Board Games for Beginners

Sirianna Blanck, Editor-in-chief

As I’ve searched for ways to hang out with my friends throughout the pandemic, nothing has seemed to successfully take the place of our board game nights. Gathered around a table, most likely a foot apart, competing for bragging rights, playing board games was my favorite way to spend time with my loved ones. While that time has not yet come back, I figured I would use some of the board game space in my brain to outline what board games you should give a try with some friends when we’re all finally back together.

The four games below are what I would recommend to those who haven’t played that many board games in their life (excluding Monopoly, Clue, etc). While I’m positive those who have spent far too many Friday nights around a board would still enjoy them, these games I think are great for beginners especially because they have pretty straightforward rules. They shouldn’t be difficult to learn or play for the first time, but they still require strategy and thought to win. 

1. If you want a fast, party game, I would recommend Skull.

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Skull is a game of poker faces and hidden cards, with one player winning either by achieving their bets or being the last one standing. Players in Skull have a hand of four cards, three flowers, and a skull. Each player places their cards face down, and the game begins with players trying to avoid flipping any skulls. Not only is it perfect for seeing which of your friends is good at gambling, but the artwork of each card set is unique, based on different cultures, and quite lovely.

2. If you want to enjoy the art and atmosphere a good board game creates, I would recommend Tokaido.

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Tokaido is perfect when you want an experience. I rarely feel the need to win when playing it; instead, I enjoy the different paths, from souvenir shopping to vista viewing. In Tokaido, you and your friends are tourists in Japan’s countryside. You gain points by visiting hot springs, trying new foods, as well as by trying many other tourist-type activities. The game’s minimalistic but colorful art captures the peaceful but strategic gameplay as you reach the end of your journey.

3. If you want a collaborative team game, I would recommend Mysterium.

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In Mysterium, you are a group of detectives trying to find a murderer with the help of a fellow player, who plays the deceased. This ghost player cannot speak but must instead use interpretive art cards to lead their teammates to the killer. If you’re looking for team spirit over winning or if you want to solve a mystery, Mysterium is a great game, combining illustrations and art with board game strategy.

4. If you’re playing to beat others, I would recommend Ticket to Ride.

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Ticket to Ride is probably the most well-known on my list, and I think it is a classic for a reason. With the simple goal of trying to essentially become a railroad tycoon, Ticket to Ride is the perfect example of a game in which you are just trying to screw other players. While it has led to many arguments in my house, it’s still a great game for those who love to strategize from the very start and figure out how to end up on top with a limited amount of trains and trackspace on the board. While I don’t reach for it as much as my fantasy or artistic games, it has many, many sequels for a reason.