Chalkboard Ben Baldanza has taught hundreds of games to new gamers. He's an instructor for board game classes at his local community college and he also teaches games to his friends and co-workers. Here's a few questions that Ben suggests you can ask yourself when deciding on what makes a good game to try with first-time gamers.

  • Can the new player win on their first play? Don't let people get discouraged by being "out of it" half way through their first game!
  • Does the game look good and have an interesting theme? Hey, looks count everywhere else in life too, so why not with their first games? Save the laser-printed stuff until much later.
  • Can you explain the rules quickly? People want to play, not hear rules!
  • Will the game end in less than an hour? Many new board game players shy away from games because they think that they take all night. Prove them wrong.
  • Will it remind them of Monopoly? Then don't use it! In fact, shy away from any game with a "roll a die and move the pawn" idea if you want people to realize that games have grown up.
  • Is there good interaction? Board games are social so don't play multi-player solitaire if you want people to get into new games.
  • Do you have a plan? Your favorite game may be Puerto Rico or Settlers of Catan. But neither is best for first-time game players. Play games that "build up" to these by introducing ideas that are second-nature to you.

Ben recommends these games to try with new gamers

Transamerica cover Transamerica has alot of good things for a new gamer. It's a familiar subject: After all, everyone loves to work on the railroad. It's quick, easy to learn, and is very different from most American games.
Winner's Circle cover Winner's Circle covers another familiar topic: Horseracing. And a game of Winner's Circle near always involves the time-honored tradition of poking fun at your opponents.
Carcassonne cover Carcassonne may be one of the best games for new gamers. Unique, easy to learn, and fun. If you're concerned about complex rules, just leave the farmers out of the first game you play.
Manhattan cover Manhattan shows off the high production value of the typical imported game. The high-rise skyscrapers add a stunning visual impact as well. Because Manhattan's components are language independent, it makes a nice first step into German games.
Take It Easy cover Take It Easy will leave everyone asking "How did you do so much better if we all had the same tiles???"
Liar's Dice cover Liar's Dice combines dice and bluffing, two common game elements, into a fun game that is sure to be a hit with new gamers.
Ricket to Ride cover Ticket to Ride lets players compete for limited rail lines while trying to connect routes. Don't be surprised if people want to immediately play again!
Blokus cover Blokus is an excellent game for people who enjoy abstract games. It make a great lead-in for your more analytic friends. High production values and good looks certainly add to the impression.
Slide 5 cover Slide 5 can seem maddeningly random at first, but it's quick and easy to play, and the simulatenous actions lead to some fun second guessing. You're bound to hear "One more time!"

We trust you'll find success with these games as you bring more
of your friends into the wonderful world of boardgaming!