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Top 5 Games To Introduce Friends To Board Games

games to introduce friends
games to introduce friends

If you’re a fan of board games it’s understandable that you want to share that experience with others, but introducing a new group of friends to board games can be daunting. You don’t want anyone to have a bad experience and you don’t want them walking away saying they’ll never play another board game for the rest of their life. Likewise, some people haven’t touched a board game since that one time they played monopoly as a child. This means there can be a lot of pressure to pick the right game when introducing a new friend or group of friends to board games. Ideally, you want a game that is easy to understand, has interesting mechanics, and above all is fun to play! With those criteria in mind here are some suggestions for the best games to play when introducing someone to the wide world of board games.

Sushi Go

If you want fun and quick to learn, look no further than Sushi Go. Over the course of three rounds, you collect combinations of sushi cards to earn as many points as you can and outscore your opponents. The game's central mechanic relies on choosing a card from your hand then passing the rest of the hand to the next player. This means you could be giving valuable points away to other players. This pick-and-pass mechanic can be a little confusing to new players who have never encountered it before. But the benefit of the rapid pace of play means that by the third round players know what is involved and are hooked on becoming a sushi master. The adorable design of the cards also makes this the least intimidating game ever to exist. So far, I have yet to meet a friend or family member who doesn’t love playing.


Codenames is a party game that splits you and your friends into two teams to compete to identify undercover agents using only word association. Using a grid of cards labeled with individual words, team members must rely on a spymaster to identify the location of agents in the field. But mess up and you could hurt an innocent bystander, one of the opposing team's spies or the dreaded assassin. It sounds straightforward but the game relies on one-word clues to identify multiple locations. The game is a mental challenge, but the core premise is not complicated. If you are playing with larger teams, you also have the ability to discuss your thought processes with other players, making it suitable and enjoyable with up to eight players. It is a great way to establish a team dynamic and should be considered an essential game in any board game collection.


Carcassonne is a simple tile placement game that has you competing to build roads and cities to score the most points. Each player takes turns to draw a tile and add it to the growing landscape. The only rule to remember is that features on the board, such as roads, must be continuous. Once a tile is placed players can choose to use one of their limited supply of meeples to begin collecting points for that feature. The simple mechanics of this game, paired with understated and quaint artwork, make it a very approachable game. Despite the straightforward premise Carcassonne packs a surprising amount of replayability; you can choose to play it safe and focus on your own tile placement or directly compete with other players directly to capture the biggest city. Likewise, the range of expansions that are available only adds to the game's replayability. Carcassonne is an appealing game to introduce new players to board games; it relies on an easy-to-understand premise that offers an opportunity to test multiple strategies and play styles.


For most people the core premise of a board game relies on a player versus player dynamic. This can make the concept of a cooperative game a little disorientating for those who haven’t played that type of game before. If you do want to introduce someone to cooperative board games, then Pandemic is a great place to start. In Pandemic, players take on the role of a disease-fighting team who must work together using their unique skills to overcome four potentially deadly diseases before they cause a global pandemic. Players take turns carrying out a set of actions, such as moving to a new city, treating an outbreak or building research centers. Over the course of the game players can try and cure the diseases by discarding five specific disease cards, but if they fail to make enough progress they will be overrun and lose the game. There are several elements that make Pandemic a stand-out cooperative game. The theme and game design are spectacular, although the story of a global pandemic might hit a little close to home thanks to recent events. The core mechanics are straightforward, and the game always does a brilliant job creating a sense of teamwork, making the game an ideal option for laying the foundation needed to understand more complex cooperative games.


If you want to bring out someone's competitive side then why not offer them Splendor, which has players collecting gems and buying cards to become the wealthiest merchant in town. On their turn a player can collect gems which will allow them to purchase development cards on future turns. As they acquire and spend gems their power will grow, but they will be directly competing against players to buy the best cards. The game comes to an end when a player acquires enough cards to earn 15 points. Winning Splendor relies on a limited number of moves which encourages strategic thinking, and can bring out the best, and worst, in players. Splendor does a good job teaching players the core mechanics which are involved in many other board games, with a particular focus on designing a strategy and acquiring resources to fuel that strategy. If that wasn’t enough the game can also be enhanced by expansions, which slowly build complexity and only add to the games already high level of replayability.

Editors note: This post was originally published on 11th May 2023. Updated on 10th April 2024 to improve the information available.