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So you’ve either just discovered modern board games or you want to introduce a new gamer to this wonderful hobby; maybe a family member, work colleague or random passer-by. But what game do you start with?
Firstly there isn’t a perfect answer to which game to start with and with good, patient teaching the right amount of enthusiasm and support almost any game can be a great introduction.
When picking what game to teach to new players, including what to pack for a games night, here are a few things to consider. None of these are good or bad, just things to take into consideration.
- Complexity: How difficult is the game to learn? How many rules? Is it simple to learn after just a quick introduction and then ‘diving in’? One common difference between classic games and modern games is no player elimination, meaning everyone stays in the game right to the end. This is great as it keeps everyone involved, but often you can’t tell who has won until you complete the end game scoring. Complexity does include an element of strategy and depth in addition to learning the basic rules
- Theme: Does the game have a theme? This could be it farming, war, space exploration or maybe a pure abstract game, where there is no theme. Also consider the ‘age appropriateness’ and the ‘rudeness’ of the game you are planning on playing as well.
- Confrontation / Interaction: Modern games range from high player interaction where you attack each other; for example in a war game , fantasy battle or even Chess, right through to games where you have your own play area and minimal interaction with other players, bar some competition over resources and / or actions.
- Duration: How long does the game take including set up and teaching time?
- Your audience: Does the game require you to hum, dance, do impressions or anything else horribly painful for introverts and/ or around strangers? Does it require specific knowledge?
- Accessibility, colour blindness, rules constantly changing, negotiation, needing to lie or read people! Font size, english as a second language both word use and colloquialisms.
- Personally I will opt to play a slightly too complex game with a theme that really excites and entices a new player, over a game they might find dull. It is often better to leave them wanting more and analysing what they could have done better rather than thinking ‘is this it?’
- Consider your teaching style. It is often best to give an overview and then ‘dive in’ and play by learning
- Try and have it set up and all the spare pieces, and optional modules packed away in the box to make the game appear as approachable and simple as possible.
- A lot of players may not have learnt a new game or skill for a while. Fear of failure, looking stupid and or just not getting it is a real thing. Reassure you players and let them know you’ll coach and support them and they aren’t just there to be ‘cannon fodder’.
Below is a list of beginners’ games which have worked well for us at Herefordshire Boardgamers. These ratings are subjective, and are rated from 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.
These are all on the lighter end of the modern board game selection as they have been chosen to be accessible. For players newer to board games but with role-playing (e.g. Dungeons & Dragons) or wargame/ Warhammer experience I will often go ‘off list’ and dive into a game like Tyrants of the Under Dark or Chaos in the Old World; something with a theme that resonates, which would be off the scale of 1-5 in difficulty.