Best Beginner Board Games – IGN
12 mins read

Best Beginner Board Games – IGN


Congratulations – you have decided to take off those training wheels, put down that deck of Uno cards, and dip your toe into the exciting hobby world of board games! Now, before you reach for that box of Twilight Imperium or put your investigator pants on to trot around the city of Arkham (the Cthulhu one, not the one with Batman), it’s important to work up that level of game complexity. There are a ton of great games that are far more welcoming to learn and play, to help ease you into things, but a lack of complexity doesn’t mean a lack of fun

The following games on this list were compiled to point new players towards experiences that, first off, won’t break the bank, secondly, give you a good foundational understanding of some popular mechanics and game types, and finally, be a blast to play, whether that’s with your friends, partner, or a random person at your local game shop.

Best Board Games for Beginners

Azul

Azul

Azul

“Azul, designed by world famous game author Michael Riesling, is a multiple award-winning game and is a must-own for any board game enthusiast.”

With colorful plastic tiles and a simple premise – collect sets of similar tiles to score points – Azul is a great game for folks who want to dabble in the hobby of board games. The goal is to fill up a small grid, earning points by completing lines and connecting filled-in spots on your grid to each other. It’s been said before, but it rings true for Azul: It’s quick to learn, but it takes time to master and figure out strategies. This makes Azul a great addition to any existing board game player’s collection as well.

As an added bonus, there are a number of variants that change out the theme while retaining the core gameplay. For example, if you are more of a fan of chocolates and treats than colors and patterns, perhaps Azul: Master Chocolatier would be more up your alley.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride

Days of Wonder

Ticket to Ride

“Ticket to Ride is an award winning, cross-country train adventure game.”

Ticket to Ride is one of those games that could find a place on any person’s game shelf – whether they’re longtime players with an established game group or a family getting into the hobby. The premise is relatively simple: use matching colored train cards from your hand to turn them into train routes that connect the specific cities listed on your goal cards.

Ticket to Ride also has a wide range of versions that will take you around the world – from the United States to Europe, Paris to Amsterdam – you can find the version that interests you the most. For families with younger players, Ticket to Ride First Journey will be a good choice, and groups that get together frequently may want to check out Ticket to Ride Legacy!

Pandemic

Pandemic

Z-Man Games

Pandemic

“Players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths as they plan their strategy of eradicating the diseases before they overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks. A truly cooperative game where you win or lose together.”

For those new players seeking a cooperative experience rather than a competitive one, there are few games that offer it quite as well as the pandemic. Each player will be assigned one of six potential jobs, such as the Dispatcher, which can move other players around the map, or the Medic, which can remove extra diseases from their location; you and the other players will need to work together to cure and eradicate four deadly diseases that are quickly spreading around the globe.

Few games can offer such a tense and rewarding experience while still remaining easy to teach and not taking overly long to set up or play. With plenty of expansions as well (including one that makes the game one-player versus many), if you find yourself enjoying Pandemic, there are tons of options and expansions available to keep your games fresh.

Coup

Coup

Indie Boards and Cards

Coup

“A Fast & Fun Social Deduction Bluffing Game. A popular game for family and adults, delivers endless excitement and suspense.”

Deception, suspicion, and deduction are all part of the small-box game of Coup. Coup asks the simple question—do you know when your friends are lying to you? Can you spot their tells well enough that you can confidently call them out when they aren’t being truthful? And can you do it when your own “life” is on the line?

Coup is an easy game to set up, learn, and play quickly. At the start of a new game, each player is given two cards with occupations on them, with each one having unique abilities, including the Captain’s ability to steal money from another player, the Assassin that can kill a single card, or the Contessa that can block the previously mentioned assassinations. The goal of Coup is to be the last person with a role left. By utilizing your roles (either the actual roles you have or those you claim to have), the object is to deceive or trick your way to the top. This is a great game to bust out at parties and a good taste of the hidden-role genre of board games.

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

Space Cowboys

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

“Immerse yourself in the gaslit streets of Victorian London with this standalone box that offers ten thrilling cases for Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective”

Perhaps the biggest departure from what most people consider a “board game,” Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective pits you and your friends’ wits and know-how against the legendary detective himself as you work to solve some of his most memorable cases

Take your own notes as you follow up on tips, interview people, and look through the telephone book and even newspapers to uncover clues and get to the bottom of the case. Once you have it solved, you compare your methodology against Holmes’ to determine whether or not you found the right culprit. Since Consulting Detective is more about solving a mystery and having everyone work together, it’s a great game for date nights or a chill night with some friends. Whether you like board games or not – it’s also a great one for folks who like true crime podcasts.

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill

Avalon Hill

Betrayal at House on the Hill

“Players must work together to survive the nightmare…but beware . The house turns one player against the others in this cooperative strategy game”

Betrayal at House on the Hill is one of those games that frequently comes out during game nights around my table—especially if friends who don’t play games are around. It’s a game that can be explained in just a few minutes, picked up after a round or two around the table, and offers great moments where everyone will hold their breath. Discovering that the guy who found a crossbow, ceremonial dagger, and is walking around in armor turns out to be the traitor can really make you sweat – speaking from experience.

We here at IGN rank Betrayal at House on the Hill among one of the best horror board games around., There are a bunch of editions and reskins utilizing the same ruleset, so even if the horror aesthetic doesn’t appeal to you, there’s almost certainly a variation to appeal to your tastes.

Star Wars: The Deck Building Game

Star Wars: The Deck Building Game

Fantasy Flight Games

Star Wars: The Deck Building Game

“Immerse yourself in the epic struggle between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance in this head-to-head card game set in the Star Wars universe.”

What do you get when you take one of the most well-known and important franchises and mix it with one of the most popular modern game types? You get Star Wars: The Deck Building Game, a great entry point in the deck-building genre to hook all those Sith and Jedi out there.

One player plays as the nefarious Empire, while the other straps on the boots of the Resistance. Players take turns trying to defeat three worlds using an army of recognizable ships, characters, and weapons from the series. Unlike some games, Star Wars: The Deck Building game comes in a small box and is easy to set up, meaning you’ll save (or conquer!) the galaxy in no time.

Dice Throne

Dice Throne

Dice Throne Inc.

Dice Throne

Dice Throne is a fast and strategic game of card play and dice manipulation for 2-6 Players.

Dice Throne is the perfect way to introduce new prospective board game players to the wonderful chaos of dice rolling wrapped up in a Yahtzee package. Dice Throne has players choose their fighters, each with a small deck of cards and a set of special attacks. The attacks are triggered based on the dice rolls, the aim of which is to reduce your opponent’s life to zero.

There is a decent amount of strategy you can learn and figure out, or you can quite simply roll the dice and see what happens. An additional element that makes Dice Throne a great beginner game is the fact that you can purchase smaller two-pack sets of heroes to try before investing in the large seasonal box sets. That being said, those big boxes are pretty tempting, with a Marvel season featuring heroes such as Thor and Miles Morales, as well as an upcoming X-Men set. If you’d rather go for OC, there are two sets of 8 original characters designed specifically for Dice Throne. Since each character comes in their own tray, transporting and setting up Dice Throne is incredibly easy, too. In other words, Dice Throne is easily one of the best beginner dice-rolling games out there.

Just because a game may be good for beginners, it doesn’t mean that you’re missing out on fun game experiences. There are plenty of great games out there for folks who are interested in adding some cardboard and dice to their friend hangouts or date night activities. Whether it’s deck building in the Star Wars universe, dice rolling battle with Marvel’s heaviest hitters, or just lying to your friends for fun, you don’t need to be stuck with a new variation of Monopoly to entertain your beginning board game friends – thank the dice gods for that.



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