Lunchtime games - plenty of options
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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I am in a pretty fortunate position in that in there are more than a few gamers at my workplace. We meet on a very informal basis and play games at lunchtime when we can. We’ll get anywhere between two and five players and play anywhere between thirty minutes to the full hour depending on how busy the players are. We usually grab a table at a shared lunch area with nary a complaint or cross word from other employees.

Of course, some days no-one is about and we don’t get any games in, other times there are just two players available, but it’s probably fair to say that we usually play at least two or three times a week and over the last eighteen months we’ve managed to get all sorts of games on the table. Our little group has been so successful that some of us are now basing elements of our game buying purchases on whether or not they can be played at lunchtime.

The make-or-break criteria for these games are:

d10-1 Easy to learn
d10-2 Can be played to conclusion in the allocated period
d10-3 Fun and engaging
d10-4 Not too much downtime.

This list will show the games we have played, in roughly the order they were tried, and how they went as lunchtime games and may give the reader a bit of inspiration for trying out some of these at lunch or whenever time is short.
I’ll add more games and my observations about them to this list as we play them.
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1. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:293]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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I was already something of a gamer and when one of the guys I worked with expressed an interest in gaming I thought about the gateway games I had in my collections and Lost Cities was a pretty easy choice. Fortunately, despite getting the rules wrong (I bought this from a friend who taught it to me and then decided he hated it) we both enjoyed the game and enjoyed it even more playing with the correct rules.

Two experienced player can usually get two or three games completed over the lunch break.
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2. Board Game: Quoridor [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1028]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Well, my opponent is nothing if not pro-active. He had a trawl of BGG and found something that suited him. He is a pretty big fan of abstracts so Quoridor was a good choice for him and one that has seen a lot of use. This game plays really cleanly and quickly we can usually get in four or five plays over a half hour period which makes it a perfect lunchtime game. The fact that this game is all about stuffing someone else around makes it a lot of fun. This game has a lot of replayability and works really well with two; we haven’t tried it with more.
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3. Board Game: Pylos [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:2559]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Following up on the success of Quoridor my opponent picked up a copy of Pylos. This played quite well also but, for whatever reason, just isn’t as popular as Quoridor. We both like it and can appreciate the clever design, but it hasn’t seen light of day for a while now.
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4. Board Game: Pentago [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:1780]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Another fun little abstract which plays quite well. We seem to be more than okay for games like this so Pentago hasn’t seen too much play over lunchtime. Nothing against the game, it’s just that this particular itch seems to be pretty well scratched.
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5. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:185]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Time to try another card game and, like Lost Cities, Battle Line is another two player ‘safe bet’. Despite being almost the ultimate in themelessness (you don’t even know whether you're Persian or Macedonian until a leader card is played) - note I have been described by other gamers as a ‘theme guy’ - the mechanics behind the game are pretty solid and the Tactics cards really do add so much to the gameplay. This game sees a fair bit of use and is a go-to game when there are just two attendees. We can usually finish a couple of games over lunch.
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6. Board Game: Mr. Jack Pocket [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:633]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Mr. Jack Pocket has provided bit of a change of pace from abstracts and card games. This rather fun little deduction game is a fantastic filler and ideally suited for lunchtime play when there are only two players available. In our collective experience it is harder to win as Jack but this does not detract from the enjoyment gained from playing this game. The playing time usually allows at least two games to be played over the lunch break so each player can have a turn at being Mr Jack or the detectives. Also, it’s a pretty small package so no dramas about finding somewhere to store it back at the desk.
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7. Board Game: DVONN [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:367] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Well, by this stage my regular opponent was getting further and further into abstracts. So much so that he brought this along for us to try out one day. I was initially dubious ('theme guy', remember?) but was pleasantly surprised by how engaging this game could be.

Another winner that allows one or two plays over lunch, provided you’ve got enough space to set up the board and pieces (we do).
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8. Board Game: Coloretto [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:494]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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As we were playing one of the two player games we have another chap happened to walk by and ask what we were doing and mention he was something of a Summoner Wars fan and wouldn’t mind trying out some of the games he’d seen us playing. We invited him back the next day and introduced him to Coloretto. I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like Coloretto - even my non-gaming game-hating sister likes Coloretto so I thought this would be a fairly safe bet.

It was.

As he got across this game fairly quickly I took the opportunity to try out the expansions I’d purchased from the BGG store. Coloretto: The Extra Cards is great and adds a neat twist to each game (check out my review here) while we are less than enthused by Coloretto: The Limit Cards. No doubt in the fullness of time we’ll give them another try.

As things stand, Coloretto is a very safe bet for 3-5 player lunchtime gaming.
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9. Board Game: Entrapment [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:4880]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Having played a few abstracts, my opponent introduced me to Entrapment (which he has reviewed here). This is probably the best abstract I have yet played. It is very well thought out and really pushes each player to make good decisions and think ahead or suffer the consequences.

Despite being a bit of a brain burner we can usually get a couple of games in over lunchtime.

One of the real ‘keepers’ in our lunchtime gaming collection.
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10. Board Game: Zombicide [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:353] [Average Rating:7.24 Unranked]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Alas, no we haven’t played this at lunch (yet), but when collecting my part of a six pack pledge for the first season of zombicide I discovered that the chap who ran the Australian Capital Territory based pledge also worked a couple of floors below me. I mentioned that we play games at lunch and then he and one of his mates also in the same building came along to join our little group. Now we could be getting up to five players showing up it increased the scope for multi-player games.

I should also add that this is an excellent game and I had no hesitation in backing Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak and Zombicide: Toxic City Mall on KickStarter.
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11. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:397]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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No Thanks! fits the bill as a good five player game that is easy to learn and offers a few interesting choices. This got a lot of play as more and more we found that we were gaming with more than two at lunch and wanted to start with a pretty easy game to learn.
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12. Board Game: König von Siam [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:1046]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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That said, sometimes we’re back to two and to ratchet up the intensity level my original opponent picked up this little brain burner.

Gee, this is a good game. It plays very well and every decision (including the decision to do nothing) is pretty tough. I like this game a lot and would like to play it again soon. It works well for lunch if both players have read the rules beforehand, so much so that usually we can manage to fit two games in.
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13. Board Game: Parade [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:704]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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We have found that Parade plays equally well with two or more players. In fact, I think our first dozen or so plays were with two; once we got more attendees we found that P was just as good with more (but had to note the slight differences to the scoring system when playing with more than two). The game itself is a ball and involves making decisions based on considerations of harm minimisation, not just grabbing as many points as you can.

This plays nicely over a lunchtime and we usually get two or three session completed.
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14. Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:590]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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The great thing about gaming is the variety on offer. We have played a heap of different abstracts and cards games so it seemed a natural extension of our lunchtime gaming experience to try a dice game.

Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age fitted the bill perfectly, easy to learn, not too much downtime and reasonable playing time all made it a good option for lunchtime gaming.

Luck obviously plays a part here, but good decision making will make or break your civilization. That and the fact that if it all goes too wrong for you the game will be over soon and you can try again makes this a pretty good option at lunch.
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15. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:1158]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Another dice game that goes over a treat. This has proven to be more popular than Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age in terms of getting played. Not sure why, it just appeals more to our group and I should say that I am a something of a fan.

This game was so popular with just about everyone who attended that for a while the vast majority of our plays were all Ra: The Dice Game. This game really meets all the lunchtime gaming criteria.

It hasn’t seen much play lately. That should be rectified.
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16. Board Game: Cities [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:2344]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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I picked this up for cheap at Cancon (the southern hemisphere’s largest gaming convention) thinking that it might be a good game for the lunchtime group. It was small, can take two to four players and plays in a reasonably short period.

Problem is, it’s not really a game. There is zero player interaction in this game other than comparing scores at the end. This, to our way of thinking, makes it more a puzzle than a game.

This ‘game’ was not well received and is unlikely to receive further play. The first real ‘dud’ that we have encountered so far.
 
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17. Board Game: Guillotine [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1020]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Lay out the cards and chop, chop, chop. A great game for lunchtime amusement. More players adds to the fun and unpredictability of it all.

A good choice for light entertainment over the mid day meal.
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18. Board Game: Metropolys [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:663]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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The excellent production values and gameplay that the secret objectives generate make this game a great auction game.

It is easy to learn and plays very well. It also scales well, but tends to shine with three or four players rather than just two.

This is a regular on the lunchtime play circuit and likely to retain its popularity for some time to come.
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19. Board Game: Triumvirate [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2198]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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This deceptively deep two player game offers a lot of value in a comparatively little package and is an excellent option for lunchtime gaming when there are only two players available.

We haven’t played this for a while now, but I would not knock back a game of Triumvirate.

Well worth considering for the very entertaining card play and a great option for playing during lunch.
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20. Board Game: Cartagena [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:876]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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One that we won’t see again for a while as the owner is currently overseas for a year or three. Before he left it was a go-to game for three or four players and one that despite my consistently poor form at this game I quite enjoy.

Gosh, I am truly lousy at this game. No matter how I play I always seem to end up coming stone motherless last. That aside, it's very good fun as a lunchtime game.
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21. Board Game: TZAAR [Average Rating:7.68 Overall Rank:351] [Average Rating:7.68 Unranked]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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After a fair few plays DVONN has been rotated back to the home games closet, but my opponent seems to be something of a fan of the Project Gipf series and he has brought in TZAAR more than a few times. Like its predecessor, it is a surprisingly entertaining abstract that plays very cleanly and offers a series of interesting tactical choices.

This hits the table every now and then and I can see that it will be a favourite when there are only two players for some time to come.
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22. Board Game: Terra [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:8145]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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This game has been in my collection for a while but hadn’t hit the table for at least a couple of years. As it’s small, reasonably quick and easy to pick up I thought it might suit our group. We have gotten a fair few plays already, sometimes managing up to three games over a lunchtime.

The game plays very well and it’s quite interesting to see how increased play has affected our hoarding strategies.

More often than not the earth ends up dying but occasionally we do manage to co-operate enough to save the planet.

Good fun.
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23. Board Game: Balloon Cup [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:948]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Another game that is overseas for the next little while. Balloon Cup represented something of a change of pace from our usual two player games. It still plays well and is not a bad option for two player gaming but I don’t find myself pining for it.

That said, every now and then it’s not a bad option and certainly suits most of the criteria for gaming at lunch.
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24. Board Game: Condottiere [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:815]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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The variable playing time on this one can make it a bit of a risk to play over lunch - especially if one of the players has a commitment straight afterwards. That aside, it is a very interesting little game and quite a reasonable option for breaking out over lunch.

Some editions have a stupidly big box but the one with a small box and board is not too bulky for storage at work.
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25. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:439]
Murray Fish
Australia
Canberra
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They explained everything in detail and at great length. After they finished I sat, despondent, contemplating a bleak and empty future. "I’m glad you’re depressed" said one. "It means you’ve understood the situation.”
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Right, we’ve been doing this for a while now. The folk in the lunch room are all pretty used to seeing us hunched over cards or dice or something like that so absolutely no shame in laying out an actual game board and a grillion pastel camels.

Through the Desert plays quite well over lunch and is also rather fun. The components really add to the gaming experience as does the scoring system.

Well worth considering if you have sufficient table space and are sufficiently self-confident to be seen playing with little pastel plastic camels.
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