Whenever I schedule a game night, the first thing I think about it what games can we play in the allotted time. Do we want to play an all-night game like War of the Ring or play a bunch of shorter games with different experiences? I usually opt for the shorter games because I like to introduce and play many different games, rather than just one lengthy one. I also tend to go for at least a few games that the attendees know how to play. Then I can just go through a refresher of the rules, rather than a full blown rules explanation. It’s for this reason that I decided to put together the Top 10 Games That Play in 30 Minutes.
A few caveats on how I created the list. First, I didn’t take set up time into the under thirty minute requirement. I’m only looking at the start of game play till the end. Also, I made the list assuming that everyone playing knows the rules. The first time you play most games your play time is inflated by learning, questions, and checking of rules.
Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, let’s get to the list!
Top 10 Games That Play in 30 Minutes
A game that just missed making the list is Summoner Wars. I admit I have played this game on iOS much more than the physical game, but Summoner Wars is a great game. It manages to create the experience of a miniature war game with nothing but decks of cards and a 6×8 grid. The game has multiple factions that all have their strengths and weaknesses which require different strategies to be victorious. All of this is packed into a game that doesn’t take a lot of time to play.
10. Splendor (review)
One of the newest games on this list, Splendor allows players to take on the role of merchants in the Renaissance trying to buy gem mines, transportation, and shops to earn prestige points. The game is very fast paced and easy to learn. The thing I like most about this game is how as you collect cards, they each give you a permanent gem bonus to buy cards later in the game. This allows you to build up your collection of resource cards as you see fit to buy cards later in the game, and maybe a visit from noble increasing your prestige. I enjoy most games that have a card drafting mechanic and add Splendor to that list.
9. Eight-Minute Empire (review)
Eight Minute Empire might take you a little longer than the eight minute game it claims on the box. However, a little extra time doesn’t take away from this area control game. Players will fight for control over regions and continents while collecting cards. This game manages to take all of the elements of a big civilization game and make it, at most, a twenty minute experience. There is a lot more game than you expect when you look at the box.
8. The Resistance: Avalon (review)
The Resistance: Avalon is a hidden role game where players are either loyal servants of Arthur or minions of Mordred. The game pits the two sides against each other to see who will rule Camelot. This game is a re-theme of the original game, The Resistance, but also adds new roles that allow this game to be different than the original. Both versions of the game are well worth the investment, but I personally like the Avalon theme better. I love the deduction element to this game as you are trying to figure out who is loyal to the King. The Resistance: Avalon has no elimination and no need for a moderator which for me makes it superior to Werewolf.
7. Space Alert (review)
Space Alert is a real time cooperative game where players are trying to keep a ship safe for ten minutes. This seems like it would be an easy task, but the first few times we played we did awful. However, that didn’t stop my enjoyment of this movement programming game. The soundtrack does an amazing job of building suspense and pure terror as different battleships and monsters attack your ship. Everyone has to communicate what they are doing to survive and make the jump back home. Space Alert isn’t always easy, but it’s a lot of fun.
6. Dominion / Dominion: Intrigue (review)
Here at Board Game Quest, we do not shy away from our love of deck building games. Heck, we have a top ten list dedicated just to deck building. While other games might have a better theme than building up your kingdom, both Dominion and Intrigue are easily accessible and simple to teach. The game has a ton of expansions that will keep you entertained for a while as you acquire them. Both of these standalone games are worth having, but I think I like Intrigue a little better. I just find the card combinations a little more interesting.
5. Coconuts (review)
Every time I head home to visit family, I get a text asking me to bring this game with me. Coconuts is a dexterity game where players launch rubber coconuts into the air hoping to land them into the cups on the table. Despite being a very simple game, it has made me laugh and swear more than any other game I have in my collection. The shape of the coconuts makes for unpredictable results as you try to be the first to collect six cups. Very rarely can I have the same amount of fun playing a game with both my oldest child and my college buddies.
4. Space Cadets: Dice Duel (review)
I admit; I’m not a fan of Space Cadets. I have attempted to play it on numerous occasions and I just couldn’t get into the game. Each time I played, I kept thinking that there is a great game somewhere in here. Fortunately I found that great game in Space Cadets: Dice Duel. This game pits two teams against each other attempting to destroy their opponent’s ship. They will do this by rolling dice to move the ship into position, lock on to their target, and fire their weapons. This is all happening in real-time, causing craziness to ensue. Often there are moments of great failure that cause one team to laugh and the other to hang their head in shame. A must own for people with a larger gaming group.
Not only does Forbidden Island have some of the most beautiful artwork I have ever seen in a game, but it manages to pack the feel of Pandemic in a shorter game. In Forbidden Island, you, with the help of the other players are attempting to acquire four artifacts and escape before the island sinks. The game has multiple levels of difficulty and with the random placement of island tiles, each game feels unique. It is one of the best entry level co-op games I have played and the low price makes it even better.
2. 7 Wonders (review)
7 Wonders is a card game which you are tasked with building up your civilization through a series of 3 ages. Your civilization is built by playing cards every round to your play area. The cards range from producing goods, to victory point earning structures, to special action buildings. Very often when you add players to a game it increases the play time, but not in 7 Wonders. Every round, each player plays one card simultaneously and then they pass the rest of their hand to the next player. This starting hand is the same number of cards regardless of the player count. This allows for each round to move quickly.
When I was putting this list together, Escape was the first game I wrote down. As I compared it to the rest of the twenty games I looked at, I kept coming back to one thing, how much enjoyment I have experienced in this game. I have seen many heart breaking and triumphant moments of players working together to try to find enough gems to leave the temple. I admit that Escape wouldn’t be a lot of people’s first choice for this list. However, for me there are so many things to like about this game. It has dice rolling, tile exploration, and simultaneous game play all packed into ten minutes. Even though the game doesn’t have a ton of strategic elements, the randomness of the tile layout and the dice rolls makes every game a different challenge. Plus the game has a few expansions that add even more to the experience. For me, this is the game I would want to play if I only had thirty minutes to play a game.
So that’s my list for the Top 10 Games That Play in 30 Minutes. It was harder than I expected for me to come up with a list of games. Popular games like King of Tokyo and Love Letter were just on the cusp of making the list. I’m sure I missed some other games along the way. What were some of your favorites that missed the cut? Leave a comment to let us know.