2018 – Best Gateway Game Nominees header

2018 – Best Gateway Game Nominees

Join us as we review the 2018 Gateway Game Nominees for the Diamond Climber, the 1st Annual Meeple Mountain Board Game Awards.
We’ve announced the winners of the first annual Diamond Climber board game awards. Head on over to the announcements page to see which titles won!

A “gateway game” is any game that serves to easily introduce players to this wonderful hobby we all know and love. Commonly recognized gateway games include Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Tsuro, and Pandemic. These titles have easy to understand rulesets, relatively short play time, and engaging themes. Which one of the following games will join the ranks of these gateway games?


Reef, from designer Emerson Matsuuchi and Next Move Games, rode into 2018 on the wave of its predecessor Azul. The gameplay offers simple choices that reveal unexpected depths. The components are marvelous, the playtime is short, and you can teach Reef to just about anyone in a few minutes. Perfect for teaching your friends and family. Check out our review of Reef.


Publisher(s): Next Move Games
Designer(s): Emerson Matsuuchi
Artist(s): Chris Quilliams

Ticket to Ride: New York

Ticket to Ride: New York is the newest entry into the venerable franchise…and it’s also the smallest. Days of Wonder chose to shift gears slightly and give fans a “little” something to chew on between longer games. This new version scales down the complexity, size, and play time; at only ⅓ the size of it’s bigger brother, it plays in just 15-20 minutes. Ticket to Ride: New York still manages to keep all the tension of the larger game by zooming players down to the city level, into Manhattan. Travel by taxi around The Big Apple in the 50s and visit iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building, Gramercy Park, and Greenwich Village. But the clock is ticking and you’re running out of pieces! Read our review of Ticket to Ride: New York.

Ticket to Ride: New York

Publisher(s): Days of Wonder
Designer(s): Alan R. Moon
Artist(s): Cyrille Daujean, Julien Delval


Scarabya pits players against each other in a race to discover valuable golden scarabs at dig sites all over the world. Players have identical sets of polyomino pieces that they’ll lay out onto their board hoping to be able to dig up the valuable treasure found there. You’ll need to make the best use of the space you have, because all pieces must be placed or discarded. Uncover these golden beetles and earn points for yourself. Because Scarabya is simultaneous-play, games are over fast which means you can play again right away! Read our review of Scarabya.


Publisher(s): Blue Orange Games
Designer(s): Bruno Cathala
Artist(s): Sylvain Aublin

Majesty for the Realm

Running a kingdom is hard work! The treasury to manage, wars to run, and always the peasants complaining that their taxes are too high! In Majesty: For the Realm you won’t have to worry about peasants, but you will need to recruit workers to help you make sure that your kingdom is the best it can be. With some wise decisions, and a bit of luck, you’ll be hailed as the best ruler around! Read our review of Majesty: For the Realm.

Majesty: For the Realm

Publisher(s): Z-Man Games
Designer(s): Marc André
Artist(s): Anne Heidsieck


While the previous nomination encourages you to build your kingdom through recruitment, Gunkimono has you building your kingdom through warfare and conquest. Each player controls a warring army that you’ll send out into battle. Direct your troops to conquer areas of the board and earn either scoretrack points, or valuable honor points that let you multiply your effectiveness. Better hope you’re okay with confrontation because Gunkimono is steeped in it. Read our review of Gunkimomo.


Publisher(s): Renegade Game Studios
Designer(s): Jeffrey D. Allers
Artist(s): Michelle Garrett, Melanie Graham, George Sellas


Disney Villainous is an epic contest of “evil vs more evil” as players take on the role of some of Disney’s most hated villains. Each player has a different win condition, and everyone will have to be alert and ready for whatever may happen. Villainous features amazing artwork, clever gameplay, and 6 of the meanest, evilest villains around. Discover your character’s unique abilities and winning strategy while dealing out twists of fate to thwart your opponents’ schemes. Find out who will triumph over the forces of good and win it all! It’s good to be bad!


Publisher(s): Wonder Forge
Designer(s): Prospero Hall
Artist(s): Not listed

Read our review of Disney Villainous.

Related board games

About the author

Andy Matthews

Founder of Meeple Mountain, editor in chief of MeepleMountain.com, and software engineer. Father of 4, husband to 1, lover of games, books, and movies, and all around nice guy. I run Nashville Game Night, and Nashville Tabletop Day.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Subscribe to Meeple Mountain!

Crowdfunding Roundup

Crowdfunding Roundup header

Resources for Board Gamers

Board Game Categories