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Top 10 Board Games For Beginners

board games for beginners unmatched battle of legends vol 2

A Very Good Place To Start…

Over the last ten to twenty years the board game hobby has just exploded. There are so many new tabletop games released every year that today, more than ever, it is incredibly daunting knowing which to pick up first. Some argue that games are getting better and better whereas others claim that the classics will never be outdone. However, knowing where to start is impossible as there are so many ‘types’ of games, so many mechanisms. Here is a list that aims to cover entry points for different types of games in order to explore a breadth of the hobby. But be warned, once you get a taste for the magic available, you might not be able to look back! Enter... 10 board games for beginners.

10) UnmatchedMondo Games

Probably the best two player fighting game available in the market, Unmatched is a card based system that is both intuitive and exciting to play. There are currently a dozen different sets including characters from Victorian literature, Marvel, European folklore and even Jurassic Park and is ever expanding. You have a central board, each broken up into different zones and a miniature representing you lead fighter.

Each player plays a uniquely designed deck of cards, all tailored to suit the fighting style of each character and on you turn you will have options to move, attack or play a power card. Attacking is simple, have a higher number on your card than they have on their shield and you win, doing the difference in damage. What makes the game exciting is you have no idea what your opponent might be holding in their hand and so every attack is a risk. You also only play each card once with the draw pile getting smaller and smaller. This is a great introduction to card based actions with such amazing characters to play as and a mix and match system that can see the T-Rex go against Dracula at Sunnydale High!

9) SantoriniRoxley Games

When most people think of abstract games they think of chess, and many then completely shut off. Chess brings connotations of ‘smart’ people playing against computers and has led to a reputation that abstract means elitist. When starting out in boardgames, that can be very scary. Well Santorini is as far from that as you can get. Despite an aesthetic theme of creating those iconic white and blue buildings in Santorini, the game is most definitely an abstract activity. On your turn you will move one of your two ‘builders’ and then place a plastic building piece on an adjacent square.

You are attempting to build a three tier structure and climb your player to the top before someone else caps it off by placing a blue dome as a roof. The first player to reach the top, wins. This is a very simple and short game and with such a beautiful production it is a great coffee table game. What elevates it from most others is, when you are comfortable with the basic gameplay, you can add God cards into the mix. There are dozens of Gods, each with their own asymmetric power that might give you the ability to build twice on your turn, or to build roofs on any level of the building. These add an element of strategy that can ramp up the game as you get better building your skills without you ever noticing.

8) Barenpark Lookout Games

What is more appealing than the concept of creating your own little bear park? This 2017 design from Phil Walker Harding has become a much loved entry level game which introduces players to the mechanism of polyomino tile placement. Players will take Tetris style tiles from a central board, each representing a different type of enclosure and each being worth points. They must then place them on their own player board in order to cover it. The nice addition here is when you complete an individual square board you get to add a little bear stature to your park in order to gain bonus points.

There is a great tension of placing the tiles in order to utilise the space. There are off course one-by-one tiles as well as other small options to fill in your mistakes, but they don’t give you points so you aren’t going to want to rely on them too much. Once you are more familiar with the game you can then add other point scoring cards than reward you for building more of a certain type of enclosure, or certain shapes. Not to mention a great expansion that will add even more to play with.

7) FluxxLooney Labs

Most of us have memories of playing cards games when we were younger with Uno probably making it to most family collections. Fluxx takes the basics of a card game and completely flips it on its head. The basic premise of the game is draw one card and place another. There are keepers you can play in front of you and there are goals you play to the central area. The challenge is to have the keepers that match the gaol in order to win.

The unique element, however, is that there is a deck full of new rules that can be added to the game making it, wait for it, completely in Flux! Some rules will make you draw more cards or play more cards. Some will make you sing while you do it or swap cards with the person next to you. And of course, the goals keep changing. It is a game of chaos but if you can succumb to the randomness then there is a lot of fun to be hard. The big draw is that there are many different decks from a multitude of intellectual properties from Dr Who to SpongeBob Squarepants so you can find the world you want to play in.

6) King Of Tokyo (Second Edition)Iello

There is something incredibly satisfying about rolling chunky dice around a table, especially as a board game for beginners. And the only thing to make it more so, is the addition of giant kaiju! Many people may have the basic understanding of Yahtzee from childhood, maybe playing the game with grandparents. That mechanism of rolling a handful of dice up to three times, each time selecting which ones to keep and which to reroll, is what is at the heart of King of Tokyo. Each player has a kaiju of choice, each attempting to mimic iconic characters like King Kong or Godzilla.

You will then roll your dice trying to get hits, points, health or power cubes. Hits are straight forward. If you are not in Tokyo all your hits are aimed towards the character in the city but if you are there, then your attack hits everyone else. Your power cubes will allow you to buy cards that offer extra powers which is where the real fun lies. Some are one-off big action whereas others stay with you for the rest of the game. The first to either 20 points or the last one standing, wins. There is also a load of expansions that can help change the game up for those who play it a lot. It is silly, and chaotic and monstrous fun.

5) CoupIndie Boards And Cards

Social deduction games are more popular than ever. With mammoths of the genre like Werewolf it can be quite difficult knowing where to start. In comes Coup. This is a very simple introduction to lying and deception that will keep you playing over and over again. You start with a selection of three cards who represent who you have influence over in court and each one has a unique special action. As a general action you have three options. Income allows you to take one coin from the treasury. Foreign Aid allows you to take two and you can pay seven coins to launch a Coup. This will make a player of your choice lose a card from their hand and can’t be stopped. You can block Foreign Aid if you have the Duke or you can kill a card if you have, and can pay, the Assassin.

The purpose of the game is to be the last one standing. What makes this game interesting is that you don’t have to have the influence cards to use the specific powers. You could just lie. You might get away with it. But, anyone can challenge an action. If you are challenged, you must prove that you have the correct influence card. if you were right then your challenger loses a card but if you were lying then you lose one. This is such a quick game to learn and will lead to hours of fun, staring into the eyes of ones you love and lying to their faces.

4) Forbidden Island - Gamewright

Cooperative games have become very popular since the release of Matt Leacock’s Pandemic in 2008. Maybe it’s the lack of competitive aggression that allows it to be a more satisfying experience, or maybe the joy of a collective win is a bigger high than a moment of solo smugness. Well that same designer brought us another cooperative experience in 2010 with Forbidden Island. It takes the same basic mechanisms of Pandemic but streamlines and simplifies into an adventure game for the whole family.

The premise is simple. You are exploring a sinking island to recover artefacts before jumping onto a helicopter and escaping before the whole place is submerged. Each player takes a character with a unique power. On each turn there is a choice of actions, move, draw up (which means temporarily stop the island from sinking) or swap cards. You are going to need four cards of a kind in order to find each artefact and so working together is going to be key. There is an exciting tension as tiles begin to sink and you dash around trying to stop them long enough to find that golden chalice you need. And if you love this game there are two more in the series than ramp up the complexity in really interesting ways which makes it the perfect entry point into this particular genre.

3) Carcassonne - Z-Man Games

In the genre of tile laying games, where you build a world by revealing one tile at a time, there is one that birthed a generation. Carcassonne, named after the French town you are creating, is a gentle game with a real depth of tactics if you want to dig a little deeper. You begin with stacks on face down square tiles and your turn you simply pick a tile and place it on the table. There are simple rules about placement such as it must be orthogonally adjacent to another tile and each edge must match another.

There are plain sides that are fields, there are roads and there are cities. Points are gained by placing meeples (little wooden people) onto a specific type of terrain. Once that terrain is complete, whether a road that hits a junction or a city that is fully formed, you remove your meeple and gain a set amount of points depending on the size of the terrain. There is a slightly more complicated way of scoring using farmers but you don't need to introduce that until you are comfortable with the rest of the game. At this point there are so many expansions that include new mechanisms that build on the base game that this makes a perfect entry point.

2) Ticket To Ride Europe

In 2004 the original Ticket to Ride hit the hobby like a bullet train. It is a board game for beginners, and for the advanced! Due to its popularity, it has since spawned many variants with maps from all over the world. The series sees you place trains onto a map, connecting cities that match your tickets. If you complete your tickets, you get points, if you don’t, then you lose those points. And that in a nutshell is the game. Its simplicity is its beauty. You place trains by discarding cards from your hand that match the colour of the track on the board. On your turn you have only three choices, draw a card, place trains or get new tickets. But within this comes lots of decisions.

Once you have signalled where you are going, someone else might jump in your way meaning you will have to take a longer route. But if you wait too long to start placing trains there is a danger of others taking the tracks you need. Although there are dozens of versions of this game, you will always need one of the two base boxes to play. Either the original USA map or the European one. I suggest Europe simply for the addition of stations. Each player gets three little plastic station tokens that when placed let you use another player’s track to complete your journey. This little option makes the game a tad friendlier and less stressful and makes a for a brilliant family game.

1) My CityKOSMOS

Reiner Knizia is renowned within the board game industry for having created so many games, many of which that have become must-haves. My City is one of his newest and maybe one of his simplest games but don’t let that fool you, there is a lot of game here. The reason why it makes the list is that it is a ‘legacy’ game. Legacy games are a relatively new phenomenon with the basic premise of a being a living, changing game.

This is normally done by adding components as the game goes on whilst destroying others, adding stickers to the board creating a constantly evolving experience. My City is another polyomino game but each chapter sees you opening an envelope and playing three short games that introduce a new rule/aspect to the gameplay. This means that learning the rules is simple and in short bite size games and so never becomes overwhelming. If you want to see how far we have come since your memories of childhood Monopoly then My City will blow your mind.

That concludes our list of Top 10 board games for beginners. Is there any we missed? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames.