This is a guest article, written by Chad Wilkinson for Board Game Crate.

So, you’ve been bitten by the board game bug? Perhaps it’s a bit overwhelming, especially considering 2017 saw the release of over 3,500 new games! But don’t panic. Here’s a short guide to starting a well-rounded collection for the curious gamer in you.

Keep it Light!

You may be fascinated by the idea of hugely complex tabletop escapades, but if you’re hoping to keep your family or friends coming back to the table, it’s best to keep it light. Gamers have been spoiled for choice recently when it comes to simple yet absorbing titles. Last year gave us Photosynthesis, a beautiful abstract game tasking players with cultivating a forest with the best trees. This innovative gem stood out from the competition with its three-dimensional trees and innovative but simple mechanisms.

Games like Carcassonne, Dominion, Ticket to Ride, and Catan have become classics for a reason.

The Spiel des Jahres awards
The Spiel des Jahres awards

If you’re looking for a bit more guidance on what to choose, you can’t go far wrong with the winners of the Spiel des Jahres. This annual game of the year competition has boosted the popularity and sales of some excellent light tabletop games, including Kingdomino, Codenames, and Colt Express. All of these titles are smart, fun, and eye-catching, whilst never becoming too complicated.

Eventually, you’ll feel confident enough in your ability to introduce heavier strategy games to your group, such as Agricola or Great Western Trail, without scaring them off.

Don’t Ignore the Classics!

It can be easy to become distracted by the latest Kickstarter projects or the most hyped games topping the charts, but don’t dismiss a game because of its age! Games like Carcassonne, Dominion, Ticket to Ride, and Catan have become classics for a reason. Luckily, the enduring popularity of these games makes them easy to get hold of. There’s nothing worse than seeking out that hyped new game only to find it’s out of stock everywhere!

Striving for a diverse mixture of games demonstrating different mechanics, themes, and levels of complexity will ensure your collection stays fresh.

These landmarks of the hobby are also quite accessible in terms of difficulty, making them perfect candidates for enticing new players. Furthermore, once you and your gaming group are familiar with the basic mechanics these games established you can look forward to all the ways more recent designers have come up with innovative ways of keeping these game ideas fresh.

Variety!

Most importantly, don’t shy away from trying new things! Maybe you have a fondness for deck- building games, but haven’t yet made the jump to the worker placement genre, or tested the waters of area control? Give it a shot! There’s so much variety available in this hobby and it’s down to you figure out what suits you best. Striving for a diverse mixture of games demonstrating different mechanics, themes, and levels of complexity will ensure your collection stays fresh. Furthermore, you’ll have the perfect game to suit different occasions and players.

Hopefully this brief guide has given you some things to consider as you embark on your journey into this exciting and rapidly growing hobby. There may be a lot of games out there but it’s not as intimidating as it seems!

Written by Chad Wilkinson for Board Game Crate.
Chad is a recent Masters graduate and board game enthusiast.

This article first appeared in the March 2018 crate newsletter.

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