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Board games can be an incredibly fun way to get away from a screen for a while. It’s just you, your friends, and the game. That said, there is one area where video games often beat out board games: pick up and playability.
You can fire up a video game for five minutes to kill some time, but you can’t say the same about board games. At least not most of them. Every game on this list tops out at around 15 minutes, and some of them are even shorter.
1. Zombie Dice
Most dice games are portable, but Zombie Dice takes this even further. Games last around 15 minutes and the entire game fits in a cup you can carry with you. Setup time is a matter of seconds and you can play with as few as two players. There are bigger, more expansive editions, but the plain old original still plays as good as ever.
2. Exploding Kittens
The Exploding Kittens box describes it as a game for people who are “into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats.” This party game takes almost zero setup time and supports two to five players, but you can add another deck to support up to nine players. You can even opt for the NSFW version if you’ll only be playing with adults.
If I were to attempt to describe Bananagrams in two words, they would be “portable Scrabble.” Imagine that game without the board, and instead, you build on words as you go. This means almost no setup time since you build as you go. If you want to sacrifice portability and brevity, you can opt for the double-sized version which supports as many as 16 players.
4. Sushi Go
One of a rare breed, Sushi Go is fun enough for adults to play but also easy enough for kids to grasp. This is a pick and pass game that has you preparing sushi dishes as ingredients pass you by. This small package includes 108 ingredient cards and supports two to five players.
Perhaps one of the shortest games on our list, Red7 can take as little as five minutes to play. Even longer games are rarely longer than 10 minutes. This combines color and numbers in what initially seems like a case of “high card wins” but quickly adds depth.
6. You’ve Got Crabs
Despite what the name may have you thinking, You’ve Got Crabs is actually a family-friendly game. Like Exploding Kittens, this features cards illustrated by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal. This game supports four to seven players, and while it has a slightly longer setup time than some games on this list, it’s still a breeze to set up and play.
If you’d rather keep things a little more straight-faced than some of the other games on this list, the dystopian universe of Coup may be more up your alley. This game has you vying to drive your rivals into Exile. Still, it’s meant for ages 10 and up, supports two to six players, and is playable in 15 minutes.
8. Ghost Blitz
The most action-packed of the games here, at least when it comes to physical action, Ghost Blitz will test your reaction times. You place objects in the middle of the table, then someone reveals a card and everyone makes a play at grabbing the right object, all at the same time. Play time can take as long as twenty minutes with the maximum player count of eight players, but games rarely last that long.
9. Monopoly Deal
The great thing about Monopoly Deal is how familiar it will feel to Monopoly players. Be the first to collect three full property sets, and you win the game. That said, it isn’t that easy, as action cards let players steal your money or property cards as easily as you earned them.