My Top 10 Gateway Games as of 2017
David Clucas
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Denver
Colorado
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I'm often asked by friends what my favorite games are, but not everyone is ready to dive into a 4-hour brain-burning, deep-strategy game. So here's my top 10 favorite gateway games (as of April 2017).

If you're looking to graduate to some more meaty games, then check out: my Top 10 Favorite Games.
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1. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:124] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Ticket to Ride is becoming about as mainstream of strategy game as Settlers of Catan, but my opinion, is a much better gateway game, and a great game for the whole family. The basic gist is drawing cards, then using specific sets to build your rail lines to achieve goals (eg. a route that can connect Pittsburgh to Denver).

But don't be fooled, while this may seem easy-peasy and there's some luck in the draw of cards, there's quite a bit of strategy and interaction. You can even play mean if you want, blocking other players.
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2. Board Game: For Sale [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:261]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Got 25 minutes, not a lot of room and at least three players? Play this one. Don't let the real estate theme scare you away.

In my opinion, no other small/short/simple game creates such great raw emotion and exhilaration. In the first half of the game, you're bidding for properties and in the second half you're selling them. What's up for bid each turn is what comes up on the table. "Do I bid up now, or save my money for the next turn?" The real fun of this game is that it isn't about what you think you should do, it's about guessing what the others at the table will do. In that respect, even an expert at the game can lose, if the others players don't play as he/she expects.
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3. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:226]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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My wife calls King of Tokyo the game for 14-year-old boys. That's fair, but beyond its cartoon-monster characters, it's still a lot of fun for anyone.

Out of all the games on this list, it's got the most luck involved, but a fair amount of strategy as well. Plus, it only runs around a half hour.

You're rolling dice Yahtzee style, choosing what to keep and what to reroll. There's sort of a "King of the Hill" feel, where it's either you versus everyone or you and everyone versus another player. Whoever is King can score a lot of points and damage, but they're also most vulnerable to losing points or being eliminated from the game. The latter means you can't be King for long before letting someone else go in ... even if they don't necessarily want to.
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4. Board Game: The Resistance [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:174]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Find out who the best liar is among your friends and family.

The Resistance is a great social experiment, and will have everyone yelling back and forth, but hopefully all in good fun. In short, the majority of the players are on the good-guy team (but, they don't know who is who) and then a minority of players are on the bad-guy team (and, they know who is who). The bad guys attempt to sabotage missions without getting caught, while also sowing distrust amongst the good guys. The good guys just need to avoid putting the bad guys on missions and they can win the game, but it's a tough task to know who to trust.
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5. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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This is one of the more beautiful games to play, because in the end you've all created a city of roads, castles and farmland.

Gameplay is pretty straightforward: Place a tile where it can connect to matching features of another tile, then claim it with one of your pieces (meeples) and eventually score it when the feature is complete. Similar to Ticket to Ride, you can play pretty peacefully, building your own stuff and minding your own business, or you can interact with blocking, or better yet, sneaking into other players' properties for some or all of their points.
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6. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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If you have a partner or roommate, games are a great way to kick off or wind down the evening ... providing neither of you are sore losers.

While most board games are best with three or more players, there is a whole category of specifically-designed two-player games. Lost Cities is my favorite introductory two-player game because the mechanics are easy, but the decision-making can be tough.

You're each drawing cards from the same deck to build sets that will score you the most points. Is that card you want still in the deck, or did your opponent grab it? The sets need to be in ascending numerical order in that you can put down a green 5, and then a 7, but if the 4 and 6 come into your hand later, you're out of luck. Plus, each set has to be worth at least 20 points (otherwise you lose points) adding another decision of whether you should even start playing a set.

In a similar vein to Lost Cities ... Battleline and the recently released Hanamikoji are great, quick two-player games, too.
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7. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:213]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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It's a game of hidden identity like Resistance, without the team play and yelling.

Your goal: Find out who is who, before they find out who you are. With only 16 cards and one game lasting 5-10 minutes, it's a great bar or airport game. You always will have two hidden character cards in your hand with the requirement to play one, then draw another. Each card/character will let you do an action to help you figure out the other identities, but also may tip off to who you are.

Great game to play in a bar or airplane.
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8. Board Game: Karuba [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:377]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Karuba is strategy bingo on a map.

There are 36 tiles randomly called out one by one. Your goal is how to best to arrange the tiles (they have roads going in different directions on them) to lead your explorers to their temples.

Everyone's board starts the game the same, but depending where they choose to place their tiles, ends drastically different. Great for those that like to think spatially.
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9. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:106]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Another specific two-player game.

Jaipur is a mini economic market. On the surface it's: Get the cards/resources you need to make sets before your opponent does. But there's a lot more thinking and strategy on what resources to go after and when to play them.
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10. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
David Clucas
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Dominion was the game that brought me (and many others) into the hobby, so you might enjoy it, too. While it's still one of a my favorite games, I put it as No. 10 on this list as it's slightly more complex (for a beginner) than most of these other games.

Still, it's a great game to get someone to that next level of gaming, helping build skills to think beyond than just one or two game mechanics at the same time, as well as combining and balancing those strategies to create an effective game engine.
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