One of the most important things when deciding to sit down and play a board game is to know what the other players are willing to play. Some balk at the idea of even spending 30 minutes playing a game, while others will find short, random games unsatisfying.
The Complexity Rating used in the board game summaries helps identify whether a game will be suitable for your group. They will be given a rating from 1 to 5 cups of tea, where 1 is the least complex and 5 is the most complex. This condenses a range of concepts into a single metric – how much preparation is required before starting to play, how many rules there are, how much time needs to be spent teaching the game, and so on. If it helps, think of it as the number of cups of tea it will take for you to play that game from when you open the box to when you pack it away again!
These games usually have just a handful of rules. They tend to be social or physical games, like Scattergories or Jenga. An inexperienced gamer would be able to pick this game up and start playing it without difficulty.
These games are the typical ‘gateway’ game; still quite straightforward but involving a larger number of rules, and good for introducing people to the hobby of boardgaming. Experienced board gamers should be able to pick up and play this game, but newcomers will be best served by closely reading the rules or having someone teach them the game.
This is where it starts to get more complex. If you are not familiar with modern boardgaming, you will likely need someone to teach you the rules of this game, but once they do it should be straightforward. Those who are more experienced should have no real trouble, however.
At this level, sitting down to play a game starts to need a bit of preparation. All players should be somewhat familiar with modern board games, and before starting, one player should have read the rulebook to get an idea of how the game should flow.
These are the most complex board games, and will require at least one player to have studied the rules in depth – and ideally all players should have leafed through the rulebook! Trying to stumble through one of these games without prior planning will be very unsatisfying.
Preferred complexity levels can vary from group to group – discovering what you and your friends enjoy most is part of the fun!