- By Chris Curtis
In tabletop gaming parlance, a “gateway” game is a title that is accessible and fun to new players, hopefully sparking their interest in trying other modern games. It should be easy to learn and teach, it should play reasonably quickly, and it should be fairly light-hearted and not too intensely strategic. Here (in no particular order) are five titles we stock at Amoeba Hollywood that fit the bill! They’re all inexpensive to boot, with none over $15.00. These games all have interesting mechanics and provide compelling choices for each player on every turn. You still will encounter a bit of the “luck of the cards,” but not at the expense of strategy. These titles also have solid visual design and quality artwork and components, along with interesting themes. But should a particular theme not interest you (maybe you don’t care for Tolkien-derived fantasy scenarios), don’t let it put you off from trying a particular title. Themes are usually essentially window-dressing for a quality game; effective mechanics and gameplay are what ultimately make or break it. Should you have any questions about rules or procedures, a wealth of information is available online, including video tutorials.
A final note: though all of the games on this list can be played with only two players, they are better with three or more. So let’s dig in, shall we?
1. LOVE LETTER
This Japanese delight, designed by Seiji Kanai, launched a movement of “micro-games” - games with minimal components in compact containers but full of deep playability - after versions in English and many other languages were released. The premise involves getting amorous messages to the Princess, and earning tokens of affection from her. Only 16 cards are used, and the rules are direct and straightforward. Everyone is dealt one card. On your turn, take another card and play one of your two. Each card, however, interacts or affects the other cards in different ways, and it is here that skills of strategy and deductive reasoning enter the picture. With so few cards in play, you can start to make educated guesses as to what your opponents hold. This is the game that brought your humble blogger into the world of modern games, as its brilliance of design and efficiency is truly impressive. Most of all, Love Letter is actively fun and involving, and its quick rounds allow for speedy changes of fortune. Amoeba Hollywood carries the original edition, as well as a charming Adventure Time re-themed version. From the same designer, we also stock the quick two-player duel Braverats.