If you’re looking to get a friend or loved one into gaming with you, there is no, one single magic game that works for everyone. That’s because no single game appeals to 100% of people, but more so, a person’s journey into gaming is unlikely to consist of a single step. Pretty much everyone plays games as a kid, but do they continue playing into adulthood? Like me, some do, but many grow up believing that games are just for kids, so they stop.
So how do you get those people who stopped on the path to get back on the path? That’s basically my job. As Chief Gaming Officer for Snakes & Lattes, my job is to make sure that our staff can help our guests play the right games for them, and that means finding games that are easy to learn, don’t appear intimidating, and provide an entertaining experience.
One of the best ways to do this is to use a game that seems familiar in some way to something they already know. Since most people know Monopoly, that’s a good starting place. The monopoly-like game that I have the most success with is 2007’s Marrakech, by Dominique Erhard (Condottiere, Serenissima, Iliad). In Marrakech players are competing rug merchants in a Moroccan market. The goal of the game is to earn the moist points by earning cash from the other players and covering the board with as much of your carpet as you can.
Monopoly is famously a “roll & move” game, and so is Marrakech, so the idea of rolling a die and moving a piece will already be understood by your wouldbe gamer. In Monopoly you want to avoid landing on other people’s spaces, and want your opponents to land on yours. Same in Marrakech. Getting rich, and owning more board space than anyone else are the cornerstones of both Marrakech and Monopoly. So if your would-be gamer likes Monopoly, they are already a long way towards liking Marrakech. But they don’t need to like Monopoly to enjoy Marrakech. The familiarity will be enough to get over the hurdle of learning something new, and allow them to discover something fun.
Many tables I teach Marrakech to end up playing it two or three times in a row, and to me, that’s the hallmark of a good introductory game.
Marrakech is available to play on Tabletopia.