Tabletop gaming for newbies

Header image for the article Tabletop gaming for newbies Credit: CANDIS BROSS

Trying to break into tabletop gaming can be confusing and overwhelming, especially with new games being released all the time. Trying to find an easy game to learn on your own can be difficult unless you have a few friends who are knowledgeable. If you’re already a board game aficionado, then maybe it’s time to take a step back and use some of these games to help break the barrier that will make an old friend become a new gamer.

Tsuro

Tsuro

Mechanics: Hand management, player elimination, tile placement

Have you ever wanted to be a dragon? Well, now you can pretend without it being strange. In Tsuro, your goal is to stay in the air for as long as possible without leaving the board. The last player – or dragon – left on the board wins.

The game starts with each player placing their dragon token on a notch at the edge of the board. Each player has a hand of tiles from which to play on the six-bysix grid board. Tiles have different routes on them, and it’s up to you to pick the best routes to use in order to stay on the board. Other players’ tiles can affect the route you choose and can even push you off the board and out of the sky. New tiles are drawn after each tile placement until there are no tiles left. Dragons can collide and fall from the sky, thus resulting in the elimination of both players. Win the game by being the last dragon standing.

Say Anything

Say Anything

Mechanics: Betting, paper and pencil

What do your friends really think about you? You’ll soon find out in Say Anything. Gameplay is quite simple. Each player has a round where they ask a question from one card they draw from the deck. For example, you draw a card and ask, “What’s the most overrated band of all time?” Your friends then write down an answer – no duplicates allowed – and you secretly pick your favourite response using the game’s SELECT-O-MATIC 5000. Using two-betting tokens, your friends then place bets to guess which answer you chose. Points are awarded to those who guessed correctly. Say Anything is an easy, light-hearted game where the laughs are what’s remembered, not who won.

Love Letter

Love Letter

Mechanics: Bluffing, hand management, player elimination

Wooing the princess of Tempest is the goal of this game. How do you get to the princess? Bluffing your way into her heart of course.

From a deck of 16 cards, one card is removed from play, and then each player gets dealt one card. On a turn, you draw one card and decide which to play, trying to expose the other players and knock them from the game using the strategies that each of the cards allow. Each card includes a character, a number and the effect the card has. For example, the Guard is number one, and reads “Name a non- Guard card and choose a player. If that player has that card, he or she is out of the round.” If you guess a player’s card correctly, they are out of the game. The last player standing wins the round. Each round lasts about five minutes, and the first person to win four rounds – or whatever your friend’s agree upon – wins the game.

Camel Up

Camel Up

Mechanics: Betting, dice rolling

Bring your friends to the camel races and compete to be the top earner in Camel Up. A race of five camels is about to begin, so sit down, relax and enjoy one of the strangest races you’ve ever seen.

Players are the driving force in Camel Up. Set-up consists of placing five dice into the pyramid that holds them for the majority of the race. One player then rolls one dice at a time by releasing one dice at a time from the pyramid, which is a really clever design. The camels then move according to the die for a maximum of three spaces. This is how the camels start the race. Once set-up is complete, each player gets a turn performing one action: roll a dice, bet on the winner of the leg, bet on the overall winner of the race or place a special oasis tile. The sooner players place bets, the bigger the payoff by the end of the round. Once all the camels have moved – meaning all the dice have been rolled – the round is over, and you score for that leg of the race based on the players’ actions for that round. The game is over as soon a camel crosses the finish line. The player with the most money after scoring wins.

One fun mechanic that really makes the game is the ability for the camels to stack on top of each other, sometimes making a moving tower of camels, which can make betting really difficult and hilarious.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and Camel Up.

Munchkin

Munchkin

Mechanics: Hand management, dice rolling, card drafting

The basic rules of Munchkin: Kick down a door, fight a monster, get treasure and gain a level. Munchkin is great for people who love role-playing games but don’t want to invest the time to play Dungeons & Dragons. The cards are based off great game clichés and other strange oddities from famous role-playing games, so newbies and experts alike can enjoy the humour.

Monsters like the Large Angry Chicken will get you and extra level if you defeat it with fire or flame, because – let’s face it – fried chicken is delicious. You defeat monsters by equipping your character with items, like the Pointy Hat of Power or The Pantyhose of Strength that add combat bonuses. If you level and bonuses are higher than the monsters, you can beat the monster and get their treasure. Let’s just hope that your friends all get along, because this game allows your friends to either help you defeat monsters you can’t kill yourself. If the monster is too easy, your friends can throw potions, backstab or even give your monster a mate to make your victory impossible. I hope you’ve been practicing your dice rolling: roll a five or higher and you’ll be free. Otherwise you’re going to facing the Bad Stuff.

If classic Munchkin is too boring for you, there are many themed-based games to choose from, including Munchkin Zombies, Super Munchkin and Adventure Time Munchkin.

The Settlers of Catan

The Settlers of Catan

Mechanics: Dice rolling, hand management, trading

In Settlers of Catan, the goal is to become the powerful settler by accumulating 10 points through either building settlements, cities, having the longest road or biggest army, or gathering special development cards that award points.

Setup includes randomly placing the large hexagonal resource tiles that represent the areas of land where players can collect or exchange sheep, clay, wood or wheat. Each tile gets a corresponding number tile placed on it, which comes into effect when players roll dice during their turn. Each player receives two settlements and roads, which in turn are placed on intersections and borders of the resource tiles. Players receive resource cards based on where they choose to place their first two settlements.

A basic turn consists of rolling the dice and collecting resources. The number rolled will spawn resources at the corresponding land tile. If players have a settlement on that tile, they receive resources from that tile. Resources are used to expand your settlements by building roads, placing new settlements, upgrading settlements to cities or buying development cards. Most of these actions will earn you points.

Once a player gets to 10 points, they announce their victory and win the game.

The Settlers of Catan has won multiple awards and is one of the most popular tabletop games currently on the market due to its appeal to experienced gamers and its simple rules.

Don’t think you’re limited to this list. If you’re interested in a game that doesn’t appear on this list, check out youtube.com/geekandsundry and look for the show TableTop, which features Wil Wheaton and friends as they play and teach other amazing games.