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Bait Games
Scott Nicholson
United States
Fayetteville
New York
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I gave a recent talk about games in libraries, and introduced the concept of "Bait".

The idea of a "Bait Game" is that it is short, easy to teach, visually attractive, and instantly engaging. It's a game that you can have out on a table and someone says "Hey, what's that?' It's a game to have out alongside video games and draw people over to try it. If someone watches a Bait game in action, they should be able to get a basic idea of what's going on from watching it for a short while.

While we have gateway games like Ticket to Ride, these aren't as good as Bait. Gateway games are the 2nd step. Bait is how you lure them over. 2-player only games are not as good Bait choices as you want to get some interaction going between a group.

We talked about this on the On Board Games podcast at http://onboardgames.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=434294

Help me make a great list of Bait Games!
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1. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:638]
Scott Nicholson
United States
Fayetteville
New York
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Tsuro is great. It's easy to teach, attractive, plays 2-8 just fine, and is over quickly. Sadly, Wizkids just announced they are shutting down, so get it while you can.
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2. Board Game: Blokus [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:356]
Scott Nicholson
United States
Fayetteville
New York
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Or GIANT Blokus if you can manage it. Very attractive, easy to teach, and fast to play. Too bad it only handles 4 really well. I keep Travel Blokus on my desk at school, and have played with many students.
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3. Board Game: Hamsterrolle [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:832]
Scott Nicholson
United States
Fayetteville
New York
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This is expensive bait, but it draws a crowd, and is a dexterity game with no setup time.
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4. Board Game: Tumblin-Dice [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:473]
Scott Nicholson
United States
Fayetteville
New York
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Another large Bait game. This one doesn't sound fun until you try it. Then, before you know it, you are hooked.
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5. Board Game: Sorry! Sliders [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:1048]
Scott Nicholson
United States
Fayetteville
New York
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Sorry Sliders is quickly become a new big hit. Cheap, easy to teach, readily available, and varied game boards makes this work well.
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6. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:361]
Scott Nicholson
United States
Fayetteville
New York
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This is my go-to party game. Attractive to anyone who likes to gamble, and very easy to teach as you play a round. After a round, people can bow out but rarely do. Also, it will handle a big group well.
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7. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:143]
Pete Grey
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Yeah, I know you said no 2 player games, but I always have this with me and Hive always gets questions. Coffee shops, restaurants, bars, outside...anywhere. People wanna know about it.
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8. Board Game: The Powerpuff Girls: Villains at Large Game [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:3803]
Pete Grey
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Believe it or not-four adults played this at a recent Portland Boardgame Meetup. There were probably 5 other game tables going but everybody stopped to check this one out. A good, mean game if you've got the right players. And quick too.
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9. Board Game: Ca$h 'n Gun$ [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:610]
Donald Dennis
United States
Pawleys Island
South Carolina
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Maybe this isn't for everyone, or suitable for every setting, but a bunch of guys pointing guns at each other certainly gets everyone's attention. And the game play is engaging as well.
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10. Board Game: Coloretto [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:362]
Greg Gatto
United States
Exton
Pennsylvania
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Can a card game be a "bait"? I love this game for its simplicity: you spend 5 minutes on the rules, and they look at you as if to say, "Please, how could this possibly be interesting??"

And then they play it, and then want to play it some more.
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11. Board Game: Villa Paletti [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1032]
David Kahnt
United States
Laurinburg
North Carolina
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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You know, they say there was a man who jumped from the forty-FIFTH floor? But that's another story...
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Having never actually seen this game played... I'm sure it qualifies as a "Bait Game."

-DK
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12. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:421]
David Kahnt
United States
Laurinburg
North Carolina
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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You know, they say there was a man who jumped from the forty-FIFTH floor? But that's another story...
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What could be better for a "Bait Game" then one in which anyone can enter at any time?

-DK
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13. Board Game: GiftTRAP [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1210]
Shawn Fallon
United States
Helmetta
New Jersey
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I found GiftTrap to be a great "Bait" game with people I know. (Despite the fiddly tracking of points.)
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14. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:192] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
Keith Creighton
United States
Decatur
IL
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With my students there is nothing that draws them in faster than a huge board with dragons and ninjas. The game basics are easy to teach and the more fiddly rules can be added in game without too much trouble. This is even more successful if the game is pre-set with armies. Thus eliminating the need for drafting and the concept of "point values."
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15. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:969]
Greg Jones
United States
Washington
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I have witnessed the bait effect of this game. It's not that visually appealing. I think it just has familiarity as a puzzle. People look at it, and if they are puzzle minded, they think, "I bet I can do this." They ask how it's done.

When it comes to explaining it, the game follows through. The rules are pretty easy.

There's also no reason you can't let them join in mid-game. There's no player pawn, no per-player setup of any kind. In fact, I've found there's no stopping them from joining in mid-game. Once they know how, they can't resist playing along in their heads, and usually once they've found one, they can't resist calling it out.
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16. Board Game: Wasabi! [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:865]
Michelle Zentis
United States
Prague
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Seriously, could a game look any more fun?

EDIT: If this is too long (officially 45 minutes, though usually shorter), you can cut down the number of recipes needed to win).
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17. Board Game: Gulo Gulo [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:626]
Donald Dennis
United States
Pawleys Island
South Carolina
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Just make sure M&Ms aren't being served as a snack...
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18. Board Game: Affentennis [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:2414]
Michelle Zentis
United States
Prague
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Yes, monkey tennis. Officially this is a 2-player game, but we usually play doubles, so four people can all be falling over laughing at the same time. The 60 minute playing time is way, way longer than we've ever played, and you can adjust the time by only playing a couple of sets.
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19. Board Game: Animal Upon Animal [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:578]
Michelle Zentis
United States
Prague
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Another great dexterity game with no setup time! The colorful pieces draw people in, and the clever design of each shape encourages creativity.
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20. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:683]
Michelle Zentis
United States
Prague
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Not only is this visually appealing, short, and easy to explain, but (like many push your luck games) people tend to get drawn in and react loudly to the vicissitudes of fate. As an added bonus, it plays up to 8.
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21. Board Game: Hula Hippos [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:2953]
Michelle Zentis
United States
Prague
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Quick, fun, simultaneous action dexterity game.
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22. Board Game: Khet: The Laser Game [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1024]
Michelle Zentis
United States
Prague
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Yeah, it's 2-player, but it's also a great spectator sport, what with the frickin' lasers and all.

If you really want to go all kinds of crazy and ensure that EVERYBODY stops by to watch, you can add the tower expansion:

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23. Board Game: Treehouse [Average Rating:5.82 Overall Rank:4235]
Avri Klemer
United States
Brooklyn
New York
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Guaranteed to pass the "Whatcha doing?" test.

The simple game printed on the tubes is fast and fun, but a knowledgeble demoer can showcase many, many different games and (more importantly) game types using these pretty, pretty gaming pyramids.

Everything from dexterity games to perfect information abstract strategy games, and everything in between . . .
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24. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:39]
J
United States
Hawaii
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This is the first thing that came to mind, but can you really use a dexterity game to lead into board games? I think it could work because at least you get the dialogue started, but it's sort of misleading...
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25. Board Game: ShakeDown [Average Rating:5.61 Unranked]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Most dexterity games will make this list, and this one is no exception.
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