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Subject: Convincing Non-Gamers to Get into Board Games rss

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Matt Halowell

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I'm trying to pick games that offer enough strategic depth for me to enjoy, but most importantly encourage my wife and friends to get into board games.
So I'm looking for a game that plays well with two and can extend to more players.
We have Carcassonne, King of Tokyo, and Forbidden Island.

Here are some that I'm considering:
Dominion
Takenoko
Lords of Waterdeep
Survive: Escape from Atlantis
Elysium
Tokaido
Splendor


At this point I'm leaning towards Dominion, but let me know if you guys have any suggestions (either from my list or otherwise).
Thanks!
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Reed Dawley
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You need a car battery, some jumper cables, a hot poker and, oh, game suggestions...

Splendor is a good easy to learn game. Dominion is a good choice as well. Lords of waterdeep can look more complicated than it is, but if you can get them into others it should work just fine.
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HenningK
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Dominion definitely. I taught it to several non-gamers, and many of them ended up buying a copy of it. Splendor is good, too. Maybe look at Stone Age.

Stay away from Elysium for now. The game is good, but a bit too much for non-gamers.
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Squiz
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I thought camel up would be a bit childish, but its actually really fun and a good way to get people to play. Same with robo rally. They can both be played with 8 players too so good for big games nights
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Zsolt Lengyel
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The Settlers of Catan
Carcassonne
Dominion
Stone Age
Love Letter
Pandemic

These are good bet i believe. I started the boardgaming hobby with Catan for example.
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Simona Dostalova
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My non-gaming friend all love Dixit, although I have to admit, there is not much strategy in there.

+1 on Camel Up and Love Letter.

I don't recommend Dominion. It can be very boring for people who are not that good at that when playing with experienced gamer.

Survive: Escape from Atlantis! is very easy and fun game, I would recommend that.
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Shane Larsen
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Airlines Europe
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Chris Mcpherson
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Dominion and Splendor are solid choices for sure.

I just played 2 games of Splendor last night with my Mom and she just can't get ehough(we've played it before).

A few other options that have done well with non-gamers:

Dixit - You need at least 3-players
Red7 - Honestly, we can't get enough of this game.
Biblios - Super simple, but allows for some strategy and minor bluffing.
Parade - Super simple card game with some tricky decision making.
Patchwork - If your willing to get one just for the two of you.
 
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George Louie
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mhalowel wrote:
I'm trying to pick games that offer enough strategic depth for me to enjoy, but most importantly encourage my wife and friends to get into board games.
So I'm looking for a game that plays well with two and can extend to more players.
We have Carcassonne, King of Tokyo, and Forbidden Island.

Here are some that I'm considering:
Dominion
Takenoko
Lords of Waterdeep
Survive: Escape from Atlantis
Elysium
Tokaido
Splendor


At this point I'm leaning towards Dominion, but let me know if you guys have any suggestions (either from my list or otherwise).
Thanks!


Splendor is an awesome game.. easy to teach and learn, and the components are well made, so it offers a really good tactile feel to the game.. I think plays really well with 2 players..

My wife and I introduced some friends to Saboteur last night and they seemed to enjoy it.. again very simple to teach, and pick up... plus the hidden identity / traitor element is something most non-gamers have never really experienced, so its unique and memorable.. Although, it can't be played with 2 players..

Catan is always a great game, the mechanics are simple, but the game doesn't play well with 2 players.

You could try Five Tribes, or The Castles of Burgundy, both are alot of fun, and scale well to 2 players...
 
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Matt Simpson
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Forbidden island is straight forward and quick, do they wouldn't get bored. Otherwise splendor is pretty easy to catch onto and not many things to keep track of.

Settlers might get boring. Dominion can be overwhelming
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Scott Kremer
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Castle panic is also a good starter game, the co-op mechanic helps to keep people from feeling left out. Especially if you don't count the score for who defeated what monsters at the end.
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Daniel West
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Dominion was the game that brought me into the wider world of gaming, so I'll definitely throw my support in for it. The only other game I've come to appreciate as a gateway game as much since then is Suburbia

With that said, I do have a challenge for you and anyone else bringing somebody into the hobby. In the years I've been gaming now, I've seen some people absolutely adore a game, and I've seen others loath the same game. The reason being that I believe there are three ways people perceive themselves having fun in a game, which is entirely personality based, so knowing your audience's personality would be a good thing.

The first type of enjoyment is playing the mechanics of a game. These are the chess gamers of the world. There are people who love figuring out how to use the game's rules to control the flow and pace of the game. That is the type of player I am, which is why I love Dominion. However, people who like the other two types of fun don't always enjoy that game as much as myself.

Type of fun number 2 is playing the players. These are your poker players. Many gamers I've met love looking their opponents in the eyes and figuring out how they can play that opponent like a fiddle. They love games with negotiation or auctions or secret actions they can pull off that surprise their opponents. Those types of gamers may appreciate games like Takenoko, Power Grid, and Catan

Lastly, there are many gamers who love playing the story. These are your D&D gamers of the world. I remember trying to teach Dominion to a friend who was this type of gamer. I kid you not, she stormed away from the table frustrated at the lack of narrative. For gamers like this, thematic consistency is important, so a game like Suburbia can still work. Additionally, there are options for this gamer like Agents of SMERSH and Smash Up

If I could offer some titles that I believe will appeal to all three types, they would be Castles of Mad King Ludwig and Glass Road

I hope that small essay is helpful. Good luck in finding the games that appeal to the personalities of your wife and friends.
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foldedcard
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The answer depends on if they are really non-gamers or just people who haven't played a lot. I loved playing games as a kid before switching to RPGs then video games as a teenager. I only started playing "modern" games in the last couple of years. But I'm super analytical so you could have put Kan Ban in front of me and I would have thought it was great. Castles of Burgundy was one of the first few games my wife played, and that was a huge hit with her. So sometimes all you need is the right game for the right players.

The three you have are all good. How have they gone down?

What about these two classic games for non-gamers:

1. Ticket to Ride is the gateway game, perfect for introducing 4 or 5 new players to gaming. People are talking about 1901 as its successor.

2. Wits and Wagers. I have used the family edition with some success. Telestrations is another good one.

I agree with Splendor, very accessible.

Lords of Waterdeep only if your friends will like the theme. D&D can be very offputting to some people, though the theme is pretty pasted on in this game anyway.

A few downvotes:

I think the problem with Dominion is that it is very gamey -- lots of hidden depth. And I think a lot of new gamers can get frustrated by the seeming arbitrariness of the Kingdom setup or, as someone else said, overwhelmed by the card variation.

My wife HATED Castle Panic.
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George Louie
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gremk77 wrote:
Castle panic is also a good starter game, the co-op mechanic helps to keep people from feeling left out. Especially if you don't count the score for who defeated what monsters at the end.


The only issue I have with Castle Panic is that some people might be a bit put-off by the kid friendly graphics. Don't get me wrong, I just got the game in a Math Trade and played it with my group and it was a blast.. but I think some adults who don't have alot of experience with playing modern board games might not be able to get past the "kid's toy" look and feel of the game.
 
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George Louie
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Harlan Duke wrote:
I have a policy to never convince non-gamers to play boardgames. I don't like it when people try to convince me to get into stamp collecting or river kayaking or whatever, so I try not to do the same to others.

people are aware I boardgame. I don't hide it, always ask around for other gamers, and play in public often. If non-gamers are interested, they'll approach me.

Trying to convince people usually fails, IME.



Thats how I felt when I read the thread title, but if you read the OP's first post, its more about helping the OP find "gateway" games to expose his wife and friends to more complex modern boardgames. NOT "convincing" them to play board games.
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Nate
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foldedcard wrote:
The answer depends on if they are really non-gamers or just people who haven't played a lot. I loved playing games as a kid before switching to RPGs then video games as a teenager. I only started playing "modern" games in the last couple of years. But I'm super analytical so you could have put Kan Ban in front of me and I would have thought it was great. Castles of Burgundy was one of the first few games my wife played, and that was a huge hit with her. So sometimes all you need is the right game for the right players.


Completely agree with this. One of the first games I introduced to my family was Puerto Rico, which was a massive success.

I have also used Ticket to Ride successfully, and have had three different groups go out and buy their own copy. Settlers of Catan is another great choice (interactive, little down time, but can overstay its welcome and drag at times), as is Dominion, which even some of my choosier relatives who don't enjoy much in the ways of gaming enjoy.

Pandemic, Dixit, and Carcassonne are also good options, depending on your group.
 
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Matt Halowell

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Team D20 wrote:
Dominion was the game that brought me into the wider world of gaming, so I'll definitely throw my support in for it. The only other game I've come to appreciate as a gateway game as much since then is Suburbia

With that said, I do have a challenge for you and anyone else bringing somebody into the hobby. In the years I've been gaming now, I've seen some people absolutely adore a game, and I've seen others loath the same game. The reason being that I believe there are three ways people perceive themselves having fun in a game, which is entirely personality based, so knowing your audience's personality would be a good thing.

The first type of enjoyment is playing the mechanics of a game. These are the chess gamers of the world. There are people who love figuring out how to use the game's rules to control the flow and pace of the game. That is the type of player I am, which is why I love Dominion. However, people who like the other two types of fun don't always enjoy that game as much as myself.

Type of fun number 2 is playing the players. These are your poker players. Many gamers I've met love looking their opponents in the eyes and figuring out how they can play that opponent like a fiddle. They love games with negotiation or auctions or secret actions they can pull off that surprise their opponents. Those types of gamers may appreciate games like Takenoko, Power Grid, and Catan

Lastly, there are many gamers who love playing the story. These are your D&D gamers of the world. I remember trying to teach Dominion to a friend who was this type of gamer. I kid you not, she stormed away from the table frustrated at the lack of narrative. For gamers like this, thematic consistency is important, so a game like Suburbia can still work. Additionally, there are options for this gamer like Agents of SMERSH and Smash Up

If I could offer some titles that I believe will appeal to all three types, they would be Castles of Mad King Ludwig and Glass Road

I hope that small essay is helpful. Good luck in finding the games that appeal to the personalities of your wife and friends.


That's very helpful!

I guess I'm still trying to figure out what type of gamer I am or my wife is. I'm definitely more into games than my wife, but I want to include her as I pursue this hobby more in depth, which is why I'm trying to be very selective with my purchases.

At this point I think it would probably make sense to start with some less complex games that don't require too much thinking. I'm leaning towards Takenoko rather than Dominion for right now. And I'll probably pick up Splendor sometime in the future too.
Do you feel like Takenoko has a good replay value?
 
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Simona Dostalova
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You should try them, then! King of Tokyo is a great game, highly competitive, fast-playing and so, so much fun. Pandemic is great cooperative game, one of the best in that field.
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Matt Halowell

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I agree! King of Tokyo is a great game!
 
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Drew
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Moon_Flower wrote:
I'm completely new so I don't have much experience with the games you listed. So far I have played Forbidden Island, Dominion, Boss Monster, and Betrayal at House on the Hill, Saboteur and Legendary Showdown.

My favorites so far are Betrayal, Legendary Showdown, and I like Forbidden Island but I've only got to play it once so far.

Dominion was the first game I played. I played it twice and didn't really like it. The theme didn't do anything for me (it wasn't memorable for me) and I felt like there was too much reading the small writing on the cards and remembering everything. I feel like I will definitely give it another chance cause I only played it twice and it was my first one, but I don't really have the urge to play it.

I'm sure others won't agree with me, but this is an opinion from a newbie middle aged woman who takes a while to grasp new games. The other games I am really interested in are Pandemic and King of Tokyo but I don't have experience in either one.


These were the exact same complaints I received from my friends when I played Dominion with them.
 
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Matt Brown
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I would pick games like Takenoko, Sushi Go, Hanabi, and No Thanks! as games to start people off. Dominion might be much for a non-gamer and well, I'm really not a fan of Catan. I've had one satisfying play out of five with it, and my last play made me move it down to a 5, and I'm not against moving it to a 4.

FYI, I'm well aware that gateways can be relative to the person. My "gateway" was StarCraft: The Board Game, but I also had a history of CCGs and RPGs.
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Dominion
thumbsup Takenoko
thumbsup Lords of Waterdeep
thumbsdown Elysium
thumbsup Tokaido
thumbsup Splendor



thumbsup E Yes, works with most newcomers
E Could work, depending on your group
thumbsdown E No, rarely works with newcomers




Stone Age is an excellent alternative to Lords of Waterdeep. Slighly less complex, but also less nerdy (as the nerd factor can indeed be a problem for some players). One of the very few worker placement games that scales very well and is equally enjoyable with any number of players.



Alhambra is still one of the best gateway games in my book and aged very well. It won the Spiel des Jahres award in 2003.



Elder Sign can be the first easy step into thematic games. It may look complicated at first because of the huge amount of (fantastic) components, but it is a very simple game, focussing on dice-rolling.



Jaipur is an excellent 2-player game which belongs in any collection. Small price, small box, easy rules, short playtime, beautiful components. One of my most-recommended games.


►An intro to board games, for your friends !
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Francisco Gutierrez
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People have suggested a lot of good games here and given good suggestions on how to find a good game, but I feel a key question has been missed.
Are there any boardgames based on something you know they like?

One of my friends is constantly trying to convince people to join our board game nights and for the most part he convinces them to come because he "talks up" a thematic game they would be interested in.

Last time we played superhero games with someone who had never played anything more than Munchkin. It was Super Munchkin, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Heroes Wanted, and Legendary.

I'd say the success of that night had more to do with the new player's interest in the theme than the "suitability" of any of the games.
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(ɹnʎʞ)
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Very true. Theme is usually the first connection point people are having with a new game and is also often the critical factor if you can get them excited for that game or not. This is also the reason why a good box cover is still very important.

I tried to cover that with the video link above, but good point, Francisco. thumbsup
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John Heynes
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Machi Koro: Deluxe Edition would be a good choice. I don't think it plays so well with 2 players, but I have had non gamers go out and buy their own copy after I introduced it to them.

If you want a great 2 player game I would go with Lost Cities.
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