5 Great… Games For Newcomers (Pt. 3/4)


This post is part of The  ❄️ 12 Days of Christmas ❄️

This is part 3 of a 4 part series meant to give some ideas for those looking for last minute gift ideas, or just interested in discovering some cool games. If you haven’t given part 1 or 2 a look, which are lists of recommended children’s games and family games (respectively), and that sounds interesting, then I encourage you to check them out.

The rules for this list are that I will not repeat anything off the other two lists, though some of those games could cross over onto this list if it weren’t for this rule. This list, just like the others, is in no particular order.

1. Catan:  5th Edition


Publisher:  Mayfair Games

Play Time:  60-90 Minutes

Recommended Age Group:  10-99

Player Count:  3-4 (5-6 with expansion)


The Settlers of Catan, now known as just Catan, is probably the most famous non-traditional board on the market. For a game that’s over a decade old now, it’s held up surprisingly well. The game is sometimes referred to as “Monopoly, but fun” by people who are getting into the board game hobby.

Catan features simple gameplay with rules that are not completely foreign to people with little non-traditional game experience. The goal of the game is simple, achieve ten victory points. One does this by collecting resources and using them to build settlements, roads, or buy cards to grant them an advantage.

If you are looking for a game that is almost universally liked, Catan is probably your best bet. The game also has a variety of expansions to add different concepts and themes to the game, such as seas or knights, if it gets played enough that it needs some spicing up.

Catan:  5th Edition is available at coolstuff.com for $44.10 but is currently out of stock at the time of writing (12/8/15). However, it is available and in stock at Amazon for $44.09. Additionally, you can also find this game at most Target locations, though it will cost a bit more.

2. Dominion

51olnanfmnlPublisher:  Rio Grande Games

Play Time:  20-40 Minutes

Recommended Age Group:  10-99

Player Count:  2-4

Dominion is a deck-building card game that offers nearly endless variety and tons of fun. Everything you need for the game is in the base set box. This is NOT a collectible card game at all. Expansions are completely optional and only add more variety to the game if it ever feels like its getting a bit stale. 

Players start with identical decks comprised of just a few cards. Using these cards, players obtain new cards that grant new abilities in order to gain the most victory points by the end of the game.

The base box offers quite a lot with more types of cards than will be needed for one game. Since each game has different cards in it, they all feel unique and offer a variety of strategies across multiple games. Best of all, any base sets can be combined with expansions, or base sets themselves, to create an even larger potential card pool with endless possibilities.

Dominion is available at coolstuff.com for $2.49

3. Ticket to Ride

tt_usa_img1Publisher:  Days of Wonder

Play Time:  20-40 Minutes

Recommended Age Group:  8+

Player Count:  2-5

Ticket to Ride was also featured on another one of my lists, 5 Board Games That Everybody Should Play (At Least Once). This was not without good reason, like Catan, this game has been gaining a lot of traction even outside of the board game community.

The game uses simple set-collection mechanics that are found in most card games and boasts a beautiful board with vibrant pieces. Plus it’s a game about trains, which is a pretty cool theme if you ask me.

There really isn’t anything more to add that isn’t already stated in the article I wrote before, it’s a fun game with easy to grasp rules that’s perfect for somebody wanting to explore games that are different from Monopoly or scrabble but still have familiar concepts.

Ticket to Ride can be found at coolstuff.com for $32.99. Alternatively, you can also find this game at most Target or Walmart locations, though it will cost a bit more.

4. Spyfall

spyfall_beautyPublisher:  Cryptozoic Entertainment

Play Time:  15-30 Minutes

Recommended Age Group:  10+

Player Count:  3-8

This is probably one of the most popular games in my collection right now. I reviewed this a few months back and encourage you to go give that a read, link here. I’ve not yet had a time where this game didn’t go over well with any group.

What makes it ideal for people just starting to get into the board game hobby is that the game is driven socially within a group. Players ask each other questions in order to identify who among them is a spy, while the spy attempts to figure out the location that everybody else is at.

The theme is absolutely nonsensical (I mean what kind of spy doesn’t even know where they are?), but the game lends itself to all sorts of silly fun while being encompassed in actual thought provoking dynamics.

Spyfall can be purchased at coolstuff.com for $16.49, but is out of stock at the time of writing (12/8/15). It is also available at Amazon for $36.56 if you can’t wait for coolstuff.com to have it back in stock.

5. Splendor


Publisher:  Asmodee Editions

Play Time:  20-40 Minutes

Recommended Age Group:  10+

Player Count:  2-4


Splendor is a simple game about collecting the most valuable gems in order to be the first person to reach 15 points. The game works similarly to Ticket to Ride from a mechanics standpoint (that being set-collection) but offers a totally different feeling in both theme and play.

I’ve also given this game a look on my site, which can be found here. The game plays quickly, especially as players become more familiar with the game. It also gives that feeling of “just one more” which a lot games simply don’t muster. Couple that with easy to pick up rules and stream-lined gameplay, making this game a great choice for newcomers of the hobby.

Splendor is available at coolstuff.com for $26.49, which is actually cheaper than when I initially wrote my review.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this list offered some ideas for a budding board game enthusiast in your life, or even gave you some suggestions for yourself. Did you agree with my list? Think I left something out? Let me know in the comments below.

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