What game(s) do you recommend to non gamers?

Simple one this, when non gamers ask you what game they should try, what do you recommend?

Due to having kids, most people who ask us this are families so my go to answer would be Ticket to Ride. So simple, but with some interesting decisions, decent table presence if you’re not used to games and plays pretty quickly.

So, what are your suggestions?

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Carcassonne, though if they’re really non-gamers I’d probably say something like Exploding Kittens or Uno.

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Are you going to be there to teach them, or are they going to learn it for themselves? I’m assuming the latter, and I don’t have much to do with children.

Very light: Just One, Letter Jam, Love Letter, Skull
Slightly heavier: Star Realms, Splendor, Sagrada, Coup

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Dixit, mostly.


From what I have seen in the last few months introducing my friends to games, Werewords goes very, very well, and can suit a decent big group.

If it is a smaller group (3-5) I would go with Citadels or what @Captbnut suggests with Ticket to Ride as a breaking-in experience.

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I ran a bunch of board games nights at work so for around 20 people 2 of whom were gamers. So drawing from that the biggest hits were Codenames, 6 Nimmt and Sushi Go Party. Consequently it’d probably be one of them.

Oddly enough the next one on the List was Martin Wallaces’ Liberte. It was thematic enough and the core loop was simple enough for it to make sense how to play even if the strategy wasn’t anywhere near existent to the newer players. Which does lead to a second type of intro game. Which are for people who aren’t board gamers yet but are interested. Is that a valid part of the discussion?

Edit: typo

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Coup, Skull, and Star Realms are my first ones off the top of my head.

I’ve never played them, but a lot of people have a lot of love for roll and writes like Welcome To.

I also love Dixit, and I think that’s a pretty decent one.

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I have had difficulties with Welcome To teaching it to newbies, the system was not clicking for a while, it was quite stressful for them, and eventually it did sink in, but hardly anybody (including me) enjoyed the experience

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If possible, I would try to match non-gamers with a game that matched their other interests, such as a particular genre or theme, or style of game. If they like puzzles, then escape-room games like the Exit series could be a good starting off point. Cooperative games could also work well.

Are they looking for something fun and breezy that could be played while chatting and drinking? Or do they want something more challenging that would take 60-90 minutes? Do they want a game to play with the kids during lock down or as a couple after the kids have gone to bed or when another adult couple come over?


Sushi Go - Party! is a great one. It’s simple enough and it introduces an interesting idea to non-gamers: drafting cards. It also has some fun decisions to make, so it kind gets them thinking. It’s also fun for people who do play games; so it can be fun for everyone involved!


I’ve had a few friends who think Yatzee is good… So I’ve suggested Ganz schon clever to them. I expect Yatzee to be thrown out forever after that.

Simplicity is always going to be key. Completely agree on Dixit, used that a few times and it’s a lovely, easy game for everyone to play.

Splendor is an easy one to teach and play, and introduced the idea of building a basic engine.

El Dorado is a fun race game, which introduces deck building.

Jaipur it’s a game that feels instantly familiar so should be very easy for anyone to pick up.


I actually know very few people who haven’t played boardgames. So the non-gamers are those who aren’t into the hobby per se but more the type who “buy one game for the family for Christmas”. Carcassonne is not one I recommend because it’s as ubiquitious as UNO or a deck of cards here.

My monthly girl’s night includes a few of the “rarely play boardgames” types and we’ve been playing Codenames and The Crew with great success. Also Wavelength but less as a game and more of a conversation.

With my dad we’ve played Railroad Ink, Azul and The Crew and because he’s from Dortmund and likes trains I mean to introduce him to 18DO once it arrives but I guess that’s a different thing.

I realize the ease with which I can teach The Crew here is probably due to the immense popularity of a classic trick-taking game that everyone here has played and so you just have to say “it’s trick-taking but cooperative and you can’t talk about it” and people know how the game works.

I’ve played Sushi Go, Hive and Wingspan with people who rarely play games and found them enjoying the games although Wingspan is pushing it as gateway game…

I’ve recommended Splendor and Bärenpark for the “one game for Christmas”.

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Oh, yeah, forgot about Hive. That works surprisingly well for a surprising number of people.

There’s probably room for a list of “classic games done right”.

If you like the ideas of Battleship, try Captain Sonar.
If you like the ideas of Cluedo/Clue, try Mysterium.

(I wouldn’t generally recommend those to new gamers because they’re a bit big and expensive, but if that weren’t a concern…)


Games that work really well with large mixed (as in mixed attitude to games) groups are things like Animal Upon Animal, Loopin’ Louie, Rhino Hero, Penguin Trap, Pitchcar, Coconuts. Ie fun dexterity games that give kids a decent chance against adults, give opportunities for making amusing rather than good moves, and make people laugh.

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My experience of Captain Sonar with non gamers was painful. It really dragged and half the people list interest. First mate is a really tedious job in a long game where nothing happens. It could have been an accident of the group. One Captain was really cautious and on the other side the navigator was beyond useless. So 45 minutes in no on had taken any damage :sleeping::sleeping::sleeping::sleeping:. Which was a shame as all my other games of that have been absolutely amazing


I can’t remember who said it, and I think it was on the old SUSD forum, but there was a thread where people made the same complaint. There was a solution somebody had where they changed the role of the first officer, or made one person do the first officer role as well as another one, and people said when they tried it it worked really well.

Sorry, I thought this would be more helpful than it was. :thinking:


I think if they’re new-new to boardgames, go for simplicity. If you don’t feel like you can explain a game quickly in an engaging way, go for something simpler. If they enjoy the first game you play they’ll be far more likely to give a more complicated game a chance. Even if you think it’s a better choice, if they can’t immediately click with it then non-gamers can default to “I don’t get it so I’m not having fun”. Simple games are usually short too!

I reckon “the teach” is just as important as what game you’re playing when it comes to introducing new players to boardgames. Again, if they don’t understand it exactly they’ll bounce off. My game of choice would be Wavelength, or Champion of the Wild if they don’t want to learn any complicated rules. Skull or Cheating Moth can also work well with the right groups. All games where scores are secondary to play. Wavelength can also be played cooperatively which, depending on the group, is either perfect to avoid conflict or confusing for players who think someone should “win”.