Photosynthesis - one of the best board games for new gamers
Board Games

Best Board Games For New Gamers (Top 20 for 2021)

Featured Image Credit: JIP / CC BY-SA (

Our top pick for a board game to introduce to new gamers is Photosynthesis. It’s an interesting strategy game that revolves around growing trees. During the game, you will build a stunning three-dimensional forest. The game is enjoyable and competitive but doesn’t encourage you to be ruthless like other strategy games can.

Our Top Picks
Best Overall
Blue Orange Photosynthesis Family Game
Best for Storytellers
Budget Option
Sushi Go! - The Pick and Pass Card Game
Sushi Go
A strategy game that celebrates the incredible power of trees.
A game about creativity. It combines the beauty of words and pictures to create a storytelling based game.
A pick and pass card game for 2 - 5 players.
Best Overall
Our Top Picks
Blue Orange Photosynthesis Family Game
A strategy game that celebrates the incredible power of trees.
Best for Storytellers
Our Top Picks
A game about creativity. It combines the beauty of words and pictures to create a storytelling based game.
Budget Option
Our Top Picks
Sushi Go! - The Pick and Pass Card Game
Sushi Go
A pick and pass card game for 2 - 5 players.

Related post: Best Educational Board Games for All Ages

Best Board Games for New Gamers

Best Overall – Photosynthesis

Best Overall
A strategy game that celebrates the incredible power of trees. It’s suitable for ages 8+.

Photosynthesis is the perfect game to introduce to a family game night. It works for 2-4 players and takes around an hour to play.

The game board and the pieces are gorgeous to look at. As you play, you will build a 3D forest appealing enough to pull in almost anyone.

The aim of the game is to grow your trees as tall as possible over the course of the day. This means the most important thing is positioning to make sure your trees aren’t hidden in the shade of others.

What’s great about this game is that it’s not like other strategy games. With some strategy games, you can get caught up in the competition and come out feeling hard done by another player. With this game, you have to plan moves a long way ahead, so there is always time to change your plans. This makes it one of the best gateway board games to introduce newcomers.

Best Game for Storytellers – Dixit

Best for Storytellers
A game about creativity. It combines the beauty of words and pictures to create a storytelling based game. It’s suitable for ages 8+.

Dixit is a game for 3-6 players. It takes around 30 minutes to play. It’s the kind of game where it can be a little confusing when the rules are first explained to you, but as soon as you play a round, you understand exactly how it works. So it really doesn’t take long to learn.

Each player receives a hand of cards. The cards are all unique and have beautiful illustrations on them. Each player takes turns and chooses one of their cards, and then picks a word, phrase, song, or poem to describe their card. Every other player then picks one of their own cards. The aim is to pick one that could match the description given by the first player.

The cards are then mixed up and you all vote on which you think was the first player’s card. Everyone wants to get votes for their card, but the first player only wants one vote. It encourages you to be playful with language and really think about the stories in the pictures.

Best Budget Option – Sushi Go

Best Budget Option
Sushi Go
A pick and pass card game for 2 - 5 players. The game is suitable for ages 8+.

Sushi Go is a cute little card game. It’s incredibly simple to learn the rules. Even though the publisher says it’s 8+, the gameplay is simple enough that younger children would be able to play; they just might need help to add up their scores at the end.

The game is all about building sets. The more cards in your set, the more points it’s worth. The cards are dealt out, and each player gets a hand. At the same time, all the players pick one card to keep from their hand, then pass the cards on the next player. You keep going until the cards are gone and then add up your scores.

You have three rounds to score as many points as possible. 

This is a quick game to play, taking no more than 10 minutes. It also comes in a great metal tin, that’s just the right size to pop in your bag for when you’re on the go.

Games For Kids Under 8’s

Best Early Years Board Game – My First Orchard

Best for Early Years
My First Orchard
My First Orchard is a co-operative game for preschoolers. This game is suitable for ages 2+.

My First Orchard is a beautiful game that is the perfect way to introduce young children to the idea of board games. The pieces are big, bright, and feel satisfying in your hand. A game only takes around 5 minutes to play.

The game is simple and fun. The aim is to collect the fruit before the crow gets to your orchard and eats it all. You take turns to roll a dice. The color on the dice tells you which fruit to pick. If the picture on the dice is a raven, then he takes a step forward.

It’s a great game for teaching turn-taking and just having fun with your young children. 

Best Family Game – Blokus

Best Family Game
A 30-minute strategy game that uses Tetris like shape arranging skills to dominate the board. It’s suitable for ages 5+.

Blokus is a game for up to 2-4 players. You pick your favorite colors and then take it in turns to put your shapes on the board. There is only one rule. Each new shape you place must touch the corners of another of your shapes, but no faces can touch. The winner is the player who puts the most shapes on the board.

This game involves quite a bit of strategy as well as spatial awareness, so it’s a great one to play with children. It’s also quick enough that it stays fun. For older players, it feels a little like playing Tetris, which can bring back some fond childhood memories.

Games for Ages 8+

Best Pattern Building Game – Azul

Best Pattern Building Game
A pattern building tile game for anyone over the age of 8.

Azul is a game for 2 -4 people based around tile factories. As such, the playing pieces are very pretty and pleasing to handle. The tiles come in a few different patterns that you need to collect. It’s a fairly quick game to play, taking between 30 – 45 minutes to complete.

The game has a few rounds with two different phases. There’s the tile selection phase where you pick tiles from the factories. Then there’s the tiling phase where you place the tiles you are going to keep on your wall.

Azul is a competitive puzzle game. You choose and place tiles to score points for yourself. But, your choices can make it easier for other players to score points. The aim is to make decisions that are good for you without helping out other players too much.

Best King of The Hill Game – King of Tokyo

Best King of The Hill Game
King of Tokyo
A quick 30 minute, king of the hill style, game for 2 - 6 players. It’s suitable for ages 10+.

King of Tokyo is one of the best games for introducing others to the joy of board gaming. Hardcore gamers may find it a little shallow, but that is what makes it a great introduction for new gamers. Players take turns rolling dice in their battle to control Tokyo. Along the way, you can earn victory points or new skills for your monster. It’s a fun game, it looks great, and it’s easy to learn. 

You can also take a look at this video – it takes only a few minutes to learn the rules.


The cartoony style and fun premise mean that it appeals to children and adults alike. After all, who wouldn’t want to play the monster in a monster movie? The recommendation is for ages 10+; however, it is simple enough that younger children should be able to play as well.

Best Euro Game – Ticket to Ride

Best Euro Game
Ticket to Ride
An award-winning board game that involves building train tracks across the world. It’s suitable for ages 8+.

Ticket to Ride is a great introduction to games that are not Monopoly. It’s a refreshing and interesting game that is popular among many different gamers. 

The game is for 2-5 players. It takes between 30-60 minutes to play. There is even an option for one player to play against Alexa if there’s no one else around!

Players pick up cards to make matching colored sets. The longer the route you want to claim, the more cards you need. Once you’ve claimed a route, you put your trains on the board and it’s yours. Players earn points by completing route cards, claiming tracks, and building the longest route possible.

This is one of the best strategy games for new gamers. There is competition involved, but it’s not cutthroat like some games.

Best Classic Board Game – Carcassonne

Best Classic Board Game
A strategy game played by placing tiles and workers. It’s suitable for ages 8+.

Carcassonne is a classic game for 2 -5 players from z-man games. It takes around 40 minutes to play. There is also practically no set up time, which is great for getting started.

Carcassonne is a board game where you build the board as you go. Each turn, you draw a random tile and place it to grow the world. You then put one of your Meeple (a wooden worker) into a position to earn you points. 

Carcassonne is one of those games that is simple to learn but takes time to master. While the classic version is set in medieval France, there are loads of expansions and other settings to choose from. This makes this a great game to whet people’s appetites for more.

Best Fish-Based Game – Hey, That’s My Fish

Best Fish-Based Game
Hey, That's My Fish
Fast-paced fish grabbing game, with a board that disappears as you play. This is suitable for ages 8+.

Hey, That’s My Fish takes 20 minutes to play through for 2 – 4 players. You play as penguins on the ice. Your goal is to get as many fish as you can.

The gameplay is fast and sometimes ruthless. On your turn, you can move one of your penguins, one space to grab more fish. But as soon as you move, the tile you penguin was on is removed from the board. The holes that begin to appear can leave penguins stranded on their lonely islands of ice.

There’s a surprising amount of strategy hidden beneath the family-friendly exterior. You can play this with kids or adults, and it’s great either way.

Games for Ages 10+

Best Disney-Themed Game – Villainous

Best Disney-Themed Game
A game that lets you take on the role of your favorite Disney villains. It’s suitable for ages 10+.

Villainous is the chance you always wanted to be the bad guy! The twist on the story is great and makes this stand out from other games. Each villain gets their own set of game boards and gorgeous oversized mover.  

Each of the villains has a different playstyle and strategy that works for them, so you get more fun out of the game by playing it over and trying out a different character.

A nice touch with this game is that some of the villains are easier than others. That can make it more accessible for new players to get the hang of the game. Prince John is a great first character for new or younger gamers.

Best Civilization Building Board Game – Catan

Best Civilization Game
A classic civilization-building game, of growing trading and building. It’s suitable for ages 10+.

Catan is a 3 -4 player game. Players compete to control the island of Catan by building villages, towns, and roads. Average playtime is around an hour

On your turn, you roll a dice to decide who gets resources, move the robber to take resources from other players, and build using your resources. The winner is the first player to reach 10 points. 

The game is simple to learn and fun to play. This is a classic for lovers of board games and is a great introduction to strategy games. Since it does rely on luck as much as it does skill, it’s an accessible game and a good stepping stone to more skill-based games.

Best Board Game With No Board – Splendor

Best No Board Game
A lite-euro, gem crafting strategy game. It’s suitable for ages 10+.

Splendor is a game of skill for 2 – 4 players. Playing the game will take around 30 minutes of your time. 

The game is played using a deck of special cards and a set of, pleasing to hold, gem tokens. Each turn, you can choose to take one of three actions. You either collect gems, buy a card, or reserve a card. There are limits on the number of gems you can collect and hold, which stops anyone from hoarding all the tokens.

The rules for Splendor are very simple and easy to get the hang of. It’s a game that you can get started with really quickly, which makes it a friendly introductory game for anyone new to board games.

Best Puzzle Game – Patchwork 

Best Puzzle Game
A 2 player tile placement game, which is suitable for ages 10+

Patchwork is a game for only two players. The aim is to build the best patchwork quilt out of the piece of material available. The pieces are all different shapes and sizes, and you have to work out how to make the best use of them all. 

Players buy their pieces of fabric using buttons; what else would you buy cloth with? The game is whimsical and involves a lot of problem-solving. It’s a great game for anyone who loves solving puzzles because that’s what this game really is. It’s also an easy game to learn to play.

Best 5 Minute Card Game – Spaceteam 

Best 5 Minute Card Game
A fast-paced, silly, shouting, co-operative card romp through space. The game is suitable for ages 10+

Spaceteam is fun and silly. You work as a team of 3 – 6 players. It takes no more than 5 minutes of playtime, which is good because it’s a frantic five minutes of fun!

The aim of the game is to repair your spaceship as you hurtle through the stars. Each player has problems to solve and tools to solve the problems, but they might not have the tools they need. So you have to shout to each other for what you need to fix your spaceship before the time runs out.

To mix things up while you’re playing, you will come across anomaly cards.  These require you to take actions like swapping seats before you can continue fixing your shuttle. 

You can alter the level of difficulty by changing the cards in the deck, so you can make the game a little easier while everyone is learning how to play.

Games for Ages 12+ and Higher

Best Real-Time Game – Galaxy Trucker

Best Real-Time Game
Galaxy Trucker
A game for 2-4 players that involves building a spaceship under the pressure of a ticking clock and then flying it through space. It’s suitable for ages 14+.

Galaxy Trucker is a great game. It’s a little more complex than some of the other options, so it’s best to save it for new players who are enthusiastic to learn and try something new. Play time is around 60 minutes, so it’s not super speedy.

The game goes in phases. In the first phase, players have a limited amount of time to build or add to their spaceship by arranging tiles on their personal spaceship board. When the time is up, you inspect the ships. Any parts of the ship that aren’t airtight or connected correctly, immediately drop off! This stage is what makes the game fun to play over and over again.

Once your ships are built you set off on your mission into space. In this section, you deal with meteorites, pirates, and deliveries. The aim is to earn as much money as possible.

Best Co-op Game – Pandemic

Best Co-op Game
A co-op board game where you work together to cure the world suitable for tweens and teens.

Pandemic from Z-man games is for 2 -4 players. All of the players win or lose together. The play time is around 45 minutes. 

The premise of the game is that there are four diseases that have broken out around the world. You and your team have to eradicate all the germs and save the world.

The game uses a world map for the game board, cubes to represent infections, and cards to control the flow of the game. There are quite a few rules to get your head around to start with, so it can be a good idea to watch a video that explains the rules.

Best for People Who Like To Negotiate – Cosmic Encounter

Best Negotiation Game
Cosmic Encounter
An unpredictable and exciting game of space colonization.

Cosmic Encounter is one of the best games from fantasy flight. The game is for 3 -5 people and takes 1 – 2 hours to play. When you think of traditional board games, you won’t think of any games like this. 

Each person plays a different race of aliens. Your aim is to build five colonies on other players’ worlds. Every turn, the players are randomly matched up in an encounter. They can choose to fight or negotiate. You can form alliances and help each other out. What happens is up to you.

The interesting thing about this game is that each alien has a different special ability that can ‘break’ the rules. Some aliens win fights by losing them, some can fight as your ally if you want them to or not, and some can win by losing everything they own. This keeps the game unpredictable and exciting.

Best Party Games

Best Party Game Overall – Articulate

Best Party Game Overall
A very silly, fast-talking, team, word guessing game suitable for ages 12+.

Articulate is the perfect party activity. You need a minimum of 4 players, and there is no upper limit. It gets more fun the bigger the group is.

Players take turns describing a word on a card that they can see. Their team has to guess as many words as they can in 30 seconds. Players can’t use ‘sounds like’ or ‘rhymes with’ to describe their word. So, it gets very silly, very fast.

It’s the kind of game that sucks everyone in and feels fun and exciting. It’s fun watching the other teams try to guess, so you don’t mind taking turns. 

The aim is to be the first team to get around the board.

Best Quick-Play Party Game – One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Best Quick Party Game
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
A 10-minute, social deduction game suitable for ages 13+.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf is based on the game werewolf that kids play. It takes it a step further by adding roles for every player and team. The werewolf wants to avoid detection. The tanner wants to get picked, and the villagers want to find the werewolf.

There are two phases to the game – Day and Night. Each player receives one card which tells them their role. Then everyone closes their eyes while a story is told. The story directs certain players to take their special actions. You can get a free app to tell the story. 

When the night is over, you have 5 minutes of day time to discuss and then vote. The player with the most votes is caught and turns their card over. 

It’s a quick, fun, and easy to learn game. It’s the kind of game that people who don’t like board games will enjoy because it doesn’t feel like a board game.

What to Consider When Buying a Board Game for New Gamers

Teenagers playing board game

Play Time

When you are picking board games for new players, you need to consider the setting in which you will be playing the game. Is it going to be the key feature of a game night, or do you want a quick game that you can pull out to fill a small amount of time? 

Board games usually fall into a few categories in terms of length. There are speedy 5-minute games, which are often designed to be played a few times. The most common length of time for a board game is around 1 hour. Some more involved games can take 2 hours or more. 

You need to think about how enthusiastic your new gamers are. If they are a little unsure about playing board games, then it’s best to steer clear of games like Cosmic Encounters, which can drag on a little bit.

Art Style

One of the best ways to attract people to playing board games is with the art style of the game. If the box and the pieces are attractive and interesting then you can entice more people into playing. 

If you have a specific person in mind that you want to appeal to, try and choose a game that has a style that they will like.

Quality of the Pieces

Kids playing a board game

Playing a board game is a very tactile experience. The look and feel of the pieces can have a big impact on your enjoyment. If the playing pieces or cards feel good in your hands, then you’ll want to use them more.

When choosing a board game for new gamers, it’s a good idea to pick games with high-quality pieces. You can look for intricate and interesting tokens, solidly wooden markers, and nice thick cards that have a protective coating.


Most of the games on this list are fairly simple to play. This can be a  great way to introduce new players to board games. 

You do need to be careful with older children and adults because if a game is too simple, they may find that a turn off. The best games are the ones with easy to learn rules, but that you have to keep playing to really master.


Some games you can play anywhere. Card games, especially, are easy to squeeze into a pretty small space. Other games with lots of pieces and a big board need more room. When you are choosing the games you want to try, keep in mind where you will be able to play them.

Nothing ruins a gaming experience like not having enough space to play properly. If you’re cramped into a small space and things keep getting knocked over, it’s going to impact on the experience.

Young girl playing with a colorful board game

Number of Players

With board games, it’s really important to match the game to the size of the group you’ll have. Most board games work best with 3 – 4 players. If you’ll only be two players, it’s best to look for games specifically aimed at two players, as a lot of games just don’t work as well with fewer players. 

Games for more than four players are harder to find. But It is worth taking the time to look, as there’s nothing worse than being the spare wheel while everyone else is having fun playing board games. 

Expansion Options

A lot of popular games have expansion packs that you can buy. These might offer you a larger board of more gameplay options. Starting with a simple game can be a good way to stick your toes in the water. However, if the base game is quite simple or small it might become unappealing. 

The option to get an expansion set can offer the chance to get more out of the original game. It also means you don’t have to make a big investment upfront. Instead, you can try out your options and see how it goes.

Carcassonne Big Box 2017


When you pick a board game for new gamers to try, you want to show them something they haven’t seen before. 

A lot of people think that they don’t like board games because all they know are games like Monopoly and Risk. These two have stuck around for a long time because they’re easy to learn and play, but if that’s all you think that board games are, then you’re missing out.

It can be a good idea to find a game that is as far away from Monopoly or Risk as you can get. These are games that rely heavily on luck, which is part of why they can be boring for some people. Trying to find games of skill is a good way to do this.

Co-operative board games are less common than competitive ones. They also offer a very different gaming experience for people to try. The same is true for more social games.

The key is to show them that playing board gaming is as varied and exciting as video gaming is.

Frequently Asked Questions

Children happily playing a board game

What are Eurogames?

Eurogames, sometimes called German games, are a style of the board game. They tend to involve more skill than luck, and the players often don’t interact directly in the game. More American style games tend to involve luck, drama, and conflict in comparison. Another feature of Eurogames is that players don’t get eliminated mid-play, so everyone is involved until the game ends.

How popular are board games?

Board games are experiencing a surge in popularity. There are more games being released every year, and the sector is growing all the time. It is becoming more acceptable for adults to play board games, which has led to a lot of interest and innovation in board games.

Why do people play board games?

Board games are an amazing activity to share with other people. They are an enjoyable way to socialize with your family and friends. 

Board games that are based on skill are an interesting way to keep your mind active and learn new skills. Strategic thinking can help you learn how to problem-solve, and they can offer a chance to polish up your math skills in a low-pressure environment.

Children can get a lot of benefits from playing board games as well. They can practice skills like turn-taking, numeracy, literacy, and how to lose.

Last update on 2021-04-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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