If you’re looking for new games to try, but you haven’t got an hour to spend locked inside an escape room, never fear! We’ve got you covered with our recommendations for quick board games. Whether you’re looking for strategy or speed, spies or shape-stacking, all these games can be played in 15 minutes or under.
Under 5 minutes • 2+ players
A fun, fast-paced game that gets kids and adults equally engaged. The core concept is incredibly simple: find a matching picture on a card before your opponent(s) are able to find a match, and continue until one player runs out of cards – and there are lots of different game modes to keep things interesting. The time pressure makes the competition surprisingly intense – expect frantic yelling as you attempt to be the first to spot a match or remember the word your mind is blanking on. Dobble is a compact game, making it great for travel: the cards and rules fit into a small tin that can be taken on a plane or bus with ease. As only pictures are used it allows anyone, no matter their age, to play without hindrance. One round can take less than a minute with experienced players, and it gets more fun and competitive the more you play.
Under 5 minutes • 2 players
As the name suggests, this is a game of speed and competition. Roll a random 3×3 pattern of colours, and race to recreate the pattern by sliding colourful tiles into position. The first to complete the pattern is the winner. Depending on your skill level (and how competitive you are!), Rubik’s Race can be over in a matter of minutes, but with thousands of possible unique patterns to replicate, you’ll never run out of new challenges.
Under 10 minutes • 2 players
This strategy building game requires a steady hand. The objective is to build an uninterrupted bridge from one side of the board to the other, whilst blocking your opponent’s bridge. The game is made from many small wooden blocks arranged in many different ways. The game’s premise is deceptively simple, but coming up with ways to outmanoeuvre your opponent is surprisingly challenging. Bridget is a short game, but has a lot of replay value as you try out new strategies – as soon as your first game is over, you’ll probably want to try again! There are also multiple variations of the standard rules, giving you even more replay options. Like Dobble, Bridget is also a small, compact game that can be played almost anywhere – although the struggle to strategise means that tensions may run high in the pursuit of victory!
15 minutes • 4+ players
Codenames is quick-thinking, spy-themed word association game. Play in teams of spymasters and operatives. The operatives must work out which agents are on their side, based on the one-word hints given by their spymaster. It’s a race to identify the names of all your agents before the other team does – but be careful not to guess wrong and contact the assassin! The team-based gameplay (and frequent hilarity that ensues as you try to work out the hints) make it a brilliant choice for parties, and there are also non-competitive variants for 2-3 players.
15 minutes • 2-6 players
The idea of this quirky game is to make a sculpture out of ‘junk’ – brightly coloured, bizarrely shaped plastic pieces. Players draw 4 cards depicting the various pieces of junk. On your turn, offer an opponent the choice between two cards from your hand – they get the piece they choose, and you keep the other one. Your goal is to keep adding the pieces of junk to your sculpture, balancing the stack of pieces and attempting to avoid any falling off or collapsing. Great fun for players of every age, as you’re challenged to show off your inner sculptor and create a masterpiece without overreaching. Depending on your skill level and patience, this game can last up to an hour – or all come tumbling down in a minute.
Looking for more board game recommendations? Read about three of our other favourites here! If you find yourself with a spare 15 minutes in central Cambridge, all of these games and more are free to play in our board game foyer, as well as being available for purchase in our store.