Looking for fun board games that won’t take you all day? Look no further, here’s a list of ten board games you can play in thirty minutes or less!
Board Games have had an incredible resurgence in recent years. And it’s no surprise that they have. They provide off-screen entertainment and are a lovely way to hang out with friends or loved ones. That renewed popularity means that there is now an abundance of games to pick from! Some of those games take hours to play, with complex rules and intricate play, while others can take only a few minutes. It can be tough to figure out what games to play based on our needs at the moment.
As an avid board game player, I enjoy the long complex games a great deal. But there are many times when I am with people who don’t feel like spending ages playing, or when I simply want a casual game with all the fun, but without the intensity. And let’s be honest, with quarantine, I don’t always feel like adding to the intensity of my day, nor do I have access to as many people to play with.
So, to make it easier for myself and everyone in the mood for a simple, shorter game, I put together a list of 10 of my favorite short (but just as fun) games. You will find them all in alphabetical order and unranked, as I enjoy them all.
Coup – 2-6 players – 15m
Coup is set in a dystopian universe in which the players are each vying for control over a nation in the midst of a rebellion. In order to win, players need to be the last one standing. They do that by “destroying the influence of their rivals and driving them into exile.”
Coup is an easy game to learn and a fun game to play if you are in a competitive spirit. It does have some level of strategy but enough luck that no one is likely to get angry when/if they lose. It’s especially fun if you’re playing with people who love to mess with each other, and it’s perfect for an evening of casual board games, or a quick game while waiting for dinner to be ready.
Dragoon – 2-4 players – 30m
In Dragoon, players are dragons who lived peacefully with each other until humans arrived on the island. Now, those dragons fight for dominion over the island and race to accumulate the most gold! Dragoon is a strategy game sprinkled with a little luck. Players have lots of options on their turn, choosing between claiming villages and cities, destroying them, fighting other dragons, or even stealing from their cave.
Dragoon takes a little more setup and effort than some games on this list, and it’s definitely on the longer end, but it is well worth the effort! It can sometimes take longer than 30 minutes to play, but in my experience, it usually stays within range. This is a highly original game that’s incredibly fun to play!
Exploding Kittens – 2-5 players – 15m
Oh, Exploding Kittens; one of my favorite easy games. Exploding Kittens is a blast! (pun intended). The rules are simple. Essentially, it is a “kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette.” Players draw cards in turn until every player but one draws an exploding kitten card. At that point, the player who hasn’t drawn an exploding kitten wins.
Exploding Kittens is mostly a game of luck. If you are looking for a strategy game, this might not be the one to choose. But if you’re looking for a light, fun game in which you don’t have to think too hard, this is the game for you. Each card in this game is funnier than the last, with hilarious illustrations and ridiculous descriptions. Exploding Kittens just doesn’t get boring—and if it does, no fear—there are expansions.
Fluxx – 2-6 players – 5-30m
Does this game really need an introduction? Designed in 1996, Fluxx is a classic that just won’t go out of style. It’s one of the easiest games to learn out there, as the way to learn it, is to play it. As the name of the game indicates, its rules and winning conditions are constantly in flux. Simply put, to win, a player has to meet the most recent winning conditions first.
Fluxx is a timeless, fun, and easy game to play that barely requires any setup. Great for players of any age, it’s portable size and quick play makes it perfect for family vacations and nights out with friends. It’s great for any time where you don’t want to do anything too complex.
Hanabi – 2-4 players – 20m
Hanabi is a lovely collaborative game in which players team up to launch a beautiful fireworks display. In order to do that, players have to put down the cards they own in the correct order or they risk short fusing the display. But there’s a catch, each player can see the cards that the other players hold, but not their own. They have to work together to give clues and play the cards in the right sequence or lose the game.
The most distinctive feature about Hanabi is that it’s actually a collaborative game. So if you’re not in the mood to compete against your friends, then you don’t have to. The next distinctive feature is that since you’re not allowed to see your own cards, you really have to pay attention to the other players and communicate effectively. Just like many of the other games on this list, Hanabi is an easy game to learn! But don’t be fooled by the simple rules, it’s not quite as easy to win as it may look! (If you don’t cheat, that is).
Jaipur – 2 players – 30m
Jaipur is the only game on this list that is entirely designed for two players only. It’s a trading game in which the players are competing to become the Maharaja’s personal trader by ending each round with more coins than their opponent. The goal of the game is to be the first player to win two rounds.
Most games are made for at least four players, and even those that offer the option to play as two aren’t usually designed for it. This often means that those games are poorly balanced when played by just two. Jaipur, however, is designed perfectly for two players. But that’s not the only great thing about this game! Like most of the games on this list, it’s really easy to learn. But it’s far more tactical than most and really great for lovers of strategy games. And of course, it’s quick.
Karmaka – 2-4 players – 25-60m
Karmaka is a beautiful strategy game in which players have to climb their way up a karmic ladder, reincarnating from a dung beetle all the way up to Transcendence. Each card played in one life has consequences in the next.
What is really distinctive about Karmaka is just how beautiful the art is! Each card looks like a little painting, and the board itself is small but full of intricate details.
Occasionally, Karmaka games can take up to one hour (so much longer than 30 minutes I know), but in my experience, the game usually takes around 30 minutes. It’s also one of those rare four-player games that doesn’t feel like a compromise to play with two players.
Monopoly Deal – 2-5 players – 15m
Like its namesake, Monopoly Deal is a “fast-dealing” game in which players collect properties and trick, mislead, and mess with each other. But that’s where the similarities end. Monopoly Deal is a quick card game in which the first player to get three full sets of properties wins. The rules are simple, and yet winning is not as straightforward as one might think. There are many cards that can quickly change the tides of the game.
Monopoly Deal is one of those games that only takes 15 minutes to play, but you’ll end up playing for hours! It’s a favorite of mine and my family’s because of how easy it is to learn, and how quick it is to play. Not to mention how portable the game is, and of course, how fun it is. The best part of Monopoly Deal is that it lets you get out all of your pettiness and vengefulness in a ridiculous and harmless way! It has the spirit of Monopoly, but none of the dreariness that comes with such a long game.
Super Mario Bro Power Up Card Game – 3-8 players – 10-30m
Just like in the video game, players win by surviving Mushroom Kingdom and making it all the way to the castle. There is some luck involved, but mainly it’s a game of strategy and deduction skills. Players get a special card each round and can decide whether to swap it or keep it in attempts to have a higher score than the others.
Overall, the rules of the game are pretty simple, and gameplay moves fast. It’s not the most complex game on this list, but it’s an easy and enjoyable game that plays quickly. To be honest, the best thing about this game is that it’s possible to play with up to eight people, which makes it one of the best options when playing with a larger group.
Tea Dragon Society – 2-4 players – 30m
In Tea Dragon Society, the players are Tea Dragon caretakers. The game takes place over 4 seasons, and the players have to build a strong relationship with their dragon through the seasons. At the end of the last season—winter—the player that has the best relationship with their dragon (or the most points) wins.
Tea Dragon Society is not the most complex game in the world but it might be the cutest! Based on the graphic novel of the same name, this game is full of adorable illustrations. This is a game that I imagine myself playing in a meadow with flowers everywhere.
I hope you enjoy these games as much as I do and spend lots of hours enjoying them. I am sure I am missing many more short fun games, so if I didn’t mention your personal favorite, make a comment and I might include it in a future list.