Most of us get some kind of break in the middle of the work day and that can be a great time to bust out a game and play with co-workers. Not only is it a fun experience, but it’s a great way to get to know your colleagues and introduce them to gaming.
Of course, not every title is a good candidate. Dead of Winter is probably too long and feelings may get hurt by Intrigue. You need something that’s quick to play, easily transported, and still engaging for gamers and casual players alike. Here are three tailor made for lunch time.
Coloretto is the small card game from which Zooloretto and Aquaretto spawned. And, the dirty little secret is that Coloretto is the superior game. It has the quintessential feel and interesting decisions of its larger cousins without excess bloat and additional rules.
You have a deck of chameleon cards that come in a variety of colors. On your turn, you can either draw or take a pile. If you draw, you add that color to one of the piles (there’s one pile per player). Alternatively, you can take a pile and be done for the round. A pile can only have three cards in it and then the round begins again. At the end of the game, your cards are worth points based on how many of a color you collected. But only your best three colors score positive points. Other piles you’ve acquired are negative points.
The result is a highly engaging and interactive game. Each time you draw a card, you have to evaluate what everyone else wants. Maybe you know someone wants the green card you just drew, so you place it on a pile with colors they don’t have so they’ll get negatives. The game is all about manipulating incentives and requires you to pay a lot of attention to what your opponents are doing.
This clever card game is easily explained. If, at the end of your turn, you are not currently winning, then you are out. It starts with one rule – whoever has the highest card wins. So I play a 2. If that’s the highest, I’m winning. Then you play a 5. So you’re winning. If it comes back to me and I can’t play something higher than a 5, I’m out.
But the cards come in seven colors. And, instead of, or in addition to playing a card in front of you, you can play a card to the center and change the rule. I might have a two and a three. So you play a 5. On my turn, I change the win condition to “most cards below four.” Suddenly, I’m winning again.
Red7 is a great game to play just a few hands in isolation. Or, if you want a more in-depth experience, you can play several hands, one after the other, with ongoing scoring. Both methods have advantages and allow you to choose the experience your particular group will prefer.
What could be more peaceful than a walk through the woods? In Arboretum, players draw various tree cards numbered 1 through 8 in each type and play them to their tableau. The goal is to make lengthy paths of trees. The paths must begin and end with the same type of tree. But you also have to be able to score it.
You see, at the end of the game, only one person can score each kind of tree. And the way that is determined is by who still has the highest cards of that type in their hand. So even if you built a good Dogwood path, if I had a Dogwood card in my hand at game end and you didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to score that path.
The result is an almost obsessive need to observe what the other players have and watch constantly for the cards they select. You might be happy to have a lot of Lilacs, but if you don’t keep at least some in reserve, you may not be able to get any points at all. And with a hand of eight cards, you’ll find that it quickly fills up with cards you’re waiting to play, cards you’re holding so you can score, and cards you’re holding to prevent opponents from scoring.
Arboretum is a delightful game and, like the others on this list, it fosters high engagement. Paying attention to the other players is critical and, by doing so, it also helps to acquaint you with your coworkers generally.
Do you like playing games at lunch? Tell us about your favorites in the comments.
Image Credits: Rio Grande Games, Asmadi Games, Z-Man Games
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Charles Fenno Jacobs