Gateway Games: Introduction to Board GamingAugust 21, 2018
There are many genres of tabletop games and subgenres within each genre. There is something for everyone, but how do you find what game is right for you? Or how do you figure out what game to introduce to someone who is new to gaming? Gateway Games is a new series of articles aimed at helping you find the games that are right for you. Today, I am going to focus on Euro-style board games.
Euro-style board games are different than your standard mass-market board games that many of us grew up with, such as Monopoly, Sorry!, Clue, and Scrabble. They are called Euro-style due to the genre’s start in Germany before spreading across other parts of Europe and eventually making their way to the United States. Euro-style games focus on strategy over luck and often have themes that focus on resource management and indirect player interaction.
Most of these games determine a winner based on who has the most victory points at the end of the game, but not all of them are accessible to the board game novice. So before grabbing a giant, 4-hour game with 600 pieces, 1 hour of set-up, and the brainpower required to colonize and feed an entire civilization,you should start out with a few easy to dive into Gateway Games. There are many amazing games you can start with, including many beyond this list, but here are some of the most popular Gateway Games and my personal favorites.
Originally titled Settlers of Catan, this is a tried and true Gateway Game. The perfect intro to resource management games for beginners, and it’s ideal for a group is 3-4 players. This is actually the first Eurogame I ever experienced and it led to an obsession with the genre that paved my path into a career in the tabletop industry. The game board is made of randomly placed hexagon tiles that each represent one of the 5 resources: Wood, Brick, Ore, Wheat, and Sheep.
Each turn starts with a die roll and all players collect resources according to where their settlements are located. On your turn, you use your collected resources to build roads, more settlements, and for upgrading settlements to cities. The more you build, the more points you get. There are some additional resource cards, a robber that adds some complications, and other ways to gain points, but overall it’s pretty simple.
This is a fairly new resource management game that released last year by Plan B Games, and it is a fantastic resource management game that is fun for veterans and easy for beginners. It took off very quickly in the industry and helped pave the way for Plan B to win some awards for other games as well. The game board and pieces are beautiful and the set-up is simple. I feel that the strategy is complex, but the actions are very easy to follow.
Each turn you have four possible actions: 1) choose a market card from the board to add to your hand, 2) play a card from your hand to earn or upgrade spices (the colored cubes), 3) claim a victory card, or 4) rest and pick up all your played cards to return them to your hand. It’s one of those games that you want to play again when you finish because you might want to try something different next time.
This is a little on the heavier side, but my personal favorite board game. I believe this is the perfect next jump up once you have mastered Catan and conquered something like Century: Spice Road, Ticket to Ride, or Carcassonne. Puerto Rico combines resource management, building construction, taking on different roles, and sharing spaces with your opponents. There are many ways to win, so the strategy options are plentiful, making this game replayable for all skill levels of gamers. It feels complex, and the strategy definitely is, but after you go through one round of turns, it’s pretty straightforward how to play.
I hope this was helpful for people interested in trying out some board games beyond what they grew up with and as a guide for turning your friends and loved ones into hardcore gamers.