Board games are fantastic, no doubt about it. But what if you don’t have a lot of time to play a long game of Monopoly or you want to play multiple games in one night? That’s where having games with a short thirty-minute playtime or less is a godsend.
All of these board games can be played in under half an hour, sometimes even less than fifteen minutes. And whether you’re looking for a simple card game, a strategic game that relies on savvy tactics, or a cooperative game that’s fun to play in large groups, there’s something on this list for you.
Russian Roulette Chaos: Exploding Kittens
Unique Space Exploration: Tiny Epic Galaxies
Renaissance Strategy Game: Splendor
Fun for Sushi Lovers: Sushi Go!
The Game of the Path: Tsuro
Social Word-Based Game: Codenames
Two-Player Strategy Game: Jaipur
Get Your Fantasy On: Fantasy Fluxx
Cooperative Survival Strategy: Forbidden Island
A Unique Card Game: Poop: The Game
If you love kittens or explosions (or both), you’ll love Exploding Kittens. It’s an easy game to learn, so even if it’s your first time playing, you can still learn the rules and play a game in less than thirty minutes. In the game, there are action cards, exploding kitten cards, defuse cards, and a few other fun, dressed-up kittens mixed in you can collect for special actions.
If you draw an exploding kitten, boom. You’re out. Unless, that is, you have a defuse card. Then, you can safely defuse the exploding kitten and hide it somewhere in the deck for the next poor schmuck to deal with. Certain action cards also make the game more interesting, like the See the Future card that allows you to peek at the next three cards in the deck and see if the cards are safe.
You can have two to five players, at least with one pack, though you can add more players by combining multiple decks (or expansion packs). Depending on how the cards are drawn and how ruthless everyone is, each game lasts anywhere from 5-15 minutes. As the deck gets smaller, your chances of dying from a feline blast increase greatly.
Kittens? Explosions? Sign me up. This card game is easy to learn and fun to play! Just don't draw an exploding kitten.
Tiny Epic Galaxies is another great card game that takes about half an hour to play. In the game, it’s your mission to conquer the galaxies and send everyone else sailing through space with nothing. To do so, you need to hit 21 victory points the fastest by acquiring different planets and managing your resources throughout the game.
Some aspects of the game depend on luck from a dice roll, but there are certain strategic elements in this space exploration game that can put you above your opponents. You’re at the mercy of the actions presented with each dice roll, but you’re in total control of what order you carry out the actions. If you have enough energy on your turn, you can even re-roll dice to get better actions.
And even if someone else reaches 21 points before you, the game might not be over just yet. Each player starts with a secret mission that only they know. If you manage to complete your secret mission, your total point value might just win you the fight for the cosmos.
Up to five players, ages 8 and up, can play at a time, but Tiny Epic Galaxies also lets you play by yourself if there’s no one else around.
Tiny Epic Galaxies
This is the perfect card game for anyone who loves exploring space and games that require a strategy to win.
Splendor takes you back to the Renaissance era, letting you roleplay as a prestigious jeweler who sells their wares to wealthy European merchants and eventually attracts the noble class. It’s a fun strategy game for two to four players, ages 10 and up, that lasts about 30 minutes. You win by having the most prestige. And how do you get prestige, you ask?
On each turn, you strategically collect the gem tokens you need to acquire mines, trade routes, and more. Acquiring these will make it easier for you to gain even more developments, earn bonuses, and ultimately lure the noble class to you, the best Renaissance jeweler who ever lived. All of these items have a certain prestige number and whoever has the most prestige at the end of the game is the winner.
This strategy game will send you back to the renaissance era to fight for the most prestige and come out on top.
Sushi Go! is a pick-and-pass card game, meaning that you draw and pass cards strategically to make the best combinations. If you’ve ever been to a rotating sushi bar, that’s a lot like what this game feels like. Different sets of cards make their way around the table to each player, letting you take a look and grab what you want before putting them down and passing them to the next person.
The aim of the game is to earn the most points by making top-notch sushi combinations. But you have to be careful with which sushi you take because you don’t want to give away your strategy to your opponents. Because the premise of Sushi Go! is so simple, it only takes about 15 minutes for a single playthrough. You can have two to five players, ages 8 and up, playing at once.
Make the best sushi combinations to earn the most points and become the sushi master.
In Tsuro, your goal is to build and travel the path you create to victory. What’s fun is that the path is different every single time you play, making the game’s replayability value high. And there’s always so much mystery and strategy behind everyone’s moves. If your marker is involved in a new path addition, you have to move your piece no matter what. So if the new path sends you in a spiral or flying off the edge of the board, you must follow it to the end.
You can play with two to eight players, and rounds last anywhere from 15-20 minutes. As you play, you and your opponents place path tiles on the board, trying to block each other’s path or throw one another off the board, all of course while helping yourself forward at the same time. Whoever the last man standing wins the game!
Strategically lay down path tiles that block your opponents and help you reach victory!
Codenames is a fun combination of spy games and word games. Your mission: to correctly identify your team’s agents before the other team while avoiding the assassin.
There are two teams, each with one person (the spymaster) giving clues for specific words, and the rest guessing the words. The ultimate goal of the game is for your team to correctly guess all of your team’s secret agents based on the clues your designated spymaster is giving you.
If you’ve ever played Minesweeper, Codenames is a little bit like that, except there’s less guessing because it’s up to the spymaster to guide their team to victory with specific clues. And if your team incorrectly guesses the word on the assassin marker … your team will be—you guessed it—assassinated.
A round of Codenames typically takes about 15 minutes and two to eight people, ages 10 and up, can play at once. Want to make things extra competitive? Make sure you have at least four people.
With specific clue words, it's your team's goal to correctly identify all your secret agents while staying out of the assassin's way.
Jaipur is a two-player strategy game in which you and another player act as two powerful traders who are competing for riches and the opportunity to become the Maharaja’s personal trader. Each game takes only 30 minutes and anyone ages 10 and up can play.
In Jaipur, you’ll collect and trade goods at the market in exchange for special tokens. You’ll feel like a classic trader in the majestic city of Jaipur, exchanging goods like leather, silver, diamonds, and more, and on camels, no less! Make sure you trade strategically, though, because at the end of each round, whoever has earned the most riches receives a Seal of Excellence. The first player with two Seals of Excellence wins the game.
Jaipur is an awesome trading strategy game that only requires two people to play.
If you want a card game that’s always going to be a different experience, try out Fantasy Fluxx. A unique take on the original Fluxx, this fantasy version has nods to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and popular titles. In the game, there are action cards, keeper cards to help you complete goals, and creeper cards to prevent people from winning.
But the real fun comes from the rule cards. Fantasy Fluxx gives rulebreakers a good name. Rule cards shake things up and change the way the game is played so each game is a unique experience. Although the game always begins the same (draw a card, play a card), rule cards quickly change how the game is played, making the game constantly spontaneous.
Each game can take about 10-30 minutes with two to six players, ages eight and up, at a time.
Fantasy Fluxx is the card game you want if you love fantasy and you never want the rules to be the same
Forbidden Island is a strategic adventure game you can play with two to four players. Your mission is to capture four sacred treasures before water levels rise and you go under. The simple fact that this game is played against the clock makes it all the more important to have a good strategy.
It’s fun to work together with your teammate and figure out the best strategy to snag each treasure before the island is overflowing with water. But make no mistake—things get intense! You choose from six different playable characters, each with their own unique abilities. The character you choose, the cards you draw, and your overall strategy all play a part in getting off the island.
To play Forbidden Islanc, you’ll need two to four players, ages 10 and up. Each playthrough takes about half an hour.
Work with your teammate to snag all four sacred treasures and get off the island before it goes underwater.
In Poop: The Game, you and one to four other players will (metaphorically) take turns pooping in a toilet and trying not to clog it. Each game only takes about 15 minutes to complete, but man your sides will hurt from laughing by the end of it.
Everyone has different Poop cards with numbers on them, and you’ll put cards down on a single toilet card with a specific number on it as well, like 12. Whoever puts the total poop number over 12 clogs the toilet and has to clean up the mess (aka take all the cards). The winner is whoever runs out of cards first.
There are also certain action cards you can play that don’t add to what’s stacking up in the toilet. These action cards will have you perform some embarrassing poop-related action on each turn, like making a fart sound or grunting. It sounds childish because it is, but it’s incredibly fun and lighthearted. All in all, Poop: The Game does not stink.
Poop: The Game
You and other players take turns pooping, but make sure you don't clog the toilet or else!