Building a Board Game Collection? The First 5 Games to Buy for Any Type of Board Gamer

Whether you're just getting into the hobby or just about to start collecting in earnest, it can be difficult to figure out where to start your board game collection. Though there are suggestions out there, there are vastly types of game experience and different types of board gamer. So here's where to get started depending on your personal preferences.

King of Tokyo is a fun push-your-luck ame.

The "General" Board Game Collection

These are games that are generally fun, light, and unobjectionable to most groups. If you want games to bring to a game night, these are the games for you.

  • King of Tokyo. So popular that it's released a Target exclusive, King of Tokyo is a push-your-luck game in which players play giant monsters fighting over a city. The objective is survival.
  • Ticket to Ride. Easy to teach and fast to play (depending on the number of players), Ticket to Ride lets players build train tracks across a variety of maps (depending on the version), with the goal of creating specific routes and the longest tracks.
  • Catan. Of course Catan is one of the staples of many board game shelves, as it's one of the easiest ways to introduce people into the world of adult board gaming. In Catan, players strategically collect resources and use them to build their empire.
  • 7 Wonders. Playing three to seven players, 7 Wonders is a fast and simple civilization building game. Like Catan, it's an excellent introduction into boardgaming for many. 
  • Dominion. Dominion is a classic, strategic game for two to four players. Build your kingdom, hire minions, and upgrade your castle. 

The "Couples" Board Game Collection

With couples (and small groups), the difficulty is usually finding a game that can easily be played with two people. Though most games do have a two player mode, it often isn't as fun or compelling.

  • The Fugitive. A fast-paced guessing game, The Fugitive puts one player in control of a "fugitive" and the other as a "marshall." Fugitives run from hideout to hideout while marshalls need to use the process of elimination to find their location.
  • Odin's Ravens. Two ravens race to deliver messages across changing terrain in this competitive two-player game. Odin's Ravens is a simple game in which players need to collect cards in order to progress across different types of landscape, while the other player attempts to sabotage them.
  • Mice and Mystics. Mice and Mystics is a story driven game with a lot of charm. In Mice and Mystics, you play a stubborn and loyal adventuring crew turned into mice! This plays very well with two players and can fit up to four. 
  • Fog of Love. Built for two players, Fog of Love walks you through a number of romantic comedy scenarios, through which you need to juggle the needs of your partner as well as your own. A strategic and unique game Fog of Love was one of the top games of 2017. 
  • Fallout. Playing as a couple doesn't mean you have to ditch more complicated games. Fallout is actually very well balanced for 2, 3, and 4 players. Explore the wasteland and progress across missions in this two to three hour RPG.

Terraforming Mars places you in the role of a corporation attempting to take over the red planet.

The "Complex" Board Game Collection

If you like longer or meatier games, you've got a lot to choose from. Most complex games don't have the mass appeal of general purpose games, but they provide uniquely deep experiences.

  • Scythe. In an alternate history 1920's setting, one to five players must compete to build their territory. Scythe is a highly strategic game that plays up to three to four hours.
  • Terraforming Mars. Take the role of a corporation trying to terraform Mars -- and outpace the others in terms of expansion. 
  • Gloomhaven. A cooperative strategy and tactics game that can take up to four hours, Gloomhaven is a high fantasy adventure through dungeons and ruins.
  • Anachrony. Anachrony is a personal favorite, in which players activate mechs to gather resources and build their vaults before a cataclysm strikes the earth.
  • Eldritch Horror. A cooperative Lovecraftian game, Eldritch Horror puts you in the role of investigators trying to solve mysteries before the end of the world.

In Codenames, players take turns giving clues as a spymaster.

The "Party" Board Game Collection

We've already covered party games in the past, and for the most part our recommendations haven't changed. Party games need to be easy to explain, support large numbers of players, and be relatively fast.

  • Codenames. There are tons of different versions of Codenames now, from Codenames Marvel to Codenames Disney. (There's even Codenames Duet for couples.) In Codenames, teams take turns trying to guess words, based off of a clue given by their spymaster.
  • Telestrations. A game of telephone using dry erase, Telestrations forces players to draw, guess, and then draw again. This is the heart of a party game, as it quickly goes awry.
  • Avalon: The Resistance. An excellent starter deception game, in Avalon those who are loyal to Arthur and those who are trying to defeat them are all in the group -- and you need to form a party that will either fail or succeed, depending on your own loyalty.
  • Two Rooms and a Boom. This game can play up to 30 people, making it quite unique as a big party game. A secret role game, the goal of Two Rooms and a Boom is to prevent the bomber from getting to the president (or vice versa, depending on alignment).
  • Secret Hitler. Who is Hitler? You don't necessarily need to know as long as he doesn't get elected chancellor. Fascists and liberals work against each other to declare policies and agendas, with fascists attempting to get Hitler elected and liberals trying to prevent it.

And, of course, there are a lot of other games that show up a lot: Coup (a fast hidden role game), Pandemic (a one to two hour cooperative game), and Splendor (a competitive card buying game). Board gaming is a hobby with a lot of options, and that's great -- because if you really want to, you never have to play the same game twice. The above games, however, have extremely good replay value and will likely become staples on your shelf.