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I play these games when I have only a little bit of free time. All of these games play in under an hour. While these games are quick, they are not necessarily "light". Some of these games pack quite a punch given their short play time. Also, most of these games have a simple enough set of rules that they are easy to teach to new players, gamers or not. The two exceptions are Innovation, which can be a bit overwhelming during the first few plays, and Town Center, which while takes at least one play to wrap one's head around and then requires the ability to think in 3 dimensions.
1. Love Letter Although I feel like I'm going along with the crowd, I truly love this game. It has only 16 cards and a play time of 5 - 10 minutes and it's a whole lot of fun. It also has a bit of depth, more than you'd expect for such a short play time. While I haven't done it yet, the designer recommends using it to determine starting player in a normal game and I think it's an excellent idea. I expect many more plays of this in the years to come. (Plays: 13, BGG Weight: 1.2)
2. Town Center While the ruleset is a little difficult to wrap your head around, after one full game, the concepts are easy to grasp. The game is an interesting mix of auctions and 3-dimensional thinking and building. While I've played this mostly solo, I really enjoyed my multi-player games of it. (Plays: 10, BGG Weight: 2.44)
3. Innovation With this and my #2 rated game, I am perhaps placing medium-light games in the light category. Innovation is a second game that seems almost Fluxx-like on the surface but rewards skilled play with repeated plays. I have played 11 times total and I'm still wrapping my head around it. (Plays: 4, BGG Weight: 2.59)
4. Hanabi I have grown very turned off by coop games (unless played solo) due to the "one player to rule them all" issue. Hanabi gets around this problem by limiting conversation and by ensuring that no one player has full knowledge. It is an innovative system that I really enjoy. This is one of the few games that I always bring and despite the fact that it doesn't get played enough, I love it whenever it does. (Plays: 4, BGG Weight: 1.77)
5. Paris Connection Like Hanabi, this game punches much harder than its BGG Weight would suggest. Although a short 30 - 45 minute game, every move is critical. I stink at this game (and don't think I've ever finished in the first 2 positions) but I love it. Advancing your own agenda while convincing others to help you is critical. The only drawback to the game is its box size, since I generally prefer to bring small games as fillers. (Plays: 2, BGG Weight: 1.87)
6. Triumvirate While I am not generally a fan of trick taking games, I really enjoy Triumvirate. The "trick" of deciding what to play, what to hold, and what to seed into end game points makes this game non-obvious. Since it's only a 2-player game, I think it will ultimately become samey with the same 2 players; however, it is still a fun outguessing game. (Plays: 2, Weight: 1.91)
7. Kingdom Builder While there is certainly luck connected to what cards you draw, I believe that like Dominion, the game is played before a player's first move. Players must begin with a strategy of what favors(?) they want and what goals they are focusing on and then attempt to gain those favors with their first 2 or 3 turns. By the time turn 4 begins, players may feel hemmed in by their previous choices but by that point they should be well on their way to achieving their strategy. I hope to continue to play this many more times in years to come (including with my kids). (Plays: 6, BGG Weight: 2.1)
8. R Like Love Letter, the designer creates an interesting and engaging game with only 16 cards. I am a great fan of the designer and will be paying attention to his future games. R is a 2 palyer guessing game where the winner is the one who can out-think their opponent. (Plays: 1, BGG Weight: 1.29)
9. 2 de Mayo While I am generally not a fan of area control games, this 2 player game is quick enough that it is fun. The draw of cards can make one player stronger or weaker but as players learn their cards, skilled play can overcome a lot of the vagaries of card draws. In addition, since people complain that both the French and Spanish are overpowered, it is likely that the game is balanced (though that hasn't been my experience so far). (Plays: 3, BGG Weight: 2.24)
10. Flowerfall Yes, there is no deep strategy to this game and often players will feel the air has more to say with who wins then anything else. However, it supports up to 7 players and produces a whole lot of laughs in a short period of time. I consistently bring this game to my game days and hope to get many more plays in 2013. (Plays: 4, BGG Weight: 1.11)