Gateway Games: Abstract Games – Part 1November 13, 2018
Gateway Games is a series of articles aimed at helping you find the games that are right for you. Today, I’m going to explore something a little different – abstract games.
Many of the oldest and most classic board games are abstract games, such as chess, Go, checkers, backgammon, and Nine Men’s Morris. Originally, this style of game didn’t rely on a theme of any kind, but more modern takes on abstract games have started incorporating thematic elements into gameplay.
Abstract games tend to be good for all ages, bringing generations together in a unique way. With the upcoming holidays, I recommend finding out if your relatives enjoy games like chess and see if they are interested in trying something similar. These games are fun for a standard game night with like-minded friends, with parents and grandparents, and even entertaining for kids. They tend to be fairly easy to learn, but hard to master.
For part one of my recommended abstract games, I am going to focus on games that will be easy to grasp for all ages and experience levels, with minimal thematic elements.
Tsuro is an elegantly simple game that only lasts about 15 minutes and can play up to 8 players. The board consists of a grid and players take turns placing one tile onto the grid and moving their token along the path created with that tile. Beware of what tiles will touch as paths get created, shooting players off the board as they follow their fate. The goal is to keep your token on the board longer than any other player.
Quoridor is another simple, yet interesting game that takes about 15 minutes. Each player starts on one side of the board and the goal is to get across to the other side before anyone else. The gameplay consists of two choices every turn, either move your pawn forward one space or create a barricade for your opponent(s) by placing a wall. The only rule is that you can’t block your opponent’s ability to cross completely. The strategy is surprisingly complex for the simplicity of the movements and this game generally has people wanting to play multiple times in a row.
Sequence is a great game to introduce to lovers of classic card games. I grew up playing this game with my mom and grandparents and it helped craft my love for strategy games. In this game, you have a hand of cards. Each turn you play a card from your hand and place one of your pieces on the board where that card is displayed, attempting to get 5 pieces of your color in a row. Each card is displayed on the board twice, so you want to choose carefully. Jacks add a fun twist of either being a wild or removing someone else’s piece out of your way. The first player to get two sets of 5 in a row wins. This is a game that requires more strategic planning than it would seem based on the straightforward rules.
I hope this was helpful for people interested in trying out some games beyond what they have already played and as a guide for finding games to play with all ages and family.