Gateway games are a term used by board gamers to describe games that are prefect for introducing new board gamers to concepts and mechanics found in more complex board games. 

These games are usually easy to lean and don’t require somebody to teach a diverse group of rules and mechanics in order to start playing. 

They also usually have a interesting theme that also captures a new players interest that helps draw them into the world of the game. 

Another key component of these games is time players that are new to modern board games will in most cases find the idea of spending 3 hours playing a board game crazy and will not be on board with such an idea. 

This is why gateway games need to be around a hour to an hour and a half with a obvious end condition so players don’t feel like they will be playing this forever. 

We all have flashbacks growing up of marathon monopoly sessions where we just want the game to end because we are stick of it. We want to try to avoid those emotions as much as possible. 

So Here they are my top 9 gateway games as of jan 2020 these would be the 9 games I would personally use to teach people about modern board games.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is the original gateway game in books at still takes the top spot for my number one gateway game in 2020. 

Ticket to Ride is a game that involves players trying to complete train routes as they collect matching coloured cards to meet the board requirements to place there trains on the board. 

Spaces and trains are limited so the race is on for each player to complete there routes found on tickets given to players at the start of the game before a player runs out of trains to place and the game ends. 

This game is very simple to teach and this is key to it being a good gateway game. It’s also engaging and doesn’t take to long to play. 

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Tiny Towns 

Tiny Towns is new to my list as it was just released in 2019 

Note:if you are looking to play with new gamers use the beginner scenario in the Rulebook. 

Players start the game with a grid like board and must use the space effectively to build a town that scores the most points.

This is done by placing resources in the correct sequence to convert them into building that score points. (Sometimes more if they are next to the right complementary building)

The game has players doing one thing on there turn declare a resource then place that resource in your town. The catch however is players on Another players turn must also collect the resource they declare and place it on your individual town board. 

This is a unique exercise in board management as you are doing everything you can to complete the requirements to turn your resources into buildings Tetris style but trying to leave space available to collect and place new resources.

Your game ends when you can’t place any more resources on your board and the game ends when no more players can place anything on there board. 

This game is so simple to teach and fantastic for new players however something to note it is also full of different building options and player power options that you can introduce once players have a feel for the core game. 

This means each game will have a slightly unique feel each time you play making it great to play over and over again. 

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Settlers of Catan now know as just Catan has made press as the go to game for celebrities like Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd and football teams like the green bay packers and there’s a reason for it. 

This game is easy to learn but also full of player interaction making it a very popular social game and prefect for an after dinner activity. 

Players in Catan (formerly The Settlers of Catan), will attempt to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. 

During each players turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. 

Players will the collect these resources if they have a settlement on a resource tile matching the number rolled these resources wood, grain, brick, sheep, or stone. 

These resources will be used though out the game to build up a players influence on the island with different buildings or development cards giving victory points the aim to get to 10 victory points and win the game.

Players can also gain additional bonuses for completing goals like the largest army or longest road adding more points to there score. 

Once a player has 10 victory points the game ends immediately. 

This is a great 3-4 player game with an added expansion to increase players to 5 or 6 available for players to purchase and a perfect game to get somebody started playing modern board games. 

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Poker chips with gems on them and beautiful illustrated cards will draw players into this engine building card game but be warned it’s very addictive and you may find yourself playing it for months on end when you start playing. 

Splendor is a game of chip-collecting and card development. Players are merchants of the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, means of transportation, shops—all in order to acquire the most prestige points. If you’re wealthy enough, you might even receive a visit from a noble at some point, which of course will further increase your prestige.

On your turn, you may (1) collect chips (gems), or (2) buy and build a card, or (3) reserve one card. If you collect chips, you take either three different kinds of chips or two chips of the same kind.

If you buy a card, you pay its price in chips and add it to your playing area. To reserve a card—in order to make sure you get it, or, why not, your opponents don’t get it—you place it in front of you face down for later building; this costs you a round, but you also get gold in the form of a joker chip, which you can use as any gem.

All of the cards you buy increase your wealth as they give you a permanent gem bonus for later buys; some of the cards also give you prestige points. In order to win the game, you must reach 15 prestige points before your opponents do.

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Wingspan is credited with transforming an entire group of bird lovers or birders as they like to be called into board gamers and there is a reason why it’s a fantastic gateway game. 

Wingspan is a competitive, medium-weight, card-driven, engine-building board game from Stonemaier Games.

You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). These habitats focus on several key aspects of growth:

  • Gain food tokens via custom dice in a birdfeeder dice tower
  • Lay eggs using egg miniatures in a variety of colors
  • Draw from hundreds of unique bird cards and play them

The winner is the player with the most points after 4 rounds.

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This board game looks more like your local tiling wearhouse rather then a game but that’s part of its appeal players will be drawn in by its components and keep playing due to its simple rules and gameplay leading to a game that has players saying can we play again I want to see if I can get a better score. 

In the game Azul, players take turns drafting colored tiles from suppliers to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they’ve placed their tiles to decorate the palace. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets; wasted supplies harm the player’s score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

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What if I told you that there is a board game that can be explained in a sentence “just stay on the board” this puzzle game looks more like a piece of art rather then a board game at first but with its huge player count and fast gameplay it will have everybody hooked immediately. 

The game consists of tiles with twisting lines on them, a 6×6 grid on which to lay these tiles and a token for each player. Each player has a hand of tiles. On your turn you do two things: place a tile from your hand onto the board next to your token and move your token as far as it can go along the line it is currently on, until it is stopped by an empty space with no tile in (yet), the edge of the board or colliding with another player’s token. If your token reaches the edge of the board or collides with another player’s token, you are out of the game.

The aim of the game is to be the last player left with a token on the board. Strategy therefore consists of trying to drive your opponents either into each other or off the board whilst extending your own route in directions that will make it difficult for your opponents to do the same.

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Roll for it 

Roll for it is a simple dice and card game with a huge player count that is prefect for your next family holiday or camping trip that will have players of all ages. 

Roll For It! is a casual, family-friendly dice and card game. Each player starts the game with six dice of a single color, and three target cards are laid face-up on the table. Players take turns doing the following: On a turn, a player rolls all of her dice not already on cards, then places any dice that match the targets on the corresponding cards. (Alternatively, before taking her turn, a player can first choose to reclaim all of her dice from all cards.)

If the player now fulfills the target with her dice – e.g., a pair of 3s, a quartet of 6s, or a specific combination of numbers – she claims the card, takes back her dice (and returns any other dice on the card to their owner), then places a new card on the table. Each card is worth a certain number of points. The first player to earn forty or more points wins!

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Would you like to play a game involving a cute panda that loves to eat bamboo? What kind of question is that of course you do there are very few people on this planet that would say no to that question. 

In Takenoko, the players will cultivate land plots, irrigate them, and grow one of the three species of bamboo (Green, Yellow, and Pink) with the help of the Imperial gardener to maintain this bamboo garden. They will have to bear with the immoderate hunger of this sacred animal for the juicy and tender bamboo. The player who manages his land plots best, growing the most bamboo while feeding the delicate appetite of the panda, will win the game.

That’s what you are counting on with this simple game of rolling dice and planting / eating bamboo. 

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