Games for Non-Gamers and Newbies

The other day a friend of mine asked me this question:

If you were going to suggest one ‘gateway’ table top game for kids (girls) and a grown woman (my wife) that would be an easy way into more “Nerdy” table top games … what would you suggest?

An intriguing question, no doubt. But just one? I responded with several and I thought it would make a great article. Like most everyone, I have friends and family that aren’t quite as geeky as I am. And let’s face it, some people just won’t like tabletop games. I don’t judge anyone for that. I question their sanity, but i never judge! And breaking out Mansions of Madness or Descent for your mom’s first real Tabletop experience probably isn’t the best idea.

I’m basing these suggestions on games that I own and have played, specifically these are games that I have used to introduce my non-gaming friends and family to the wonderful world of Tabletop Gaming!


Fluxx is a terrific card game with a lot of different themes. Chances are you can find one of them to appeal to your audience. The rules start out very simple: Draw 1 Card, Play 1 Card. Additional rules that come into play are printed right on the cards themselves. No real need to go back and forth between a huge rule book and the game. No hour long presentation. Just play through a game or two and everyone should pick it right up. My youngest son was playing this at 8 years old. Granted his strategy wasn’t superb, but he loves to play and he even wins now and again. I blogged in more detail about this game and you can read it here if interested. You can watch Wil Wheaton and friends play Star Fluxx. You can buy Fluxx from Amazon or your local game shop.


Tsuro is another game with the simplest of rules. Lay tiles with paths on them on the board and move your token on a path. In Tsuro, each player is a dragon flying around the sky. Try and be the last player flying. You lose when you collide with another player or fly off the board. There is nothing to read and the strategy is easy to pick up. This is one of my mom’s favorite games that I bring over when we visit. You can watch Wil Wheaton and friends play Tsuro. You can buy Tsuro from Amazon or your local game shop.

King of Tokyo

I was skeptical about King of Tokyo when I bought it but it really is a fun game. My daughter loves this game and is really good at it. She started playing it when she was 9. The basic premise is everyone gets to choose a monster and then you roll dice to try and score victory points and/or deal damange to the other players. First person to 20 points or last monster standing wins. Think retro Godzilla movies with a Cartoon Network spin. You can watch Wil Wheaton and friends play King of Tokyo. You can buy King of Tokyo from Amazon or your local game shop.

Castle Panic

Castle Panic isn’t quite as easy to jump into as the others that I have listed. I am putting it on this list because it is a great game and more importantly it is cooperative. This means everyone is on the same team and you all win or you all lose. So for beginners, you can walk them through everything without the competative need to defeat them. Castle Panic is a Tabletop version of the classic tower defense genre normally found in video games. Defend your castle against the onslaught of monsters and you win. You can watch Wil Wheaton and friends play Castle Panic. You can buy Castle Panic from Amazon or your local game shop.

Honerable Mentions

I could go on and on but I believe the four games I listed above are a pretty good way to introduce non-gamers and newbies into Tabletop gaming without scarying them away. Below are some other games that may work as well but I’ll leave it up to you to research what might be best for your friends and family:

  • Zombie Dice
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Forbidden Desert / Island
  • Castle Keep
  • The Adventurers – Both Chac and Horus
  • Labyrinth – by Ravensburger
  • Regata
  • Dixit
  • Unspeakable Words