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I previously asked What are Gateway Games and got a fairly good answer:

A gateway game is a game that you can use to introduce non-gamers to the world of 'real', i.e. complex games.

A gateway game

  • has good replay value
  • has nice game components
  • is good for mixed age groups

I think it would further clarify the definition and my understanding of the concept to see a list of Gateway games (one per answer), and for each the reason that it meets the definition. I think all would agree that Settlers of Catan, Carcossone, and Ticket to Ride make the list. But what about Monopoly, Poker, Uno, Rat-a-tat-cat, Cosmic Encounter, Labyrinth, Race for the Galaxy?

I think there will be informational value not only in the games that make the list (those with answers that receive many upvotes), but also those which don't make the list (answers that have zero upvotes).

Please list one game per answer, and provide a little reasoning for why it should make the list. Please do not cast negative votes for an answer that is already at zero - I would like it to be okay for someone to post a controversial name like Monopoly so that valuable comments can clarify why this game should not be included on the list (without penalizing the person for suggesting this game be included).

Update: A comment below and further research suggests that perhaps the above definition of Gateway Games above is incomplete. Two other criteria for possible inclusion in the definition:

  • Rules are easy and quick to learn and apply (even if the strategy is difficult)
  • The game takes less than 2 hours to play (note that this would eliminate Monopoly which usually takes more than 2 hours)

I'd like to see a few more examples and comments before officially changing the definition above. The way I see this working is that the definition will change to accommodate what the group wisdom has expressed by the games that are included/excluded from what is commonly thought of us gateway games. The comments on Monopoly may be particularly interesting for this purpose given how much it has in common with Settlers [I intend to delete this entire update section at a later date, when the definition of Gateway Games becomes clearer and I incorporate it above].

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This question is experimenting with a new type of question. It is not exactly a recommendation question, but rather a question whose answer is (close to) an objective list, because each item must adhere to the definition of what goes on the list. I expect (and encourage) debate as to whether this question is suited to the stack exchange system, and even if it is, whether we want it for Board and Card Games. I'm also very open to suggestions for how to improve the question to make it more suitable. –  Joe Golton Jun 14 '12 at 15:27
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Should there also be criteria related to learning curve or time commitment? That seems to be the biggest hurdle for people to get into gaming; committing to a 10-hour game that will take you at least half that time again to begin to understand is a bit daunting. –  Hyppy Jun 14 '12 at 15:34
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Dup: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/3368/… , but the proposed structure here is better. –  Monica Cellio Jun 14 '12 at 15:46
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I don't see how this is substantively different from a recommendation question to be honest. Even when people were asking for recommendations, they were still looking for games that objectively met their criteria, right? –  thesunneversets Jun 14 '12 at 16:16
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This is a recommendation question and is prohibited by our FAQ. You've also set it up as a polling question. I don't believe this question to be salvageable. –  Pat Ludwig Jun 14 '12 at 19:28
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closed as not constructive by Pat Ludwig Jun 14 '12 at 18:19

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3 Answers

Settlers of Catan. It has replay value, nice game components, and is good for mixed aged groups. It has some properties which lead to rich player interaction and complexity, including trading/negotiation, using resources to build, random/probabilistic factors, hoarding early in order to win later (development cards).

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Ticket to Ride. It has replay value, nice game components, and is good for mixed aged groups - and especially appealing for kids who often love trains. The rules are very easy to learn and apply yet there is also some complexity, from: random/probabilistic factors, using resources to build, long-range planning (of routes), blocking tactics, and hoarding in order to win later. The game typically takes less than 90 minutes to play, and is often cited as the quintessential Gateway Game (it won a poll for that at BGG).

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Monopoly. It has replay value, nice game components, and is good for mixed aged groups. It has some properties in common with Settlers of Catan: Trading/negotiation, using resources to build, random/probabilistic factors, an ever growing pie of resources, and hoarding in order to win later (properties and/or cash).

Monopoly is not a trendy German game like other quintessential Gateway games, but I don't think trendy and German is necessary to be a Gateway game. As a child, this is the first game I played a lot that was more difficult than games intended for little kids. Not sure if this game acted as a "Gateway" for me, but I did become an avid gamer.

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