The Open Gateway is, in short, a place for me to express my love of board games in the hope that others will discover their own. Like many gamers, I was a player with a wishlist of games to play a mile long, but whose friends and family heard “board games” and shuddered at haunting memories of hours-long Monopoly games and siblings cheating at Battleship. I had found gaming one summer night when my friends busted out Scrabble and Scattergories when rain forced us indoors. We had a great time, and it became a regular occurrence, so I began looking online for what other games were out there and found several helpful sites, not least of which Shut Up & Sit Down which I still read to this day and recommend anyone interested in gaming to do likewise. Soon I was hooked and dying to dive in head first.
My friends and family? They were less on board, put off by the usual expectations of games being too difficult or too nerdy. I quickly learned that if I wanted to get my friends interested, I had to be sure I was choosing games which were accessible, simple to teach, and fun to play. I needed to find the perfect gateway games, and while there were lists of the like available, many of them featured the same entries over and over (Have you heard of Cataan? Play Cataan! Everyone loves Cataan!) and offered only a few options I thought my group would get into.
The goal of The Open Gateway is to expand the shopping list of players looking for great gateway board games. Whether you’re a battle-hardened gaming vet or just dipping your toe into the pool of gaming for the first time, The Open Gateway aspires to provide you with everything you need to find just the right game for you and your friends to gather around and have fun together.
The meat of The Open Gateway will always be the Reviews. There are a lot of games out there to choose from, and walking into your Friendly Local Gamestore, or browsing through the endless list of games online, can be overwhelming. There is no one-size-fits all solution for every gaming group, but by passing on reviews of what games worked for me and my gateway friends, as well as which games proved not up to snuff, I hope to give readers a helping hand in their selection process.
Perhaps nearly as important a step in introducing a new gamer to the hobby as their first game is when and how to introduce some games with more complicated rules. That’s where Thru the Gateway reviews come into play. Games with this tag will ask a little bit more of players, or will have other impediments that make them not suited for a player’s first taste of gaming, but which remain accessible enough to be an excellent option for somebody who has found they are enjoying game nights and want to try ramping things up a little bit without running headlong into an hour-long rules discussion.
A common occurrence when my friends who know of my obsession mention classic games they like is a qualifier in the mold of “but I’m sure you hate that one.” What I tell them is that I don’t hate the games we all grew up playing, but like anything which humans have been creating for centuries, game designs have gotten better over time. The successful mechanics of older games endure and are built on, while better ways of accomplishing the less-successful elements are created. With the If You Like… series I’ll look at a game that everyone remembers playing at a sleepover as a child and highlight some games which satisfy different elements of the classic in a more modern design. Using a play-alike game can often be the most effective way to get somebody new into gaming!
While I am a firm believer in spreading the hobby as far and wide as possible, sometimes you just really want to sink your teeth into a style of game your group just isn’t ready to. While a local gaming group of like-minded players is an ideal solution, it’s not always available to everyone. Occasionally The Open Gateway will take a break from gateway games to discuss ways you can satiate that urge without dragging your unsuspecting friends into a night of confusion which puts them off of gaming for good in the form of Solo Game Reviews and Online Game Reviews.
Ultimately, even the best game can fall flat if it’s presented incorrectly, or to the wrong group. Making the right decisions after the box has hit the table can be just as important as choosing the right box in the first place. With Tips and Tricks articles, you’ll receive advice on everything from how to teach the rules to what snacks to have prepared. On the flip side, Do As I Don’t is a place to learn from my mistakes so that you don’t have to make them yourself. You’ll hear about the many and varied ways I have botched rules explanations and game selections, along with the lessons I learned from the comedy of errors which ensued.
And that, for now, is that. While the scope of articles may narrow or widen over time, what will always remain is a commitment to helping spread the love of board gaming as far and wide as possible. Welcome to The Open Gateway. I hope you stay inside!