Table top games

I’m looking for tabletop game recommendations for 4-6 people, both for family and adults. I have Munchkin, Smallworld, and Settlers of Catan. Has anyone played any mystery themed games? I’m also curious about what it takes to get into D&D with no prior experience. I know there are local groups that play, but neither myself or the group I’ve been gaming with has prior experience.


For D&D just do it… it takes time and practice to figure out refereeing the adventure. If you want a more boardgame aspect then something like Descent is a good middle ground as it is needs a DM and there is character advancement but it is basically a dungeon crawl boardgame.

For 4 I had fun playing the Cthulhu themed Pandemic last weekend. It is 4 player co-op and hard to win according to the owner. We didn’t win thats for sure.


Don’t forget the fabulous online communities that can offer you some more information.


I never have anybody to play games with, but I was just reading about this one yesterday.

It sounds challenging. There are comments which link to independent efforts to re-create the game with better design.


power grid is fun and moderately challenging.–

ticket to ride is also an interesting game–

if you’re interested in 4-handed card games, pinochle and hearts are challenging and fun. when i was 14 and my sister 10, dad taught us and mom how to play pinochle and we played once a week for about a year.


I love Ticket to Ride. It has its faults (random card distribution can lay waste to best of plans) but I find it fun and easy to get people to play. Easy to learn.

Carcassonne is another good one for a small group.


Oooh, I have many opinions on this subject. A few recommendations in no particular order:

Dominion. Each game uses a different combination of 10 card sets drawn from many sets in the base game (and there are many more added card types in expansions) so it has incredible variations in strategy possible from one game to another depending on which card sets are included. I realize that sounds confusing, but once you play it you get the basic concept very fast. A lot of people play it as 1 on 1 dueling game but to my mind it’s better with more players.

Pandemic if you like cooperative games - you’re fighting to cure/eradicate diseases around the world, and each player character has unique abilities; however it’s limited to 4 players.

Seven Wonders - excellent game, can be played with anywhere from 3 to 7 players; it takes a fixed number of rounds per game, so it’s good to have as one that won’t drag on forever. A lot of fun, many different strategies which can work in one game or another.

Lots of games from James Ernest’s Cheapass Games - we have the old cheapo monochrome cheap card stock versions of a number of them, and they deliver more fun than a lot of big-budget fancy games. Some of them have been reissued in nicer sets more recently. ‘Give Me the Brain’ is incredibly fun, everyone always has a riot playing it. ‘Kill Dr. Lucky’ is always fun, ‘Deadwood’ is also fun but takes longer, and I know I’m missing a couple other former favorites.

I also recommend Ticket to Ride and Carcassone as mentioned above.

All of the above are aimed at adults but eminently playable by bright kids; if they can handle Catan and Munchkin, they can handle these.


What do you mean by mystery-themed games? Scotland Yard like games (hunt down and defeat a hidden player)? Games like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (best reviewed in this video)? Or games where the job is to ferret out hidden traitors like The Resistance(: Avalon) or Werewolf or Battlestar Galactica?


Absolutely brilliant co-op games: Pandemic and Forbidden Island.

The game mechanics are similar, but Pandemic is more complex and has a darker theme. Pandemic is a good full evening game for teens and older, Forbidden Island is faster and would work even with quite young children. They both default to a maximum of four players, but they can both be easily expanded to five or six.

Dixit is a fantastic and very original card game; Tsuro is a fun fast party game that can be understood in seconds.

All of those have been reviewed on Geek & Sundry’s Tabletop.

If you’re new to tabletop RPGs, I would strongly recommend avoiding D&D. It just isn’t a very good system, and it isn’t very newbie-friendly either. You’d probably be better off with FATE Core or something similar.

From left field, if you’ve any room for a two-player chesslike strategy game, give Khet 2.0 a try.


Like some have said, D&D isn’t the ideal system or super beginner friendly.

But, it’s the game that so many people​ I know started with, and most were 12-14 when they just bought the books and dove in. And that was second edition which was much more arcane than the current edition. If you accept that you will accidentally be breaking the rules constantly as you learn then you’re in the right headspace.

I started with White Wolf games when I was 16, and I bought the pure fluff supplements before I bought any rule books. I still feel like it’s one of the easiest systems to make a character in but I’m probably pretty biased.

Fiasco might actually be a good starting game, or Lasers and Feelings. These are designed to be one shot games with more minimal rules. There are a number of quick games like that which we use as pick up games when someone misses our regular game. Tactical Waifu and Everybody is John are quick too but much weirder.

We got my friend’s​ mother to play Fiasco with us at my last birthday. She’d never played an RPG before but had a great time with it.


A nice demonstration of Fiasco:

Very cool, but very much not a traditional RPG. A bit of acting/writing ability amongst the players is helpful.


While I’m at it: see below for a local demonstration of a pseudo-tabletop RPG game.

The ruleset I’m using (GURPS) would probably be a bit overwhelming for a novice GM, but the thread should give the basic gist of how an RPG game works.


I love that show.

For my birthday, my partner rewrote all the tables with references to New Orleans and our group of friends. So the plot ended up revolving​ around corrupt politicians, influential Rex members, Catholic school teachers, street performers and an illegal warehouse rave.


If you want a quick game that plays dead simple but is loaded with strategy and risk taking then I can’t recommend Coloretto highly enough. Everyone I’ve introduced it to loves it.

Lords of Waterdeep is a pretty great D&D twist on a worker placement euro-style game.

As for D&D I think it’s pretty safe to just jump into 5th edition. You can probably start with the Starter Set as it does some of the more intimidating heavy lifting for you (character creation and adventure design) so you can get a feel for the game before making choices that could impact the characters or campaign for a long time. Don’t be afraid to play fast and loose with the rules and fudge some rolls since 5e can be pretty deadly at lower levels.

As for more board games, Board Game Geek is an obvious starting place but I also recommend Shut Up and Sit Down.


I’ll second Pandemic. Easy to learn and one of the best cooperative games I’ve played. Lots of expansions available to keep it interesting if you get hooked.

For a creepier, mystery type thing, check out Betrayal at House on the Hill. Cooperative house-exploring game with lots of problem solving type things… and one person ends up being the evil villain.

Another mystery type game that’s like that but way more complex is Mansions of Madness, where you and your friends are paranormal investigators trying to solve a mystery and explore a house. There’s ghosts and monsters and lots of horror and puzzle-solving. This game’s notorious for its sheer complexity and number of card decks, etc, but the new version uses a free app to “GM” the game, which is a huge help.


I love D&D, but it’s extremely hard to just “get into” as a beginner; you need a good Dungeon Master to tell you a good story and show you the ropes. I usually recommend going to a game store during a D&D night to try a beginner’s game. But it’s more of a role-playing game than a tabletop game, and a lot of people just don’t dig the role-play aspect of it.

My favorite RPG system at the moment is actually Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, which uses custom dice and a unique rule-set that lets the person running the game tell a good story with a lot of freedom and almost zero math. Plus there’s no Jedi. It’s all smugglers and bounty hunters and soldiers and things, and it feels very Star Warsy.


Yes, and Games like Betrayal at House on the Hill, mentioned down thread.

I really appreciate all of the replies, especially the personal recommendations and opinions on where to start with D&D and roleplaying games. This is exactly the sort of information I was hoping for.


I’m out of my depth here, having only played D&D a handful of times one-on-one with a kid in 5th grade, but I love the idea of collaborative storytelling + rules + an element of chance. I’ve listened to a handful of “Actual Play” podcasts, and I must say I think podcasts were made for listening to and learning about role playing games. For me, they are not only a way to listen in, but the more thoughtful ones delve into why they like the games they select, and why they run the games the way they do.

I’ve recently started listening to Friends at the Table and it’s very satisfying on both storytelling and meta-game fronts. I like the GM a lot as a storyteller, and as a model for the importance of listening to characters, and balancing their thoughts with what the GM has planned. They start with Dungeon World, which seems to be a more storytelling-oriented version of D&D with simple, and clever mechanics. They also wedged a hybrid version of Sherlock Holmes into the same story, as a holiday special, so you get a taste of the mechanics of that as well. The season I’m currently on, they’re playing mainly Mech Noir, whose mechanics are based almost entirely on assigning adjectives to friends and foes. It’s a unique approach to a role playing mechanics and very story-telling friendly as well.


For a less-overwhelming, free version:

It’s obviously not going to be quite as flexible as the full version, but it should be much easier than the full GURPS for a novice Tabletop RP group.