Perhaps it’s my dwindling millennial attention span or maybe the fact that I am busy and important, but I can’t deal with lengthy board games.
A fleeting encounter that involves drama, excitement and potentially a small fight is far preferable to a meticulously planned and yet tedious, drawn out one that inevitably ends in an awkward break up. That said, if I treated people like I treated board games I probably wouldn’t be very popular…
Anyway, here’s my list of the best short board games that pack in all the fun without the emotional hardship of a long-term commitment.
When I first played this I got weirdly addicted to it – every time a game came to an end (and I inevitably lost) I’d get toddler-angry and wide-eyed, shouting “again, again!”.
In this game one player is the fox, the other is the hunt master and his pack of dogs. The fox is able to hop around the board pretty swiftly while the hunting party is slower and must be more tactical. While the fox works to overturn three key squares that mark their victory, the hunter aims to uncover traps and to close in on the fox.
It’s a speedy game that starts out with a very comfortable feeling fox and tends to end (if I’m playing it) in a fit of frustration.
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Splendor is all about building jewellery, although I tend to forget about the storyline and focus on the cold, hard numbers.
You spend the game collecting oddly tactile chips to buy cards that relate to jewellery production, building up prestige points. One of the best (and, on occasion, worst) parts is how easy it is to screw your opponents over. Most actions take place under the prying eyes of your competitors, meaning the card you’ve been saving for could be snatched away very easily if someone spots what you’re doing.
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3. King of Tokyo
I’ve only played King of Tokyo in very small groups, but it’s a fun game if you’ve not got long that is centred more on luck than skill.
Players each take control of a ferocious monster and then roll a number of dice to help them attack, heal, gain energy and get points. Your position (in or out of the city) determines how your points are added and deducted.
The last to die, or the first to a certain number of points, wins. In my experience, it tends to be the former.
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4. Port Royal
This is probably the longest of the games I’ve included in this list – and it’ll likely take longer if you’ve got more players. I tend to play with just one other person, but it’s just as fun with more.
It’s a really small, simple game where the cards are either missions, things you can buy, or (on the flip side) money. The active player turns over cards in the central deck, looking to buy or gain gold. The problem is, the more cards you turn over to choose from, the more chance you have of forfeiting your turn and walking away with nothing.
Playing with just one other person means your opponent is easier to keep track of and things can get very tense very quickly.
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This is kind of like air hockey, only there are traps and magnets and the table is much, much smaller. That said, the sense of competitiveness is just as grand as when you’re in a packed arcade taking on your arch nemesis in front of a cheering crowd.
Players hold on to a magnet attached to the bottom of the board which controls their piece on the top of the board and use it to try to knock the ball into the opponent’s goal.
It’s quick and easy to understand, even if controlling things via a magnet adds it’s own challenges. It might not be cheap to get hold of but it’s great for mini tournaments when you’ve got friends over.
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6. Magic Maze
This is almost certainly the most chaotic of under-30 minute games on this list.
You have to navigate the little characters around a maze-like shopping mall with each person being able to perform certain options (move north, move south etc).
The problem is you’re not allowed to talk, and the only way to communicate is to aggressively tap the red gavel-device on the table until you get the right person’s attention to help out the character you’re trying to get to their zone.
This is most fun in a group of more than three.
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7. Angry Sheep
On the face of it this is a really simple game – you collect sheep. But things get complicated as new rules are imposed and Sheep Guevara, who wants to free the rest of the sheep, invades your flock.
This compact game can pretty much be taken anywhere, although maybe not one for the car – the sheep are tiny and easily lost. I wouldn’t play on carpet, either – I’d imagine the pain if you were to tread on one would be Lego-esque.
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Thanks Gemma. Let us know if you have any favourite quick games in the comments.