It's 2008. The New Top Ten *GATEWAY* Games for Non-Gamer Types.
Ryan Bretsch
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University City
Missouri
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Its been several years since I have updated any type of a list for "Gateway" games. I would like to say a whole lot has happened since then; where great choices are endless for people who play only the occasional boardgame. But it is a little more complicated than that.

So what recommendations are there for something that almost anyone can enjoy?

Based on hosting numerous raucous boardgame nights with countless friends, from all walks of life, who don't make boardgames an integral part of their daily habit... I have found these boardgames to be quite popular, familiar and "understandable".

The choices are from them. Here, in order, is what they find to be most fun:
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1. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:124] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Ryan Bretsch
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#1: Fast, intuitively strategic and simple, this is a very easy game to learn, is easy to play well and yet it still takes time to play well consistently. Excellent depth for what it is. This boardgame is VERY popular with a broad range of people and is the pre-eminent "gateway game" to introduce people to boardgames. It is from Days of Wonder.

So let me repeat: This is the pre-eminent "gateway game" to introduce people to boardgames. Virtually a "must-own" design from Alan Moon.
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2. Board Game: I'm the Boss! [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:933]
Ryan Bretsch
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#2: Known by the American name of "I'm the Boss" (English translation) this game from Face 2 Face Games, is the ultimate in creating social interaction.

It is IMMENSELY popular with anyone I have ever introduced it to. I personally know of no one who does not like this game. It definitely tops the list at number two. That being said, the only drawback of this game is that if you are not a "Type A" personality, I can maybe see where this one might become a little difficult, as it is primarily a negotiation game and is not for the passive.

Fortunately, I have LOTS of type "A" personality friends!
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3. Board Game: Scotland Yard [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:1061]
Ryan Bretsch
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#3: Now produced by Ravensburger, this game is absolutely immersed in theme. Most players team as detectives frantically negotiating the streets of London pursuing an unseen, mobile and clever thief... Mr. X.

I have found this game to be instantly immersive and popular with everyone that has played... and requested. Again and again.
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4. Board Game: Clue: The Great Museum Caper [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:1631]
Ryan Bretsch
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#4: This one may be hard to find since it is now out of print. But this is another great game with an equally great theme. Once again, you play detectives trying to find a thief in the museum before he or she escapes with all of the paintings. Clever mechanics. And I do love the paintings in this game. You kinda want to steal them for yourself, ya know?

A very "relatable" game that encourages teamwork, cooperation and social interaction... this gets requested often and is truly a gem of a game.
 
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5. Board Game: Lifeboats [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1232]
Ryan Bretsch
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#5: A fairly new addition to my game lists due to a reprint, this Z-Man Games boardgame is similar in feel to "I'm the Boss" ... but in a different way and with a different theme and object.

That object: make it to shore!

The game also definitely has a "Survivor" flavor to it... and we all know that was a really popular TV program, right?

Again, while not for the timid, this boardgame does spawn some pretty heavy duty social interaction and is very popular with almost everyone I have introduced it to.
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6. Board Game: Mystery of the Abbey [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1075]
Ryan Bretsch
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#6: Another one from the venerable Days of Wonder: An old french abbey, monks scurrying past, a cliff by the sea... this game screams theme and will quickly immerse you. Great box art and a great game board. Excellent playing pieces.

Very well liked by my friends because of the immersive theme and carefree social banter that takes place both during and after the game. And singing Fere Jacques? Priceless. A very nice touch in design by Bruno Faidutti.
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7. Board Game: Pirate's Cove [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1018]
Ryan Bretsch
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#7: Yet another game from Days of Wonder this one is aptly about...pirates! Bury treasure, explore islands and battle other pirates.

And it seems like my female friends always start reminiscing over the romanticism of this one.

The romanticism is about the pirates, of course. Women love pirates.

The guys? What do you think? We mostly just want to sink ships, baby. : )
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8. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Ryan Bretsch
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#8: It used to be that I would always get my annual new boardgame(s) from Days of Wonder. Now its seems like more and more like that honor is going to Z-Man Games. I will admit, I have this game on pre-order and have not played it yet.

But from everything I have seen, read and heard about the game, this looks to be a tense, gripping offering that should provide plenty of entertainment with friends. So I will take a risk here, break my own rules and say that my friends should love this. We'll see.
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9. Board Game: A Dog's Life [Average Rating:5.54 Overall Rank:12395]
Ryan Bretsch
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#9 OK, yea so its got some game mechanics that are a bit fiddly. Nothing some homemade rules doctoring can't fix.

But my friends note the theme is among the most enticing, laugh-inducing and "cute" theme of anything I own and it is real easy to sit down to play. It's an "experience" game as much as anything and it is very popular with people who do not play many boardgames... because for them it is both highly accessible AND new.

It seems the women friends I have particularly like this game as a favorite in my collection.
 
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10. Board Game: Clue [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:7576]
Ryan Bretsch
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#10 Things start to drop off a little bit from here. Nonetheless, I could have put Kill DR. Lucky, Railroad Tycoon, Winner's Circle or Cleopatra on the list.

I chose Clue, however, because it has a great theme that everyone seems to enjoy and everyone is also so familiar with Clue. It is like a re-acquaintance with boardgames in general for people who have not played anything in awhile. Sometimes *familiar* is a good thing. The vast majority of my friends like it.

I would go for the now out-of-print Clue Master Detective, if you can. An enjoyable game.
 
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11. Board Game: Monopoly [Average Rating:4.39 Overall Rank:15329]
Ryan Bretsch
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BONUS: Have I ruined the list for you with this pick? No, no it's not in my official top ten... or even my top fifteen, but I like this game. And so do my friends.

And just remember who the target of this list is for... your friends. Here is the secret for Monopoly... play this game by the *official* rules. The object is to bankrupt other players, not give players indefinite free cash by landing on "Free Parking." There is also a reason why there are a set number of houses in the game! These, among several other reasons, are why the game can potentially drag. But the potential is also there to have a very good time. Playing with a time limit helps.

So explore this game. You might be surprised.

Your friends will like it because:

1. Its familiar.
2. Its familiar.
3. Its familiar.

And when someone doesn't know much of what anything else is out there in boardgames, you will find in many cases those type of people actually have some fond memories around this game. Treat this special pick with your own discretion. But keep an open mind.
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