As you probably know, International TableTop Day is fast approaching. Geek & Sundry have a great list of ten games for tabletop beginners. But obviously, there are many more. Here are five additional entries that I often use as introductions to modern tabletop games.
This game is great for large groups of beginners. Initially explaining the rules can sometimes lead to confused stares and furrowed brows, but after a trial round everyone quickly picks up on the games mechanics and aim.
The great thing about Sushi Go! is that all the information the players need are on the cards, right in front of them. So none of the game happens ‘behind the scenes’, and it gives a satisfactory impression of a level playing field. Plus, the ability to control what cards are passed on introduces new players to strategic thinking in a fun environment.
More for the older players, Zombicide does a good job of taking a lot of complex ideas and distilling them down to three or four mechanics. It also gives players a fairly generic scenario, to survive against the zombies, and layers unique challenges over the top. This means that players can rely on their previous knowledge of zombie fiction, and hinge the new gameplay elements off of this.
What really puts the icing on the cake are the beautifully illustrated game boards and cards, as well as the nicely detailed playing pieces. These, coupled with the easy and fast game mechanics, means that players quickly become immersed in their struggle against the undead.
You can’t get much simpler than Love Letter. Of the two cards you hold, play one, and do what the card instructs. Avoid being knocked out of each round, earn points, and win the love of a princess.
The biggest hurdle I have had with Love Letter is getting players past the romantic premise and classical artwork. But once they are sitting down and playing a game, all that is forgotten.
Cards Against Humanity
At this point, nearly everyone has at least heard of Cards Against Humanity. A game for adults, even more so than Zombicide, Cards Against Humanity relies on the players either knowing each other really well, or being very open to comedy of all types.
Of all the games listed so far, this probably has the easiest rules to grasp. Pick a card you think is the funniest answer to a question, and submit it. What is great about Cards Against Humanity is that the rules are so malleable. So even those people who don’t really ‘get’ games can participate with a level of success, and enjoy themselves.
While aimed at players of all ages, NinjitZoo is a great introductory game for kids. The premise and artwork really captures their attention, and the rules have just the right mix of simplicity and complexity as to engage either interest and provide a challenge.
Much like Sushi Go!, NinjitZoo has everything the players need to know printed right on the cards. So there is no need to constantly refer to the rules. This, coupled with the absurd escape attempts the players generate, is enough to capture kids imaginations and keep them playing.