When you’ve got a limited amount of time to play a game or two, such as a lunch break at work, or if you’re introducing friends to the tabletop gaming hobby, it can be useful to have some games on hand that are quick to teach and easy to learn. I’ve sorted this list into three sections, but the sections are not mutually exclusive, just a way to offer quick lists for specific situations – several of the games on this list fit into multiple sections. 

  1. Teach/Learn and Play in 30 Minutes or Less
  2. Introduction to Tabletop Games
  3. Gaming with Kids

Teach/Learn and Play in 30 Minutes or Less

Game Details
NameBetween Two Cities (2015)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.81]
BGG Rank678 [7.01]
Player Count (Recommended)1-7 (3-7)
Mechanism(s)Closed Drafting, Highest-Lowest Scoring, Neighbor Scope, Set Collection, Simultaneous Action Selection, Solo / Solitaire Game and Tile Placement
Game Details
NameCat Lady (2017)
ComplexityLight [1.42]
BGG Rank928 [7.06]
Player Count2-4
Mechanism(s)Open Drafting and Set Collection
Game Details
NameHanabi (2010)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.69]
BGG Rank456 [7.06]
Player Count2-5
Mechanism(s)Communication Limits, Cooperative Game, Hand Management, Memory and Set Collection
Game Details
NamePixel Glory (2014)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.89]
BGG Rank6959 [6.61]
Player Count2-4
Mechanism(s)Auction/Bidding, Deck, Bag, and Pool Building and Rock-Paper-Scissors
Game Details
NameSantorini (2016)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.73]
BGG Rank218 [7.41]
Player Count (Recommended)2-4 (2-3)
Mechanism(s)Grid Movement, Map Reduction, Race, Square Grid, Team-Based Game, Three Dimensional Movement and Variable Player Powers

Introduction to Tabletop Games

Game Details
NameAzul (2017)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.76]
BGG Rank65 [7.78]
Player Count2-4
Mechanism(s)End Game Bonuses, Open Drafting, Pattern Building, Tile Placement and Turn Order: Claim Action
Notes from RebeccaA great intoduction to puzzle board games.
Game Details
NameLanterns: The Harvest Festival (2015)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.56]
BGG Rank847 [6.89]
Player Count2-4
Mechanism(s)Hand Management, Pattern Building, Set Collection and Tile Placement
Notes from RebeccaA great introduction to pattern building and set collection.
Game Details
NameMegaland (2018)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.89]
BGG Rank2314 [6.66]
Player Count2-5
Mechanism(s)Push Your Luck
Notes from RebeccaA great introduction to modern press-your-luck tabletop games.
Game Details
NamePaperback (2014)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.99]
BGG Rank532 [7.16]
Player Count (Recommended)2-5 (2-4)
Mechanism(s)Cooperative Game, Deck, Bag, and Pool Building, Delayed Purchase and Open Drafting
Notes from RebeccaA great introduction to deck building.
Game Details
NameTicket to Ride (2004)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.84]
BGG Rank201 [7.41]
Player Count2-5
Mechanism(s)Connections, Contracts, End Game Bonuses, Hand Management, Network and Route Building, Open Drafting, Push Your Luck and Set Collection
Notes from RebeccaA great introduction to route building. There are several variations of Ticket to Ride, featuring many different maps. The original has a US map.

Gaming with Kids

3+ years old:

Game Details
NameDragon Rapid Fire (2016)
ComplexityLight [1.00]
BGG Rank21224 [5.35]
Player Count2-4
Mechanism(s)Dice Rolling and Roll / Spin and Move
Notes from RebeccaThis game of racing dragons is adorable and fun. It does contain some small pieces, so keep an eye on little ones who have a habit of sticking things in their mouths.
Game Details
NameFlashlights & Fireflies (2015)
ComplexityLight [1.00]
BGG Rank14004 [5.96]
Player Count2-5
Notes from RebeccaA fun game of hide and seek in the woods with firefly-powered flashlights! My 10-year-old niece still loves to play this one.
Game Details
NameRhino Hero (2011)
ComplexityLight [1.02]
BGG Rank813 [6.93]
Player Count2-5
Mechanism(s)Hand Management, Lose a Turn, Score-and-Reset Game and Stacking and Balancing
Notes from RebeccaA great (and quieter) alternative to Jenga, you'll build a tower with sturdy cards as Super Rhino attempts to climb and jump his way to the top. Just don't be the one to knock the tower over!

7+ years old:

Game Details
NameICECOOL (2016)
ComplexityLight [1.04]
BGG Rank976 [6.80]
Player Count (Recommended)2-4 (3-4)
Mechanism(s)Area Movement, Flicking and Take That
Notes from RebeccaPlayers are penguins racing around their school trying to catch fish and avoid the hall monitor. This game is fast and fun. Players flick penguins across the board and through doorways to maneuver around the school.
Game Details
NameKing of Tokyo (2011)
ComplexityLight [1.49]
BGG Rank363 [7.16]
Player Count (Recommended)2-6 (3-6)
Mechanism(s)Dice Rolling, Die Icon Resolution, King of the Hill, Open Drafting, Player Elimination, Push Your Luck and Re-rolling and Locking
Notes from RebeccaIt's a battle of gigantic proportions as monsters, robots, and aliens try to take over Tokyo City! This is a fun, dice rolling, push-your-luck game.
Game Details
NameRoll For It! (2011)
ComplexityLight [1.04]
BGG Rank3495 [6.13]
Player Count2-4
Mechanism(s)Dice Rolling
Notes from RebeccaA family-friendly dice and card game.

10+ years old:

Game Details
NameLove Letter (2012)
ComplexityLight [1.19]
BGG Rank301 [7.23]
Player Count (Recommended)2-4 (3-4)
Mechanism(s)Deduction, Hand Management, Player Elimination, Score-and-Reset Game and Take That
Notes from RebeccaA game of intrigue and deduction as players compete to get their declaration of love delivered to the Princess. There's also a Batman version!
Game Details
NameMunchkin (2001)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.81]
BGG Rank5109 [5.88]
Player Count3-6
Mechanism(s)Hand Management, Take That and Variable Player Powers
Notes from RebeccaFind a dungeon. Kick down the door. Defeat the monsters. Grab the loot. Thwart your opponents.
Game Details
NameSplendor (2014)
ComplexityMedium Light [1.79]
BGG Rank192 [7.43]
Player Count2-4
Mechanism(s)Contracts, Open Drafting, Race and Set Collection
Notes from RebeccaSplendor is loved by gamers of all ages. Players are gem merchants competing for wealth and visits from the nobles. Develop strategic thinking and planning skills with this beautiful game.

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