Gateway games are generally thought of as entry points into the wider world of gaming, a sizzling sample to get new gamers salivating before they take a look at the full menu our hobby offers. These titles need to be light and quick, yet they also need to have enough thematic and mechanical depth to draw people in. Above all, they have to be fun! Which one of these 2019 titles has what it takes to turn new players into new gamers?
Don’t forget to cast your ballot in our 2019 Fan Favorite voting.
We’ll be announcing the rest of the nominees over the next few weeks; then check back on Friday, January 17th when we announce the winners of the 2nd Annual Diamond Climber Awards.
Foodies is a quick and easy game about managing a food court, with cartoonish artwork that’s as silly as the theme. That keeps the gameplay from feeling too tense, and a heaping helping of luck — in the form of a 10-sided die — makes sure that novices aren’t easily overpowered by experts. The basic mechanics are great for introducing more advanced game concepts, too, offering some synergistic strategies without the weight of a full engine-builder.
Horrified has all the qualities needed to bring in new players: it uses an instantly accessible movie monster theme, it’s highly replayable due to the variable setups and win conditions, and the cooperative gameplay means that experienced players can help the newcomers rather than squaring off against them. That all adds up to a ghoulishly good time!
Point Salad is a fast-playing card game that feels like a new twist on a classic recipe. It’s easy to learn and its striking visual design appeals to players of almost any age or skill level. Best of all, Point Salad’s portability makes it perfect for non-gaming events, letting you serve up that gateway goodness wherever players might be.
Tiny Towns was a big hit this year, and it’s easy to see why. This light game of resource drafting and building layout brings gamers into the fold by giving them a fun puzzle to solve then gradually expanding their horizons with deeper strategies and variable setups.
Wavelength is the latest in a long line of clue-guessing team party games, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a knockoff. Players will use an innovative wheel to mark the correct answer on a spectrum of possibilities, with points awarded to the guessing team for how close they get to the right spot and to the opposing team for guessing whether the correct mark is lower or higher than the guess. Wavelength keeps every player actively engaged while being easy to learn and play, making it a great choice for any occasion.
Wingspan’s sumptuous table presence is eye-catching in all the best ways, and the way its theme carries through into every aspect of the gameplay is perfect for helping new players learn how to play. It’s an excellent standard-bearer for what modern board games can look and feel like, exactly what you need when you’re trying to recruit people into this amazing hobby.