Gateway Games

This thought came to me from another post, so I thought I'd ask: What's your go-to gateway game when playing with people unfamiliar with modern board games? Of course, this will most likely vary depending on the person/people you're playing with, but I'm always curious to see what you guys find successful.

For me, here are some that are always hits (and again, I wouldn't play some with certain people):

  • Survive: Escape from Atlantis
  • Camel Up
  • Pandemic
  • Castle Panic
  • Codenames
  • Expancity
  • Colt Express
  • King of Tokyo
  • Tokaido

I know, I know...that's a big list. But again, each of these fits well with a specific personality. The thing all these have in common is that they're relatively simple to learn, yet are very engaging, and I think that's important. What do you like to pull out for new gamers?

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Supporter14 months ago

This is a great question! 

Typically what I do when bringing in new gamers is to play to the audience. I try to determine what themes of games they would be interested in and try to pick a good game to match their tastes. 

For example, my buddies from high school are big video gamers, so when I brought them into the hobby we played XCOM The Board Game. Probably not a traditional gateway game but they understood the concept of the game due to their familiarity with the subject matter and the theme of the game. 

One of my church friends is a big Marvel fan so we played Marvel Legendary Deck-building game. Again, not a traditional gateway game but the theme and mechanics are so strong in that game that you can ease a fan of the universe into the game. 


Essentially what I’m trying to say is that I carefully create a curated, individualized, gameplay experience that I know you’ll enjoy before we even get started.

Which means almost any game could be a gateway game.

14 months ago

That's so true. We typically think of "gateway games" as being short and simple, but in reality, practically anything will work, depending on the audience. For me, it was X-Wing, which is definitely not typical, but because I love Star Wars more than a Hutt loves bounty hunters, it worked well for me. :) 

14 months ago

The one I almost always use is Carcassonne with just The River. Not using farmers even. Simple, strategic and fun. A new one that I'm trying (at 4 players max) is Villainous.

14 months ago

Carcassonne was one of the very first modern games I played, and I liked it very much. It was even one of the first I bought! I don't have any of the expansions, but the base with The River is still great, and it's one I play with my parents, because they don't have a lot of trouble learning/playing it. I've yet to play Villainous, but it looks like a great introductory game as well!

14 months ago

  • Carcassonne has been a big hit for most crowds.
  • The Quacks of Quedlinburg is my preferred game of choice for this, I enjoy, plus the new comers do too!
  • Kingdomino is nice, a little simplistic but the drafting is fun.
  • Azul, what can I say, people love tiles that look like Starburst. 

14 months ago

Azul's a great one. We've used Sagrada before as well.

14 months ago

Along with CodenamesCodenames: Duet is excellent for a double date night. It is fun to debrief after the round and learn how the other couple thinks!

14 months ago

That's a cool idea, one that I think we'll have to try some time!

14 months ago

It is super fun! I have had times where I am really tight with the guy in the couple and we are on the same wave length, then his Wife will step in and completely through it all off! How dare he actually listen to his wife!

14 months ago

Could also someone explain to me why gateway games don't get much funding on KS? As we are creating a gateway game, is the target group of KS just a different one - more "nerdy"?

14 months ago

Hmm, that's a good question. I think the reason why we don't see much love for "gateway" games on KS is that the platform is pretty saturated with a lot of other type of games, which can put those other games under the radar. I wouldn't say Kickstarter is only for "nerdy" games/gamers, or for games with an obscene amount of minis or depth of gameplay, either. There are lots of party games on the platform that are wildly successful.

And, as mentioned in another comment here, any game could be a "gateway" game. I'm not sure what your marketing plan is thus far, but I think "gateway" has a connotation of simplistic and for beginners, so I wouldn't market it as such. My game group plays a lot of heavier games, but we also enjoy lighter games as well, which could be considered gateway to many. As soon as you label something, you're immediately limiting the audience. Advertise well in advance, promote on social media (in various groups and pages), and highlight the game's strengths. One of the biggest problems I've seen in KS is launching a campaign without doing enough marketing beforehand. I think that, in general, will help any game be more successful. 

Hopefully something I said can be of use to you :)  I'd also be interested to know more about the game you're creating, if you're alright discussing it at this stage. Best of luck!

14 months ago

Interesting points! thank you, yes this is of use to us. I was thinking about advertising it as an easy fast game but I wont do it now. We are creating a superhero themed "hilarious fight fiesta against your friends!". we are actually quite far in development as the game is complete and we will get prototypes this week :) it is a mixture of uno and jenga maybe, except you stack chips with different abilities as a tower. All chips have effects on how the next player has to stack and makes it much more difficult. if you misplay you get a damage token, when you throw down the stack its 2 tokens. the one with the least tokens wins the tournament and is the superhero champion. hope this sounds interesting to you, our playtests always went extremely positive so we are looking forward to our launch (soon!). 

thanks again

14 months ago

I also don't think advertising it as "easy" and "fast" is necessarily bad, either. People like that in a game. But definitely advertise it as more than that, if that makes sense. Perhaps fast-paced would emote a stronger feeling? (If it is fast paced.) Every game and project is unique, so it depends on your game, but I'd recommend finding similar-natured games to yours and see how they were marketed. From your description, it almost seems like a party game (which, again, can do very well on Kickstarter). It does sound interesting! I'll look forward to seeing it on Kickstarter :) 

Supporter14 months ago

My list has a lot of recent games actually even though I was introduced with Dominion, Catan, etc. My current go to games are

14 months ago

Nice list! I've only played Decrypto from what you have, and it really is a good one. I find the word/clue-type games to be a great choice for larger groups especially. I think Welcome to... and other roll/flip and write games can also be great. Cartographers is one I've wanted to try with new gamers, but haven't had the chance yet.

Linked Games
Pandemic
Expancity
Castle Panic
Codenames
Tokaido
King of Tokyo
Survive: Escape From Atlantis
Colt Express
Camel Up