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Five Games That Take 20 Minutes Or Less to Play on International Tabletop Day
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Five Games That Take 20 Minutes Or Less to Play on International Tabletop Day

We’re counting down the days until International Tabletop Day 2018, happening this year on April 28th! As we get closer to the big day, we’ll be looking at the gamut of tabletop gaming, from the stories of the games we play to remarkable people who love them. Be sure to join in on the fun on April 28th on our official ITTD Twitch Stream, hosted by Ivan van Norman and donate to charity:water, the worthy cause we’re supporting this year.

While most of us would love to spend all of International Tabletop Day at the tabletop, that’s not possible for everyone. Work, family, and other obligations can limit our gaming time. Thankfully, modern board games come in all shapes, sizes, and game lengths. You no longer need an hour or more for a satisfying gaming experience.

Here are five games that take no longer than 20 minutes to play. Even if your time is limited on ITTD, you can enjoy one or all of these during the big day!

Star Realms

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Quick to set up and play, Star Realms is the choice for gamers who want a fun dose of deck-building. You face off against your opponent in a battle for space supremacy as you build your armies using four different factions.

Like other deck builders you begin with a set of basic cards (spaceships in Star Realms) with either a money or combat value. Each turn you’ll use money to buy more powerful ships, bases, and outposts from the center row. Or you’ll use combat to inflict damage on your opponent.

With only 50 health points each, games are a race to put together that killer combo-producing deck. Star Realms shines when you can the factions to work together; for example, playing multiple Trade Federation cards will earn you extra income while playing Blob cards together is the best way to do a lot of damage.

Mint Works

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Bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially in the world of board games. Case in point: Mint Works, a worker placement game conveniently stored in an Altoids-sized tin. Up to four players can play this tiny gem of game in which the goal is to be the first to earn seven victory points.

Players earn points by constructing buildings in their neighborhoods. You’ll do this by placing your workers (they’re the mint-sized wooden tokens) on various action cards. Buildings have special abilities and bonuses so you’ll be able to build others more quickly, but so will your opponents.

With a playing time of only 15 minutes, Mint Works will satisfy your worker-placement craving when you don’t have enough time to play Viticulture or Champions of Midgard.

Majesty: For the Realm

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From Splendor designer Marc Andre comes this quick-playing game set in the Middle Ages. Players try to earn the most gold for their kingdom by adding 12 characters over 12 short rounds of play.

Each turn you’ll recruit a character to your kingdom and they’ll earn you gold and, when added to other characters, earn more money and possibly a special ability. You can add millers or brewers to your kingdom and they’ll earn money for yourself and possibly your opponents. You can add soldiers or guards who will attack others or defend your kingdom.

Fans of Splendor and Century: Spice Road will recognize some familiar mechanisms in Majesty: For the Realm, from the set collection of Splendor to the dropping cubes/meeples to get to potentially better cards from Century: Spice Road.

Majesty: For the Realm is the next step from the games it draws its inspiration from and only takes half the time to complete a game, making it a terrific choice for anyone with limited gaming time.

Red7

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Composed of a deck of 49 cards numbered 1-7, each in one of seven colors, and one rule (have the highest card at the end of your turn), Red7 seems like an easy game. However, the game quickly becomes a tactical match of evolving rules and strategies.

Each card in the deck has multiple uses (number, color, and rule) so you’ll have an intriguing decision every turn: do you play the number or color to meet the current rule or do you play the rule to change the game?

If you can’t play a card on your turn, then you’re out. The last player standing wins. It’s similar to Fluxx, but without the randomness or the interminable game time.

With games lasting no longer than 10 minutes, a set of advanced rules, and an optional action rule on odd-numbered cards, Red7 is a game that’s easily played multiple times in a short period of time.

NMBR 9

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For the puzzle-lovers among us, NMBR 9 is an excellent choice for a quick game. Using the uniquely shaped number tiles (0-9), each player builds their own tableau based on a random number card drawn for that turn.

Points are scored as you build on top of previous levels. You can’t just build anywhere, though; you must be able to build on top of other numbers and without any empty space beneath the number. The higher you build, the bigger the multiplier of your score.

Numbers on the “ground” level score nothing. On the second level, numbers are worth their face value. On the third level, each number is doubled, on the fourth level, numbers are tripled, and so forth. Highest point total wins the game and most players are ready for an immediate rematch.

Only if time permits, of course.

What are your favorite games that 20 minutes to play? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to join us on April 28th on Twitch for our International Tabletop Day stream hosted by Ivan van Norman, and help us support charity:water to raise money for a project to get water to a community of people who currently lack access to clean water. 

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Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola

Ruel Gaviola is a writer based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He reviews games and reports news for iSlaytheDragon, podcasts with The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.

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