In a previous gateway recommendation I said that non-gamers don’t like entertainment that makes them think, and while that’s a generalization, for anyone for whom it’s true, it is a hurdle that the gamer will have to overcome eventually, because if you like games that make you think, and you want your friends to like them, too, you will need to get them into games that make them think.
But do it a little at a time. You can’t jump straight to games like Twilight Imperium or Twilight Struggle. And definitely avoid Twilight: the Board Game. Two light weight strategy games that I’ve had great success with for my guests are Battle Sheep & Hey! That’s My Fish! They have some mechanical similarities, but most importantly, they don’t ask players to learn a lot of rules or be able to think five moves ahead.
In Battle Sheep, you are trying to take over the most meadow with your flock of sheep, and in Hey! That’s My Fish! you are trying to make your penguins eat more fish than your opponents’ penguins can. Both games are played on a hexagonal grid, which may be a new concept for your friend, and both games have basic turn structures that require players to make one simple move per turn – no complex phases or action points to worry about.
Simple concepts, goofy themes, and only requiring a little bit of thought, these games make great introductions to the world of strategy games.