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Go to the Pandemic page
Go to the Pandemic: On the Brink page
Go to the Ghost Stories page
Go to the Thunderstone: Dragonspire page
Go to the Hive page
Go to the Claustrophobia page
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Go to the Summoner Wars page
Go to the Monopoly Deal Card Game page
53 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

Building off the shared experience of the Monopoly, this card game offers a cheap, quick, and fun experience. Simple hand management and set collection mechanics come together for a ten minute game.

The objective is to be the first to get three complete sets of property cards. Every round, you draw two cards and can play up to three cards. Property and money cards are played in front of the player, but the real fun comes from the action cards– they allow a player to trade properties or even steal them. Others charge rent– and if the other players can’t pay, then they will be handing over properties.

It isn’t a deep game, but I give it a high recommendation. You can buy it on the cheap (I got mine for $3), and it is easy to break out when waiting at a restaurant or while waiting for other gamers to arrive for a night of gaming. If the cards get destroyed, then it is cheap to replace. I keep a copy in my laptop bag.

Finally, I can’t overstate the importance of the Monopoly theme. A lot of people grew up with Monopoly, and it is an important shared experience that can be used to show the same people that games don’t necessarily have to be slow or boring.

Go to the Formula D page

Formula D

46 out of 69 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is a great personality test for others. Will they play it conservative and get lapped or will they risk it all … only to crash and burn?

Formula D is a great push your luck kind of game. The basic rules are easy enough for many young children to follow, and it can play up to ten. It can be a loud game as every one cheers at spectacular luck (bad or good).

The advanced rules open up the door for more replay value as the player has more options on how to deal with damage and special abilities even come into play.

The components are top notch, and the little dashboards are a nice touch that add a lot to the experience.

Go to the Fluxx page


35 out of 45 gamers thought this was helpful

Fluxx is light and fluffy, and anyone can play it. However, like cotton candy, I feel sick if I have too much Fluxx. A game can last ten seconds, and it can last a half hour.

Having said all of that, it is still worth owning.

The rules are very simple, but some basic math can be required as new rules are introduced. It isn’t hard to play a quick hand with a group of people and then walk away.

The keepers, goals, and rules are colorful and light enough to amuse most non-gamers.

It scales perfectly between 2 to 6 players.

It is a great game to have around when dealing with children, drunk buddies, or other easily amused folks. I have even brought it out when a non-gamer expresses concern about playing a board game. While I am not sure I would call it a Gateway game, it can break some preconceptions of board games for people that had bad experiences with them as a child.

Go to the Claustrophobia page


77 out of 89 gamers thought this was helpful

Claustrophobia makes a great Next Step game for introducing casual gamers to gaming, and it makes a fine game for avid gamers.

The pre-painted miniatures and other components are all in great shape. Even the box is a good in that it holds all of the components well. The only complaint about the components is that the players are required to shuffle the tiles. They are quite big and it makes mixing them up a bit cumbersome.

You may need a big table to play. Longer scenarios can take up a lot of space.

The two players are using different mechanics, and they often have different goals. The human player has a dice allocation system that typically dwindles over the course of the game. The demon player has their own resource allocation system, but they generally keep their power level or even increase it through out the game. The human player needs to move and move fast if they want to win.

The variability in quests, equipment, powers, tactics, and board lay out opens the game to a lot of re-playability.

It is a lot of beautiful components and good game play for a cheap price. I can’t recommend it enough.

Go to the Ticket to Ride: Europe page
31 out of 43 gamers thought this was helpful

Ticket To Ride is one of nearly perfect gateway games.

Players can be as nice or as naughty as they like, and still enjoy the game. Being nice is a great way to bring new gamers into the gaming experience, but a whole new world opens to them the first time I intentionally block their routes (after a few games, of course…).

Another reason it is a great gateway is that introduces both short and long term scoring options that are easy to understand. The restricted routes and limited route cards in play allow most new gamers to play with ease.

I recommend this game over the original. I have found the European map is “exotic” enough for my American players that it captures their attention quicker than the American map. The route cards show the rough location of destinations. It doesn’t take long to locate them.

Go to the Thunderstone: Dragonspire page
27 out of 32 gamers thought this was helpful

Note- This was my introduction to Thunderstone game family. I have had little experience with the original base set.

Dominion introduced the deck building mechanic to the world of board games, but I found it rather limited in game play and theme.

Thunderstone adds a traditional fantasy setting to the mix, and opens the door to new game play options and decisions. The player has three initial choices every round– remove a card from their hand, buy a card from the village (similar to the standard “buy” from Dominion), or visit the dungeon and attempt to kill a monster (victory points).

There are many more statistics in this game than Dominion, and it is not friendly for non or casual gamers. The balanced is a deeper and more fulfilling experience.

While the game doesn’t tell as much of a story as I would like, I feel a strong investment in the cards I put in my deck.

The variety of cards makes the replay value high.

The components are nice, but I do question some of the artwork choices. The picture chosen doesn’t always clearly identify what the card represents.

My biggest compliment is that I am always looking forward to playing again!

Go to the Survive: Escape from Atlantis! page
37 out of 47 gamers thought this was helpful

Stronghold has produced a wonderful reprint. The components are great, and the rules are well written. Despite having a copy of the original, I am pleased to have a copy of this version on my shelf. The attractive pieces are an immediate pull for casual and avid gamers.

One feature that a good gateway should contain is the ability to play as nice or as naughty as the crowd demands. While not as a clear of a distinction as Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne, Survive still offers the ability to interact as little or as much as you want and still have fun.

A recent game had my regular gaming buddy, myself, and two non gamers playing the game. While the two non-gamers largely concentrated on themselves and made small antagonistic gestures. My buddy and I waged a full scare war upon each other’s meeples. By the end of the game, the non gamers were fully into the mischief making. They demanded another game once we were done– always a great sign.

Go to the Carcassonne page


55 out of 66 gamers thought this was helpful

This is a fantastic gateway game to get new gamers to modern games.

I have found it is an easy sell. When you call it is a competitive jigsaw puzzle, the it stirs curiosity and disarms concern about the potential complexity. The board that is built through game play makes an attractive tapestry to the eye.

The rules themselves are good for the new gamer. The difficulty with teaching many modern scoring games is the need to plan for the long term. Most of the meeple placements allow for easy scoring that can be easily understood.

The farmer tends to be the most difficult for new gamers to grasp. It is a good stepping stone for long term planning, but it can also be easily removed from the game without hurting the game play experience.

The components look great, but the scoring board is rarely big enough for most of my games.

The replay value is high for casual gamers. It is a game you can enjoy multiple times in one evening, but even the casual gamer may grow tired of it if played too often.

Go to the Pandemic: On the Brink page
71 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

Many expansions just add more of the same and potentially upset the balance of the original game. On The Brink builds on the foundation that Pandemic offers by adding new twists, and it brings along great components for the ride.

The components:
The new pawns fix my only complaint about the original game. Their size makes game play much easier.

The components:
The petri dishes are great for storing and organizing the components, and they add to the thematic experience of the game.

New game play options:
The virulent strains replace the epidemics cards of the original game, and each changes the game play in minor (or major) ways. Since they are randomly selected, there is no easy way to prepare for them. It adds a great layer of difficulty for the experienced player.

The mutation diseases adds a new purple disease to the game. It behaves differently than the original diseases, and it can throw a wrench in the standard strategies. There are so few of the cubes that the players must be especially careful in managing the threat.

I have not used the bio-terrorist. I prefer the Pandemic experience as a cooperative one. I can not comment to how well it works.

The new roles add the most to the game play. Even if you don’t use any of the other components, you can add the new roles to a standard game and add to the experience.

If you enjoy Pandemic, then you should strongly consider picking up this expansion.

Go to the Pandemic page


27 out of 44 gamers thought this was helpful

I know I have a hit game when at the end the players demand to play again. They don’t ask nicely. They demand. Especially when we lose…

The game scales really well, and the ability to tune the difficulty makes the game a fun experience for the gamers and non-gamers in my life. The different roles allow for a different story/experience with most game plays, and it is fun to watch people grow emotional about the play. My boss almost demands to play the medic.

My favorite part of the game is outside the luck of the initial shuffles, there is little luck to game play. Most wins (and losses) are in the hands of the players. It is nice to be able to look back at a loss and see what we could have done different, and it makes a win that much more exciting.

My only negative about the game is the size of the pawns. They are too big, and it can make the game awkward. The essential expansion fixes the issue.

I strongly recommend the game and often give it as a gift to others.

Go to the Dominion page


67 out of 94 gamers thought this was helpful

While I have never cared for the deck building required of CCG’s, Dominion took the concept and distilled it down to a fun little game.

I have played it quite a bit, and the ability to exchange cards adds to some of the replay value. The problem is that most of the cards are just slight variations of each other. It leads to having a lot of choices, but I feel little change in game flow from picking one card versus another.

The lack of theme is my biggest problem with it. The little enjoyment I get from playing particular cards drops even further when it doesn’t add to the story/experience of the game.

Dominion is an important game for introducing a new mechanic, but other games have improved upon it.

Go to the Ghost Stories page

Ghost Stories

75 out of 146 gamers thought this was helpful

The biggest initial challenge is the rule book. A rule book has two goals– to instruct on how to play the game and act as a reference during a game. The rule book is pretty bad on both ends.

Once that hurdle is passed, the actual game experience is very good. The components are top notch and the art is beautiful. It is a very difficult game. It isn’t hard to lose early in the game, and I can think of few solid victories. Most wins are done by the skin of my teeth, but that leads to the most tension and fun.

The variable setup of the board and the many different bosses provide a good amount of variability.

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