15 Best Board Games for Beginners in 2024: Level Up Your Game

Photo of author

Board games are a fantastic hobby. They are fun social experiences that we can share with our friends and family. Therefore, it’s completely understandable that we would want to introduce as many people to tabletop gaming as we can without scaring them away. 

That’s why the crew here at Boar Gamer would like to help you with our recommendations for the best board games for beginners. With these titles, your friends and family will be the ones insisting on organizing game nights!

Board Games for Beginners – Our Top Picks

  1. Carcassonne
  2. Azul
  3. King of Tokyo
  4. Catan
  5. Ticket to Ride
  6. Dixit
  7. 7 Wonders
  8. Splendor
  9. Codenames
  10. Exploding Kittens
  11. Cascadia
  12. Sushi Go
  13. Sheriff of Nottingham
  14. Zombie Dice
  15. Next Station: London

Reason Why We Chose These Board Games

As with most people in the hobby, one of the first games that we here at Boar Gamer played as kids were classic games like Monopoly, Ludo, or Risk, but these titles don’t necessarily make the best introduction to the hobby for new people. 

Most modern games don’t include outdated mechanics such as player elimination, which would force you to wait on the sidelines until the other players finish the game that you’re no longer part of. 

Your turn won’t just depend on your roll of the die, and most modern board games give you a fair bit of agency over what you can do during your turn.

Thankfully, with more than 1,000 board games released and showcased at conventions each year, you have plenty of titles in your arsenal to hook in your non-gamer friends. Whether you like to play games with cards, dice, or a certain theme, there are plenty of choices. That’s why we created a long list of some critically acclaimed yet simple games with various fun mechanics. 

Keep in mind that our list isn’t necessarily a comparison showing whether one game is better than the others but the goal is to show why these picks are better at getting new people into the hobby. These are all popular games that can easily make new board game enthusiasts out of your non-gamer friends. 

1. Carcassonne

carcassonne
Number of players:2 to 5
Play time:30 – 45 minutes
Age:7+

Carcassonne is a perfect choice for a game that’s light on the rules and looks great as you are playing it. Players are in charge of developing the area around a wonderful medieval French city (which looks fantastic, by the way). 

Each player takes a turn to place a piece where it can fit on the table. There is something really satisfying about placing tiles so they fit with the surrounding environment and creating your version of Carcassonne with other players. 

In the basic game, you win victory points by placing workers on roads, cities, monasteries, and fields and picking them up when you complete those features.

Carcassone is an easy top choice for a beginner tabletop game to get new people hooked on the board game hobby. It’s really easy to learn, doesn’t take too long to finish, and looks wonderful on the table. No two games of Carcassonne will be the same and if you want more from the game, there are plenty of expansions.

Pros:

  • Simple lightweight rules
  • Beautiful looking tiles
  • Plenty of expansions

Cons:

  • None

2. Azul

azul
Number of players:2 to 4
Play time:30 – 45 minutes
Age:8+

Azul couldn’t be more simple to learn and it will appeal to both gamers and non-gamers. The goal of the game is to build a beautiful mosaic made of tiles while trying to place them in an order that will earn you the most points. The rules for the game are intuitive, and after playing a few moves, you’ll quickly see why this is one of the games that are easy to learn, but difficult to master. 

Azul has quickly built up its reputation and now is considered one of the must-have board games for any collection. The game looks wonderful, and the tiles are just lovely. It doesn’t take too long to finish a game, so you can easily play a few rounds per game night, or use it as a filler game between longer board game sessions. 

Pros:

  • Quick and easy-to-learn gameplay
  • Great looking tile-laying game
  • Non-gamers love it

Cons:

  • The theme is fairly loose and won’t hook everyone

3. King of Tokyo

king of Tokyo
Number of players:2 to 6
Play time:30 minutes
Age:8+

King of Tokyo is a game where you’ll take up the role of a huge monster like Godzilla or King Kong, and battle other players for control over Tokyo. 

The player’s action during the turn will be determined by rolling six monster dice. You’ll either earn points, recover your monster’s health, fight it out with other monsters, or acquire cards with various cool effects like having your monster grow a second head and other silly effects. 

King of Tokyo is a brilliant game designed by renowned game designer Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic the Gathering. Unlike MtG, The game is easy to pick up and start playing. Each game takes about 30 minutes, and it gets better with more players. Every player gets their own cardboard monster to fight over Tokyo with, which will definitely draw in new players. 

Pros:

  • Fast-paced and action-packed
  • Great for those that like dice games
  • Excellent artwork

Cons:

  • Player elimination is the biggest issue
  • All monsters are effectively the same 

4. Catan

catan
Number of players:3 to 4
Play time:60 – 120 minutes
Age:10+

This game is single-handedly responsible for getting a bunch of people to play modern board games, primarily due to its wide appeal and relatively simple gameplay. The game was inspired by the Viking settlement of Iceland. 

Players in this game gather resources, trade with other players, and build roads, villages, and cities on these newly discovered lands. Resource gathering is easy, and is determined by the dice roll. Based on the results, all players gather resources and trade with the active player. Therefore, the game has no downtime, and you always have something to do. 
Catan is more than good. In board game terms, Catan is an ancient game. Originally released in 1995, it’s still played to this day which is a credit to its quality. It inspired the golden age of board games we are living in today, and it’s a must-have for anyone considering adding starter board games to their collection. It also has a bunch of expansions that bring exciting new mechanics and expand how many players can play.

Pros:

  • Each game is different
  • Great game for the whole family
  • Old-school classic

Cons:

  • Three-player minimum
  • May be more challenging to complete beginners than some other choices on our list

5. Ticket to Ride

ticket to ride
Number of players:2 to 5
Play time:30 – 60 minutes
Age:8+

Ticket to Ride is a beloved game that introduced many beginners to the hobby. Its gameplay mechanics are easy to grasp, yet it’s still a compelling strategy game. Every turn, players either draw destination tickets, draw train car cards, or place their trains and wagons to claim a specific train route. 

Ticket to Ride has all of its rules listed on three pages making it one of the obvious picks among board games for beginners as anyone can quickly and easily pick up on the core gameplay. 

The game makes introducing new people to the board gaming hobby a breeze. It’s one of the classic titles we here at Boar Gamer still like to pick up from time to time. The game is almost two decades old and it still draws in new players to the hobby. That’s why we gladly recommend it.

Pros:

  • Great replayability 
  • Simple yet providing enough options for clever strategies
  • Three-page rulebook

Cons:

  • Needs at least three players to really shine

6. Dixit

dixit
Number of players:3 to 8
Play time:30 minutes
Age:8+

Dixit is what we call a social deduction game. In more simple turns it’s an image association game with beautifully designed cards. It can be played and enjoyed by children and adults, making it a perfect intro board game for the whole family and a gateway game to more complex titles. The rules are simple to learn, and in each turn, all players are engaged, not just the storyteller (the player who is giving the association).  

If you want to get your friends hooked on board games, you won’t make a mistake with Dixit. The game is visually stimulating, it tickles your imagination, encourages people to think creatively, and provides an excellent social experience. 

If that’s not enough, the game won’t take too much of your time, and each playthrough will be different. Isn’t that exactly what board games are supposed to do? 

Pros:

  • Beautiful art
  • Easy to pick up
  • Fantastic with more players

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work with two players

7. 7 Wonders

7 wonders
Number of players:3 to 7
Play time:30 minutes
Age:10+

7 Wonders is one of the favorites of the Boar Gamer editorial team. It’s a strategic card drafting game, that’s accessible to new and experienced players alike. It’s more than worth your time, and we’d call it a must-have in almost everyone’s collection. 

Players gather resources and lead their ancient civilizations to glory. It has it all, some tactical thinking, resource planning, and a pinch of luck to make it more interesting. 
7 Wonders is an incredibly fun game. Each playthrough is different, and you as a player have various paths to victory. You can focus on science, building a magnificent civilization, raising one of the world’s wonders, trading, waging war, or doing a bit of everything to be the player with the most victory points at the end of the game. It’s definitely among the best strategy board games for beginners with beautiful art inspired by ancient civilizations.

Pros:

  • Scales up nicely with any number of players
  • Amazing art
  • Great game

Cons:

  • Can’t be played with two players

8. Splendor

splendor
Number of players:2 to 4
Play time:30 minutes
Age:10+

Splendor is a really easy board game to learn, and most importantly, it’s very fun! Players take on the role of wealthy gem merchants during the Renaissance. You are developing mines, acquiring precious gemstones, and competing for the attention of nobles. Splendor is “an engine-building game,” and it’s one of the easiest examples of it in the genre. We gladly recommend it to anyone that wants a game without direct conflict between players. 

Splendor is a wonderful game that won many prestigious awards and for a good reason. It’s a fantastic choice for beginners and advanced players alike. It plays fast and it’s elegantly designed to have strategic depth while still remaining relatively simple.

Pros:

  • Nice introduction to engine building
  • Fast-paced game
  • Great artwork and components

Cons:

  • Could have easily fit in a smaller box

9. Codenames

codenames
Number of players:4 to 8
Play time:15 minutes
Age:14+

Codenames is a popular party game where two teams compete to guess their secret words before the opposing team. Each team has a “spymaster” which provides a one-word clue they need to guess. The idea is to have it associated with multiple words its team has and to avoid the “assassin” word, i.e. one belonging to the opposing team. The game has great replay value since you will almost always get a combination of words you’ve never had before.

Codenames is one of those great casual board games that seem simple but will make you think carefully. It encourages communication, creativity, and teamwork which is fantastic considering that you are just playing a board game for fun. Wordplay, deduction, and social interaction elements make Codenames a classic game for parties and introducing people to the hobby.

Pros:

  • Great replay value
  • More players, more fun
  • Easy to set up and play multiple games

Cons:

  • Four player minimum for the full experience

10. Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens
Number of players:2 to 5
Play time:15 minutes
Age:7+

Exploding kittens is one silly and simple card game to play. Up to five players are trying to avoid a kitten-caused explosive ending. In the meantime, they are trying to position the other players for fiery doom by playing hilariously designed cards. Rules are light and the game is easy enough that kids can play it. 

Exploding kittens is designed by Matthew Inman the creator of The Oatmeal webcomic. Therefore, you can expect his personal brand of humor at each step. The visuals will make you laugh, and without a doubt help warm your friends to the board gaming hobby.

Pros:

  • Game with a great sense of humor
  • Quick games
  • Great for those who love kittens

Cons:

  • Player elimination

11. Cascadia

Cascadia
Number of players:1 to 4
Play time:30 – 45 minutes
Age:10+

If you would like to put a label on what kind of a game Cascadia is, it would certainly fit the definition of tile and token drafting games. However, it’s much more than that. The game is a meditative experience, absolute joy to play, and it’s definitely earned its place among the best board games for new players on the market.

Essentially, you as players compete to create the best-looking biome and populate it with various kinds of animals native to the Pacific Northwest of the US and Canada. 

While Cascadia is an easy game to learn, it’s complex enough to make it worth your time long-term. It’s quick to play, wonderful as a filler game, and perfect if you are tired of heavier legacy games. The artwork and game mechanics will instantly hook you in, and you won’t even notice that hours have passed while playing the game.

Pros:

  • Beautiful artwork
  • Relaxing
  • Great family game

Cons:

  • Limited player interaction

12. Sushi Go

Sushi Go
Number of players:2 to 5
Play time:15 minutes
Age:8+

If you are looking for a fun and kawaii card game that can fit your pocket, look no further than Sushi Go. The game is simple enough that if you are having drinks with your non-gamer friends you can easily explain the game in less than two minutes and start playing. If they resist, just show them how cute the wasabi and dumpling cards are. 

The game is excellent even if you are not a fan of raw fish. It’s fast and simple, and you’ll be competing over who can create the best sushi spread and gather more points. 

Sushi go is a card drafting game, where each player keeps one card from the hand they are dealt and passes on the rest. The game continues until no cards are left after playing for three rounds. The real winners, though, are those players that don’t get hungry from playing this delicious-looking game.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Fits in a larger pocket
  • Cute family/casual board game

Cons:

  • Not for hungry people

13. Sheriff of Nottingham

Sheriff of Nottingham
Number of players:3 to 5
Play time:60 minutes
Age:14+

Looking for easy-to-play board games that will tickle that competitive spirit that your friends keep telling themselves they don’t have? Sheriff of Nottingham is the perfect choice. 

Each player takes on a role of a merchant trying to smuggle as many goods as they can past the ever-watchful eye of the Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff is known for his fondness for gold and bribes, and this plays a major part in the game’s mechanics.

Every turn, players declare which and how many goods they’re bringing into the city, but they’ll also have the option of bribing the sheriff, bluffing their way past him, or even accusing other players of smuggling illegal goods. Each player will also have the chance of taking on the role of the Sheriff.

The game is hilarious and has plenty of opportunities for deception and strategy, making it a great choice for new players that enjoy bluffing games.

Pros:

  • Fun bluffing game
  • Great replayability 
  • Accessible and easy to pick up

Cons:

  • Gets better with more people (this can be a pro depending on how big your gaming circle is)

14. Zombie Dice

Zombie Dice
Number of players:2 to 99
Play time:10 – 20 minutes
Age:10+

Zombie Dice is a simple board game with a “push your luck” mechanic. Players take on the role of zombies looking to find as many brains as they can, with preferably as few shotguns pointing their way as possible. Each turn, you’ll take three dice without looking at what color they are and roll them. You score a point per brain you’ve rolled, and you lose everything if you roll three shotgun blasts. It’s that easy. 
You can keep rolling if you feel lucky, but be careful. Some humans (dice) are better armed than others, and won’t let you get away with stacking points.

If you are interested in party games, you won’t make a mistake with Zombie Dice. It’s affordable, quick to play, and most importantly a fun filler game for your board gaming night.

Pros:

  • Simple to learn party game
  • Can be played by any number of players
  • Fast

Cons:

  • Easy to overplay

15. Next Station: London

Next Station London
Number of players:1 to 4
Play time:25 – 30 minutes
Age:8+

Next Station: London is the newest game on our list, released in 2022. You and other players are tasked with redesigning London’s subway network. You are optimizing connections between stations, making sure that all the popular tourist attractions are connected and that all lines are connecting both sides of the river Thames. 

Next Station: London is one of the best casual board games that we played recently and it definitely reminded us of Cartographers but is even more approachable for new players. 

On each turn, you will draw new routes based on the cards you draw, trying to make the most optimal connection that will score you points. The game fits in a medium-sized pocket, is affordable, and is certainly one of our top picks for board games you can travel with.

Pros:

  • Quick to learn
  • Excellent pen and paper game
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Better as a filler or travel game

How to Introduce Your Friends to the Board Game Hobby

Now that you are familiar with some of our favorite picks for beginner-friendly board games, you might wonder how to pick the perfect game. There are multiple factors you should consider before answering that question.

  • What type of game would attract the most attention from your friends? For example, if your friends like playing cards, then Sushi Go and Exploding Kittens would be the easiest choice. If rolling dice is more in their alley, King of Tokyo and Zombie Dice would be better.
  • How many players are you expecting? Most beginner board games are designed for two to four players, but there are some that can accommodate much more, like Codenames or 7 Wonders. 
  • Play time shouldn’t be too long when you are picking games for beginners. Most games on our list take around 30 minutes per session. 
  • Choose an interesting theme. You know your audience better than anyone. Pick a game whose theme speaks to them. 
  • Do you want more or less player interaction? Some players don’t like confrontational games, while some prefer them. Pick something that won’t spoil the fun, or bore your would-be boardgame converts. 

A great board game should have high replayability. This comes especially handy when you are teaching new players to play games.

FAQ

  1. What is the easiest board game to learn?

    One of the easiest board games to learn is Codenames. If you ever played word association games, you’ll feel right at home with this team vs team cooperative game.

  2. Where do I start with board games?

    The beauty of modern board games is that you can start anywhere. You can choose games based on a theme, complexity, price, number of players, or basically however you like. However, there are some that are considered to be the best board games for beginners since they are light on rules, have engaging game mechanics, and don’t take too much of your time.

  3. Is Catan good for beginners?

    Catan is a classic choice for beginners. The game has been around for decades and has introduced many people to modern tabletop games. There are certainly easier games than Catan for new players out there, but we at Boar Gamer have seen many of our friends warm up to the hobby with this simple yet engaging game.