Ten of the Best: Games You Can Play in 15 Minutes

05 December 2020
Perfect for a lunch break or two

We’ve all been there, running around with a pocket watch like the white rabbit, keeping an eye on the fifteen minutes to spare before time runs out, and watching it tick away instead of doing anything. Well, put down the pocket watch, and fill that time with these quick games instead


1. Coup

Gaze at your friends suspiciously as they claim to have cards they may or may not. Assassinate other players in the hope they can’t stop you – and judge if they’re bluffing when they try, as they simultaneously try to work out if you can even attempt it. You’re right in the middle of the drama of the courts, aiming to be the last person standing by double guessing your fellow players and maintaining your poker face to win. 

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2. Exploding Kittens

One of the highest funded games on Kickstarter (pre-Frosthaven of course), you’ll lay your cards quickly in order to keep your kitten from exploding. Throw down a NOPE card, diffuse your bomb with a Diffuse: Laser Pointer Card, or otherwise get enslaved by party squirrels, summon the mantis shrimp, or unleash the catterwocky. If it sounds mental, that’s because it is, but perfect for a humorous fast game (or two). 

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3. Nine Tiles Panic 

Oink has made a name for themselves with quick and fun little games, and Nine Tiles Panic is no exception. You’ll have to think fast and against the clock, as hamburger-loving aliens are invading the town, and you’ll need to build as fast as you can to create your town, satisfying as many conditions as you can. This one will get you thinking quickly, and if you’re fast, you can even get a few games in. 

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4. Escape: The Curse of the Temple

This is a fast and action-packed game, where you’ll feel like our favourite rolling ball escaping archaeologist. You’ll need to escape the temple with your teammates, unlocking new areas and discovering gems to find that final door and get to safety, building it as you go. The twist is that everyone plays at the same time and against the clock, with a soundtrack included to keep you to time. What may sound relaxing on paper, becomes sheer panic condensed into ten minutes.

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5. Love Letter 

Don’t be fooled by the fanciful title (or the rocks that I got), as sure, the aim of the game is to get your letter to the princess in order to win her heart, but you’ll be fighting just as much to savagely knock out the other suitors as being concerned with the hand of the fair maiden. It’s a compact, simple, but great fast game, and has quickly become a classic. There’s now even a free downloadable expansion available to bring its story into the modern era. 

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6. Corsairs of Valeria

You may need to know how to play before you embark on this journey in order to play within 15 minutes, but grab your silver and race to claim your treasure with a multitude of dice that will dictate your position in the race. Problem is, there’s a shortage of resources, there are inbound cannons from other players, and you could easily be cursed and lose all of your silver. Play your dice carefully in this one, or it’s a pirate’s life for you!

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7. Lovelace and Babbage

Here is where maths meets time pressure, and there’s no asking Carol for better numbers. You’re looking to build a computer, using a mixture of historical figures of science and engineering. Using the available amounts on the board, you’ll race to sequence numbers that will let you access help from more characters as time goes on, collect them as you go to gain the advantage. You’ll need to be quicker than your opponent to get to the good stuff, meaning the races will only get faster. Its a history, maths and physics lesson in one, but somehow still manages to be fun. Who knew it could be?

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8. Tuki

A dexterity game based on the Innuit custom of marking notable areas with stone – only instead of that, you’ll be trying to recreate seemingly physics defying arrangements from cards with Tetris style blocks. First to lose five times makes the other player the winner, but you’ll be penalised for your construction inevitably falling over. The race and simplicity makes this a fast and frustrating little game, but one that can be played in minutes.


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9. Ticket to Ride: London

There’s a reason there’s a hundred(ish) expansions to Ticket To Ride, and the reason is that it’s just a fun game. Where the original Ticket To Ride requires you to book out an afternoon three months in advance to make sure you’ve got the time, this should only be about fifteen minutes to play, with a much more condensed board. Sure, it misses out the London Underground, but grab your tea, fish and chips, a third of Abbey Road, and join a queue to play it, and you’ll feel all the London you need to be able to settle down for some fun. 

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10. Patchwork Express

The smaller, faster version of Patchwork, in which you’ll be collecting buttons and creating quilts. There’s something oddly peaceful about it, despite how quickly the game seems to end. The game asks you to fill the patches and try to avoid any gaps in order to be victorious. We’ve got no time for family heirlooms here. So long as you don’t give in to the frustration when that perfect piece becomes out of reach, it’ll remain a relaxing one to pull out for a quick game.


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This article originally appeared in issue 44 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

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