The 10 Best Short Board Games

Whether you’re going to a game night with friends or playing at home, the best short board games can help you get your game fix quickly — because you don’t always have the time for hours of gameplay (I’m looking at you, Monopoly).

Board games are truly something that anyone can enjoy, but with so many options out there, it can be difficult to track down the best, most engaging ones. To help create this list of the absolute best short games, I sorted through popular favorites and considered the following criteria:

  • Length: All of these board games are quick to set up and can be played in 30 minutes or less.
  • Fun factor: Each game has at least a 4.6-star rating on Amazon, and reviewers say that they’re super enjoyable to play.
  • Game type: There are many types of games on the market, from party games to educational ones and everything in between. I made sure to include a variety on this list to make it easy to find the games that best suits you and your group.
  • Age: Need a game to play with other adults? Looking to enjoy a classic with your little ones? This list has picks for game lovers of all ages.

Get your game on with the 10 best short board games.

1. A Quick Strategy Board Game For The Whole Family

If you're seeking a strategy game that literally the entire family can enjoy, Blokus is your answer. The premise of this pick is actually really basic, yet can result in some highly competitive game play: Players take turns placing their 21 pieces on the board. Each piece must touch another of the same color, but only at the corners. Fit as many of your pieces on the board as possible (while strategically blocking others, too). The game ends when no more pieces can be placed down. If you've got the lowest number of pieces remaining, congratulations! You win.

With a standout 4.8-star rating on Amazon, it’s safe to say that those who have played this game truly love it. "Easy to learn, hard to master has never been true than it is with Blockus. [...] it's a great ['light'] game to play, if you're not looking to a game where you have to debate the rules with your friends. The pieces are also great quality. So get Blockus, there's nothing not to love in it's simple elegancy," one fan of the game wrote.

Game time: 30 minutes

Ages: 7+

Number of players: 2 to 4

2. A Cult-Favorite Short Party Game

Exploding Kittens has a major fan following, and for good reason — it’s simple to learn and play, making it the perfect pick for when you want to just kick back and enjoy. The game is described as a highly strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian roulette. Basically if you draw an exploding kitten, you lose. If you don't explode, you win.

With more than 8 million copies sold and 10,800 and counting reviews on Amazon (and a 4.6-star rating overall), there’s no doubt that this short board game is a good one. This game even has kitty-lovers cackling.

"My wife and I sat down to enjoy our first game of Exploding Kittens and had a ball. She didn't think she was going to enjoy this game very much, based on the name [...] Twenty minutes later, and she was laughing her kitten-loving head off," one enthusiastic reviewer wrote.

There’s also a version for up to 10 players if you have an extra-large group.

Game time: 15 minutes

Ages: 7+

Number of players: 2 to 5

3. An Addictive Team Game

Codenames is quick game that is highly addictive, so I can assure you that you will end up playing more than once. Described as a social word game, this pick is played in teams — one person gives out one-word clues to help their fellow players guess the words that belong to the team, all while avoiding those of the opposing team (and everyone tries to stay away from the dreaded assassin). It’s a personal favorite of mine, and of Amazon reviewers, too — they give this pick a high 4.8-star rating.

One fan had this to say: "This is a great party game. [...] Discussions about which words to choose can be side-splittingly funny, so it's hard to keep a poker face as a team lead. The number of clue and word cards are generous so you can play this over and over. [...] Game play is fast paced, you can easily get through a round in 15 minutes if you used the enclosed timer to keep guesses moving. This game was an instant hit for our family."

Game time: 15 minutes

Ages: 14+

Number of players: 2 teams of 2+ players

4. A Classic Board Game Everyone Loves

Sorry! is just one of those classic board games that is a crowd-pleaser. It’s easy to set up and play, so you can sneak in a quick game whenever you want. Oh, and in case you have never played this nostalgic game, the goal is to move your four pawns from your “start” to your “home.” Moves are determined by the cards that you draw. But don’t let the simplicity fool you; this game can get highly competitive as you can stop your opponents, all while issuing an apologetic "Sorry!"

Reviewers on Amazon give this pick a 4.8-star rating, saying that this is a high-quality version of the classic game. "Simple game but still fun to play even as an adult. Easy to have a few people sitting around the table - playing and chatting. [...] If you want something to do with your grandparents or with grandkids or just a simple family game - this has always been a classic! I love that this is a remake of the original classic in its design," one reviewer wrote.

Game time: 20 to 30 minutes

Ages: 6+

Number of players: 2 to 4

5. A Strategy Game With Beautifully Illustrated Cards

Splendor is as a game in which players vie for control of gem mines, trade routes, and storefronts to master the gem trade and attract the attention of nobles. And while that description may sound a tad overwhelming, the game is actually really easy to learn and even easier to enjoy. What’s best is how gorgeous the game is to look at; the cards are beautifully illustrated, which brings players back time and time again. It's got a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, too.

“Fantastic game! This game is very accessible and easy to learn. [...] The level of thought that comes into this game is often evidenced by near silence in the room; players are so engaged in their efforts that they forget to talk. Our groups, who are typically quite chatty, will often get laughs at how intense each person is,” one reviewer explained.

Game time: 30 minutes

Ages: 10+

Number of players: 2 to 4

6. A Strategic Maze Game For Kids 7 & Up

If you’re looking for a board game to keep a child’s attention, then Labyrinth is it. It’s a strategic game with a simple, yet addictive concept: Players must find all of their objects and characters while moving carefully through the constantly changing maze. Be the first to make it back to the starting square to win. The game even includes characters like dragons and princesses for a little extra fun.

Reviewers give this pick a near-perfect star rating on Amazon, and for good reason — it’s a game that both adults and children will love.

“The overwhelming number of 5 star reviews isn't a lie! We opened up this game less than 24 hours ago and my kids have played it at least 10 times now, with my husband and I participating a few times as well. It has so much re-playability since it's really never the same game each time you play, and requires the addictive sort of problem solving style critical thinking that rewards both kids and adults a sense of pride in their cognitive skills,” one reviewer wrote.

Game time: 20 to 30 minutes

Ages: 7+

Number of players: 2 to 4

7. A Classic Board Game For Kids 3 & Up

Introduce your little one to the concept of a board game with this nostalgic pick. Candy Land is the ideal game for toddlers 3 and up since absolutely no reading is required. To play, move your gingerbread man around the path in a race to the castle. The game board is brightly colored with some seriously cute (and delicious) surprises along the way. Plus, it only takes about 15 minutes to play.

Amazon reviewers are pleased that they chose this game for their child. “There's a reason this game has been around for decades. [...] My 4-year-old and I have played this game a thousand times. It's a family game night win when you're playing with little ones who can't yet read! This version is also quite sturdy and will hold up to some toddler/preschooler abuse,” one reviewer wrote.

Game time: 15 minutes

Ages: 3+

Number of players: 2 to 4

8. A Monopoly Game That Doesn’t Take Hours To Play

If you love Monopoly, but don’t have enough time to play, Monopoly Deal is your best bet. It’s essentially a short card-based version of the classic game that combines strategy with a bit of luck. Be the first to collect three full property sets of different colors, and you’ll be the champ.

With more than 3,200 reviews on Amazon and a 4.8-star rating overall, it’s clear that reviewers adore this shortened pick probably as much as the original.

“A friend brought Monopoly Deal over for a couple's game and we had such a great time, I immediately ordered it. I love Monopoly, but I rarely have time to play an epic board game. This card game version had all the fun of the regular game and took waaaay less time,” one reviewer wrote.

Game time: 15 minutes

Ages: 8+

Number of players: 2 to 5

9. A Fun Educational Board Game For Kids

Educate your kids about the United States while also having loads of fun? Yes, please. The Scrambled States of America Game teaches the names, capitals, nicknames, shapes, and positions of the states with visual teasers, language riddles, and geography challenges. And with a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, it’s obvious that reviewers back this pick up.

One had this to say: “My kids, my husband, and I all love this game! It's funny and clever, and not hard to learn, and one that we all enthusiastically agree to play when someone suggests it during one of our regular family game nights. [...] Excellent game -- can't recommend it highly enough.”

Game time: 20 minutes

Ages: 8+

Number of players: 2 to 4

10. A Fast-Paced Indie Game

Coup is a game that will certainly keep you on your toes, as it requires the perfect combination of bluffing and strategy. The goal of the game is to be the last person remaining. To play, draw two cards. Use the actions of the characters on your cards or lie and say that you have other characters instead (and use those actions). The catch? If you get called out on a lie by another player, you lose a card. However, if you are actually being truthful, the person challenging loses a card. The game is great fun, I can speak from personal opinion here. But don’t just take my word for it. Coup has a stellar 4.7-star rating on Amazon.

“Coup is a crowd-pleaser, there's no denying. This quick, little card game handles 2 to 6 players and can be played in fifteen minutes or less, making it a great addition to game nights. [...] It's a great way to practice your poker face, because you'll need a good one to win,” one reviewer wrote.

Game time: 15 minutes

Ages: 10+

Number of players: 2 to 6

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