There’s not much that can match the pure fun that you can have with a great board or card game. While some might believe that the best thing for those occasions is the old faithful Monopoly, board games have evolved immensely since the Parker Brothers brought the game to the world outside of the US. It also usually takes a long time to get a game completed and requires very little in the way of skill or strategy as Chance, Community Chest and the dice roll decide almost all aspects of the game. It’s no wonder that’s ruined many family and friend relationships.
But fear not! If you’ve got friends around for an evening and want something quick, relatively simple and great fun, the number of options is incredible that you’ll never need to go near Monopoly again. Most of these are inexpensive to get hold of too, meaning that you won’t be breaking the bank to enjoy the game and the time with your best buds.
Here are five of the best options for the board and card games that can be completed in less than 30 minutes at a time. However, we recommend continuing to check out as many as you can to find your favorite flavor of the game.
Best Tabletop and board games
Codenames – 4+ players
Designed by Czech creator Vladmír Chvátil and published by Czech Games in 2015, Codenames has become a sensation in a relatively short time. The game consists of red and blue teams of at least two players, each with a dedicated Spymaster, and a board full of words that relate to common (and uncommon) items and things in real life, such as Iron & Summer. In a grid format, the Spymasters for each team will see a decoder that shows certain words to be of your teams color.
The objective of the Spymaster is to provide clues as to words on the board relating to their color for their teammates, but the brilliance comes in being able to offer more than one word that the rest of the team have to guess is part of their team’s color. For example, the Spymaster for the red team can call that there are two words on the board relating to metal that are red, so they can call out “Two, Metal,” meaning that they can guess two words relating to metal. If they are obvious, like Iron (as it’s a metal) and Frigate (as it is made from metal), then it’s relatively easy. The difficulty comes when you have words similar to your code that are not on your team, so if Copper, for example, is also there but is the Blue team’s word, the Spymaster must say a code that won’t cause them to say Copper at the same time.
It can be played relatively quickly, and has many variants too, so it makes playing it very easy. It’s a highly recommended game!
Fluxx – 2 to 6 players
An old but gold card game, Fluxx is a game all about changing the rules frequently and adapting to the new play conditions. You start with basic rules, and the objective is to hold the win conditions, known as Keeper cards, in your play area while the pink Goal card that corresponds to your Keepers is the active Goal.
Where Fluxx gets crazy is that players can not only replace Goal cards at any point by simply playing a new one, but you can introduce a crazy amount of new rules to make players think and throw away cards strategically to help correspond with your Keepers. For example, the basic rules have no hand limits and offer you three cards to start with, you pick up one card from the deck and play one on each turn. You can have a scenario where you may end up picking up five cards at the start of your turn, playing two and discarding cards to match the hand limit. Action cards also help to mix things up and allow players struggling to find purchase come back into the game.
The number of themed decks to Fluxx is astounding too, so you can play to whichever theme you want, whether that be the original, Batman, Zombies, Star Wars/Trek, and even Monty Python. It can be played with two players, but gather six for maximum carnage.
Coup (+ expansion Reformation) – 2 to 10 Players
Coup is a great little party game, albeit simple with the base game. Each player takes two cards, and using a combination of coin collecting, bluffing and strategy, your objective is to stage a coup against another player, causing them to lose one of their cards with enough coins in your purse, and you to continue this until you’re the last player standing with cards. Other cards allow you to perform tasks like take more Coins (the Duke), attempt a hit on another player and cause them to lose a card (the Assassin), or even steal Coins from other players (the Captain).
It’s relatively quick, with games usually lasting no more than 15 minutes, and generally the player who has the best deception skills perform the best.
While the game is excellent on its own, the best way to play Coup is with the Reformation expansion. It increases the number of characters by 15, meaning you can expand from six players up to ten, but the real addition is a fluid team element to the game. Each player is added to a faction, and players can only perform aggressive acts against members of the opposing faction. Players can pay to change their faction, or pay to force another player to change faction. When only one faction’s team remains, it’s back to a free for all until another player changes faction. It’s incredibly strategic, provides better balance compared to the base game (where the Duke can be a little overpowered) and means more friends can join in!
The Resistance: Avalon – 5-10 players
While it would be tight getting the game done in 30 minutes with ten players, Avalon is well worth playing. You play as a group of Knights of the Round Table to King Arthur, tasked with completing tasks in the name of the King. However, Evil is amongst you!
The game is about deceiving the good team by performing covert acts that stop missions being completed successfully. The knights must successfully complete a number of missions successfully while the evil team, consisting of the likes of Mordred (who Merlin of the Knights can’t identify) and Morgana (who is seen as ‘Merlin’ by the knight’s character Percival) disguised as knights, must sabotage them without being identified as Evil.
It’s about deception and working together as teams, similar to the game of Mafia. The standard game of The Resistance is also worth playing with its expansions, but for a single game, Avalon is a fantastic party game that won’t take you all night to play.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf – 3 to 10 players
Speaking of games similar to Mafia, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a game born from Kickstarter and is a fantastic variation on the Mafia formula as the game takes play over one night and the game timer set to precisely ten minutes.
Each player is assigned a character by picking up a card, showing no-one and only identifying each other when specified. After the night period is over, the town wakes up to murder! As a group, you have to piece together who is playing which role and come to a decision as to who the Werewolf is.
If the town can identify the Werewolf, they win. But if the Werewolf can escape detection by bluffing their way out of trouble, they will claim victory. There are playing roles that mix the game up, and the 10-minute timer means that the game is quickfire in nature. It also sparks lots of conversation and is a brilliant social game. Add expansions such as Daybreak to make the game even crazier!