Tabletop Games that take less than 30 minutes

I was talking with the wife about getting a board game and was looking for suggestions. She doesn't want to get anything where the average time per game is greater than 30 minutes.

A fifteen minute game would be perfect.

I enjoy strategy games (chess, poker, Magic), she would like something easy to pick up and play.

Any suggestions?

Lost Cities is a decent two player short game. Also, backgammon.

Chumpy_McChump wrote:

Lost Cities is a decent two player short game.

I was going to come mention just that. Other options are Treehouse, Fluxx, Rumis, Qwirkle, and Blokus.

Do you have more than two players available on a regular basis? It's a lot easier to find good three- to five-player games than two-player.

Apples to Apples is a great party game that lends itself well to short sessions. It's more of a social game than one of deep strategy: you really have to play to the group instead of to the systems, if that makes sense.

Fluxx (or any of its variants) strikes a good balance between ease of pick-up-and-play and having a good degree of strategy for those that seek it out. If you're a Holy Grail fan, I recommend picking up Monty Python Fluxx.

Monopoly Deal is a card game that manages to retain much of the strategy and feel of the Monopoly without that interminable endgame.

All of the above can be played with two players, but greatly benefit from three or more.

Forbidden Island is 20-30 minutes. Bonus: co-op.

Mr. Jack is also quite good for a 30 min, adversarial game.

Carcassonne can be nice and short once you learn it - if you don't play with any expansions.

Two-player Dominion can be played in 20 or 30 minutes at the low end with experienced players, though it could be 60-90 minutes on the high end for those first few games.

I head about Onirim recently and I am curious about it, though I have no experience with it. It is slated for 15 minute games, and is either played solo or 2-player co-op.

You are a Dreamwalker, lost in a mysterious labyrinth, and must discover the oneiric doors before your dreamtime runs out -or you will remain trapped forever!

Using the advanced two player rules, Race for the Galaxy can be played by 2 in under 30 minutes. The problem is learning the game well enough to go on to the advanced will take multiple games over 30 minutes. My game played the first game in 1:45, the very next game took 35 minutes. Still, tough to beat for the time frame. It scratches the strategy itch as if you played a much, much longer game.

Blokus takes about 20 minutes. Very abstract though, with no theme at all.

booty wrote:

Race for the Galaxy can be played by 2 in under 30 minutes. The problem is learning the game well enough to go on to the advanced will take multiple games over 30 minutes.

Race for the Galaxy is tough for non-gamers to pick up. Heck, it's tough for gamers even the first few games. So much info is contained in the icons which don't make any sense the first few times you play the game. But if your wife likes the Sci-Fi theme it might work.

San Juan is a similar game that I've had a lot of success playing with other couples, especially ones who don't play a lot of games. I always start people with San Juan rather than Race for the Galaxy.

I'd also give a mention to Guillotine. It's funny, plays fast, and there are enough tough decisions to make in the short timeframe to keep it interesting. Most rounds your best move will be clear but it can get changed dramatically while you're waiting for your turn to come up again. I'm not sure if I can recommend it solely as a two-player game though. That actually leads to a good question - is this specifically for two-players? There are a lot of games specifically designed with two players in mind, and on the flip side, there are a bunch of games that are listed as playable with 2 but are far from ideal with 2.

The German publisher Kosmos has an entire line of games designed for two - The Kosmos 2 Player Series.

As others have said, Lost Cities is pretty fun.

The Mystery Rummy games are also pretty good for someone that's new to games, as is Blokus.

He said wife. Lost Cities. Or, Balloon Cup.

Get your hands on a Crokinole board. Hours of fun!

Dominion, San Juan and Mr. Jack are good picks, you can easily play both in 30 minutes once you know how to play. I really enjoy all three.

If you are fans of Lord of the Rings and/or Stratego, check out Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. It is sort of Stratego-esque with hidden troop movement but it plays really fast and does a pretty good job with the Lord of the Rings theme.

For a fun little dice game with great wooden components, give Roll Through the Ages a try. Great dice game with a Civ building theme. At its heart it is Yahtzee with interesting decisions to make. Lots of fun.

You mentioned Chess, which immediately made me think of Hey! That's My Fish! Not that it plays at all like chess - this is incredibly simple to learn - but it requires the same sort of spacial awareness and ability to plan moves ahead. Plus it has really awesome penguin figures.

Lots of good stuff out there for two

arm wrestling

Great two-player strategy game, it's excellent to learn together and discuss various strategies, moves, and plays. It's so good we got both my brother-in-laws hooked on it, too. My husband and I enjoy playing this game quite a bit, I consider it a must-have for any gaming couple.

Yeah, HIVE is great too. Especially because it is made from heavy tiles and comes in a bag. You can pretty much play it anywhere.

Five Finger Fillet.

Best of all, it's very clear who wins and who loses.

Battle Line, Lost Cities, and Hive are all great choices for short two player games to play with your significant other.

Cribbage, Canasta and Backgammon are all good. There's a reason they've been around for ever. I'd also give a shout out to Go, which I've only recently learnt. Might run longer than 30 miuntes though, especially for noobs.

I'll second the call for Dominion. The wife and I, old hands at it, can put dinner on to cook, and rinse a game out in 15 minutes before it's done.

radaxian wrote:

Carcassonne can be nice and short once you learn it - if you don't play with any expansions.


Most of the expansions are good and add slightly more complexity, but with every one you also add more and more time to play a complete game. Also, this game is only ok with 2, better with 3 or more.

Just a note: Fluxx may be less than 30 minutes, but a) it may not, and b) it may not feel like it on some turns. YMMV.

I like Labyrinth with my wife, as well, though I think it works better with 3 or 4 people.

Twilight Imperium?

Another vote for Mr. Jack although 30min. might be pushing it.. but not a ton longer.

Love that game even though my wife kicks my ass 90% of the time.

RichyRambo wrote:

Twilight Imperium on crack?



Coloretto is outstanding.

Here's one for ya: PocketStalingrad, a cool little territories game with an awesome "press your luck" dice mechanic. Julian and I demoed this on Sunday with the creator and loved it. Free to play, just download the docs and print out what you need.

I'll never pass up an opportunity to mention Citadels. Two-player Citadels can go pretty fast; the main slow-down is picking characters, but you can play to the first with seven districts (instead of eight) to cut down game time.

Carcassonne with expansions can also be played to whatever time you have available. Just agree on how long the game will be, then end and score it when your timer goes off. To play every tile we own a full game would be about three hours, so we usually agree to play with all expansions in the bag but set a timer for one hour. Then you get the chance to draw any tile, but the game won't last forever.

zombie dice is great for short 5 minute game sessions. cthulu dice is also fun, but is best played with some more people.

Also.. never underestimate the fun that a deck of cards can have.

I've had Zombie Fluxx and San Juan for about a year now, but I haven't gotten the wife to play them with me yet. Someday soon, I hope.

Hive is great, forgot about that. Also wanted to mention Dynasties, a fun little two player area control game.

Hide the Salami can be played tabletop.

My wife says that's a single-player game.