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Top 10 Gateway Games

Top 10 Gateway Games

All board gamers have to start somewhere, which is why Board Game Bandit has created this list of the best “Gateway Games”.

These games provide a variety of categories and mechanisms, while keeping the game play more on the lighter side, but obviously still a ton of fun. 

These games are all relatively quick playing as well, as no new gamer wants to open with a four hour thematic strategy game with a small novel as a rule booklet.

Most gateway games are also suitable for families, and typically suit anyone’s preference, so parents, kids, teens and grandparents can all join in on the fun of a new game.

10. Forbidden Desert

Forbidden Desert Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2-5
Playtime 45 Min
Suggested Ages 10+
Designer(s) Matt Leacock
Publisher Gamewright

Forbidden Desert is the sequel to Forbidden Island, along you do not require the first game in the series to play it, and we should note there is also a third game in the series, called Forbidden Sky.

You and the other players are brave adventurers, reckless, surviving the blistering heat and blustering sand all in order to secure a legendary flying machine buried under an ancient desert city. Forbidden Desert has cooperative gameplay similar to Forbidden Islandbut with this game an innovative set of mechanisms like an shifting board, individual resource management, and a real unique way to discover the flying machine parts.

This game is for 2-5 players, children as young as 8 could play with adult help, and the play time sits around 45 minutes.  It's a great family game of adventure, fantasy and science fiction.

Buy Forbidden Desert online now!

9. Sushi Go! Party

Sushi Go Party! Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2-8
Playtime 20 Min
Suggested Ages 8+
Designer(s) Phil Walker-Harding
Publisher Gamewright

In Sushi Go! Party 2-8 players are eating at a sushi restaurant (maybe you should order some take out for this one..) and attempting to snag the best combination of sushi plates as they fly by. Score points for obtaining the most sushi rolls or making a full set of sashimi. triple its value by dipping your favorite nigiri in wasabi! Once you've eaten it all, finish off your meal with the pudding you got! Be careful though, which sushi you let your friends to take; it may just be what they need to defeat you!

The dynamics of "draft and pass" are brought into play with this quick 20 minute card game, while keeping the rules to a minimum. The different scoring options give for some clever plays and not so nice blocks. Each round, you must also be mindful of the goal of having the most pudding cards at the end of the game!  This is a simple and quick family game with kids as young as 6 being able to join in.

Buy Sushi Go Party! online now!

8. Lotus

Lotus Card Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2-4
Playtime 30 Min
Suggested Ages 8+
Designer(s) Jordan Goddard, Mandy Goddard
Publisher Renegade Game Studios

Lotus is a seriously beautiful and artistically put together game.  It's quick playing with 30 minute games of 2-4 players. 

Take in the strength of the lotus garden. It requires skillful care and nurturing to grow these flowers, but, once picked, they give their owner wisdom. However, there are others who will do anything to get their hands on these flowers. You'll need to receive the assistance of creatures native to the land to take control of the lotus garden and achieve true enlightenment.

Buy Lotus online now!

7. Kingdomino

Kingdomino Board Game Setup

Number of Players 2-4
Playtime 15 Min
Suggested Ages 8+
Designer(s) Bruno Cathala
Publisher Blue Orange Games

This family city and territory building game incorporates a medieval theme, is super quick to play with 15 minutes games, and allows players as young as 6 to participate.

2-4 players are lords seeking new lands to expand your kingdoms. You explore all the lands, to find the best plots, while competing with other lords to gain them first.

Using tiles with two sections, each player on a turn selects a new domino to connect to their existing kingdom, ensuring at least one of its sides matches those already in play. The order of who picks depends on the tile previously chosen, with better tiles forcing players to pick later in the next round. The game is completed when players have completed a 5x5 grid (or failed to), and points are tallied based on the number of connecting tiles and valuable crown symbols.

Buy Kingdomino online now!

6. Splendor

Splendor Board Game Setup

Number of Players 2-4
Playtime 30 Min
Suggested Ages 10+
Designer(s) Marc André
Publisher Space Cowboys

The game offers card development and chip collecting. Players act as merchants of the trying to buy gem mines, shops, transportation —hoping to get the most points.

Splendor is a fun game for 2-4 players, its game play sit at 30 Minutes and is suitable for players aged 10+.  

On turns you have three options to choose from, you (1) collect chips (gems), (2) buy and build a card, or (3) reserve one card. If you collect chips, you will take three different types of chips or two chips of the same type. If you purchase a card, you pay the price in chips fir it and and place it in your playing area. To reserve a card—(so you can use it later, once affordable), or, preventing your opponents from taking it—you place it face down in front of you.

All of the cards you purchase brings more wealth, giving you a permanent gem bonus for future buys; some cards also gives you prestige points. To win the game, you must secure 15 prestige points before the other players.

Buy Splendor online now!

5. Pandemic

Pandemic Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2-4
Playtime 45 min
Suggested Ages 8+
Designer(s) Matt Leacock
Publisher Z-MAN Games

Pandemic is a cooperative game, it changed cooperative board gaming, paving the way to countless more co-op games that fans love.

Since 2020 sent the world spinning, the game Pandemic as become increasingly popular with interest from none gamers wanting to give it a try. It's a 2-4 player game, for players 8 and older, and it plays in about 45 minutes.

In the fame several diseases have broken out at once, all over the world! Players are disease-fighting technicians with the mission to treat disease hotspots and research cures for each of four before they get out of hand.

The game board shows major population cities on Earth. Each turn, you can use up to four actions to travel between cities, treat infected populaces, discover a cure, or construct a research station. Card decks give players abilities, but hidden through the deck are Epidemic! cards that accelerate and intensify the diseases' activity. A second, card deck controls the "normal" speed of the infections.

Players plan their strategy together to fit with their specialists' abilities to defeat the diseases. The diseases are spreading fast and time is running out. If one or more diseases spreads past recovery or if too much time elapses, all players lose. If they cure the four diseases, call players win!

Buy Pandemic online now!

4. Horrified

Horrified Board Game Setup

Number of Players 1-5
Playtime 60 Min
Suggested Ages 10+
Designer(s) Prospero Hall
Publisher Ravensburger

The stakes are high. Imagine living in a place so miserable that it's not plagued by one, two, or even three monsters — but seven of the terrifying fiends!

With this game, you face all seven monsters working together to eliminate the town of the maniacal or misunderstood creatures…before it's too late.

Horrified has some pretty fancy looking sculpted miniatures (Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon). It offers cooperative gameplay with players working together against the monsters with several levels of difficulty. Each monster is unique, and they need different tactics and strategies to be defeated. The game is innovative, simple-to-learn, plays in an hour and is good for 1-5 players.

Buy Horrified online now!

3. For Sale

For Sale Card Game Cards

Number of Players 3-6
Playtime 30 Min
Suggested Ages 10+
Designer(s) Stefan Dorra
Publisher Eagle Gryphon Games

For Sale is a fast playing game (30 minutes) surrounding the purchasing and selling of real estate.  It is a family type game played with cards, incorporating an economic play complete with auction bidding.  The game is playable from 10 years and older and allows 3-6 people to take part in it.

There are two different phases in the game, the first being the bid for multiple buildings, the second being after the building have been bought; selling the buildings for the most profit you can.  Relax the kids don't need to be real estate gurus to play this fun game, but they might learn something worth knowing in the process.

Buy For Sale online now!

2. Carcassonne

Carcassonne Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2-5
Playtime 30-45 Min
Suggested Ages 7+
Designer(s) Klaus-Jürgen Wrede
Publisher Z-MAN Games

Carcassonne is a tile-placing game where players choose and place a tile with beautiful landscape art of French landscape printed on it. The tile features a city, a cloister, a road, grassland or some combination of multiple landscapes, it must be placed beside tiles that have already been played, ensuring cities connect to cities, roads to roads, etc. After placed their tile, players can decide to place a meeples on the tile: on the city as a knight, on a cloister as a monk, on the road as a robber, or on the grass as a farmer (an optional place to the game that increase scoring and strategy). When the area is finished, the meeple is returned to it's owner to reuse as the game plays out and points are earned instantly.

Carcassonne gives players decisions such as: "Is it worth placing my last meeple there?" or "Should I use this tile to finish my city, or place it near my opponents to give them a hard time completing their project, or potentially join their city and force them to split their points with me?". Turns are quick with players placing only one tile and choosing to place one meeple on it.

The great thing about Carcassonne is that you can play strategically or you can turn down the strategy and play a light tile playing game (although this usually only works when all players are on the same page!)  It also has many many expansions to add to the main game bringing new pieces and creating new ways to play.  A personal favorite is "The Tower" expansion, which also comes with additional storage for tiles. This game is for 2-5 players, it places in 30-45 minutes and is great for players 7 and up.

Buy Carcassonne online now!

1. Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride Board Game Gameplay

Number of Players 2-5
Playtime 30-60 Min
Suggested Ages 8+
Designer(s) Alan R. Moon
Publisher Days of Wonder

Oh, Ticket to Ride! A Bandit and fan favorite alike. This award winning game is our top recommendation for a family game.  It plays with 2-5 players with around 30-60 minutes of game time, and it is good for players 8 and up.  This game as so so many expansions, stand alone versions (like Ticket to Ride Europe) and a Ticket to Ride JR for younger players.

Offering simple and elegant gameplay, Ticket to Ride can be learned in under 15 minutes. Players obtain cards of different kinds of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. Longer routes means more points, However ensure you are keeping track of plays, because if you do not complete your route before the last card is drawn, you get no points. Points also come when you fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect cities; and also to the player who successfully makes the longest continuous route.

Buy Ticket to Ride online now!

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