family asking for 1 more game before bedtime.
“A long time ago at the Japanese Imperial court, the Chinese Emperor offered a giant panda bear as a symbol of peace to the Japanese Emperor. Since then, the Japanese Emperor has entrusted his court members (the players) with the difficult task of caring for the animal by tending to his bamboo garden.
In Takenoko, the players will cultivate land plots, irrigate them, and grow one of the three species of bamboo (Green, Yellow, and Pink) with the help of the Imperial gardener to maintain this bamboo garden. They will have to bear with the immoderate hunger of this sacred animal for the juicy and tender bamboo. The player who manages his land plots best, growing the most bamboo while feeding the delicate appetite of the panda, will win the game.”
In 2012, I was in Barnes & Noble with my wife and she calls me over to their new board game section. I thought to myself that we already too many books and there was no way to buy a good game on a budget. She quickly corrected me and pointed to a very affordable price tag. An hour later we were home and had played 2 games back to back.
This is a perfect gateway game. Its easy to learn, fun, fast, and wont break the bank.
“Forbidden Island is a visually stunning cooperative board game. Instead of winning by competing with other players like most games, everyone must work together to win the game. Players take turns moving their pawns around the ‘island’, which is built by arranging the many beautifully screen-printed tiles before play begins. As the game progresses, more and more island tiles sink, becoming unavailable, and the pace increases. Players use strategies to keep the island from sinking, while trying to collect treasures and items. As the water level rises, it gets more difficult- sacrifices must be made.
What causes this game to truly stand out among co-op and competitive games alike is the extreme detail that has been paid to the physical components of the game. It comes in a sturdy and organized tin of good shelf storage size. The plastic treasure pieces and wooden pawns are well crafted and they fit just right into the box. The cards are durable, well printed, and easy to understand. The island tiles are the real gem: they are screen-printed with vibrant colors, each with a unique and pleasing image. With multiple levels of difficulty, different characters to choose from (each with a special ability of their own), many optional island formats and game variations available, Forbidden Island has huge replay value. The game can be played by as few as two players and up to four (though it can accommodate five). More players translates into a faster and more difficult game, though the extra help can make all the difference. This is a fun game, tricky for players of almost any age.”
My daughter picked out this game at our friendly local game store. The game looks small but provides a lot of game play. The harvest is in and it is time for a lantern festival. You need to construct gorgeous lantern patterns while scoring points. Simple, right? Well that day my daughter proved that she was the better gamer when she trounced me 3 times in a row. This game belongs in every collection and every age from 6 and up should be able to play with ease!
“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 have a hand of tiles depicting various color arrangements of floating lanterns, as well as an inventory of individual lantern cards of specific colors. When you place a tile, all players (you and your opponents) receive a lantern card corresponding to the color on the side of the tile facing them. Place carefully to earn cards and other bonuses for yourself, while also looking to deny your opponents. Players gain honor by dedicating sets of lantern cards — three pairs, for example, or all seven colors — and the player with the most honor at the end of the game wins.”
I was introduced to this game in 2008 by my friend James and his wife Lisa. They invited me over for game night and pulled out the game and set it up quickly while I protested that I didn’t have all night to learn a new game. However, it only took 5 minutes and we were playing and laughing the whole time.
What I love about Carcassone is it is so easy to learn, setup, and play. Every game is different and in the process of playing you create such a beautiful and vibrant tile board when completed.
“Carcassonne is a tile-placement game in which the players draw and place a tile with a piece of southern French landscape on it. The tile might feature a city, a road, a cloister, grassland or some combination thereof, and it must be placed adjacent to tiles that have already been played, in such a way that cities are connected to cities, roads to roads, etcetera. Having placed a tile, the player can then decide to place one of their meeples on one of the areas on it: on the city as a knight, on the road as a robber, on a cloister as a monk, or on the grass as a farmer. When that area is complete, that meeple scores points for its owner.
During a game of Carcassonne, players are faced with decisions like: “Is it really worth putting my last meeple there?” or “Should I use this tile to expand my city, or should I place it near my opponent instead, giving him a hard time to complete their project and score points?” Since players place only one tile and have the option to place one meeple on it, turns proceed quickly even if it is a game full of options and possibilities.”
I didn’t intend to have so many tile games on this list. However, tiles games are rather easy to setup and teach. Games like Azul, Lanterns, and Carcassonne are great for family gatherings. You know the ones where you want an activity that brings people together instead of having to interact with that one relative that has questionable opinions.
Azul is the crown jewel of easy to play tile games. It is fast, fun, and the mosaic art is serene and calming.
“Introduced by the Moors, azuleijos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese when their king Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles. As a tile-laying artist, you have been challenged to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora.
In the game Azul, players take turns drafting colored tiles from suppliers to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they’ve placed their tiles to decorate the palace. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets; wasted supplies harm the player’s score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.”
I was introduced to this game back in 2012. I was visiting my friends in Massachusetts, and they had this game they said, “I must play!” I had brought Forbidden Island to their house to play. That’s when I noticed the same guy, Matt Leacock, designed both games. We played both games over and over till the middle of the night. This is a fun game to play, it is one of those games that you learn by playing. Just follow the setup instructions and then the turn order and off you go.
What is it about? You play key individuals that work for the CDC that are trying to stop 4 potential worldwide pandemics. It’s one of the best cooperative games out there. There is a lot of expansions and several different themed versions that change the gameplay in unique ways. Truly an incredible series!
“In Pandemic, several virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously all over the world! The players are disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand.
The game board depicts several major population centers on Earth. On each turn, a player can use up to four actions to travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure, or build a research station. A deck of cards provides the players with these abilities, but sprinkled throughout this deck are Epidemic! cards that accelerate and intensify the diseases’ activity. A second, separate deck of cards controls the “normal” spread of the infections.”
This game is insanely good! Its pretty easy to pick up and it is possibly one of the best games because it is socially acceptable to make smashing noses when taking over Tokyo with your Kaiju style monster. Unlock your inner kid and smash your way to victory!
“In King of Tokyo, you play mutant monsters, gigantic robots, and strange aliens—all of whom are destroying Tokyo and whacking each other in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo.
At the start of each turn, you roll six dice, which show the following six symbols: 1, 2, or 3 Victory Points, Energy, Heal, and Attack. Over three successive throws, choose whether to keep or discard each die in order to win victory points, gain energy, restore health, or attack other players into understanding that Tokyo is YOUR territory.
The fiercest player will occupy Tokyo, and earn extra victory points, but that player can’t heal and must face all the other monsters alone!
Top this off with special cards purchased with energy that have a permanent or temporary effect, such as the growing of a second head which grants you an additional die, body armor, nova death ray, and more…. and it’s one of the most explosive games of the year!
In order to win the game, one must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 victory points, or be the only surviving monster once the fighting has ended.”
Outlast your opponents in this quick paced token and tile game. Its really easy to play, great for ages 6 and up. Have never seen a game last longer than 23 minutes. So it is a perfect time filler.
From the publisher:
“A beautiful and beautifully simple game of laying a tile before your own token to continue its path on each turn. The goal is to keep your token on the board longer than anyone else’s, but as the board fills up this becomes harder because there are fewer empty spaces left… and another player’s tile may also extend your own path in a direction you’d rather not go. Easy to introduce to new players, Tsuro lasts a mere 15 minutes and actually does work for any number from 2 to 8.”
If you think there is a game that should be on this list comment below. If I get enough suggestions, I will make second list.