Best Gateway Board Games

Best Gateway Board Games:

 

With the sheer amount of board games out there, it can be extremely difficult for someone new to the board game hobby to know where to start.

If you are in this situation and would like to start a board game collection, you probably asked yourself the following question:

What board game should I buy?

The answer to that question is:

You should start with gateway board games. The board games we have chosen in the list below are the best board games for beginners.

Or you might already be a passionate board gamer, and you would like to share your passion with your non-gamer friends, or with member of you family to get them hooked into the hobby.

Then gateway board games are what you need right now.

What is a gateway board game?

  • Gateway games are good starting games for neophyte’s gamers.
  • They are a good introduction to the board gaming world.
  • Gateway board games are good for transitioning from mainstream board games we all grew up with like Monopoly or Cluedo, scrabble or Life to more complex type of board games.

 

Good gateway board games should follow those criteria:

  • Rules: In some way, a gateway board games can be considered as simple board games.

Good gateway games should be easy to play and easy to teach board games.

  • Theme: The theme of a gateway board game is very important: It shouldn’t be a theme that is too complicated or geeky and should be adapted to the audience we are targeting here. It should be accessible by everyone, newbies, new gamers, kids, you name it. A good theme will allow the players to immerse themselves into the game. Of course, the quality of the components, the artwork, the balance of the gameplay and the game mechanisms are also very important, but a good theme will make beginner players want to come back for another game.
  • Components: If you choose a board game with great components and a nice-looking artwork, you are more likely to impress the players you are going to play with. So yes, the quality of the components is important.
  • Replay ability: gateway board games need to have a high replay ability. You want to entice people to come back for more.
  • Player interaction: Interaction between players should be high in a gateway board game to emphasis on the social aspect of board gaming. Interaction between players can create tension in the game that can be fun, or can take the form of competition between players. Whatever it is, interaction really make the games better.

We have tried in our list to group the games in various categories of gateway board games. Of course, some board games could be part of more than one categories but it is just a quick and straightforward way to group them together.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive, is our list but a lot more games could be added to it. Please let us know what is the board game YOU found is the best gateway board game



Classic gateway Board games

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Ticket to ride

October 2, 1900 – it’s 28 years to the day that noted London eccentric, Phileas Fogg accepted and then won a bet that he could travel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Now, at the dawn of the century, some old friends have gathered to celebrate Fogg’s impetuous and lucrative gamble – and to propose a new wager of their own. The stakes: $1 million in a winner-takes-all competition. The objective: to see the most cities in North America – in just 7 days.

Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure game. Players collect train cards that enable them to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who can fulfill their Destination Tickets by connecting two distant cities, and to the player who builds the longest continuous railway.

Ticket to Ride was first released in 2004 and has become such a classic family board game and still remains after 13 years. The rules are easy to teach, the game is really easy to pick up, the components are excellent, the artwork beautifully. I love the train theme of the game and placing the train carriages on the routes as the game unfold.

Ticket to ride is the perfect gateway board game to introduce players to games with secret objectives. Also, the players will need a good bit of planing ahead in order to win the game.

Ticket to Ride can be enjoyed by 8 year old kids but there is enough strategy in the game to please adults.You get such a quick at planing  ahead your routes while trying to prevent your opponents to get theirs. I think it is also a great game for kids to get to know about geography while having fun. They get to know where the major cities are located on the map.

There is an  different edition of ticket to Ride,  Ticket To Ride Europe, and  different expansion like Ticket to Ride United Kingdom   or Ticket to Ride India, and many more. Each of those brings a different twist to the game.

There is a lot of gateway board games, but Ticket to Ride is probably the ultimate gateway board game for me.

 

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-5 30-60 min 8+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Catan

Picture yourself in the era of discoveries: after a long voyage of great deprivation, your ships have finally reached the coast of an uncharted island. Its name shall be Catan! But you are not the only discoverer. Other fearless seafarers have also landed on the shores of Catan: the race to settle the island has begun!

Catan, also known as “The Settlers of Catan”, was release back in 1995. and won the Spiel des Jahres (1995 Game of the Year) that same year.Catan is another great family board game that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

In Catan, players compete to become the most powerful force on the island of Catan. Players needs to build settlements, cities and road. On each turn dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players collect resources cards (wood, grain, brick, sheep, or stone) to build up their civilizations to get to 10 victory points and win the game

For me Catan is one of the best gateway board game out there. The game is full of players interaction (specially during the negotiation phases), simple management,  pinch of luck, beautiful material, well written the rules book. So yes, if there was a perfect candidate for the best gateway board game, Catan would be the one!

Players Playing time Recommended for
3-4 60-120 min 10+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Carcassonne


Carcassonne is the famous tile placement board game that was released in 2000 and designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede. Carcassonne can be considered as one of the best board game for beginners.

In Carcassonne, players must place on tile at the time  in order to build road, cities, fields  or  cloisters. They then place a follower on fields, cities, roads or monasteries in order to score as many points as possible. These followers will become knights, monks, farmers and thieves, depending on where they are placed.This will continue until all the tiles are gone. You will end up with a board looking like a cool medieval world.

No matter their function, the player who will most cleverly use their followers will win the game. Entirely redesigned and modernized, this edition includes two expansions: the river and the abbot. There is a lot of Carcassonne expansion , each one of them bring an interesting twist to the game. My favorite one being Carcassonne:Traders & Builders.

Carcassonne is very easy to play, rules can be grasped in minutes. In each turns, players draw a random tile and place it down expanding the map. Players can place their meeples on a specific feature (road, city, cloister..) of the tile they just lay down, and when this feature is completed they will score points. Players will try to build the biggest cities to score more points, but also try to place tiles in a way that will make it difficult for their opponents to finish their own cities.

In Carcassonne, the players draw tiles randomly, therefore possibilities are endless and the map will always be different.The replay-ability is very high, each game is different, and players will need to adopt a different strategy in each games.

Carcassonne is definitely another classic gateway board game.

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-5 30-45 min 8+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Area Control Board games

Area control board games (also known as majority or influence board games), is a type of game where players score for having the most pieces in particular areas of the board.

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Small World

Small World is an excellent area control board game that I would  recommend to use as a gateway board game. It is a good choice for people that love board games like RISK  for example, and want to try to find something different.
Many positive feelings about this war strategy board game:
First of all I have to mention the quality of the content: all the little pieces, the real beautiful artwork and also the quality of the packing with very practical trays to hold everything.
Second of all, the rules are pretty simple. You can get through them in about 15 to 20 minutes. The game will take you about 90 minutes to play or less.

Small World is a board game that can be enjoyed by casual gamer, yet there is enough strategy in it to please more hard-core gamers. It definitely doesn’t rely as much on luck as RISK does.
In Small Word, you can play with four different maps. The choice of the map will depends of the number of players in the game. (2 to 5 players).
Players will select a Race (wizards, trolls, elves, giants etc…) with different abilities and power associated to it. This random choice of power and abilities combination makes the game very different each times. Again this is a game with high replay-ability. perfect for a gateway board game.

Players will try to conquer territories but thanks to some race special abilities like flying, you won’t need to always conquer adjacent territories.
Also, if your chosen race is in trouble during the game, you can put it in decline and give it up for another race. Again this makes Small World a very fun game that I would highly recommend to you if you want to introduce someone to the area control mechanic while keeping things simple.

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-5 40-80 min 8+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Ethnos

Ethnos was designed by Paolo Mori and released in 2017 and features some fantastic artworks from John Howe.

In Ethnos, the players are trying to get the most points by controlling different lands. The lands of Ehtnos contain 12 ancient tribes and in each game, the players have to recruit 6 of those tribes cards, then create a deck with only the creatures in those tribes.Players will band them together, and play them to gain control of one of the six Kingdoms over the course of three ages.

Each band can have a leader, and only the leaders can tap into their tribes special abilities. After three ages of political maneuvering and battles, peace between the six Kingdoms will be restored under a new ruler.

Ehnos is really one of the best gateway board games of 2017.The rules can be learned in 15 minutes. I love the endless combination of mythical creatures the game offers, and the simple push your luck mechanics.Player strategy will be different depending of those random combination of races, interaction between players  is high throughout the entire game and there are very few downtime.

Ehtnos is a definite hit of 2017:highly entertaining but also is easy to play. Can be enjoyed as a gateway board game by beginner players but also by more competitive players as well.

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-6 45-60 min 14+

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Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Cooperative Board games

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Hotshots

Hotshots is cooperative press-your luck  wildfire fighting board game release in 2017. In Hotshots, players take the role of a crew member with a special ability and try to stop the fire spreading on the board.

The board is completely modular  and made up of tiles  that you can place randomly.You also have some suggested board shapes inspired by  different national park like Yellow stone, Grand Teton or Denali that you can use.

Players  roll dice (yahtzee style) on burning terrain tiles to match the combinations shown on the tiles. The more faces you roll, the better you’ll fight the fire. Cut Firebreaks, reduce Flames, generate Reward Tokens, and maneuver Vehicles to save the forest. Push your luck too far, and the fire grows. Add Flame tokens at the end of each player’s turn by the draw of a Fire card. Too many Flame tokens will Scorch a tile. If 8 tiles or the Fire Camp Scorches, the game is over and the forest is lost. But if the intrepid crew can extinguish the blaze, you win together.

This new game is so existing with its quite unique them of wildfire fighting team. Hotspots is fun, tension can be high while fighting the flames and it can be challenging at times to do well against the fire spreading across the board.

Players Playing time Recommended for
1-4 60 min 10+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Pandemic

Pandemic is the 2009 Golden Geek Best Family Board Game Winner. It is probably the most popular co-operative board game around, with a lot of expansion available, my favorite one being Pandemic: On the brink.

In Pandemic, everyone wins or no one does.Everyone works together in order to find the right strategy  to crack the code.It is a great gateway board game to introduce cooperation with kids. Might suit if you feel that over competitiveness between players is an issue sometime when you play games in your family.

Four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. Players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks.

For example the Operation Specialist can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases. The Scientist needs only 4 cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal 5. But the diseases are out breaking fast and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while also towards cures. A truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose.

Pandemic is a  truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose.

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-4 45 min 8+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Flash Point: Fire Rescue

Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a fully cooperative game, everyone plays on the same firefighting team – win or lose together. Every turn is filled with the tension of having to fight the fire back rescuing victims or investigating points of interest. Players can ride the ambulance to safety or fire the engine’s deck gun in a desperate attempt to control the blaze.

Flash Point: Fire Rescue works on an action-point allowance system. Players spend action-points during each turn  to try to extinguish smoke/fire, move through the building carry victims out of the building etc…The goal  of the game is to rescue 7 out of the 10 victims.
The game comes with two type of rules: family rules and advanced rules. Note that the advanced rules are still pretty easy to grasp.The mechanic is the same but they introduce different abilities for players, hot spots and hazardous materials, ambulance etc

Flash Point is a highly thematic board game. Great to get everyone working together towards saving person lives. The rules are very accessible and you can play this game with kids from 8 with the family rules. As you get use to the mechanic of the game, you can work towards the advance rules and eventually  go for the expansion that will introduce further difficulties again.

Flash Point is a great  family game, very accessible even for kids, great to introduce teamwork to an audience of non-gamer.

 

Players Playing time Recommended for
1-6 45 min 10+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Forbidden Island  &  Forbidden desert

Dare to discover Forbidden Island! Join a team of fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of this perilous paradise. Your team will have to work together and make some pulse-pounding manoeuvres, as the island will sink beneath every step! Race to collect the treasures and make a triumphant escape before you are swallowed into the watery abyss!

Forbidden Island is a cooperative game. Instead of winning by competing with each other your team of adventurers must work together to keep Forbidden Island from sinking, in order to buy enough time to capture its four treasures. Once you’ve captured them, you must make it to Fools’ Landing and escape by helicopter to win. If however, the island sinks before you can complete your tasks, the mission ends in defeat for all players.

With multiple levels of difficulty, different characters to choose from (each with a special ability of their own), many optional island formats and game variations available, Forbidden Island has huge replay value

Forbidden Island can be played by as few as two players and up to four (though it can accommodate five) and has  a playing time of around 30 minutes. Note that the game plays very well with only 2 players, which is not always the case for other cooperative games.This game is great for reinforcing problem solving, strategic thinking and cooperation skills. Great to play along with kids as well as they can be helped while playing

Forbidden Island has won a multitude of awards including: Mensa Select, Best Family Game Winner – 2010 Dice Tower Awards, Boardgame Geek – Golden Geek Award, Games Magazine Top 100 Game, Parents’ Choice Recommended, FamilyFun Magazine Toy of the Year, FunFare All Star Award, Creative Child Magazine Game of the Year and 2011 Spiel des Jahres Finalist.

Also a great coice of cooperative family game is Forbidden Desert, the sequel of Forbidden Island, where players join forces in an adventure to recover a legendary flying machine buried deep in the ruins of an ancient desert city

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-4 30 min 10+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Mice & Mystics

In Mice and Mystics players take on the roles of those still loyal to the king – but to escape the clutches of Vanestra, they have been turned into mice! Play as cunning field mice who must race through a castle now twenty times larger than before. The castle would be a dangerous place with Vanestra’s minions in control, but now countless other terrors also await heroes who are but the size of figs. Play as nimble Prince Collin and fence your way past your foes, or try Nez Bellows, the burly smith. Confound your foes as the wizened old mouse Maginos, or protect your companions as Tilda, the castle’s former healer. Every player will have a vital role in the quest to warn the king, and it will take careful planning to find Vanestra’s weakness and defeat her.

Mice and Mystics is a cooperative adventure game in which the players work together to save an imperiled kingdom. They will face countless adversaries such as rats, cockroaches, and spiders, and of course the greatest of all horrors: the castle’s housecat, Brodie. Mice and Mystics is a boldly innovative game that thrusts players into an ever-changing, interactive environment, and features a rich storyline that the players help create as they play the game. The Cheese System allows players to hoard the crumbs of precious cheese they find on their journey, and use it to bolster their mice with grandiose new abilities and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds.

Mice and Mystics will provide any group of friends with an unforgettable adventure they will be talking about for years to come – assuming they can all squeak by…

Players Playing time Recommended for
1-4 120 min 7+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Gateway card games

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Sushi Go

Sushi Go is the hugely popular card drafting game released in 2013 where players have to grab the best combination of sushi dishes as they whiz by.

Players will score points for making the most maki rolls or for collecting a full set of sashimi. Dip your favorite nigiri in wasabi to triple its value. But be sure to leave room for dessert or else you’ll eat into your score! Gather the most points and consider yourself the sushi master!

Note that in 2016 was release d and expansion of the game  called Sushi Go party!, where players still need to find the best combination of sushi dishes, but  they can also  customize each game by choosing à la carte from a menu of more than twenty delectable dishes.

Sushi go is a great family card game, quick to play,  suitable for all ages , from young kids and teenagers to adults and grandparents. Everyone has a chance to win in this game, which make it very attractive for the younger ones. The artwork on the card is very cute, and the theme is adorable. It is the perfect game to play  during family gathering over christmas, light, quick  and easy, it goes very well with a glas of mulled wine!

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-8 20  min 8+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Codenames

Codenames was such a phenomenon when it was released in 2015.

Codenames is a social word game with a simple premise and challenging game play. Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their codenames.

The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the table. Their teammates try to guess words of their color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.

The game works very well with 4 players if you prefer to guess without help. Or you can add more players if you prefer lively discussion. There is also a cooperative variant where a single team tries to achieve the highest score they can by playing against the game itself.

In Codenames the goal is to find infiltrated spies. The atmosphere is one of  suspicion and espionage.

The rules are simple, you basically need to  make your teammates discover words. Its very subtle and also very addictive and most of all, FUN. A good way to get non-gamers interested in playing.

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-8  15 min 14+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Family  board games

READ ALSO my list of Best Family Board games.

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Cottage Garden

Cottage garden is an Uwe Rosenberg game released in 2016. In a way , it’s Patchwork (excellent 2 player board game), but for 4 playersthis time. A kind of Tetris. T

In Cottage Garden, you compete in the art of gardening. You are working two beds with a variety of flowers. Whenever no unplanted box is visible on a bed, you have completed it, then you count your points and replace it with a fresh, unplanted bed. You gain points for all of the visible plant pots and planting bells. In the final stage, you have to give back points to finish all beds on which you were well advanced. In the end, the player with the most points wins.

Players Playing time Recommended for
1-4 40-60 min 8+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Tokaido

Each player is a traveler crossing the “East sea road”, one of the most magnificent roads of Japan. While traveling, players will meet people, taste fine meals, collect beautiful items, discover great panoramas and visit temples and wild places.

At the end of the day, when everyone has arrived at the end of the road you’ll have to be the most initiated traveler – which means that you’ll have to be the one who discovered the most interesting and varied things.

 

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-5 45 min 8+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Downforce

Downforce is a new racing  card game released in 2017  based on Top Race, the award-winning design by the legendary Wolfgang Kramer.

The publisher, Restoration Games, is working hard on bringing old games back, and I can tell you they did an amazing job with Downforce (originally called Top race). It is a fun game with a lot of biding, bluffing and racing of course!

Players first bid to own the six cars in the race. Then, they play cards from their hand to speed them around the track. However, most cards will also move their opponents’ cars. So figuring out just the right time to play a card is the key to victory. Along the way, players will make secret bets on who they think will win the race. Whoever has the most money from their prize money, winning bets, and remaining bank wins the game.

The components of the games are very well made, the artworks are fantastic and the board is very well laid-out. I love also the theme of the game. There aren’t a lot of racing board games around! The game is easy to teach, each turns play very fast. The game is very fun and will appeal to both experienced gamers and also families or new gamers.

Definitely worth trying Downforce out !

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-6 20-40 min 10+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Strategy Board games

READ ALSO my list of board best strategy board games

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Lord of Waterdeep

Waterdeep, the City of Splendors—the most resplendent jewel in the Forgotten Realms, and a den of political intrigue and shady back-alley dealings. In this game, the players are powerful lords vying for control of this great city. Its treasures and resources are ripe for the taking, and that which cannot be gained through trickery and negotiation must be taken by force.

Lords of Waterdeep is a strategy board game for 2-5 players. You take on the role of one of the masked Lords of Waterdeep, secret rulers of the city. Through your agents, you recruit adventurers to go on quests on your behalf, earning rewards and increasing your influence over the city. Expand the city by purchasing new buildings that open up new actions on the board, and hinder—or help—the other lords by playing Intrigue cards to enact your carefully laid plans.

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-5 60-120 min 12+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Akrotiri

Your decision to excavate the ancient city of Akrotiri has borne fruit. The temples you’ve discovered during your expeditions in the Aegean have increased your standing among your peers and made you a person of renown. But they’ve also drawn the attention of competition.

Building on the sense of adventure established by it’s original release in 2014, the new edition of Akrotiri ups the stakes even further. Now up to four players can join the hunt for legendary temples with two copies of the game. Featuring updated rules and cards, only the most cunning explorer will gain enough fame to claim victory in this new edition of Akrotiri.

Akrotiri is a great gateway board game with a tactical and strategic depth

READ ALSO my list of 23 best 2 players board games

Players Playing time Recommended for
2 45 min 13+

Last update was on: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Economic Board games

If you are interested in Economic board games, check out this list of Best Economic Board games

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Acquire

Acquire was designed by Sid Sackson and originally published in 1962 by 3M Company , followed by several version , the latest one being the Avalon Hill version.

Imagine planning, building, and owning the next super city. Saxon City is buzzing with promising start-ups and investors predict it will emerge as a prime location for entertainment, fashion, food, marketing, and other major industries.

In Acquire,players compete with other venture capitalists to build the city, and own majority shares in the most lucrative corporations. Players make money by forming, merging and expanding corporations, plus buying the right stock at the right time. Who will end up being the richest investor in Saxon City?

I love the  Vintage version of Acquire by 3M Company, with the wooden tiles as compared as the newest version with the plastic components.

Acquire is a fantastic stock Market board game. There is a lot of strategy in Acquire, important  decisions that you will have to make during a game as you buy and sell companies. At the same time, some part of luck remains as you draw the tiles. Acquire is a board game  game that is simple,  light and fun, perfect family board game. A real classic board game!

Players Playing time Recommended for
3-6 90 min 12+


Acquire Game

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Last update was in: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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Isle Of Sky

Isle of Skye, one of the most beautiful places in the world: Soft sand beaches, gently sloping hills, impressive mountains: the landscape of Isle of Skye is breathtaking and fascinates everyone.

In this tile-laying game 2 to 5 players are the chieftains of 5 famous clans. The players try to build their little kingdoms to score as many points as possible. But in each game only 4 of the 16 scoring cards will be scored. Each game is different and leads to different tactics and strategies. To have enough money is useful in all games: In each turn the players can buy a tile from another player. The seller determines the price, but to do it wisely is the most interesting part of this game: A high price will lead to wealth, if someone buys this tile, but if there’s no buyer, the seller will lose the money spend on this tile. And in the end the player with the best kingdom will become the sovereign of the island, not the richest player!

Isle of Skye is a gateway game for the whole family. With a playing time around 45 minutes, a huge variability and easy rules it’s a perfect game for all players. The awesome illustrations by Klemens Franz brings all the atmosphere of the Scottish island on your table.

Isle of Sky is more a tile placement game than an pure economic board gameIsle of Skye is a great alternative for people who like board game like Carcassonne or Catan but want something different.

Players Playing time Recommended for
2-5 45 min 8+


Isle of Skye Board Game

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Last update was in: October 16, 2018 9:56 pm

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