What are good beginner board games?
The first of our six pack video series, opening with perfect starter games for anyone looking to get started in the world of board games.
Our beginner game tips:
- Carcassonne: Transport yourself to the old, medieval, hilltop town of Carcassonne, in this tile and worker placement game, that is an all-time classic.
- Splendor: Take on the role of gem merchants, battling through the renaissance to mine raw materials, transform them into precious stones and then sell to the rich and affluent.
- Sushi Go: In this fast-paced card game, the goal is to grab the best combination of sushi dishes, drawing a card each round, sets offer the biggest point rewards but you aren’t the only diner.
- Spyfall: In this hit social deduction game, it’s a race for the one hidden spy to work out where in the world they are, before the players who know the details flush them out asking questions around the table.
- King of Tokyo: A press-your-luck game where you play mutant monsters, gigantic robots and other monstrous creatures, rampaging the city and vying for position as the one and only King of Tokyo.
- DIXIT: Winner of the 2010 Spiel des Jahres award (Family Game of the Year), this party game is all about using your imagination and your skills of interpretation.
This classic see’s players selecting a face-down tile from the centre of the table, and placing it to continue the landscape already forming. While you have some freedom there is the one key rule in Carcassonne. Roads must continue roads, castles must continue castles; you cannot cut off a feature. Then comes the key decision, do you place a meeple on one of the available features on that tile, securing sweet victory points, or do you keep hold of your meeples and await another placement opportunity that may yield more points?
This dilemma is what keeps people coming back to the game, you can choose to focus on your own score, or be a little more Machiavellian instead sabotaging peoples attempts to build longer rivers and sweeping castles.
With its simple yet rich game mechanics and eighty-four tiles that can be configured into numerous combinations, Carcassonne appeals to beginners and veteran gamers alike.
- Player Count: 2-5
- Time: 30-45
- Minutes Age: 8+
Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops—all in order to acquire the most prestige points. If you’re wealthy enough, you might even receive a visit from a noble at some point, which of course will further increase your prestige.
On your turn, you may collect gem tokens, or buy and build a card, or reserve one card probably ruining someones well-laid plans in the process. If you collect chips, you take either three different kinds of chips or two chips of the same kind. If you buy a card, you pay its price in chips and add it to your playing area. To reserve a card—in order to make sure you get it, or, why not, your opponents don’t get it—you place it in front of you face down for later building; this costs you a turn, but you also get gold in the form of a joker chip, which you can use as any gem.
All of the cards you buy increase your wealth as they give you a permanent gem bonus for later buys; some of the cards also give you prestige points. In order to win the game, you must reach 15 prestige points before your opponents do.
- Player Count: 2-4
- Time: 30-45
- Minutes Age: 10+
Good things come in small packages, in this battle for sushi supremacy everyone is looking for their perfect meal deal. This ain’t no all-you-can-eat buffet though, instead, while you are handed a host of tasty treats, you can only take one each turn, so grab what you can from the card-based conveyor belt and see what’s been left for you by your friends. Early on in the game, your choice doesn’t matter too much, but as the food starts to run out watch as your so-called friends stab you in the back for the last dumpling.
It’s simple to play and has a friendly art style that makes this the perfect Sushi starter to get people into playing board games.
- Player Count: 2-5
- Time: 15-20
- Minutes Age: 8+
Your mission should you choose to accept it…Well, you don’t really know what your mission is in Spyfall, by the time you’ve picked up your card you’re already in way over your head and the clocks ticking.
At the start of each round, players receive a secret card informing them of the group’s location. Except for one player, who receives the SPY card instead of the location. The Spy doesn’t know where they are, but wins the round if they can figure it out before they blow their cover!
Players then start asking each other questions during the intense 8-minute rounds.
Non-Spy players want to ask questions and give answers that prove to the other players that they know where they are. But watch out! If your questions and answers are too specific, the Spy will easily guess the location and win, so you need to practice a bit of subtlety. But if your questions and answers are too generic, you might be accused of being the Spy. The Spy will also sometimes be asked questions (just like any other player would) and have to come up with questions of his own, without knowing anything about where he is! If you listened carefully to the other players, you’ll be able to come up with a plausible question or answer… hopefully.
With a sequel that bumps the player count and a number of spin-offs including a DC version, Spyfall is a great game for larger groups.
- Player Count: 3-8
- Time: 30-45
- Minutes Age: 12+
King of Tokyo
King of Tokyo see’s you inhabit a giant monster and become the last creature standing in the city.
Each turn you will take the pleasingly chunky dice and roll away. If you aren’t happy with the results you can re-roll, Yahtzee style, as many dice as you like. After a maximum of three rolls, you are stuck with your results and will use them to attack other players, heal yourself, gain energy to buy power cards or earn victory points.
The dice faces themselves show the numbers 1-3, a lightning bolt, a heart, and a claw. Claws are used to attack, hearts to heal and lightning bolts gain energy. Numbers can be exchanged for victory points but only if you have at least three of the same number at the end of your rolls.
Power cards are purchased with energy cubes and let you ‘break’ the rules of the games in some way. For example, one card lets you roll extra dice, another lets you leave Tokyo without taking damage and so on.
The trick is to take control of Tokyo at the right time. In Tokyo, your attacks hit all the other players, but all the other player’s attacks hit you and you cannot heal! The other snag is the only way you can leave Tokyo is after another player attacks you, the upside is that player must replace you in Tokyo. This means choosing when to attack is incredibly important and rolling an unwanted claw on your last re-roll can be devastating!
- Player Count: 2-6
- Time: 30-45
- Age: 8+
This hugely popular party game that’s all about using your imagination and your skills of interpretation.
In this storytelling title, it’s every person for themselves – either the first to 30 points, or whoever has the most points when the deck runs out.
Dixit comes with 84 unique cards, each with wonderful, vivid and sometimes quite surreal artwork on them. Players start with a hand of six cards, and one player will start as the ‘Storyteller’. They will pick one of their cards and describe it in a sentence. This can be as wild, bland, creative or imaginative as they please. Then everyone will discreetly pick a card from their hand that they think best matches that sentence. All cards are shuffled and revealed face-up. Then players have to secretly vote using tokens (which are simultaneously flipped) on which card they think belongs to the Storyteller.
If everyone picks the Storyteller’s card (or if no one guessed right), then everyone scores two points, except the Storyteller. If only some people guessed correctly, then they and the Storyteller score three points. If others pick your own card when you are not the Storyteller, you alone score 1 point per vote for your card. (You are not allowed to vote for your own card!).
Therefore, it quickly becomes a case of the Storyteller having to balance proceedings – if they’re too vague in their descriptions, they risk alienating everyone from guessing their card. But at the same time, they cannot make it too obvious, because then everyone will know it and they’ll score nothing! At the end of each turn, everyone receives a new card to their hand, and then the next player becomes the Storyteller.
In some ways, Dixit is less of a board game and more of a fun activity you can experience with friends or family.
- Player Count: 3-6
- Time: 30 Minutes
- Age: 8+
So that’s our list of starter board games, whether you like things on board based, with bluffing or beating monsters to a pulp there’s something in this six-pack to help get you started in the world of games.
If you think we’ve missed something drop a comment on the video or reach out online to let us know.