Best Board Games for Beginners

Best board games for beginners article image

New to the world of Board Games?
Are you tired of playing Risk or Monopoly every Christmas?

Good news for you. We are in the Golden Age of Board Games!

As you have probably noticed, board games have made a huge comeback in the last 10 years, but now we are literally on top of the iceberg.
Multiple games are released every year and more people are interested in this fantastic hobby.

If you are new to this world, it can be a little overwhelming deciding which board game suits you the best, so I thought to write this list of what I reckon are the best Board Games for beginners currently available.

The criteria I have taken into consideration are:

  • Easy rules. Nobody likes spending 20-30 minutes reading and explaining rules to someone else. And on the other side, nobody likes listening to another person speaking nonsense.
    The gold rule here is less reading, more playing!
  • Gameplay. What is even worse than listening to someone explaining the rules, is waiting for someone else’s turn to finish and finally start playing. So boring!!
    In my list, I tried to choose the games that have a fast-paced gameplay. Of course, I’m not considering the learning curve, at the beginning is natural being slow.
  • Game length. I personally love endless games! if I like a particular game I’d spend hours playing it, but when you haven’t still chosen your favourite genre of board games is better sticking with games that are relatively fast.
    You can benefit from it for 2 reasons: you can play another match if you liked the game or you can throw it out of the window and try another one.
    The more you try the sooner you understand what you like.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will get a commission at no extra cost to you. See our Affiliate Disclosure.


Best board games for beginners pinterest image

BEST BOARD GAMES FOR BEGINNERS

Splendor
2 – 4 players | 30 mins | Age 10+

Ticket To Ride
2 – 5 players | 30 – 60 mins | Age 8+

Carcassonne
2 – 5 players | 30 – 45 mins | Age 7+

Tokaido
2 – 5 players | 45 min | 8+

Smallworld
2 – 5 players | 40 – 80 min | 8+

Colt Express
2 – 6 players | 30 – 40 min | 10+

Santorini
2 – 4 players | 20 min | 8+

Exploding Kittens
2 – 5 players | 15 mins | Age 7+

Dominion
2 – 4 players | 30 min | 13+

Codenames
2 – 8 players | 15 min | 14+

Splendor

In Splendor you take on the role of a rich merchant during the Renaissance.
You have to use your resources to acquire mines, transportation methods and artisans who will allow you to transform raw gems into beautiful jewels!

To win the game you have to accumulate more Prestige Points than the opponents, and you can gain those Points by acquiring development cards and earning the nobility’s respect. As soon as a player reaches 15 prestige points, the current turn ends (so that every player has gotten the same number of turns) and the player with the most prestige points is declared the winner.

Splendor is a fast-paced engine-building game, very easy to teach and learn thanks to its straightforward and solid game mechanics.
After the first explanation of the game, you can easily start playing it without going back and forth between the game and the rulebook.

Fun, easy to learn and has good replayability, this game embodies everything you could ask for to start your journey into the Board Games World.

Will you become the most distinguished jewel crafter of the Renaissance?


Best Board Games for Beginners: splendor

SPLENDOR
2 – 4 players | 30 mins | Age 10+


Ticket to ride

Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure where players collect cards of various types of train cars, that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities in various countries around the world.
The longer the routes, the more points they earn.
Additional points come to those who can fulfil their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway.

It’s definitely one of the pillars of modern board games and a must-have in everybody’s collection. 
It’s the perfect game for a family night as it’s very easy to teach/learn and it has good replayability. 

Ticket to Ride is one of the highest rated games to get people into this hobby for various reasons.
I personally like the fact that this game isn’t as easy as it appears, because during the game you’ll be asked to take meaningful decisions.

The classic edition of Ticket to Ride is the one I suggest you buy, but there are plenty of different versions available on the market suited for everyone’s taste!


Best Board Games for Beginners: ticket to ride

TICKET TO RIDE
2 – 5 players | 30 – 60 mins | Age 8+


Carcassonne

When we talk about the best board games for beginners, we have to mention Carcassonne.
This timeless classic board game it’s the perfect mix between fast-paced gameplay and strategy.

I included it in various lists on this blog as I truly think this game deserves to be on everyone’s shelf!

Carcassonne is a tile-based board game where the landscape is built by the players while the game progresses. 

It begins by placing the start terrain tile at the centre of the table. 
On each turn, every player draws a random tile and places it adjacent to the tiles that are already played.
To collect points and try to win the game you have to place your meeples on the different terrain types, such as road, city, monastery and field (each of them scores a different amount of points).

If interested you can also find an article featuring all the best Carcassonne expansions.


Best Board Games for Beginners: carcassonne

CARCASSONNE
2 – 5 players | 30 – 45 mins | Age 7+


Tokaido

In this game, players are travellers in Japan.
You will travel along the prestigious Tokaido, a road that connects Edo (today Tokyo) to Kyoto, attempting to make this journey as memorable as possible.
Walking across the breathtaking countryside, sampling delightful cuisine specialities, buying souvenirs, resting at the hot springs, are some of the actions you can take during your travel.

Tokaido is a unique game that can be played with different mindsets, without changing its beauty.
It can be a slow-paced relaxing experience in which you play for the pure desire to enjoy the amazing artwork, but it can also be a cutthroat strategic game, in which you can literally screw your opponents’ strategy. 

The only big cons of this game is the replayability, practically near zero. The expansion Crossroads gives a huge help on this matter. The expansion Crossroads comes in handy and solve a bit this problem.

Tokaido is one of those games that is always there at Christmas, when we all gather around a table to start playing board games.


TOKAIDO
2 – 5 players | 45 min | 8+


Smallworld

In Small World, space is running out. And nobody likes neighbours.
There are simply too many races living on your land, which your forefathers left to you in the hopes that you will create an empire and rule the world.

Players have to rush to build their empires by choosing the right combination of 14 different fantasy races and 20 specific special powers.

Each territory your races occupy earns you one point (coin) at the end of your turn. On the board, you can have one successful race and one in decline at the same time.
The total number of occupations you have depends on your race’s unique abilities and the territories they rule.

The player with the most coins at the end of the final round wins.

Smallworld sits really deep in my heart.
It is one of the games that introduced me to this hobby, and it’s always played with my friends when I get the chance to get back to my country.

This is probably the longest game to play on this list, even more if nobody in your group knows the rules, but you won’t be disappointed. It’s a fantastic game thanks to its endless replayability, high quality components and strategic gameplay.

(Speaking about replayability, I’ve recently written an article about all the Small World expansions; if you’re into the game you might want to take a look).

This is a board game perfect for beginners and for more experienced players.


SMALLWORLD
2 – 5 players | 40 – 80 min | 8+


Colt Express

“11th of July, 1899: 10 A.M. The Union Pacific Express has left Folsom, New Mexico, with 47 passengers on board. After a few minutes, heavily armed bandits are mercilessly robbing honest citizens of their wallets and jewellery!…”

Colt Express is a railway-themed board game in which players take on the part of robbers trying to steal coin purses, jewels and strongboxes distributed throughout the train.
It won’t be easy though. There is a Marshal on board!

At the beginning of the game, each player chooses which bandit wants to be and gain his/her unique set of abilities.

Once on the train, the goal is to take as much treasure as you can and fire as many shots as possible at your former comrades.
You must decide beforehand what actions your bandit will take each round (by playing Action cards from your hand), whether it’s taking money, shooting bullets, punching another bandit, or running around the train car’s roof.

At the end of the round all the actions cards are performed in the same order they have been played, revealing each player’s intentions, and this is where the fun really kicks in!

Will all your moves hit the marks? The only way to know is to wait until the sequence ends.

Colt Express is all about focusing while playing your cards, and laughing when all the actions are performed.
It requires a little bit of time to set up at the beginning but, from there onwards, the game will be very quick, balanced and, more importantly, super fun!
If you like having these elements, this game is 100% for you!


COLT EXPRESS
2 – 6 players | 30 – 40 min | 10+


Santorini

Santorini is one of the destinations on my bucket list, as I have been to Greece just once, and I was too young to remember it properly.
I also personally love everything related to Greek Gods and Mythology, so this game is kind of perfect for my taste!

Santorini is an abstract strategy game in which players take on the roles of Greek Gods, competing to best help the citizens in building a beautiful village in the middle of the Aegean sea.

The goal is really straightforward: if one of your builders can reach the third level of any tower on the board before the opponent, you win.
But to win you have to face great gameplay both simple and deep.
Yes, because this is one of the perfect examples of a game that is quick to learn, easy to play and difficult to master. To some extent, It reminds me of Hive.
So, plan your moves carefully, or you will surely lose.

With 30 different and unique Gods Powers, this board game will carry you through a lot of game nights!

And what to say about the artwork? Simply amazing!


SANTORINI
2 – 4 players | 20 min | 8+


Exploding Kittens

The game starts by giving each player a “defuse card” and 7 cards that have different abilities. Each turn players can decide to play as many cards as they want or not play anything.
In both cases, at the end of your turn, you have to draw a card from the deck at the centre of the table.

In the unfortunate event of drawing an exploding kitten card, your only way to survive is a defuse card.
If you have one, you are safe. You can then place, in secret, the exploding kitten card wherever you want in the deck! (yes, also on top of it 😈)
The game ends when all exploding kittens are activated and only one player is left.

Exploding Kittens is a game that takes literally 5 minutes to teach (the ability of each card is written on it) and this allows you to jump into the game straight away after sitting around the table.
Thanks to its short length it can be played in various moments of the game night: it’s a perfect filler game, but it can also be played at the end of a long game if you don’t want to end the night yet.

The cards design is funny, providing you with laughable moments during the whole game. That being said, I personally think it’s not very suitable for children under 10 years old, even more if you play the NSFW version.

Is it a must-have in your board games collection? It depends on your tastes.
Is it a must-have for a fun game night? If played with the right mindset, definitely!


EXPLODING KITTENS
2 – 5 players | 15 mins | Age 7+


Dominion

“You are a monarch, like your parents before you, a ruler of a small pleasant kingdom of rivers and evergreens. Unlike your parents, however, you have hopes and dreams! You want a bigger and more pleasant kingdom, with more rivers and a wider variety of trees. You want a Dominion! In all directions lie fiefs, freeholds, and feodums. All are small bits of land, controlled by petty lords and verging on anarchy. You will bring civilization to these people, uniting them under your banner…”

In a list that talks about the best board games for beginners, a deckbuilding game has to be featured! And even more, if we are talking about the grandfather of this genre.

Each player begins with an equal and small deck of cards, representing your dominion. On these cards are listed your money, victory points, and actions you can do.
At the beginning, you only owe some estates and coppers, but by the end of the game your kingdom will be full of Gold and Provinces. Well… this is what you aim for!

Will you be good enough to expand your lands to be the biggest Dominion ever seen?

Dominion was born a decade ago, in 2008, but it is still very relevant today.
If you want to learn the basics of a deckbuilding game this is the one to buy without second thoughts.


DOMINION
2 – 4 players | 30 min | 13+


Codenames

Codenames is a game in which players are divided in two teams.
Each team has 1 spymaster and 1 to 3 teammates, depending on the number of players.

The goal of the spymaster is to let you guess correctly the name of the covert agents, by giving you a single-word hint and a number, which indicates how many cards that clue is linked to.
The spymaster’s teammates have to indicate what they think the right name is while being careful of not pointing the assassin that lies between the agents.
The game finishes when one of the teams finds all the words.

Each round is characterized by a tension that keeps growing as the end of the game approaches.

This last game has everything you could ask for an entertaining game night with a good group of people and totally deserves to be featured in this best board games for beginners list.
We recommend playing this game with no less than 6 human beings. Those can be either your friends with whom you have good relations or people you just met, as this game is a good ice breaker too.

And if you prefer a version suitable for two people check out Codenames Duet!


CODENAMES
2 – 8 players | 15 min | 14+