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Subject: Using your own definition of a "Gateway Game", what are your recommendations. rss

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mortego
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The term Gateway Game is widely used as a term to describe a game you might introduce to people who are either new or interested in hobby gaming.

So, I am asking you to share your own definition/list of what you yourself consider as a Gateway Game....this isn't for me or anyone else, I'm just curious as what you would call a Gateway Game.

I just have a list rather than a definition, maybe from the list my definitions lies within:

Settlers of Catan
Ticket to Ride
Carcassonne
Dominion
Stone Age
Tsuro
Kingsburg
King of Tokyo
7 Wonders
Sheriff of Nottingham
For $ale
Incan Gold
Love Letter
Lords of Waterdeep
TransAmerica
Lost Cities: The Board Game
Small World
Biblios
Kingdom Builder

I know, very cliche'.....so what's YOUR list look like?

Yes, I am aware there is a top 150 list but I am asking you.
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2 guys in our group were introduced on Automobile and Nations.
The one is hampered by school, but the other is a regular to our Friday Game Night. A gateway game is going to depend on the group. If I introduce a player to Stone Age, that in no way gives me an indication as to if they will want to play the heavy meaty games that we primarily play.
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Chris Williams

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Carcassonne
Expedition: Northwest Passage
Glen More (depending on the crowd)
Intrigue
Junk Art
Maharaja
Metropolys
Neuroshima Hex! (depending on the crowd)
The Resistance
Star Realms
Tammany Hall
Vye
Wealth of Nations (depending on the crowd)
 
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Timothy Young
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I would call Memoir '44 a great gateway wargame. It is accessible to casual gamers and can be learnt pretty quickly, but it uses a lot of wargame conventions (hexes, different movement/firepower for units, terrain etc.)
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Orange Player
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Ca$h and gun$ was the first game that made me realise you didn't need dice or a board to have lots of game playing fun.
 
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April W
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My gateway game is any game that grabs somebody's interest. I think gateway games in general are unnecessary (but they have their place) and it's more about hooking someone with a game that really clicks with them personally.
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Steve B
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Agricola is the best gateway into board games in the world today. It showcases the greatest aspects of board gaming and makes the gamer think "Wow, there really is something to these board games", unlike simplistic games like Carcassonne that make the gamer think "hmm, I think I'll pass, I prefer more complex games like Age of Empires on my PC".
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Ludvig Stigsson
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My definition of a gatewaygame would be something like : can I play this game with my parents? Can I play this with my sister-in-law?
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Jim Hill
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Any game where a new player can learn the ropes in a few turns, and isn't disadvantaged by not knowing the game content.

They should always feel that they have a chance of winning. This doesn't mean a luckfest, but they should be able to form some kind of strategy and not get blindsided by hidden events that other players know to expect.
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Trevor Sinnott
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Survive: Escape From Atlantis
King of Tokyo
Small World
Dixit
Zooloretto
 
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Adrian Schmidt
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+1 for any game that has a theme that engages the new player (as long as it's mechanically a good game of course).

My wife and I had our eyes opened to modern boardgames by playing Battlestar Galactica, after having binged the whole TV-series and loved it. The game is mechanically good, and thematically great (if you like the TV-series).

A while later I went to our FLGS to look for a game to buy as a present for my wife (and myself to be honest). I ended up with Trickerion, which is by no conventional means a gateway game in any way, shape or form. But it has a great theme, and great artwork, and that's on top of the mechanically best game I've played to date. My wife was pretty close to tears from boredom and hopelessness during our first reading of the rules and playthrough, but the engaging theme pulled her through it and it has since been topping the list of favourites for both of us.

I don't tell this because I would give a blanket recommendation of either Battlestar Galactica or Trickerion as a gateway game. By no means.

What I'm saying is that people get hooked by things they find engaging. That can be themes, mechanics, or the general feel around the table. It will be different for everyone, and for most people it will be some mix of all of these.

Come to think of it, the typical "gateway games" usually listed, are the games I'd bring out when I want to play with non-gamers (typically Ticket to Ride and Love Letter), and hopefully let them have a good time. When I hear the term "gateway game", I'm thinking more along the lines of a game I'd use if I was trying to specifically hook someone on boardgaming. Those are actually very different scenarios.
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Jerry Wilkinson
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Several games are already listed, but I will add

Acquire
Splendor
Scotland Yard
 
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Quote:
So, I am asking you to share your own definition/list of what you yourself consider as a Gateway Game....this isn't for me or anyone else, I'm just curious as what you would call a Gateway Game.

My gateway is called Listening to the would-be gamers for a bit, talk to them about their interests, see what gets them excited and motivated, and then suggest a game based on that. If it is a simple card game like Red7 or Hanabi or old Riffifi, then so be it. If it is involved stuff like Brass: Lancashire or The Great Zimbabwe or perhaps even Civilization, then that will be the gateway. And if it is a genuine 'gateway' like Ticket to Ride: Märklin, Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers or Stone Age then I will happily play those.

Anything can be used as a gateway, which is why I don't believe in the term. In fact I find it a patronising idea that newcomers all have to be 'started off' on something simple. Look, you may not know it yet, but you have this thing called a brain. It can also be used for thinking. Newcomers are swayed by the experience of something new and the classy and competent enthusiasm of the explainer; exactly what they are playing is of little to no importance as long as it meets their expectations.
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Samo Oleami
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Quote:
The term Gateway Game is widely used as a term to describe a game you might introduce to people who are either new or interested in hobby gaming.

So, I am asking you to share your own definition/list of what you yourself consider as a Gateway Game....this isn't for me or anyone else, I'm just curious as what you would call a Gateway Game.

If people new to hobby gaming are interested in hobby gaming you can start them off with anything that seems interesting to them. There are no rules here. I started with Arkham Horror for instance.

If you talk about people new to boardgaming (as in "not a hobby"), or if you talk about games good for causal gamers or nongamers, then there are categories of games I tend to call "nongamer friendly games". But the games I'd recommend don't necessarily lead to anywhere (like to: hobby games). Amongst these are many party games, so called filler games (gaming desert dear gentlemen, short and packed with intensity), stacking games, speed games, and actually quite a few children games.

So I'm not really sure what the question is.
 
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Look on my works ye mighty and despair
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sgosaric wrote:

If people new to hobby gaming are interested in hobby gaming you can start them off with anything that seems interesting to them. There are no rules here. I started with Arkham Horror for instance.


Yeah, my sister in law doesn't consider herself a gamer and only plays at holidays but loves Junta and Kremlin. Which aren't most people's ideas of gateway games.

She does have a PHD in Latin American politics though.
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mortego
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Correct! There is no question.

Thanks to all posters for your opinions, insight and lists!

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Phil
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I've had success with friends and family using relatively light to middle weight games with easily explained rules. The weight is more important for me than my target audience, because I generally don't play particularly heavy games and wouldn't explain them well.

Games I've used this way, in no particular order:

Carcassonne
King of Tokyo
Splendor
Ticket to Ride
Memoir '44
Elder Sign
Castle Panic
Survive: Escape from Atlantis!
Tsuro
 
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Jordan S.
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To me, a "gateway" is an object or experience that transitions a person from one place to another. In the case of board games, this "place" is a state of mind, primarily from the state of "non/mass-market gaming" to "hobby gaming".

The goal and benefit of "gateway games", then, is that they inform the player of the climate of hobby games without expecting them to possess experience or understanding beyond that which is would be considered well-established, non-hobby gaming tropes (i.e. how to roll/read dice, how to play cards, the nature of competition, winning as a goal, how to identify strategy, etc.).

While any game could potentially be learned and played by anyone given proper motivators (subject matter interest, dedication to mastery, desire for inclusion/conformity, curiosity, etc.), just because someone outside the experience can learn it, doesn't make it a transitional or "gateway" piece.

Which games ultimately serve as "gateways" will vary by the group employing them but I think it's fair to say that many of the common offerings mentioned here fit the general category and are "common" precisely because they are easily recognized for having those transitional qualities.
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Braden Adam
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Mine is unfortunately pretty cliche too, but the games that got me into gaming were Settlers and Dominion.
 
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Chris Mcpherson
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Some great games listed so far. I would add:

Alhambra
Tobago - Just got this and love it!
New York 1901
Zooloretto
Takenoko

I'm going to stop because I'm sure we're going to end up naming everything from that list you mentioned, hehe.
 
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Mike
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By coincidence, I was discussing this very topic with some fellow gamers just a couple of hours ago. The definition we were using was something like "games you would use to introduce somebody to modern board gaming if they were unaware there existed levels higher than Monopoly and Risk".

Our ideas were Carcassone, Catan, Splendor, and Ticket to Ride.

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Chris Williams

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I didn't have time to write my definition, back when I wrote my list.

But basically, I've found that most new players are looking for an experience where they're thinking about what the other players are going to do, just as much as they are thinking about what they themselves are going to do. So I would put that in as a requirement.

If the game is overly nerdy looking (Descent, Magic, Twilight Imperium, etc.), I'd probably pass on it, for fear that I'd scare the people off.

I think there should be a sufficient depth of play for people to get the sense that there's something to these new-fangled games, so I'd skip Catan, Ticket to Ride, Takenoko, etc. But still I don't want a game that's going to have a 30 minute rules explanation, since that will either put them to sleep or get back to the nerdiness issue. Nor do I want to make their heads explode, so I wouldn't drop in Glass Road or Merkator, despite the simplicity of the rules.

And of course, being pretty is a plus.

Maharaja is my top Gateway Game. It's a touch more complex to explain than I'd like, but it has a strong element of thinking about what the other players are going to do and is also clearly different from classic games. If you tell people that board gaming techniques have jumped lightyears beyond Monopoly, being able to pull out something wacky like a dial where you program in your movements in secret is just the sort of thing to prove that they're not in Kansas anymore.
 
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Martin V
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I would say that if they sell it at Target, it is likely a gateway game.

Games I would have put on this list have already been mentioned above.
 
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Boris Popov
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To the games mentioned above, I would like to add some old Spiel des Jahres winners like:
Manhattan
Hoity Toity
Liar's Dice
Games which bring maximum enjoyment with the minimum of rules.
 
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Peter Bowie
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I'd avoid anything in the 3.5-5 weight range for completely new players, unless it's a co-op. Anything that relies on hidden information too.

Some people like a challenge, some don't. Best to tailor suit to the people involved. (Entertaining for a function = Party games. Friends = Something that's thematically related to what they like, or suited to their personality.)
 
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