What’s a puzzler to do when you’re in the mood to play a game, but you don’t have oodles of time available?
You simply don’t have an opening in your schedule wide enough to accommodate a multi-hour bout of Monopoly or a world-endangering round of Pandemic, but you still want a satisfying bit of gaming. Or perhaps you’re traveling and you don’t have room for all the bits and bobs that come with Escape: The Curse of the Temple or the set-up of Burgle Bros.
Well, reach for a quick-play game instead.
I define a quick-play game as any game you can set up and play in 20 minutes or less. Quick-play games can be large or small, travel-friendly or less-than-travel-friendly, but they’re all wrapped up in a pretty tight time limit.
And so, today, I’ll run through some terrific quick-play games. Some are favorites of mine, and others are suggestions from members of the PuzzleNation readership.
Let’s get cracking!
If you’re looking for a quick, relaxing game, Tsuro might be right up your alley. A tile-placement game where up to 8 players take control of flying dragons whose paths intersect, the goal is to stay on the board the longest.
Now, you do need a bit of space to play Tsuro, so it’s not really travel-friendly, but it’s easy to learn and a very satisfying way to pass 10 or 15 minutes.
For a more travel-amenable game that still requires a bit of space to play, you’ve got Bananagrams. The popular variation of Scrabble is perfect for airplane tray tables or intimate tables at the bar if you’re looking for a few speedy rounds of anagramming.
Loonacy and Just Desserts are two Looney Labs offerings that can easily slip into a backpack pocket and satisfy up to five players looking to kill 10 minutes or so.
Just Desserts is all about keeping hungry customers happy by matching symbols in your hand to treats they’d enjoy. It’s all about making the best use of the ingredients in your hand to serve treats to as many customers as possible. You’ll probably end up with a sugar craving after five or ten minutes of play.
Loonacy is a fast-reaction pattern-matching game that’s sure to get your adrenaline pumping, as you race to empty your hand of cards before your opponent can. Definitely a solid choice for spicing up a boring wait.
For five minutes of guaranteed puzzly chaos, there’s Spaceteam.
It’s up to you and your fellow players to work together to fix numerous malfunctions on your spaceship, and you have to share your tools to do so. But with everyone talking at once and all sorts of obstacles in your way, things get hectic very quickly. Of course, that only adds to the ridiculous fun of it all.
For a bit more of a thinker, give the Timeline series a shot. Combining short play times with serious replayability, Timeline is all about emptying your hand of cards by properly placing them in a timeline you and your fellow players build. Did the invention of the toothbrush come before or after the invention of the telegraph? You probably don’t know the exact dates, but having a general idea will get you pretty far.
The small metal tins make them easy to transport and stash away where needed. (I have one in my desk as I write this.)
In terms of portability, you can’t get much smaller than Love Letter or one of its many variants. A card game all about deduction and luck, you’re trying to get your love letter into the princess’s hands before one of your rivals can. And with only 16 cards in the entire deck, every action is crucial.
For sheer speed, it’s hard to top Falling.
The entire game only takes about 90 seconds to play, and the idea is simple: every player is plummeting from the sky, and the last player to hit the ground wins. So as the dealer keeps going round and round, adding cards to your pile and coming ever close to dropping those final few GROUND cards, it’s up to you to delay the inevitable as long as possible.
Morbid? A bit. But fun? Oh yes. And the deck is only slightly thicker than your average deck of cards.
Of course, for variety of gameplay, it’s hard to beat that average deck of cards. Games like Speed, Slapjack, and other fast-reaction games can be whipped up in a snap for those who don’t have the patience or the time for Hearts, War, or Go Fish.
But as you can see, there are plenty of other options out there for some quick, puzzly fun.
Are there any favorite quick-play games of yours that I missed? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!
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