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Subject: Help me pick out some solid gateway games for a night of couples gaming rss

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J Fitzpatrick
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Here's the situation:

My wife is totally on board. We went through a period of time where both our jobs, mine especially, involved long hours and lots of stress and right when things were finally settling down was right around the time we started playing games together. She's not a hardcore gamer (neither am I for that matter, really) but she's completely hooked on gaming and the idea of gaming. So getting her on board to play games is easy-peasy. I showed her Arkham Horror last night here on BBG and some of the pictures of it in the review section and her only response was "Wow. I never knew board games could be so awesome." not "holy crap, what's with all the pieces and huge board?"

That said... there are tons of fun games that don't play so well with only two people. I need to get my friends addicted to the sweet cocaine of playing games that don't suck ass. I've read dozens of geek lists, searched the forum for "gateway" games, read lists of gateway games, read tons of comments on which gateway games worked with what kind of friends... but I'd still like a solid couple hook to sink into my friends without risking losing them forever to the idea of gaming.

Here are the potential players and the situation:

We're all 25-35, married, kids, nothing too unusual.

Couple A (me 'n the misses): Both on board with gaming, ready and willing to try just about any game (although the misses hates trivia-based games... not really a problem since I've never really come across a great trivia game.)

Couple B: Husband used to be diehard WoW player, geekdom is strong, probably open to nearly any game although I haven't shook him down on the topic. His wife is a pretty open person although I have a feeling his prior WoW-junkie might make strong fantasy-based games a no-go. Not sure about that though... maybe playing with him in a social setting would get rid of the bad taste WoW left.

Couple C: Husband is a laid back guy. I might be shocked to find out that he was a hardcore D&D nerdling as a teenager but I'm banking on him being a pretty vanilla party-games only guy. His wife is hispanic and although a strong English speaker it's still her second language.

Couple D: Husband and wife both pretty laid back. They like fun/light games (although the games don't have to be "trivial" fun like most basic US board games). I vaguely recall playing Settlers of Catan with them about a year ago. I don't recall any negative reaction to the game and I'm sure they'd play it with us again.


Now your suggestions don't have to include a game big enough to play *all* the players at one time... it's likely we'd only have one or two of the couples over at one time anyhow.

Since I'm in the process of building my game collection, this would be a great time to "grow" the collection with the interests of the potential group I'd be playing with. I'd really like to hook them and keep a high level of interest in the games and in gaming in general because playing with people who have kids and whose kids love playing with your kids is a great way to always have people available to play with.

So what do you guys says? What's a "safe" but not sucktackularly boring playlist to get this group addicted to gaming?

Extra super big bonus points if you have any pointers for getting games for the kids (ages 4-6) that they would/could play as we played our games.

Thanks everyone!
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Dave Sinclair
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I would suggest:

Stone Age
Bohnanza
Ticket to Ride
Citadels
Alhambra

I think all are fairly easy to learn/teach and play in a relatively short time.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
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Chris Ferejohn
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There are tons of good games for 4, so if you've got one couple over, you have plenty of good options. I've had good luck with Ra, Dominion, Stone Age, Pandemic, and Cosmic Encounter, but I bet you'll get plenty of good suggestions for 4 players.

6 players can be a bit trickier, since so many games only play up to 5 (Cosmic Encounter plays 6, but you'd need either the old Eon or Mayfair versions, or the expansion for the new FFG version which is what you're going to be able to find new). I'd suggest Bohnanza, Unnamed Object, and Saboteur to get started, all at least reasonably quick games that shouldn't get too bogged down (often a problem with 6). Party games like Taboo, Time's Up!, Say Anything, Apples to Apples, Dixit, and Scattergories can work well (and are also good when you have all 8 folks.

For the kids, I'd definitely check out Gulo Gulo. It's kind of Candyland with a dexterity element, and one of the neat things about it is that small fingers are an advantage, so kids can actually play competitively with adults. It is chock-full of choking hazards, so make sure it's not getting into the hands of any kids young enough for that to be a problem.

Good luck!
 
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Martin Kirsipuu
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I would recommend Railroad Tycoon (aka Railways of the World). It has easy enough rules and really fun game play mechanics.

I would also recommend Ghost Stories, which is a fun co-op game. The downside is that you can play it with maximum of 4 players. Also El Grande is a solid eurogame, which should appeal to newcomers. It is basically a area control game, which can be played with 5 players.

If you want something a little bit heavier then I would definitely recommend Le Havre, which is probably the best eurogame around.

I hope that helps you and best of luck on playing with newcomers.
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james napoli
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You'll probably want some fillers and crossover style games in your collection.

I would look at:

For Sale : Fun little auction game that is easy to explain, fun to play and will get people on the euro gaming mindset.

Acquire : There are several versions of this, including a recent reprint, it's debatable about which version u need, but the latest will do. This game is a little longer, but also not difficult to explain and is a 'good' game especially for newer players.

Thebes : This is a good gateway game, it's thematic, plays fairly quick and can be fun, especially for new players.





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Raymond Schalk
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Stone Age - it has an appeal to just about anybody male/female, geeky/notsogeeky. The learning curve is not too hard not too easy, the game time is around 45 minutes and the board artwork is pretty with a lot of eye candy bits.




 
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McDog
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Dominion
Alhambra
Downfall of Pompeii (that's a really fun game)
Jamaica
Jambo
Longshot (Another really fun game and it supports up to 8 I think)
Pandemic (coop game)
Roll through the Ages
Small World
 
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Lo Ma
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Ticket to Ride: Europe is our favorite of the Ticket to Ride series. A little more tactical interest, in my opinion. Plays well with 2 to 4 players. I've never played with more than 4 players, so I can't comment on how well any of these games play with more people. Anyway, a good solid network building game. A definite element of luck is present but so are tactics with a light veil of strategy..

Carcassonne + Inns & Cathedrals or Traders & Builders expansion.- Carc on it's own is a good gateway game and the premeire tile laying game. I like it a lot better with one of the above expansions, but you can get an expansion if you find you like Carc but are wanting somehting a little more... Luck is definitely present, but so are tactics with a very light veil of strategy.

San Juan - great lightweight cardgame with a variable player role selection mechanic. The cards are used for everything - money, resources, and buildings. Inexpensive game. The theme is about building the capital city of Puerto Rico - a colonial exploitaion sort of thing... Luck is present and so are tactics and light strategy.

Roll Through the Ages - civilization game meets Yahtzee, but with much more interesting decision points than the familar dice game. A great filler or warm-up game. Everyone should have this one I think. Luck and tactics hand in hand.

Castle Panic - great co-op game directed towards kids and their families. The theme is about trying to destroy the marauding monsters before they crush your castle. Everyone can see everyone else's cards and it is quite brilliant since the cooperative mechanics also involves a competitive element to become the Master Slayer of monsters. It's fun to see kids (and adults) make decisions as to whether to do what's best for the team, or what's best for themselves... The theme is light and cute. It might work as a silly feeling filler for adults too. Plays well from 2 to 4 players. Luck is definitely present as are tactics and very light strategy.

Cleopatra & the Society of Architects - here you are an architect contributing towards the building of Cleo's palace. A pretty straight foward set collection/hand management game that involves actually choosing and placing pieces of the palace, so the palace is getting built as the game proceeds. What makes the game brilliant besides all the plastic chrome, is the corruption mechanic. As an architect you are hiring workers, gathering resources, etc, and sometimes the only way to get them is through corruption. The most corrupt player at the end of the game gets fed to the crocodiles so is the biggest loser. Need at least 3 players to play this one or the corrunption mechanic doesn't work. Very fun game. Luck and tactics with a light veil of strategy are present.

Yspahan - A boatload of dice, a bunch of camels, wooden gold coins, bunches of little colored wood cubes, action cards, souks, and caravans - what's not to like! The game uses its theme well and the game components are fun with a lot of visual and tactile appeal. It's a fun tactical game that's accessible for all, and the gameplay is fast with little downtime. You have to develop and deploy your resources to get those victory points, and face the problem of choosing which of the many options to take during your turn. As long as players don't agonize and take forever to make their choice of what to do, this is a totally fun game. The game does involve luck, but not as much as you'd think. An interesting area control game with enough breadth to give it great replayability.

Small World - Light fantasy based game that's about area control. In it you are building up civilizations with different attributes or powers, conquering other ones, and then putting your own civilization into decline when it is no longer useful enough, and then buolding another civilization. The game is fun and fast playing, and is reminiscent of a dicelss Risk. However the images of the female races are pretty racey and some people are offended by them. Something to definitely be aware of.

Whatever you end up playing, have a great time!



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I recommend

Stone Age
Age of Empires III
Pandemic
Citadels

As my top choices.

Age of Empires is not hard to learn, but I do recommend learning it yourself then teaching everyone else (including your wife)

 
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Chris Weeks
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BANG! The Bullet! - This is a great game which can be played by up to 8 people. It's a spaghetti western, easy to learn and people are always laughing. This is easy to learn and once everyone has played once the turns will go by quickly. A game with 8 people takes about 30 minutes.

Shadows over Camelot - This is another good game with a large group. It's a coop with a twist. Everyone is working together in an attempt to beat the board. The thing is, one of you may be a traitor trying to help the board.

Both of the above games play well with 5+ people. If you don't have at least 5 then I wouldn't try to play them. It can be done but to for me they're not as much fun.

In a smaller group I'd look at:

Ticket to Ride - Yes I said it. I know this is not a favorite for many experienced gamers but for new comers this is a very easy game to learn and play.

No Thanks! - This is a card game which is easy to learn and plays quickly. If you need a filler or want to play something light then this might be a good choice.

Stone Age - If you're looking for a worker placement game then this is a good place to start. The drawback here is this game can only be played by 4 people.

Small World - This could be fun to play with another couple or by just you and your wife. The variable sized board to match the number of players make this game good for various sized groups.

TransAmerica - This is another light train game. Extremely easy to learn (5 minutes) and can be played by up to 6.

Dominion - Is a fun game too and it plays pretty fast once everyone understands how to play. For a larger group you'll have to get Dominion: Intrigue too so this may not be a good idea. I'd also heard Thunderstone is a good game but have yet to give it a shot.

Of course there's Catan (you mentioned) and Carcassonne (I'm sure you've heard of). If you're looking for a coop for a smaller group then maybe Pandemic and Castle Panic would be good choices. These are two games I can get my wife to play.

As for the kids, I too have kids your age. I've found that they want to either help mom and dad or play with their toys in another room. That is unless I'm willing to sit down with them and play. In which case then they want to play "the train game" (TtR), Zooloretto or Mouse Trap (this is the flavor of the day lately).
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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Tsuro may work for your and your friends.

It's easy to learn and fast to play filler (2-8 players). It may also work with the kids as well.

Give it a look and see what you think.
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Joseph
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I would recommend picking up Tsuro. It can play up to 8 but works with any number down to 2. It plays fast, 15 - 25 minutes. It is easy to learn, you place a tile on the board with multiple paths and follow the path you connect to. Anyone else touching that tile also follows the path created. You are out when you run off the board or run into someone else.

Really simple and easy but fun.

My wife and I are bringing another couple into games too. Tsuro was a big hit, along with Ticket to Ride (I prefer Europe myself) and even Dominion.

Good luck.

Edit to Say: "Kevin, you are a very intelligent man"
 
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J Fitzpatrick
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The suggestions so far are great... I really appreciate how often people on BGG will not just suggestion a title but provide a mini report on why they suggested it.

I noticed that nobody mentioned Settlers of Catan. Is this because my initial question read like "what should I buy next?" and you all noted that I already had Settlers of Catan... or because you all prefer the other games you suggested as "gateway" games? Just curious and gauging whether I should save trotting out Settlers of Catan for later in the rotation.
 
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Chris Weeks
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jfitzpatrick wrote:
The suggestions so far are great... I really appreciate how often people on BGG will not just suggestion a title but provide a mini report on why they suggested it.

I noticed that nobody mentioned Settlers of Catan. Is this because my initial question read like "what should I buy next?" and you all noted that I already had Settlers of Catan... or because you all prefer the other games you suggested as "gateway" games? Just curious and gauging whether I should save trotting out Settlers of Catan for later in the rotation.


I mentioned it but thought there was no need to elaborate since you already own the game. I think it's a good choice as a first or second game for new players. It was the first Euro I played and I still enjoy me some Catan devil now and again.
 
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Nathan Clark
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With one other couple (4 players): Thebes - for the following reasons:

The theme, archeology, tends to have wide appeal
It is strategic enough for gamers, and the drawing tiles from the bag mechanic is lots of fun and adds a good dose of luck - which appeals to many non-gamers.
My wife is a non-gamer and this is her favorite game (and one of my favorite games).
The components are superb.
It plays best with 4 players.
It doesn't take too long to play - about 45-60 mins (which is good if you don't have too much time on your hands - often the case with kids).

With two other couples (6 players): Hoity Toity - for the following reasons:

Light-hearted theme has wide appeal.
Simultaneous action selection mechanic means that no-one gets bored waiting for their turn.
Is a very accessible game that is easy to learn.
Plays best with 5-6 players.
A fun game and is bound to get people laughing about their auction choices.
Plays in about 45-60 mins.




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J Fitzpatrick
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Boxatoys wrote:

I mentioned it but thought there was no need to elaborate since you already own the game. I think it's a good choice as a first or second game for new players. It was the first Euro I played and I still enjoy me some Catan devil now and again.


Oops! I was so busy reading about new games that I glossed over the mention of it.
 
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Josiah Miller
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Long Shot - Plays great with 4, and just gets better from there. Everyone I have played it with loves it no matter what gaming background they come from. It is familiar with a roll-and-move mechanic, but it feels different from anything your going to find in a Wal-Mart.

I just glanced up and saw that Rastak also recommended. So consider this a "second" for Long Shot.
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Ralph T
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Throw in Shadow Hunters because you have eight people. Lots of fun for couples, especially because wives and husbands can fight each other without anyone knowing why. Also very good with 6.

You can also play Slide 5 with 4-12 people. I think the colors are garish though and prefer the German version 6 Nimmt.
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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ElCid91 wrote:
I would recommend picking up Tsuro. It can play up to 8 but works with any number down to 2. It plays fast, 15 - 25 minutes. It is easy to learn, you place a tile on the board with multiple paths and follow the path you connect to. Anyone else touching that tile also follows the path created. You are out when you run off the board or run into someone else.

Really simple and easy but fun.

My wife and I are bringing another couple into games too. Tsuro was a big hit, along with Ticket to Ride (I prefer Europe myself) and even Dominion.

Good luck.

Edit to Say: "Kevin, you are a very intelligent man"


Finally! Somebody noticed! laugh
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Ben Martell
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Ticket to ride: Europe - someone said it above and is so right. This is THE best gateway game I have played by a considerable margin.

Only problem, it plays for 'up to 5' so is no good for a night with 3 couples really. Two sets are good for a night with 4 couples. It does play well with any number of players 2-5 and in my experience different people prefer a different number of players.
 
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Joseph
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Deathstroke wrote:
ElCid91 wrote:
I would recommend picking up Tsuro. It can play up to 8 but works with any number down to 2. It plays fast, 15 - 25 minutes. It is easy to learn, you place a tile on the board with multiple paths and follow the path you connect to. Anyone else touching that tile also follows the path created. You are out when you run off the board or run into someone else.

Really simple and easy but fun.

My wife and I are bringing another couple into games too. Tsuro was a big hit, along with Ticket to Ride (I prefer Europe myself) and even Dominion.

Good luck.

Edit to Say: "Kevin, you are a very intelligent man"


Finally! Somebody noticed! laugh


Well, you suggested Tsuro as I was typing and since great minds think alike, you must be very intelligent. laugh
 
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Kevin Shillinglaw
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ElCid91 wrote:
Deathstroke wrote:
ElCid91 wrote:
I would recommend picking up Tsuro. It can play up to 8 but works with any number down to 2. It plays fast, 15 - 25 minutes. It is easy to learn, you place a tile on the board with multiple paths and follow the path you connect to. Anyone else touching that tile also follows the path created. You are out when you run off the board or run into someone else.

Really simple and easy but fun.

My wife and I are bringing another couple into games too. Tsuro was a big hit, along with Ticket to Ride (I prefer Europe myself) and even Dominion.

Good luck.

Edit to Say: "Kevin, you are a very intelligent man"


Finally! Somebody noticed! laugh


Well, you suggested Tsuro as I was typing and since great minds think alike, you must be very intelligent. laugh


I cannot fault your logic, sir. A stroke of genius, making that connection. A stroke of genius.
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Dice Town is a fun social game that has very simple rules (one page front and back!), but has alot of interaction and is just plain fun...it's a dice fest, so there's a fair amount of luck...It plays 2 to 5. I've had this go over very well with most of my friends that only game casually.
 
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For Sale - Everyone I've played with enjoy this game. You won't regret it and great value at this price.

Wits & Wagers - A trivia game that non-trivia fans can enjoy. Huge hit or my friends and family and most hate trivia games. Great for large groups.

Citadels - Another great one for larger play groups.

Dominion - Rated this high for a reason.

The Downfall of Pompeii - Under-rated, fun game.

Ca$h 'n Gun$ - If you aren't offended by the theme this is a blast! I love to start out a gaming night with this game as it guarantees laughs and gets the conversation flowing. No matter how many times I try to keep it to ONE game people insist we play it again.

Stone Age - Start with one of the fun games above and then get a bit more heavy (but easily understood by non-gamers) with this game.

Saboteur - Haven't played it enough but love what I see with 5+ players.

BANG! The Bullet! - Good follow up to Cash and Guns. Needs 5+ though to be really fun and you need to really urge everyone to go offensive.
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