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October 30, 2014 / Jett

The Board Game Night Playlist: Intro to Board Games

Ticket to Ride 10th Anniversary Edition BoardWelcome to the Board Game Night Playlist! In what will hopefully grow into an ongoing series, I put together a playlist of games that you could use for your next board game night. Ideally, each playlist is created with the thought that all of the games on the list could be played within an evening of gaming. Also, I’d like for each playlist to contain some sort of thread that ties them together. For instance, I want to make playlists that are tuned for specific player counts, themes, gameplay mechanics or other logical through lines to make the most out of your next session.

This first playlist was inspired by a board game night we had with Mat and his now-fiancée Liza. Neither of them had played board games in years, with most of their experience coming from playing mainstream hits like Monopoly or Scrabble. What set of games could we pull together that were equal parts fun and accessible? Our picks out to be excellent choices, as we had a great night and inspired Mat and Liza to seek out more great board game experiences for themselves. This first playlist is the exact lineup of games we played that fateful night. If you’re hosting a board game night with newcomers, or are new to the medium yourself, try out this introductory playlist!

Love Letter

2-4 players
Ages 10 and up
20 minutes

Love Letter is a fun and simple card game about players trying to pass along their romantic notes to a princess who has volunteered herself to solitary confinement. Using the game’s 16 cards, you’ll draw and play cards to try and be the one holding the princess card or the card closest in point value to the princess by the end of the game. However, by playing certain cards, opponents might knock you out of the game before she can get your letter. The player who reaches the score limit first wins the game and presumably the undying love of the princess.

I think Love Letter is amazing for players of all skill levels, though it’s particularly effective as an introductory experience. The game is played with only 16 cards, which greatly tones down the intimidation factor that comes with playing designer board and card games. Learning the game is a breeze, as it basically boils down to picking a card, putting down a card and following what the played card says. The strategy comes from which of the two cards do you play when the time comes, which is actually more compelling than it sounds. It may be simple, but it’s also a wildly fun game of deduction that works well as an icebreaker.

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Ticket to Ride

2-5 players
Ages 13 and up
45 minutes

In Ticket to Ride, players collect coloured train tickets that can be used later to claim routes across America. The longer the route, the more points you get. Players can also get bonus points by using trains to connect specific cities, but they’ll lose points if they’re unable to complete the connections. The player with the most points at the end wins.

My description does not do this game justice. Ticket to Ride might very well be the best board game of all-time. At the very least, it works as an amazing first step into the world of board gaming. Understanding the concepts of collecting tickets and spending them on routes is easy enough, but the strategy that comes with claiming the right routes at the right time before your opponents take it first never gets old. This aspect of the game will make itself apparent very quickly, which newcomers and seasoned veterans will continually get a kick out of. When it comes to sure-fire bets, having fun with Ticket to Ride at a board game night is about as good as it gets.

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Formula D

2-10 players
Ages 8 and up
60 minutes

How do you translate the thrills of a Formula 1 race into a board game? Formula D has the answer. Players roll one of six custom dice that corresponds to each gear to move their car forward. In corners, racers must slow down and stop a specific number of times to prevent themselves from slamming into a wall and blowing up. Also, in certain conditions where cars come a bit too close to each other, the black die is rolled to determine if an accident occurred.

Formula D is a fantastic introductory game for a number of reasons. The simple roll-and-move mechanic is one that anyone who has played Candyland or Snakes & Ladders will grasp immediately. Even if you don’t drive a manual transmission vehicle, a basic understanding of gears goes a long way to understanding the concepts of speeding up and slowing down. Cornering though is the game’s money maker. Once you come up to one, players have to think about what gear to approach the corner in, roll the die, then maneuver their vehicle in a way that gives them the biggest advantage. Throughout all of this, you really feel like you’re racing against your friends because of the thrill of the dice rolls and the strategy required in moving your car and managing the damage on your vehicle.

The simple rule set and interesting strategic choices players need to make throughout make it a great introductory game that is consistently thrilling. Should you want to get more out of it, the advanced ruleset lets you simulate the racing experience to a ridiculous degree. With advanced rules, you can simulate damage to specific parts, weather effects, drafting and more. For this introductory game night though, you’re probably best to save the advanced racing for another time.

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Leave a Comment
  1. evilhomer54 / Oct 30 2014 3:22 PM

    I am doing reviews of games once a week…highly enjoyed reading this and I’m going to follow. Look forward to see what you wrote about

  2. INK1ing / Oct 31 2014 4:13 PM

    Great idea. I think this playlist sounds like a winner. I have never played Formula D before (in fact I don’t think I have played any racer) but I have heard good things about it.

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