Board games are the epitome of social gatherings, fun and uncensored anger (in a good way). And, while we have no intention of breaking up the family dynamic any time soon, knowing your way around classic board games can be the perfect addition to any evening or hobby arsenal.
Here at The Hobby Kraze, we don’t just deal with solo hobbies. We love to provide friends and families with ways to enjoy their time together that doesn’t involve simply turning on the TV. And, that’s why we have classic board games and family-weight board games for you. Of course, you can’t simply turn up to a party with the family and demand to play monopoly; it can get heated.
And, it may surprise you, but there are a few tips and tricks The Hobby Kraze team will take you through in this ultimate beginner’s guide to board games that will help you in your quest to victory. Of course, every board game is unique and shouting “Knight to H3” in an honest game of Ticket to Ride (Europe edition) will get you nowhere. So, we’ll be covering everything from a history of the hobby to finding the perfect game for you and your family or friends. Take a look at the crib sheet to board games for beginners:
- A History of Family-weight Board Games
- The Reasons you Should Have a Board Game Hobby
- All About the Different Board Game Types and their Examples
- Finding the Cheat Sheet and Taking It by Gospel
- The Beginner’s Guide to Board Games Toolbox
- Where to Go With friends if you Don’t Have the Game
While the team here at The Hobby Kraze would love for you to win every game, this beginner’s guide to board games isn’t a guide to winning. It is simply a guide to playing and choosing the right game for you to enjoy with those you love. Which is, of course, the perfect hobby adventure you can do on a day when the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Hiking needs to take a rain check.
Without further ado; let’s roll the dice, get a six and get moving on the board!
A History of Family-weight Board Games
There is a common misconception that games such as chess or checkers paved the way for intricate tabletop family-weight board games we know today. Although they may have been the steppingstones, they were not the first.
In fact, the first signs of board games have been unearthed by archaeologists in the Eastern regions of the globe. These findings date back over 6,000 years ago into the Neolithic Age.
These sites – now known as countries like Iran, Syria and Jordan – appear to be places where our ancient ancestors decided to settle and farm the land. These games, on the other hand, appear to be stone slabs with a set of parallel rows of six shallow divots. It is believed that the aim of the game was to use two players, each with six personal tokens (such as; pebbles or seeds), who would compete to clear or capture all of their opponents’ tokens.
The next significant find throughout the history of board game types dates back 5,000 years ago. In Turkey, researchers opened a grave which contained nearly fifty small stones sculpted into various objects. For example; they found pigs, dogs, dice and circular shells. And, while there was no board or cheat sheet accompanying these pieces, it is strongly believed they were used as game pawns rather than for a personal collection.
Then, came one of the oldest identified games we know of; Mehen. Translating to ‘coiled one’, it is an ancient Egyptian game depicted throughout tombs, murals and hieroglyphics. It always featured a coiled snake where the tail was on the outside, the head in the centre and a body divided into segments by notches. Also a part of this board game were six marbles and six lion figures where six players (each with a lion and marble) would race to reach the head of the ‘coiled one’.
Moving onto the interesting origin of the world-famous duo’s game; chess, we’re introduced to a debate. There are some sources that would like to say that chess is a direct derivative of the Indian game Chaturanga around the 7th century, while others will say it is a worldly miss-match from pieces around the world in the 6th century.
However, India’s war game Chaturanga is the closest cousin of the chess we know today. This is because of three key factors; the first being that it was played on a board between two individuals, the second is that each player’s tokens would have their own roles in the game and the third comes from the game’s victory being based on one superior token on the board. The only issue would be that the evolution of this game, or the true origin of chess, cannot be found.
Despite this, there is a historical interception where we can see how the game of chess gained popularity across the world. It was Muslims who would take this famous game through to Spain, Italy and North Africa by the 10th century. Then, the Eastern Slavic people would carry it onto Northern European counties throughout the Varangian Rurik Dynasty. Finally, it would be the Vikings who brought the game through to the England, Scotland, Iceland and surrounding islands.
Interestingly, the most famous chess pieces in the world are thought to be from the Vikings who migrated to the North of England. These pieces are made of authentic walrus ivory and are named the Lewis Chessmen after the island on which they were found. Today, the chessmen sit in the National Museum of Scotland.
Looking at modern times, we don’t need to have a board to play board games for beginners. Nor, do we need to be in the same room as our opponents. With technological advances, access to the internet and fun family-weight board games available on gaming devices, we’re at a new level. For example; have you considered playing various board game types with your parents located across the country just by using VR gaming technology?
The Reasons you Should Have a Board Game Hobby
Classic board games among other modern board game types are all a form of mental exercise through strategy. And, it is this mental exercise that gives family-weight board games their beneficial components. Playing board games, with a computer, an opponent or a group of friends will always include using your brain. In turn, this can help to keep your mind sharp as you grow old. One of the most prominent beneficial impacts include the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
However, you shouldn’t head into the hobby for this reason alone. It can be one of the most fun and rewarding ways to spend valuable time with friends and family. Often, you can visit your parents, have dinner and splat in front of the TV never to utter another word apart from; “is there dessert?”. But, pulling out various board game types can spruce up your evening and bring you closer to those you love (unless it’s monopoly, don’t expect to talk until Christmas).
With that, the team at The Hobby Kraze has banded together to get you a list of all the benefits to having a hobby with board games;
- You’re using your brain
- You will be increasing finger dexterity
- You can play with as many people as you’d like
- You can make time disappear
- You don’t have to be physically active
- Each game is different
- You can choose from a variety of board game types
- Some board games for beginners can be quick and easy
- They offer a great way to break the ice with new family
- There are board game café’s for you to enjoy with friends
- Playing and practising can help you become a pro who rarely loses
- You can enter competitions and championships
- Family-weight board games can reduce stress and anxiety
- Having fun with friends and family can increase relaxation
- You’ll be releasing happy hormones such as: dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin
- Relationship will grow
- Other relationships will fall which can be good depending on the player
- Using classic board games brings you off smart devices and back into reality
- The beginner’s guide to board games can help teach patience and strategy
- It helps younger players learn the value of goals and operations
- Winning can increase self-confidence
- If you enter a world of creating board games, it will increase creativity
All About the Different Board Game Types and their Examples
When we talk about board games, there will be a few famous faces that pop to mind. For example; chess, checkers, Monopoly, Cluedo, Guess Who, Backgammon, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Battleships, Snakes and Ladders, Risk and more.
However, when we think about it, there is a wide range of different types of board games that we could be playing. And, some games will fit into multiple genres, too. Whether it’s using a story to progress with the game, using pawns on a checkerboard or making sure there are only two players to a game. Each game will fit into one of the 20 board game types below.
So, as you’re getting used to the classic board games jargon, think about which types of game will suit you, how you’d like to play them, where you’d like to play them and who you’d like to play them with. It’s a game on its own!
An abstract game is a heated topic among forums in the board gaming community. This is because the ambiguous name gives way to different types of games that don’t share features. However, the main concept of an abstract game is for there to be no theme. Or, a theme is created throughout the trial of board games for beginners.
Examples of abstract games include; chess, checkers, backgammon, Go, Tantrix, Poker, König von Siam, Hive, Santorini and Snakes and Ladders.
2. Area Control
Much like what it says on the tin, the aim of an area control game is to work towards dominating the board. With the board providing the confines of the game, a player must work strategically to either capture the flag or block other players from doing so.
Examples of area control games include; Risk, Ticket to Ride, Scrabble, Small World, Nanty Narking, Plague Inc. and Dominant Species.
Also known as legacy games, these board game types have the players follow a pattern of scenarios and moves to help them progress throughout the game. Often, each player is given a defined set of attributes and there is a goal to work towards. Sometimes, these types of games have an all-vs-one approach where there is one player acting as the game master and the others must work together to beat the game.
Examples of campaign games include; Dungeons and Dragons, Pandemic Legacy, Charterstone, Munchkin, Gloomhaven, Betrayal Legacy, Kingdom Death and The 7th Continent.
Much like with campaign games, the players of the game must work together to beat the game. However, unlike the campaign games, there is not always the need for a game master or a scenario-based play. Most times, it is all players or groups of players aiming to beat the board as if the board were another player.
Examples of co-operative games include; Pandemic, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Flash Point; Fire Rescue, Forbidden Island, Bears VS Babies, Spirit Island and Mysterium.
5. Deck Builder
The premise of the deck builder is for all players to begin with the exact same deck of cards but, as the game progresses, their deck becomes more and more personalised. The gameplay itself is to use the board and build a deck throughout the experience for a unique and fun game.
Examples of deck builder games include; Friday, Star Realms, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, Dominion, Undaunted: Normandy, Uno, Legendary: Marvel Deck Building Game, Core Worlds and Legendary: Alien Encounters.
6. Deck Construction
Sometimes confused with the deck builder board game types, these kinds of games rely on the players’ commitment to the game before the bell has rung. The idea is that cards for the board are collected and decks are built prior to a game taking place. Then, as each player meets their match, they test out their deck. These types of games are not generally considered family-weight board games but more competitive events.
Examples of deck construction games include; Hearthstone, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering, Gloomhaven, Android: Netrunner, Marvel Champions and Arkham Horror: The Card Game.
These are board games that require a certain level of movement. For example, using the entire body or simply using the fingers as part of a balancing act. These board game types are very fun for family-weight board games and are often a key choice for game night.
Examples of dexterity games include; Twister, Beasts of Balance, Flick ‘em Up, Cube Quest, Flip Ships, Catacombs, Crokinole, Klask, Blankety Blank and Fungeon Party.
Drafting is a fun yet unfair game of picking the short straw. Usually, at the start of a game, an array of items (usually cards) are presented to all players. And, as each player takes one, the next player has fewer cards to choose from. The final player gets no choice at all. Sometimes, though, this can be a mid-game addition. It does add a little spice to board games for beginners so can be a fun component to games night.
Examples of drafting games include; Sushi Go, Villagers, 7 Wonders, Lost Legend, Treasure Hunter, Fairy Tale, Hollywood, Nevermore and Tides of Time.
9. Dungeon Crawler
Players in a dungeon crawler game must travel around the board – either as a group against the game or individually and against each other – mastering particular dungeons. The map will include dungeons which will have bosses or creatures that need to be fought in order to move on.
Examples of dungeon crawler games include; Dungeons and Dragons, Munchkin, Jumanji, Mice and Mystics, Gloomhaven, Star Wars: Imperial Assault, Mansions of Madness, Discover: Lands Unknown, Warhammer Quest and Escape the Dark Castle.
10. Engine Builder
The idea with an engine builder is to begin your game with a set of resources. Then, as the game progresses, you can acquire new resources (often cards) and build an engine. This engine is supposed to help you either win the ultimate ending of the game or to win little victories throughout.
Examples of engine builder games include; Bears VS Babies, Century: Spice Road, Race for the Galaxy, Res Arcana, Terraforming Mars, The Great Western Trail, Concordia and Scythe.
Often referred to as ‘Euro’, these games are named as such due to the gameplay originating from Europe. These board game types prioritise randomness over strategy and theme meaning the game often incorporates passive play rather than aggressive pre-calculated moves. There is often a lot of luck within these family-weight board games but are great for game night because it levels the playing field across experienced and beginner players.
Examples of eurogames include; The Quacks of Quedlinburg, Agricola, Paladins of the West Kingdom, professor Puzzle: Escape from the Grand Hotel, The Hygge Game, Dominion and Settlers of Catan.
12. Party Games
These games are the games you will have grown-up playing in large groups with friends or family. Due to their wacky nature and ease of understandability foy younger players, they are the perfect starter for the beginner’s guide to board games. They often require large groups of people and don’t take too long, either. They can be great for a rowdy bunch not looking to play with too much seriousness or strategy.
Examples of party games include; Frustration, Time’s Up, Cranium, Wits and Wagers, Twister, Taskmaster, Disney’s Think Fast, Joking Hazard, Cards Against Humanity, Cash ‘n’ Guns, Concept, Trivial Pursuit, Sparkle Kitty Nights and Happy Salmon.
These board game types will offer you a hint of ‘more’. You will be offered something of a higher value simply by pushing your luck. Often these can come with a good poker face on seasoned players, but they are a gamble (with no true monetary value) where it may pay off or you may be heading back to the starting zone.
Examples of push-your-luck games include; Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Poker, Blackjack, Bears VS Babies, Plague Inc., Port Royal, The Quacks of Quedlinburg, Deep Sea Adventure and Archaeology: The Card Game.
These are classic board game types where a player takes their turn, rolls a dice and moves forward the specified steps. Often, these games will then involve a task, reward, opportunity or consequence when you land on particular spaces. They can be very random and fun for the family and friend get-together as they require no preparation and can be enjoyed by beginners and experts.
Examples of roll-and-move games include; Monopoly, Backgammon, Snakes and Ladders, Jumanji, Magical Athlete, Deep Sea Adventure, The Game of Life, Formula D and Colosseum.
The idea behind these types of board games include being able to control the meaning of the dice. When a player rolls, they have to write what the outcome would be for that roll as well as the other dice results. This then dictates the rest of the game and can result in many different avenues of play.
Examples of roll-and-write games include; Blankety Blank, Yahtzee, Railroad Ink, Corinth, Ganz Schon Clever and Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age.
16. Social Deduction
These board game types are the pinnacle for practicing your poker face and testing people’s bluff. The idea is that one or more players around the table have a secret they are hiding. Nobody knows this secret apart from them and they need to ensure nobody finds out in order to reach their ultimate objective. Your job, however, would be to unearth this secret to ensure you’re the overall winner while (sometimes) keeping your own secrets.
Examples of social deduction games include; Cluedo, Poker, Blackjack, Blood on the Clocktower, The Resistance, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Confident?, Secret Hitler, Deception, Two Rooms and a Boom, Spyfall and A Fake Artist Goes to New York.
17. Solo Adventure
The solo adventure games might be exactly what they suggest. As this is the beginner’s guide to board games, they can often be useful to help get-to-grips with the premise of many games. While these games involve you playing against the game, your abilities to play a strategic game will increase. They can also be a great option if you can’t find the time to meet with others for a game-night bonanza.
Examples of solo adventure games include; Agricola, Friday, Orchard, Sprawlopolis, Exit: The forgotten Island, Coffee Roaster, Welcome To, Railroad Ink, Cat Rescue and Chronicles of Crime.
These can often be the best board games, especially when it comes to finding board games for beginners. While they can sometimes take a little longer to play than others, they include a narrative and engaging story to hook each player into their role. So, for those who have a half-set interest, these board games types are sure to get them addicted. This styles of game can be campaign based or have one over-arching story to tell. They may include pre-written story logs or accompanying videos to watch on smart devices.
Examples of storytelling games include; The King’s Dilemma, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Dungeons and Dragons, Jumanji, Once Upon a Time, Above and Below, Tall Tales, Dead of Winter and Betrayal at House on the Hill.
19. Worker Placement
The worker placement game often involves placing pawns or meeples (small wooden cut-outs slightly resembling people) around the board in order to complete tasks and work towards the end goal. There are often similarities and overlaps with eurogames as it involves a lot of passive play rather than aggressive attacks.
Examples of worker placement games include; Chess, Bears VS Babies, Agricola, Lords of Waterdeep, Charterstone, Caylus 1303, Champions of Midguard, Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein and Anachrony.
20. War Game
The final style in this A-Z of board game types includes the war game. This game is very attack-based and involves destroying another player’s progression. There is sometimes a grid, but the majority of games occur on a mat or board where each player must combat armies against each other by dictation of a dice roll or card pull.
Examples of war games include; Risk, Munchkin, Warhammer, Memoir 44, Axis and Allies, Civilization, 1775: Rebellion, Hannibal and Hamilcar, The Battle of Five Armies and Hearthstone.
Finding the Cheat Sheet and Taking It by Gospel
Now you know the different types of board game you can come across in a modern world, the team here at The Hobby Kraze have one top tip for you. Every single board game is a cheat sheet (A.K.A. a crib sheet). This is because the box of each board game tells you the requirements and rules of the game.
Be sure to have a good look at a box before buying board games for beginners that you’re not sure how to play. Otherwise, there’s a chance you may have to wait a while in order to find four other willing players for the game. Yet, there are other things to look out for too:
- The recommended age range or starting age of the game
- The duration of each game
- The number of players that are allowed to play the game at once
- The number of players needed for a game
- The pieces the board game includes
- The purpose and story of the boardgame
- The board game types (i.e. base, stand-alone, NSFW or expansion pack)
- The name of the creator
- The price
- The amount of space needed for the family-weight board game
- The tools you’ll need to get
- The extra and novelty items available within that pack
Using these features on the box crib sheet can be an important part of finding which board games to play and when. For example; if there are six of you and a whole evening ahead but your board game takes a maximum of five players, try to pair two people together in one turn. Often, this is best when there is a new player to the game; pair them with someone who is experienced for the best play time.
Of course, when you’ve opened the game, there will always be an instruction manual. A top tip from the team here at The Hobby Kraze would be to make sure that two or more people read and understand the instructions. This can help to curve confusion while increasing the overall understanding (plus, it means that those who read, don’t cheat!).
The Beginner’s Guide to Board Games Toolbox
So, now you know the 20 game play variations you’ll come across in your search for the perfect board games for beginners, it’s time you created an arsenal of spare equipment. Naturally, there are some games that require (or limit) the amount of preparation you can bring to a game, but there are also fail-safes that come in handy. For example; you’re playing a good game of Pictionary and you run out of stationary.
However, it’s always good to bear in mind that we never condone foul play, lying or cheating. This is because we’re pairing you and your loved ones with the right hobby to ensure you enjoy your time and come back for more. But, playing against the rules can ruin it for everyone.
With that in mind, the team here at The Hobby Kraze have gathered a checklist of items you should have as part of your EDC (everyday carry) when you take a hobby in classic board games.
- Non-Slip Board
- Mat Underlay
- Crib Sheet
- Varied Dice
- Card Shuffler
- Paper Cut Plasters
- Clicker Score Counter
- Non-Reflective Glasses
- Card Sleeves
Where to Go With friends if you Don’t Have the Game
Sometimes, you might not want to buy a specific board game. Other times you may not be able to find the right game. There may also be moments when you want an ad-hoc day with your friends and family to see which new family-weight board games will take your fancy. And, this can be expected. Especially when the price of board games can range from £10 to over £100 plus the cost of extras, seasonal pieces and expansion packs.
So, the best thing to do would be to find a café or restaurant with a range of games for you to choose from. With board games and gaming culture becoming a more and more popular hobby among young people and families, there are local businesses and independents scattered across the UK offering exactly this.
Whether it’s for classic board games or for the newest adventure on the block, here’s a list of some gaming café’s in the main cities around the UK. But, don’t forget to look at what your local town may have to offer!
- The Font, Liverpool
- The Dough Bar, Liverpool
- Draughts, London
- Chance and Counters, Bristol
- Thirsty Meeples, Oxford
- The Dice Cup, Nottingham
- Geek Retreat, Newcastle
- Geek Retreat, Glasgow
- Rules of Play, Cardiff
- Jack Straws, Belfast
- Blackbird, Dublin
- Cassidy’s, Dublin
- Candid Café, London
- Cakes and Ladders, London
- The Ludoquist, London
- Noughts and Coffees, Edinburgh
- Meeple perk, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
Before we end, we’d just like to introduce you to the concept of creating your own board game. With board game design labs, YouTube tutorials, hardware shops, game design software and ideas floating everywhere, there’s nothing to stop you. And, if this is something that you decide to dabble in as your newfound hobby, we’d love to see the result. So, don’t forget to share your board game hobby crafting with the team on our social media!
Otherwise, if you liked the ultimate beginner’s guide to board games, we think you’d also enjoy; The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Cosplay, The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to LEGO® Collection, The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Quidditch and The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Model Train Collection.