In our first podcast (give it a listen here) myself and Paddy talked about how and why to start a board game meet up. I’ve no doubt that our charm and disarming Irish accents swayed you to do just that, so with that in mind this week I’m going to give you a few options for what games you should play at your first board game meet up. I’ve taken the liberty of assuming your game night is primarily to introduce new people to this wonderful hobby, and as such none of these games are overly complicated.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is a modern classic. Even if you’re not a big board game player there’s a good chance you’ve heard of it. It pops up in a lot more of your typical high street shops than some of the other games on this list, and is a great weapon to have in your arsenal when introducing new players to our wonderful hobby.
Ticket to Ride is about connecting and building railway tracks across America. More tracks and longer tracks get you points, and points, shockingly, win you the game. It’s a fantastic entry level game for a few reasons:
- Theme: Everyone knows what a train is, everyone knows trains need tracks. The theme is simple and easy to grasp from the get go.
- Look: Ticket to Ride is a nice looking game. Its got a lovely big board map, bright colours, and looks like a traditional board game. It could happily sit alongside Monopoly and Cluedo in your family’s old collection and is therefore less daunting to any new players.
- Feel: Playing Ticket to Ride is a tactile experience – each player gets a pile of trains in their colour and have to physically place the trains on their routes. Doing this is fun and gives a great sense of ownership and accomplishment. Plus, depending on the version you get, each players trains might actually be different!
- Personal: Ok this one may not be true for everyone but odds are you can find a version of Ticket to Ride for you and your group. The game was originally set in America but since it’s been around for so long and has remained so popular, there are a wealth of different versions and expansions. From Europe, to Canada, to UK and Ireland, there’s probably a Ticket to Ride for you.
Perfect for: The whole family! (Maybe not little ones who are prone to eating tiny trains.) The only downside to Ticket to Ride is that you invariably get that Beatles song stuck in your head. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing I suppose.
I’ve spoken about Love Letter before (scroll down this page to see) so I won’t get into much detail here. The reasons Love Letter is a great introductory game are basically the reasons it was on my Top 5 of 2015 list: its simple, its fun, its easy to understand (or not, and just keep playing until you get it), and it’s a memory making machine. You’re pretty much guaranteed something will happen that will have everyone at the table in stitches laughing. And, like Ticket to Ride, there are a tonne of different versions of it from Batman, to Adventure Time, to Archer!
Perfect for: That hopeless romantic in your life. Plus people who are fans of traditional card games like Blackjack or Go Fish.
Alright here we go – things are about to pick up!
Pandemic is another modern classic and, again, is a game that has managed to worm its way into mainstream stores. Along with Ticket to Ride it is a lot of people’s go to game for new players.
Pandemic is a co-op game where 4 players team up to try to tackle the outbreak of 4 different diseases across the globe. Players choose from a number of roles and then work together to curb the spread of these terrible diseases while also desperately scrambling to find a cure.
It’s slightly more complex than Ticket to Ride and looks a bit more intimidating but if you can get new players to join you for a game then you might infect them with a love of board games! (I apologise for nothing)
Perfect for: That non-competitive friend that just wants everyone to have a good time. Though, this being Pandemic, it could end up with everyone having a really depressing time as the world spirals into chaos. But hey, at least everyone is sad together.
Carcassonne is another smart little game that’s great for new players. It involves laying down tiles and putting little meeple down to claim roads, cities, churches, and other various locations. The rules are fairly simple and even if you don’t understand them right away, once someone scores some points and they’re totted up you’ll see how it works.
Like Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne isn’t intimidating: It looks sort of “traditional” but has that nice European aesthetic to it; you get to use meeple so it’s a chance for people to fall in love with those little dudes; and it basically looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle but even simpler because all the sides are straight!
Perfect for: People who like puzzles and making things! And also people who like ruining other peoples time by stealing their 20 point city that they spent the whole game building…
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
If you’ve read any of our other posts or followed us in Instagram there’s a slight chance you’ve seen me mention ONUW. I absolutely love this game. A big part of that love comes from the fact that I’ve used ONUW to rope a lot of people into playing it who don’t normally join in our usual games.
Werewolf is great as an introductory game for a lot of the same reasons I’ve mentioned for these other games: it’s quick, it’s easy to learn (assuming you use the simpler roles to begin), it’s got really nice artwork, it’s not intimidating, and, like Love Letter, it is a memory making machine!
When I break out ONUW with people who haven’t played it, this is normally how it goes:
“Alright, in this we’re villagers trying to hunt down werewolves. Wanna play?” Sometimes it’s a resounding “Sure!”, sometimes it’s a nervous headshake.
“No problem.” I say, then turn to everyone else and run down the very simple rules.
“Sure you don’t want to play?” I ask the holdout. Maybe I get a tentative yes, usually it’s an “I’ll just watch.”
“Cool,” I say. We play a round. There’s some discussion, some good natured yelling, and a lot of laughter. Once the game ends I start to shuffle the cards again and look to the stalwart observer.
“In?” 9 times out of 10 you get a smirking “Yep!”. That 10th person was probably a werewolf, so don’t take it personally.
Perfect for: Everyone dammit! When are you going to get this? Seriously though, any acting friends or people who participate in drama, or even tabletop RPG gamers in your group will immediately gravitate to this. I do genuinely think that this game will allow anyone to have a fun time.
Alright, that’ll do it for this part. Tune in next time to see what other gems you should use to lure in susceptible new players!