Last month, we gave you some great suggestions of games suitable for winning your non-gamer friends over to the side of light… er… gaming. In case those didn’t work, we thought we’d toss you five more options. Because, let’s face it, the more folks we convert to the TableTop lifestyle the better chances of finding a fifth player for that last minute Dead of Winter game on an upcoming weekend.
The following five games were hand-chosen to be accessible to your less experienced players but also fun for serious enthusiasts. They all have shorter playtimes and tend to be fun to play regardless of whether players will win or lose. We did not consider the more well known gateway games like Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, or Carcassonne because we’re looking to keep things fresh. Here comes the list:
A lot can be said about the depth and strategy of Pandemic, but at its core, each player only needs to grasp some simple mechanics to get things moving. Especially with a seasoned player or two on the team, this collaborative game of CDC disease specialists vs. global outbreaks can get really exciting really fast and the game is certainly addictive. Early on, this game can be hard to win, but the rising tension makes losses almost like a toppling Jenga tower. In other words, you just want to set it back up right away and go again.
Non-Gamer Pitch: “It’s like the movie Outbreak or 28 Days Later… anyway I bet we can’t beat it on the first go.”
Play time: 30 Minutes
This game of battling interstellar species certainly brings the visual appeal. With its adorable flying saucer pieces, it’s certainly an attractive game. If that’s not enough to tempt your friends to sit down at the table, you can tease them that after playing with some of the starting aliens you’ll still have nearly 50 more to chose from. Cosmic Encounter is simple to teach and ramps up surprisingly smoothly, but hand picking the available aliens early on can help that a lot.
Non-Gamer Pitch: “Imagine space invaders but we’re all aliens and there is a whole saucer load of backstabbing.”
Play Time: 60 Minutes
Gloom sells itself pretty well with its Edward Gorey style artwork and innovative transparent cards. It is also a good bridge between more advanced gaming and casual card games like Uno. Players take the role of a family of misanthropes who, in a twist, are trying to have the worst possible life and then die. You take turns playing cards on your family or your opponents. You want your rival families to have good experiences and your family to have the bad ones. Expect the game to be punctuated with laughter as you plague your dreary family with increasingly insane misfortunes.
Non-gamer Pitch: “It’s like if The Addams Family was a game about dying horrible and ridiculous deaths.”
Play Time: 60 Minutes
Here’s a game that you can start setting up from a box shaped like a giant bullet. If that doesn’t attract their attention I don’t know what will. In this game of cowboy pistol shootouts, you all play different characters with unique special abilities, but your role (Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw or Renegade) is dealt randomly and kept secret. So in the dusty high noon streets with bullets flying, you’re never quite sure who’s on your team. Bang plays fast and fun but really goes up to 11 if you play the game in character.
Non-Gamer Pitch: “Think about your favorite spaghetti western and get ready to draw. Get it, draw? See it has two meanings.”
Play Time: 20+ Minutes
Deck-building games are tons of fun and there a few better games to teach this mechanic to new players than Dominion. Playing as competing monarchs, everyone starts with small identical decks and, each round, buys new cards from a central pool, shuffling them in to expand their decks and use them in subsequent turns. The base game is very accessible, especially with the suggested starter cards. Even if the first few rounds are rocky, most players will start seeing the strategy just enough to get hungry for more.
Non-Gamer Pitch: “Let’s see if you can kick my butt with a deck of cards you build yourself as we go.”
Play time: 30 Minutes
So that’s another handful of games to help show your friends why you’ve been spending so much money on cardboard and glass beads. Leave your suggestions in the comments, or even better, tell us your stories of the times you started off a friend in the hobby and now their collection is bigger than yours.