Thinking of trying something new? Maybe you used to enjoy tabletop and pen and paper games years ago, but life got in the way and now you want to get back into the spirit of gaming? Maybe you have never played before and want to join in with some friends who play?
Honestly, it doesn’t matter why you want to start gaming, what matters is that you have decided to take this first bold step into this exciting new world of entertainment.
A board game is a tabletop game played with counters, pieces, or cards on a defined board or playing surface. It typically involves multiple players who take turns according to specific rules to achieve objectives such as winning battles, solving puzzles, accumulating points, or advancing through a storyline.
The core elements of a board game include strategic decision-making, competition or cooperation, and the use of luck or skill to navigate the game’s mechanics and achieve victory.
Often found in lists like this, Carcassonne is considered a fun and easy game to play. Considered a classic, this is a tile-based board game for two to five players and can be found just about anywhere from Walmart, Barnes and Nobles Bookstores, game shops, comic bookstores and more!
The gameboard represents a French medieval landscape. On each turn, a player turns over and places a new landscape tile on the board next to the last one played. The trick is the tile needs to somehow connect to the last one. So, for example, roads must connect to roads in some manner. City tiles must connect to other city tiles. After placing the tile, the player is asked to choose whether to play a marker on it. That maker is often called a “follower” or “meeple.”
You score by creating groups of like terrains or completed cities during your turn. When there are no tiles left, the scores are tallied, and a winner is chosen. Simple, right? We wanted to start off with a super easy-peasy one.
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is another fun game that is listed as being easy to learn. This is a railway-themed game with a short playtime and lots of neat plastic trains to play with. This game is designed for two to five players.
Ticket to Ride’s gameboard looks like a map of America with railways on it. The game begins by drawing three destination cards. These are your secret goals, so don’t tell anyone. 😊 The player also gets 45 colored train pieces to play with. Each turn, a player will draw cards which will represent destinations. They will then claim a route that has yet been unclaimed on the gameboard.
The game ends when one player has two or less train pieces left. The other players must then reveal their secret destinations and points are awarded to players who reached them. Fun!
Settlers of Catan
From 1995, this massively popular card-based strategy board game is for three to four players and may take around 1 hour to play.
Players represent settlers on a small island that is made up of hexagonal tiles of different land types which are randomly placed at the setup stage of the game. At the start of a turn, a pair of six-sided dice are rolled to determine which tiles are productive on the board. If a player has a settlement near those spots, they will receive a reward.
Each turn, a player spends resource cards, buys development cards, and trades resource cards to improve their settlements. The game is won when one player reaches a score of 10 (one point per settlement and two points per city).
Tabletop RPGs, or role-playing games, are immersive adventures where players create and control fictional characters within a shared narrative.
What sets them apart and makes them truly tabletop RPGs is the interactive nature of the gameplay, as players make decisions and resolve actions through a combination of dice rolls and the guidance of a game master, resulting in unique and collaborative storytelling experiences.
Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons and Dragons is a classic and sometimes considered the easiest to jump into RPG. D&D requires a few things to get going, but the most important one is people. So, if you have friends playing already, getting started will be easy. If you are looking for other people to play with, there are often established groups at game stores. As a final fallback, you can find online game groups to join. Yep, you will be playing while you stream comfortably from home.
The basic rules book for D&D is easy to read. And the current version is called 5E. You can also read many of the rules online and learn how to play easily from blogs, wikis, and YouTube.
The biggest and one of the earliest steps you will face is character creation. This can be time consuming, but when embraced it is also one of the most fun stages. It’s your moment to shine and decide how you are going to play in the future.
While you can spend some nice coin getting books and miniatures, all you really need to start is a pen and paper and dice. We suggest dice that match your personality and style. 😊
Vampire: The Masquerade
From 1991, a storyteller style horror roleplaying game. In this game, everyone plays as vampires (or Kindred) from different bloodlines and clans. Like D&D, players will need to create characters and record their stats and belongings. But in a slight shift from D&D, this game is more about how the characters navigate the story the storyteller is presenting. What decisions will they make when faced with moral and personal dilemmas? Players are encouraged to truly take on the roles of their characters and actually role-play.
Whitewolf Publishing has many engaging books to support this system. All are written with narratives inside along with information on how to better enjoy the game. With fewer rules, Vampire is easy to learn and play and can be tons of fun if you have a storyteller who has…well…a knack for storytelling.
Star Wars RPG
Everyone loves Star Wars, right? So, it makes sense there’s an easy to learn Star Wars Role Playing Game. The original version of this game is basically a knockoff of Dungeons & Dragons. So, if you have played one, it would be easy to learn and play the other. If you have played neither, well the learning curves will still apply.
Find some players. Create some characters. Familiarize yourself with some rules. Enjoy playing the game as characters from species and classes you have enjoyed in the movies. You will need dice, but also have destiny tokens for gameplay, if you are playing the original version. Destiny points can be spent to boost rules or help turn the tide of events from bad to good for the players or from good to bad for the game master.
This one is known to be easy because of the D6 system, a system of pen and paper games that only use six-sided dice to decide everything and has characters built largely on six to eight attributes.
Miniature games revolve around strategic battles and conflicts, brought to life by intricately detailed miniatures representing soldiers, vehicles, or creatures. What distinguishes miniature games is the physical presence of these meticulously sculpted and painted miniatures, allowing players to manipulate and position them on a tabletop battlefield.
With their unique characteristics and abilities, these miniatures add depth, personalization, and a visual spectacle to the gameplay, making miniature games an engaging fusion of strategy, creativity, and immersive storytelling.
Battletech: Beginner Box
Battletech has been around for what seems like forever. Tens of thousands of people have played it, and it has good reviews. The Beginner Box version has everything you need to learn and start playing in a short time. Inside, you will happily find a map, two figures, and a quick start guide.
What makes it easy to play? Well, there are tons of resources on how to start to play and how to have enjoyable game sessions. The Beginners Box instructions (or even the box that is one step up from it) are easy to read. The keyword here is simplified rules to start. Simplified.
You don’t need to feel overwhelmed with what you are getting yourself into here. But yes, you will want more miniatures than the two provided. Miniatures is what makes Miniatures games so much fun. Collect them. Paint them. Display them. Hey, how many you buy is entirely up to you!
A Song of Ice and Fire: Stark vs. Lannister Starter Set
With just two people and sixty or ninety minutes to kill, you could setup, play, and finish a game. Best part, this starter set has all you need, and you really don’t need to add on (100+ figures is a lot for a starter set). Fair warning – It’s a more expensive starter set than some of the others though, but worth it.
Find a large table and prepare to lead your favorite house (or not if you are both Stark fans 😊) into battle. There are multiple modes of gameplay ranging from large to small. Most reviewers state that the rules are clear and to the point. On a player’s turn you will maneuver, march, charge, perform a melee attack, perform a ranged attack, or perhaps even retreat.
The game focuses on strategy, so the formations of your armies are important and so are the tactics you use and your timing. That being said, luck is also an important factor since you will be drawing tactical cards and doing a lot of dice rolling.
Depending on the mode you are playing the goal is different, but the games are fast-moving and fun and when you are done you will want to play again, especially if you are a fan of the books or TV show.
Everyone seems to say the same thing about this one; this game was designed from top to bottom (or ground up) to be the very simplest and easiest way to get involved in Warhammer. The starter box comes with a few pieces, a small map, tokens, dice, and a 36-page rulebook. It also comes with cards, so if you don’t have experience with deck building this will be the newest and most challenging thing for you to learn. (You can watch YouTube videos on deckbuilding.)
Games can take 30-60 minutes with a small amount of setup to start. When ready, players pick sides (warbrands). The game plays in rounds which are broken into phases during which you will perform movements, actions, and attacks. There’s even a power phase to play bonus cards. Like some of the games mentioned above, there are objective cards that when reached will score you points.
At the end of each round, you tally your points, and draw new cards. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.
We don’t like to oversimplify these amazing strategic games. However, for the sake of this article, we had to. Suffice it to say, each of them looks and plays slightly differently, but at the same time may feel familiar. Once you learn to play one game, the ability to learn and play others will become much quicker.
One of the most important things to remember about all these games is that you will likely be playing them with people who are or will become your friends. So, sit back, get some nice snacks, pour yourself your favorite drink, and enjoy!