I love my FLGS. I spend as much time there as possible. When I’m ready for the sweet embrace of death, I might get my ashes scattered there.
But 99% of humanity has never even set foot in a game store, regardless of how friendly it is. Instead, they shop at Target and order from Amazon, meaning they are the definition of “mass market” shoppers.
My point? While us FLGS-loving nerds chatter on about all types of board games, hobby board games still haven’t made their way to the mass of humanity that still considers Monopoly a rousing good time.
We need more entry-level hobby board games to make their way to the shelves at Target. Here are 7 board games that I think can make that next step to reach the masses.
Mass markets board games are typically positioned to arrive under a certain price point. The 1 v 1 Dice Throne boxes are well positioned to look sharp on the shelves at Target for under $25.
Here’s more on Dice Throne if you want a deeper look, but the marketing pitch for the game might be “like Yahtzee, but fun.” Each player chooses a character and chucks 5 dice Yahtzee-style in order to attack the opposing player.
It’s a brilliantly fun game. And if it does well in mass market, it is super easy to add another 1 v 1 box with two new characters right beside it on the shelves.
Century: Spice Road
The board game Splendor thankfully already graces the shelves of Target. But many folks consider Century: Spice Road to be Splendor-like but a little more fun. So why not have both games be mass market games?
Spice Road has a rulebook that isn’t a book at all, it’s a simple front and back card. But despite the ease of learning to play, it has a good deal of strategy.
Easy to teach; broad appeal. Does that not perfectly describe a mass market board game? Remember, we want to share our nerdy hobby with as many people as we can. Bringing a nice introductory game to the masses is a wonderful way to hook them into the joy of playing board games.
Raiders of the North Sea
Raiders of the North Sea is is a medium weight strategy game, so it doesn’t nicely fit into the mass market category that is driven by light weight quick-pick-up games.
But Raiders of the North Sea has other attributes that make it an interesting option for the mass market. First, it has a strong Viking theme that is very marketable. Second, it has fantastic artwork that would give it a super appealing look on the shelves.
That and it’s not that heavy. Sure, the ramp up would be greater than most mass market board games but it’s really intuitive and smooth. Besides, it’s just so darned good as a game! (Here’s more on Raiders and the other games set in its world.)
This is a bold pick because Deadline is a game that didn’t land with much of a splash in the trade market actually. But it shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, it should be allowed to reach a wider audience!
Here’s a full look at the game, but the short story is that Deadline is a detective game. So, a Boomer crowd that has grown up on Law and Order and CSI shows would be an interesting market for the game.
Alas, Deadline would likely need a 2nd edition before it could land a big box store. Another production pass would likely be required to give it a little more “curb appeal.” But the main thing is the rulebook would need to be reworked with a stronger tutorial in order to give it an easier on-ramp for a more casual player.
Expancity would have a higher price point (+$50) than a typical mass market board game but there is no denying that the theming and artwork would appeal to a general audience of board game casuals.
Expancity has straight-forward gameplay and the ideal interaction for mass market. Moreover, the skyscraper building theme is vibrant and the production is colorful. It would provide a nice shared experience for families with older children.
As far as I know, Wingspan is the only board game on this list that has been written up in the New York Times.
Here is our full look at Wingspan, but here are the basics: it is bird-themed and without a doubt one of the more beautiful board games out there. The theme has wonderfully broad appeal while the aesthetics can not be beat.
So, why not bring it to mass market immediately? Well, it’s currently sold out even in game shops, so the production would need to be smoothed out before it’s a candidate for Target. Plus, the price point is a little high for big box.
Imhotep is a well-designed, beautifully produced game set in ancient Egypt. The price point would be right and the theme would set it apart from the other games found at Target. What more needs to be said?
I obviously have no control over which board games actually cross over from the FLGS into mass market accessibility. What I can control are the games that I introduce to friends who may not be board gamers.
You have that control as well! Let the above 7 board games be my recommendations for great games if you personally want to dip your toe into the great world of board games but are intimidated by the hundreds of titles on the shelves at an FLGS. So, if you want something a little more rad than the Sorry and Monopoly that has long been on the shelves at Walmart, the above 7 are good candidates.