Introductory games, 2022 edition

So your friend* says “you seem to spend a lot of time on this boardgaming stuff, could I give it a try?”. Of course there are a lot of lists on a lot of sites of “X best beginner games”, so a slight tweak: you, as an experienced gamer**, want to enjoy playing this game too. What do you show them first? What are the “core” games that you think they should play at least once even if they then decide that’s not their style?

Bonus points† if it’s currently available or in your collection.

* in a generic sense; obviously in reality you’d tune it to their particular tastes.

** you’re reading a games forum, that’s more experience than the majority of boardgamers.

† bonus points not redeemable for cash, prizes, or forum support credit.


Azul most likely.

  • Lasts no more than 45 minutes

  • Easy to get the flow

  • Decent with 2, 3 or 4

If Monopoly is specifically mentioned - Lords of Vegas, or if they’re analytical and we have time Power Grid

  • Just recently introduced my colleagues to Codenames–there were a couple of people there with “no” experience (over here this generally means they played a bunch of games over the years but no modern games recently). It took them a while to grok but the colleague whose only recent experience was playing through several blocks of Ganz schön Clever immediately bought a copy. I still can’t get enough of Codenames. The whole group requested a repeat event!

  • Dixit is the same as Codenames for me but word games seem more popular and easier to teach.

  • Just One is also a good one. In general introducing people to cooperative games is fascinating…

  • Space Base or similar because you can simply play this and have fun without knowing what you do but you can also build a pretty nice board if you want and I enjoy it a lot. Taught it to my dad during our skiing trip and it went over well.

  • Because basic trick taking card games (like with a deck of cards) are pretty popular here, I have The Crew (2 mostly that now) as an option. It is a little tricky to make people think cooperatively when trick taking games can get pretty aggressive.

  • (Marvel) Splendor, now that I finally own a copy. Splendor is simple to teach but still good fun.

  • I still like Azul, I am eagerly awaiting the hexagonal version to be available.

  • With the right group maybe Hardback might work as an introduction to deck building? As people have probably played Scrabble, making words from letters they have in their hand should be easy. I am less sure about that, but it is listed at a weight just above 2 and I feel that should be fine for people with no or very little modern boardgame experience.

  • Sushi Go–always been a success. Yes, drafting is a concept that takes a bit to wrap most people’s head around but I have taught my dad…

PS: if I know the group has people in it who love cars, I think I might add Rallyman GT to the list.

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Skull, For Sale, Diamant


East. 6 Nimmt!, Dinosaur Tea Party, Codenames.


My go to is Carcassonne. Taught our 5-year-old nephew to play, so I figure that makes it the ultimate intro game.

Anything similar, like Calico, Bärenpark or Patchwork should also work.

If I think they can handle it (good attention span, for example), I go by a theme that they like (for example, Terraforming Mars for my sci-fi buff dad, one day I’ll get him to play it) before I go for a weight.


An odd selection, as this is basically just “games my non-gamer partner has enjoyed and would happily play again”:

The Champion of the Wild
Dinosaur Tea Party
Exit games
Kung Fu Zoo


This is quite useful, as I have some Carcassonne acquainted friends coming over next week


After two mentions on this thread, does anyone care to elaborate a little about what Dinosaur Tea Party is like? What kind of game is it? I have seen it is on BGA.

I typically try to ease people in with games they can easily find at a big box retailer (Target, Walmart, etc) or a mainstream online retailer (e.g. Amazon).

But, from there, I try to assess both the person to which I am recommending, as well as the potential players around that person’s table.

Ticket to Ride (North America) is a go to because it’s inviting and a well-documented entry-point into the hobby.

Before this, our Pandemic, I would recommend Pandemic as well; inviting people into the not-so-mainstream realm of cooperative games; even better when suggesting to a young family. Due to “Pandemic” potentially being a sore spot in the minds of many, I would probably recommend, instead, Forbidden Island (don’t own) or Forbidden Desert (do own)

Additionally, if I think the hypothetical group would be savvy enough to watch and learn using either the rulebook (most non-“boardgamers” I know are fine playing games, they just don’t like to learn rules, and certain types of people will just skim and then fill in the gaps…) or successfully learn via a combination of the rulebook and a YouTube video (which I would provide for them), I’d probably pick from a broader pool, based on that person’s and/or group’s tastes:

  • Wingspan – them beautiful birds and a good introduction into tableau building combo-based card games
  • Splendor – tactility and efficiency; a good one from bringing analytical-minded people into the hobby, I’ve found
  • Carcassonne – shared space tile building; has some elbows and creates some tension while remaining accessible and not outright mean.

Codenames for me hands down, every time I’ve demoed it for non-gamers at least one person has bought it, by far and away my most successful demo game. It’s far from my personal favourite but it’s definitely a nice way to pass the time. Ticket to Ride perhaps after that to start moving towards more boardgameyness.


Restoration Games reimplementation of Whosit?. Basically it’s logical elimination with time pressure from other players. Each player has a random tea-party-attending dinosaur card with some specific characteristics (e.g. glasses, spines, green background, has a pet). On your turn you pick a target player and ask a binary question (“do you have glasses”), and the truthful answer is public information. If the answer is “yes” you get another turn. Alternatively you can ask “are you [specific dinosaur]”, and if you’re right you get a point and they discard the clues and draw a new dinosaur; 3 points is the win.

I’ve played it once on BGA (where it’s very grim and mechanistic because the answering is automatic) and once in real life (though even there we didn’t put on the silly voices as the rulebook suggests). Easy to get up and running quickly, but for me a meh-to-OK rating rather than a game I’d choose to own.


The big problem with the BGA version I found, is that you can’t easily see the whole grid of dinosaurs at once. So you’re constantly scrolling around to try and work out who someone could be.

It’s very much a game where you want to lean into the silliness to make it fun.


Lost Cities
1st place never fails: Santorini

Have tested these with Reluctant Boardgamer Girlfriend and she loved them. (Quacks of Q was a total dud with her, weirdly).

Also probably good:
Forbidden Island
I’ve heard everyone say it about Sushi Go
High Society for auctions?


The usual:

Lords of Vegas
The Resistance
Whitehall Mystery

Job’s a good 'un.


As I was glancing through the thread, I read this as
“Skull For Sale, Damn It!”

Any game can be an introductory game; it really depends on the person. Shorter (less than an hour) is probably advisable if you don’t know they’ll enjoy it, but even a 2+ hour game might be fine for a computer gamer who is used to playing for hours at a stretch. While I introduced my in-laws to Point Salad, I wouldn’t throw Terraforming Mars at them, though I have introduced a tweener to it.


Ah, a new rival for the “baby shoes” line …

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A Skuuuuuuulllll, Skuuulll for Saaaaaaaallleee…

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Not the way i play it… :rofl::rofl::rofl:


Would have failed for my wife. Too chess-like for her interest, if I remember correctly. It has languished on the shelf since our one play.

Just going with things I’ve managed to teach my parents, I’d have to say Ticket to Ride and Azul. While for each game they both say they have no idea what they are doing, they seem to manage decent enough scores most of the time.

Going further than that, something I think is easy enough to grasp but still very fun is Unmatched. Just pick a fighter that looks appealing, cover the rules in literally 2 minutes, and go.