Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fillers - 15 minutes or less

The best filler board or card games that play in 15 minutes or less...
Just missed the cut:
Also nominated:

For comparison purposes, the top five games from 2002:

It's important to note that this was a subjective category (meaning the Apple Pickers provided their own nominees) and that it is coupled with the list I'll publish tomorrow, which is fillers that take 15-30 minutes.

You must also remember that your group may play a particular game much faster or much slower than the "average" gaming group. In other words, your mileage may vary.

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Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

I'm not sure how my groups would play Can't Stop in under 15 minutes, but it is a good game, so I'm glad it's getting the recognition.

By the same token, I'm a big fan of the original For Sale (as are most of the Apple Pickers) - and I prefer to play 3 hands (at about 10 minutes each) and total the scores. But they're right - it works just fine as a quick 10 minute filler.

Light Speed & Money - both nominees - are splendid games which don't get the recognition they deserve. And I figure Tsuro will be a much bigger deal in a year or two, as it packs most of the fun of Metro into 10 minutes... and plays with 8 players!

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Doug Adams said...

I've never played Can't Stop... in fact I'm not sure I've ever seen Can't Stop. Haven't played Diamant either. Quandary is a favorite - but 15 minutes? Where's Exxtra? I can't remember if I even nominated it. Trendy is our 15 minute closer of choice - fantastic game!

7:17 PM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

Can't kick at these choices. For Sale (the Ravensburger version, of course) is a given and it's nice to see Geschenkt (which is almost as good) there as well. The only issue with Can't Stop is whether the duration is over or under 15 minutes. My games tend to exceed that limit, but I voted for it anyway, as I suspected this was where it would be supported. So my top three games make the list.

The one big omission for me is Money, but that's always been underrated for some reason. My fifth choice was High Society, but that's honestly not a game I rate that highly.

My other nominated games were Pico 2 (best two-minute card game there is) and Button Men. I'm not surprised they didn't make it, but I'm impressed with both designs.

Of the other winning games, Diamant is pleasant and can handle a crowd, but there isn't all that much to it. I've played Hey! That's My Fish! once and saw the potential, but the fact it's an abstract turns me off a bit. I'd play it if requested. Quandary is alright, but more often than not, the result seemed a bit random. And everyone loves Loopin Louie, but I don't really think of it as a filler. So not all of these get ringing endorsements, but there's nothing there I wouldn't play either.

Of the other games, Coloretto with four or more is pretty random, but it's a nice game with three. If we played more three player fillers, I might have picked it. Trendy is always fun, but the only place I play it at is cons. Take It Easy's main niche is that it can handle as many players as you want. And Circus Flohcati, Coda, and King's Breakfast are all pleasant, but have very little meat. I've never played Light Speed, Raj, or Tsuro.

Mark, I don't think I've ever seen a group play more than one game of For Sale at a time. It just seems to work so well as a one-time game and you can't do better when you have ten minutes before the other group finishes their game.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

It does throw the whole process into some question when two games on the list (Quandry and Can't Stop) are clearly not 15 minute or less games. Both games are likely to go double that (I'd be kind surprised if Can't Stop doesn't place in both the 15 minute or less and the 15-30 minute categories, which would be a little embarassing - I voted for it in the latter category). Come on, folks, this is not a close call unless you're playing so fast you aren't even thinking. These are just not 15 minute or less games. My recollection is that Coloretto isn't either.

Coming up with decent games that play in under 15 minutes is actually pretty tough. My nominees were For Sale (this is actually a close call on time), Wheedle, Hey! That's My Fish!, Geschenkt/No Thanks!, TAMSK, and Take it Easy. I voted for Coda as well once it was pointed it out.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

A good quality for a filler is that it can accommodate whatever random scraggle of players you happen to have sitting around waiting for the next big game to happen. So Boggle, even though a round only takes 3 minutes, doesn't really qualify, since there are a lot of players who just aren't interested in spelling words for fun. Razzle fails the same test.

Zirkus Flohcati therefore turns out to be my highest-rated under-15-minute filler. I think this is the best of all the push-your-luck card games, and it accommodates 3-5 players nicely and is easy to teach and understand. Naturally I prefer the original rules and not the botched-up ones that appear in the "Circus Flohcati" edition.

Fiasko is another push-your-luck card game worth mentioning. It's good fun (and has a ludicrously complicated scoring system that is all part of the fun), but as often as not, it seems one player runs away with it and makes it less fun. My girlfriend has taken a shine to this so I've had to chance to see it in action quite a few times.

I find Trendy to be a delightful, even a wonderful little game, based on an idea so simple that a lesser designer than Reiner Knizia might not have noticed he'd even had it! But, although I am willing to play just a hand of it while waiting for the next game, Trendy only really comes into its own when you play to 100, as the rules provide, so that the canny players can play target-the-leader and the competition can get nice and juicy. This runs it a bit beyond 15-minute land.

Can't Stop, the classic push-your-luck dice game to which all other push-your-luck dice games must be compared, is also pretty sure to run over 15 minutes unless you're playing with just two players or against a computer.

Katzenjammer Blues is a terrific, hardfought game for three that runs 15 minutes.

Money! is a fine scramble for 3-5 players that makes a good gateway game and a good bread-and-butter game for the regulars.

Loopin' Louie I like a lot, but I don't think I've ever gotten it out of the box and only played it for 15 minutes. Yeah, a game lasts maybe 2-3 minutes... but how can anybody stop at just one?

Kupferkessel Co. is an extremely pleasing 15-minute game for two. The business about picking cards from columns or rows as you circumnavigate the layout is cleverly conceived and charmingly decorated.

I remember how charmed I was by For Sale when I first played it, and it's still slick as can be, but the novelty has worn off for me. Nowadays I'd much rather go for Money! or Die Safeknacker in this weight and time range.

Die Safeknacker, like For Sale, is a Stefan Dorra design, being the game on which last year's SdJ nominee Seerauber was based. The novelty of stacking chips of various players to collect rewards hasn't worn off for me, and while I'll play either version I must admit I don't see much point in the more ornate scoring system of Seerauber.

Ohio is another head-scratcher from Dr. Knizia which is good to put on the table now and then... if you can find it. Another brilliantly simple idea for a game, and this one turns out to be a beat-the-groupthink brainteaser. A game might take 10 minutes, but you will often find the losers calling for another try.

I've been totally charmed by the goofy Ab in den Pool! -- the swimming pool that fits in a box -- another true 10-minute game and one that will happily take six players. I'm looking for a copy of this, in case anybody out there is done with theirs....

The new Tsuro, which it happens I played tonight, is another good one which rather amazingly takes up to eight players without strain. I've offended the Metro fans by describing this as "taking out all the stuff I don't like about Metro and leaving the 15 minutes of fun."

I get a kick out of Galloping Pigs every now and then... though some find its scoring too unforgiving.

I've played Light Speed only once but did enjoy it.

Take It Easy takes 23 minutes. I've timed it. A fine game, and marvelous how it'll take as many players as you've got cards for, but it does belong on a different list.

Quandary, played thoughtfully and not randomly, takes about half an hour to get through the prescribed number of hands.

You might just get Hallo Dachs! done in 15 minutes, or Goldener Drache if the board doesn't get too complicated, or Verflixxt! if everybody knows what they're up to.

Other than that, if I haven't mentioned a nominee or a winner in this category, I'm not one of its big fans. But obviously there are LOTS of good games in the under-15-minute division that come in a variety of weights and moods.

Stven Carlberg

2:39 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

How could Quandary take more than 15 minutes? It's just Loco! with tiles, right?

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fairy Tale?

1:31 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

Jon, in Quandary you play three or four (I can't remember which) rounds. I've never played Loco, but perhaps you just play one round and call it a game? You might play 15-20 tiles in a round (plus choose which color payoff marker to take) and be lucky to average 30 seconds per turn, so you're approaching 10 minutes per round... plus which you can't help but take a moment to enjoy the sound when you're shuffling the tiles for the next round. So you get to 30 minutes easily.

9:43 AM  

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