10 Recommended Gateway Boardgames For The Holidays

by A.J. Coltrane

Since we’re now in the holiday season, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of the top 10 games that we use as “gateway” games — games that are not found on the Fred Meyer Wall Of Games, but are not too hugely strange, complicated, or time consuming. Stuff that’s a little bit different but seems to be fairly universally enjoyed, even among people with limited boardgame experience.

There are no original thoughts, especially on the internet. Here’s boardgamegeek’s top 100 gateway games.

My top 10 is below, with boardgamegeek rank, approximate price, and a *very* brief explanation of the mechanic. For additional information, the links lead back to earlier “Recommended Game” posts on this website:

1.  Ticket To Ride Europe (BGG #1 & #5, $45, 2-5 players)  —  Build railways across Europe by creating card sets of similar colors. Ticket to Ride easily won #1 on the BGG site. Ticket to Ride Europe got #5.

2.  Gardens of Alhambra (BGG #26, $40, 2-4 players) — Place “plant” tokens around valuable buildings to block out the competition and win points. Somehow this hasn’t gotten a Recommended Game post yet — I’ll have to fix that. BGG link here.

3.  Fluxx (BGG N/R, $15, 2+ players) — A somewhat wacky card game with continually changing rules and win conditions. Very fast to play.

4.  Forbidden Island (BGG #11, $25, 2-4 players) — Work cooperatively to save four treasures from an island that is rapidly sinking.

5.  Lost Cities (BGG #16, $22, 2 players) — Do you remember Rack-O? It’s sort of like that, but more interesting and better all around… Two players plan expeditions to one of five continents. The winner has the most valuable expeditions.

6.  Guillotine (BGG #59, $18, 2+ players) — Off with her head! The nobles are all lined up to be beheaded. Manipulate the line so that you get to behead the most famous.

7.  Dominion (BGG #25, $42, 2-4 players, up to 6 with expansions) — Card game where you create your deck as you go. If I had to pick one, it’s probably my favorite game on this list. It’s kind of hard to describe in just a few words, check out the link.

8.  Mr. Jack Pocket (BGG #64, $22, 2 players) — Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper. Jack is one of nine suspects and it’s up to Holmes to figure out who. Players take turns moving the inspectors and changing sightlines down alleyways to try to hide and/or reveal suspects. A two player game that transports well and generally takes less than 30 minutes.

9.  Citadels (BGG #52, $25, 2-8 players) — Each turn a player takes the role of one of eight midieval characters. The characters have different benefits and turn priorities. Collect gold and be the first to build eight buildings. The player with the most valuable buildings wins.

10.  Rocketville (BGG N/R, $25, 3-5 players) — BGG hates this game. We like it. The board is divided into multiple neighborhoods. Win the majority of a neighborhood and receive points as a reward. The player with the most points wins. There’s some luck involved, but we always have fun.

It’s not a complete list, but it’s a good start. What else would you add to the list?

5 thoughts on “10 Recommended Gateway Boardgames For The Holidays

  1. I know you don’t like it A.J. but Cards Against Humanity is pretty big hit if you don’t mind a little inappropriate under your christmas tree.

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  2. (Beat me to it, by “that’s” I’m referring to Cards Against Humanity)

    ‘Well, I’d argue Cards Against Humanity is less a “game” and more a “social event” like Apples to Apples.’

    And yeah, Whoonu might qualify, though I think that it’s on The Fred Meyer Wall Of Games. Of the three games it’s the one I like best.

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