Though it certainly seems to be getting more and more popular these days, it can still be difficult to start getting into board games.

Where does one start if they’re only familiar with, say, Monopoly or Risk (and what about if the likes of Catan just isn't appealing?)?

That’s why we’ve cobbled together a small group of games — some of which might also be classified as card games, though not in the same vein as Solitaire — that are easy for those looking to get into board games for the first time as well as impressive to those who have been around the block a few times and seen the sights.

There’s always room for one more game at the table, right?

King of Tokyo

This has become, over time, the go-to game for my group whenever there’s a lull between games or we’re waiting on more folks to show up. Reason being, King of Tokyo can quickly devolve into a bloody massacre if everyone’s played it before. The whole point of it, after all, is to get your monster to become King of Tokyo, and that usually means killing everyone else (players can win by getting 20 stars, but just try getting to that point when everyone else is bloodthirsty and see how that goes).

At four or more players, the game gets a bit longer due to the difficulty of managing everyone at once. The turns get a little longer, controlling Tokyo — done by attacking the monsters in the city, which they can then leave and the attacker replaces them — and purchasing abilities becomes much more involved. However, even though the nature of the game changes, it remains ridiculously fun and competitive. Who doesn’t want to be a Godzilla or King Kong analog rampaging through the streets?

Love Letter

Love Letter is by far the simplest game to pick up and play on this list by virtue of its very nature. There are only 16 cards, and the entire point is to end the game with the highest value still in your hand. Everything else is literally printed on the cards players draw — half of which sit above a certain value and half below, making the odds equal of having one side of that or the other.

In a way, it’s an elaborate version of Go Fish, with an added emphasis on the importance of having a good poker face. The whole point is to knock other players out of the round — winning requires four rounds won for a single person — by manipulating cards in such a way that they have to discard their hand. Each round takes all of 10 minutes at most, making it a fast-paced romp of bluffing and wooing. It is all about delivering love letters, after all.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

If you’ve ever wanted to play as a team of superheroes taking on an evil villain intent on world domination or destruction, Sentinels of the Multiverse is for you. Each hero and villain has their own deck of cards — and there are loads of both — with specific powers and abilities. No two heroes play exactly alike, and no two villains try to demolish the world in the same way.

That makes playing with four or more people a blast. Different heroes can have powers that allow other heroes to act, and a lot of the game is built around figuring out whether it’s better to act now yourself or to enable another player to do something even more impressive. Plus, if a hero loses all their health points, they can still do a single action every round determined by the back of their hero cards — so nobody has to sit out entirely if they die. No more having to sit idly by as everyone else plays a game!


Ah, Gloom. Originally suggested to me by a former colleague years ago, Gloom has quickly become a staple at any board game activity in which I take part. The idea is to tell horrific stories about your family — all of which are Gothic and already appropriately dark — in order to kill them off in gruesome ways that lets players end with the least amount of points. In short, players want their chosen kin to lead the worst life they can before dying horribly.

This is accomplished by hands full of transparent cards with various bits on them that are not transparent, such as modifiers. So, for example, someone might play a Mauled by a Manatee card on one of their family members, but then, someone else might play another card on said member that covers up that modifier and nothing else.

Photo: Alexandre Duret-Lutz | Flickr

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