Published on April 26th, 2013 | by Nicole Jekich

Top 5 Games New Gamers Should Play First

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of board and card game choices for a gamer’s entertainment needs. If you are new to board gaming or looking to start gaming as hobby, I have some starter board game recommendations for you! The games below represent the broad spectrum of choices available to you. These five represent each of the most common game types and are easily accessible to newbies as they are easy to learn, quick to play and fun!


DC Comics Deckbuilding Game Box Art

1. The DC Comic Deckbuilding Game (The Deckbuilder):

Unlike the more common deckbuilders, the DC Comic Deckbuilding Game has a quicker set up, easier learning curve and offers a more varied game than, say, Dominion. Anywhere from 2-5 participants can choose a hero from the familiar Justice League lineup including: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and more. Each character has a specialization, which offers a unique strategy for each game though players are not limited to follow that strategy. Every turn players use their powers to recruit heroes, supply themselves with equipment and defeat villains. Players create a deck from randomly generated cards called the line-up which offers even more variation to the gameplay.

I recently brought this game home to play with my siblings. After just a couple games, my younger brothers were winning and could easily explain to their girlfriends how to play. To read more details about the DC Comics Deckbuilding game, Luke recently posted a detailed review of the game!


Pandemic Board

2. Pandemic (The Co-operative):

Pandemic was the first board game I packed into my suitcase for my annual Christmas trip to Boise. My goal was to introduce my brothers and sister to a game we could play together that wouldn’t end in an argument. They loved it. Pandemic earns a spot within these five because the only way to win is by working together and its challenging gameplay is suitable for all levels of experience.

Players work as a specialized team in order to stop the spread of disease and find cures for each strain before the whole world is infected. Planning ahead is the key and players must work together and are encouraged to come up with a strategy as the board state changes and before anyone moves their pieces. Pandemic helps new gamers understand the concept of playing strategically in response to board changes and leads the way to more board games with more complex problems and solutions. To read a play-through of Pandemic, read Gregg’s post here.


Smallworld Shadows

3. Smallworld (The Area Control):

“What happens on the board, stays on the board.” That is another slogan perfect for Smallworld. This game has received plenty of shout-outs from myself and the other authors. The objective involves getting the most points, which requires players to choose randomly mish-mashed fantasy races in a fight to control the most territory in ten turns. A clear objective with multiple variations, Smallworld always feels like a new game, especially if players include the many expansions that have been released.

Timing is key to this game and while the road to win seems simple, Smallworld helps players learn to be more aggressive and decisive with their decisions. All players benefit from the fantasy race randomization as there is no ideal combination to always plan for. An experienced player will work with the options available. Thankfully each box of Smallworld comes with a large reference materials with explanations to clear up any confusion regarding Berserking Pixies and other questions players may have. Overall, Smallworld is very beginner friendly!


Ticket to Ride in play

4: Ticket to Ride (The Resource Management):

Ticket to Ride is a simple game able to accommodate up to five players in a contemplative race to build the longest, most efficient railroad track. As the investor and builder, players must play their resources and plan their route efficiently as resources are limited. New players can catch on quickly and most interaction with other players comes from blocking intersecting railroads and detouring other players’ routes. Just as in many business ventures, players must be wary of the competition and consider the other players’ motives and routes. Success rewards those than plan ahead and those that take a little risk.

After Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride has been the most common introduction to board gaming among my friends new to these things. The multiple boards like 1910 America, Asia and Europe keep Ticket to Ride challenging but the original game continues to be a great casual game for group events and even a quite gaming night at home. For an even more extensive look into Ticket to Ride, Andrew recently wrote a review of this most beloved game!


epic spell wars of the battle wizards duel at mt skullzfyre

5. Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards (The Casual Combat):

New gamers will learn that 90% of the board games are a winner-take-all style combat system. Some competitive games cause just as much strife as they do fun. Epic Spell Wars, however, takes away any strife and replaces it with silliness. The characteristic that most players notice first about Epic Spell Wars is its egregiously long and humorous title: Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfrye. With a name like that, players know what to expect.

Each player is a wizard looking to cast the most epic spells to defeat all his foes and be crowned the grandest of all the wizards. The art  and gameplay are designed to keep the mood lighthearted. All characters look like they’re straight from a Ren & Stimpy cartoon and the names of spells were designed to keep people laughing the whole time. Reciting spells in funny voices is highly encouraged. I definitely recommend Epic Spell Wars to those easing into more competitive play or those looking for a great party game!


There are a few games to get you newcomers started! Let us know in the comments or on Twitter what “Top 5 List” you would like to see next!

Tags: , , ,

About the Author

Nicole Jekich

came from humble beginnings as a Boise suburbanite with a love of Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. She attended an open board game day three years ago and is now an avid gamer and fantasy artist. Her interests are primarily in Dungeons & Dragons, dice placement and Roman-themed tabletop games. Nicole is also a fan of playing games that let her release her inner barbarian. Her favorite game currently is Far Space Foundry.

Back to Top ↑