I have been a tabletop game player since I was in high school and not all of my friends were into it as much as I was. I never got out of gaming but I did drag a lot of people into the hobby with me. When I owned The GameSpark Cafe many people would come in and ask for suggestions of games that would get their friends and family into tabletop gaming. Here are a few games that I would consider perfect for getting anyone interested in board gaming.
Tsuro: Tsuro is by far one of the easiest games to teach. Draw three tiles, place a tile so that it lines up with any lines on the surrounding tiles, and be the last one to fall off the board. I mean that is the basics of it and it literally takes less than two minutes to teach the game to new players, and even people with no gaming experience. At the store we had a group of people from the local library come in for lunch one day and ask for a game that they could play while they ate and that was nice and easy. I directed them to Tsuro and after that they came for lunch twice a week and kept bringing more and more people to play. Not only is the game very good for beginners, but it boasts an 8 player limit as well. Think of how many new gamers that could make!
Sitting Ducks Gallery: Sitting Ducks is not only an easy game to teach since it is pretty much just a “do what it says on the card” game, but it also promotes beginners to get very competitive. Players get five ducks that are shuffled into a deck along with empty spots which come out to fill the gallery of six spots. A second deck that the players will draw from is full of special cards that can do thing like moving the line, or trading places, plus the aim and shoot cards. The objective is to shoot the other ducks and be the only one with ducks left in the deck. The reason this is a great game for beginners is because when you lose all of your ducks you are not out of the game, you can;t win the game but you continue to take your turns. In fact it is encouraged that you take revenge on the player that shot your last duck. The perfect introduction to the competitiveness of tabletop games.
Betrayal at House on the Hill: This game is by far my favourite board game of all time so yes part of using this game for beginners is that I selfishly want to play it, but there are so many other reasons. Betrayal is a complex game hidden in an easy to learn set of rules, or at least at the beginning. As the game begins every player is an explorer in a haunted house, moving up to their speed and uncovering rooms which contain items, omens, and events. Seems like a nice friendly co-op exploration game where you can help each other by suggesting moves for them, but oh how wrong that is. At some point during the exploration someone will pick up an omen and roll the haunt and suddenly someone is a traitor trying to kill everyone else. During the haunt the rules get a little bit more complicated but since the players are already invested in the game they are more inclined to learn what is going on. I have played this game with so many people who would not even think about playing a board game. The only problem with using this game as a beginner game is that for some reason, almost always, a person who is brand new to the game becomes the traitor.
There are a lot of other games that can be used for beginners but those are the three that I like to use. Other games would include any of the smaller card games, King of Tokyo, Ticket to Ride, or any cooperative game that the new player can easily be walked through. Let us know what games you use to introduce new players into the wonderful hobby, or addiction, of tabletop games.