Family Game Night – Short & Sweet

Quick Playing Games for Families

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Great Board Games that play from start to finish in under 45 Minutes

Short games are great for incorporating family gaming into your weekly routine, they can be played between dinner and bedtime, and are well suited to the attention span of most kids. I find that games with a playing time of 45 minutes or less are ideal for school nights, and happily, there are many available. A search on Board Game Geek for games with a 6 or better rating, that take 30 minutes to play turns up literally hundreds of games. In this review, the second of a six part series, I’m going to talk about a handful of short & sweet family games that are part of my own library.

Tsuro

Ages: 8+
Length: 15 minutes
Calliopi Games
Purchase: Wood for Sheep Hobbies

Let’s start with a really quick game, Tsuro, “The game of the path” which can be played in as little as 10 minutes. In Tsuro, up to 8 players start by placing their marker at one of 48 positions on the edge of the board. A turn consists of placing a tile on the board to extend the path in front of your marker, and moving your marker forward to follow the path. Each player takes turns doing this, moving their piece around the board based on the tiles you place. As the board starts to fill up, you will want to guide your piece into less crowded areas of the board. If your path extends off the edge of the board you are out. If, by placing your tile you extend the path of an opponent off the edge of the board, they are out. Be the last player standing to win. This game has a lot going for it. Simple setup and game play allows a group of players to play multiple times in quick succession. Different strategies can be tried out in each game to quickly find the method of play that works for you.

King of Toyko

Ages: 6+
Length: 30 minutes
Lello Games
Purchase: Amazon

This game came into the house at Christmas as a present for our 8-year old son, and it has seen a huge amount of play time. King of Toyko is fundamentally a dice game with a Yahtzee like rolling mechanic.

Each player takes on the role of one monster attacking the city of Tokyo. On you turn you role the 6 dice, keep the dice you like and re-roll the rest. After 3 roles your final dice determines what happens. The various faces of the dice allow you to gain experience, heal your monster, gain energy for your monster, or attack the other monsters. Energy is used to buy “power-up” cards that enhance your monster in a wide number of ways. The winner is the first player to gain 20 experience points, or kills off all of the opposing players, by dealing out a lot of damage. The two different ways of winning leads to a number of different strategies, and the power up cards add a huge variety that leads to a lot of replay value.

Incan Gold

incan gold

Ages: 6+
Length: 30 minutes
Gryphon Games
Purchase: Wood for Sheep

This game was mentioned in the first article in the series where I gave a brief overview of the gameplay, but I want to revisit it here to give a little more detail on how the game actually plays. This is another game with tremendous replay value and we have often played 3 or 4 games in a row.

In Incan Gold the players are exploring an Incan ruin, looking for treasure. On each turn every player simultaneously declares whether they are risking going deeper into the ruin, or getting out to safety. Once everyone has declared their intention, the next section of the ruin is revealed by dealing a card, face-up. If it is a treasure room, then the value of the card is divided equally amongst all of the player who are still exploring with any remainder left on the card, and play continues. If it is not a treasure room, then it is one of five types of trap rooms. If two of the same type of trap rooms appear, then all of the players still in the ruin are trapped and forfeit all of the treasure collected that day. There are five days of exploration and thus five chances to get rich, or get trapped. The person with the highest total treasure in their tent at the end of day five is the winner.

Dixit

Ages: 8+
Length: 30 minutes
Libellud
Purchase: Amazon

Got some friends who come around to play Euchre? Break things up a little with this easy to learn, quick to play game of pictures and ideas. In Dixit each player has a hand of 6 unique cards. One player secretly selects a card from their hand and describes the image on it. The other players each select the card from their hand that most closely matches the description. The resulting set of cards are shuffled and placed face up on the table and everyone has to guess which card is the right one.

Points are awarded for guessing the correct card, or for having players get tricked into guessing the card you added to the mix. The player who described the card only scores if at least one (but not all) players correctly guess their card, so it doesn’t pay to be too specific, nor does it pay to be too obscure. After each round each players deck is topped back up to 6 cards and the next player takes their turn at describing a card. The challenge is to figure out how the other players think, is the clue too obvious? Dixit has been so successful that there is a Dixit 2, and Dixit Odyssey which add new cards and rules for up to 12 players.

Some other games that fit into the under 45 minute category are Dominion (which I will cover in an upcoming installment), Carcassonne (mentioned in part one of this series), Qwirkle and Ticket to Ride: Europe: First Journey.

Family Game Night – Part Two of Three by Stephen Orr

Next installment – ‘Help me out Here‘ – a review of ‘Co-operative’ family board games.

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