These games are easy to fit into a 1.5 hour session for newer players aged 55+. This includes teaching time as well as some socializing:
Ganz Schon Clever
Sushi Go / Sushi Go Party
The Great Heartland Hauling Company
Word on the Street
Reiner Knizia's Poison
The Game of 49
Deep Sea Adventure
Sushizock im Gockelwok
Isle of Skye
Patchwork (for 2)
Transamerica (or Transeuropa)
10 Days in Africa (or USA)
Let Them Eat Shrimp
Little Flower Shop
Kahuna (for 2)
Dominion (for more advanced)
Between Two Cities
Ticket To Ride (longer than 1 hour)
Pandemic (longer than 1 hour)
Pyramid Poker (for 2)
Pandemic: The Cure
Lost Cities: The Board Game
Wits and Wagers
Game Selections for Newer Gamers, 55+
Over the years I have learned a bit of a magic formula as to which games are best to teach to new gamers, aged 55+. Here's the criteria I use when selecting games:
45 minutes maximum play time
Accessible to ages 8+ (yet not childish)
5-Player count to accommodate large groups
One or two decisions per turn
Quick turns with little down-time between turns
Set-up and teaching never last longer than 10 minutes
In the industry, these are usually referred to as gateway games.
On this page is a list of some games that have been very successful at my Golden Gamer groups. If you would like to learn these games on your own, I recommend checking out a website called BoardGameGeek where you can find video reviews as well as videos that show how to play.
When it comes to teaching, here are some tips:
Never overwhelm players.
Always remind them what the win condition is.
Include theme in your explanation (if there is one) so that mechanisms make sense.
Only teach as much as is needed to start.
Teach the rest as the game progresses.
Be prepared to help everyone out.
Remind players of important rules and pivotal decisions as they come up.
Partnering players eases the anxiety of new players.
Always, always, always make jokes, have fun, and allow for side conversations.
Remember that games are as much about socializing as they are about playing.
If you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, or Maryland, you are very lucky because we have one of the best local game stores in the country. It's called The Games Keep and it's in West Chester, PA. When you visit (closed Mon/Tues), introduce yourself to the owner, Karl, and tell him Bonnie sent you. He is super-friendly, beyond-knowledgeable, uber-helpful, and very happy to let people browse for hours on end. There's also an in-store library of games you can try and open gaming every Friday evening.