Best Lunchtime Games
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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After writing over 80 reviews here on BGG, some of which have focused on the games I play with my co-teacher on lunch break, I received a suggestion to create a Geeklist of lunchtime games. Here are the criteria I used for determining good lunchtime games. These criteria might be different from what others look for, especially since many people take longer lunch breaks or play games with larger groups.


Length: 20-30 minutes (As a high school teacher, I have a very short break)
Heaviness: Light to light-medium (no brain burning during my only break!)
Player Count: 2-4 (I only play with my co-teacher, who's a close friend)
Fiddliness: The game needs to be playable while eating
Setup/Tear-down: 1-2 minutes

Feel free to suggest your own lunchtime favorites!
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1. Board Game: Arboretum [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:359]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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Arboretum is a gorgeous little card game that plays well with 2, 3, or 4 players. I considered not putting it on this list because it has a fairly large footprint and takes considerable brainpower, but it's such a good game that we often play over the lunch break.

My review: Arboretum
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2. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:288]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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Quick setup, great decisions, and streamlined gameplay. The only con is that you can end up with loads of cards in your hand, which makes it a bit hard to eat while playing. Dr. Finn makes excellent games, and this is his best.

My review: Biblios
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3. Board Game: Century: Golem Edition [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:751]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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Century could be on the long side and is also a bit harder to play while eating (since you're holding cards and exchanging cubes); however, my co-teacher and I have played so often that we can knock out a game in 20 minutes and still have time to scarf down a Hot Pocket or two.

No review yet (11/20 plays)
 
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4. Board Game: Codenames Duet [Average Rating:7.89 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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I've played the Codenames games dozens and dozens of times over lunch. They're easy to set up, quick to play, and you can play while eating with both hands. Duet is the best version, in my opinion.

My review: Codenames Duet
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5. Board Game: Concept [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:564]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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I like to play Concept fully cooperatively, and it works really well with two players. I enjoy taking turns with my co-teacher, and you can easily eat while the other player gives clues.

No review yet (5/20 plays)
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6. Board Game: Diamonsters [Average Rating:5.62 Overall Rank:10565]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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This isn't objectively a great game, but it's a ton of fun to play during lunch and requires very little brain power. You're essentially trying to out-think your opponent, which turns into a very meta experience. Hilarious.

My review: Diamonsters
 
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7. Board Game: Dragon Slayer [Average Rating:5.66 Overall Rank:7084]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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This is one of the most fun, simple dice chuckers I've played. You can eat while the other player rolls, and you can change the victory point requirement to fit in as many or as few games as you want. Zombie Dice and Martian Dice are two similarly suitable dice games.

My review: Dragon Slayer
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8. Board Game: The Game [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:902]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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Besides having to hold cards in one hand, this is a perfect cooperative lunchtime game that plays in 15-20 minutes and has seemingly infinite replay ability. I've played this and the Extreme version about 120 times, and I've played the digital version literally hundreds more.

My review: The Game: Are you Ready to Play the Game?
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9. Board Game: Hanamikoji [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:318]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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I'll be the first to admit this game can be a bit thinky for a lunchtime game, but it plays quickly and rewards multiple plays since you begin to realize interesting nuances and strategies. Can't recommend this enough for two players.

My review: Hanamikoji
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10. Board Game: Kingdomino [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:186] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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Kingdomino plays quickly and easily, and there's minimal setup. Its younger sister (Queendomino) is a slightly better game, but it's not very suitable to lunchtime play.

My review: Kingdomino
 
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11. Board Game: Lanterns: The Harvest Festival [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:566]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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I don't play with the Emperor's Gifts expansion at lunchtime, though I personally enjoy it. Two experienced players can play the base game in 20 minutes. It's gorgeous, simple, and setup only takes a minute or two.

My review: Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
 
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12. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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This is one of our favorite lunchtime games. Even though it takes more thought than most of the games, and it also usually takes our whole lunch break, Lost Cities is just an excellent game.

My review: Lost Cities
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13. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:213]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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What can I say about Love Letter that hasn't already been said? I own like 7 or 8 copies.

My review: Love Letter
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14. Board Game: Onitama [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:177]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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Onitama is one of the best abstract strategy games, especially for someone who doesn't typically like many abstract strategy games. If you're looking for elegance and quick, tactical play, look no further.

My review: Onitama
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15. Board Game: Pass the Pigs [Average Rating:5.31 Overall Rank:15199]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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Classic. Pass the Pigs never disappoints. It's one of the zaniest, most bizarre games, but everyone loves it. You can knock out 3 or 4 games in a lunch break, too.

No review yet (11/20 plays)
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16. Board Game: Red7 [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:539]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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I've become quite enamored with this little card game from the designer of One Deck Dungeon. You can play with several advanced variants, but even the base game is a ton of fun.

My review: Red7
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17. Board Game: Roll For It! [Average Rating:6.16 Overall Rank:2583]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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I highly recommend Roll for It as a quick, simple filler. It's very short and easy, yet still enjoyable.

My review: Roll for It!
 
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18. Board Game: Santorini [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:74]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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Along with Onitama, Santorini is a fabulous abstract game for two players. You can play two or three games in a break, and each one will feel different because of the variable god powers. This is a new addition to my lunchtime collection, but it's quickly becoming a favorite.

No review yet (6/20 plays)
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19. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:112]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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I've played Splendor with my co-teacher so many times that it takes 15, maybe 20 minutes these days. This is another game you can play while eating very easily because you don't have to hold any cards in your hand.

My review: Splendor
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20. Board Game: Tides of Madness [Average Rating:7.01 Overall Rank:968]
Peter Barringer
United States
Evansville
Indiana
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Yet another ultra-quick two-player game. This one relies on card drafting, which means it's a bit more difficult to play while eating. However, you have a break between rounds, and it's so quick that you can play in 15 minutes and still have time to eat. Include Tides of Time in this entry, too. It's almost as good.

My review: Tides of Madness
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21. Board Game: Mint Works [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:660]
Mark Morrise
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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This is very portable. It plays in about 10-20 minutes and works for 1 to 4 players. Great worker placement game in a mint tin.
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22. Board Game: Jaipur [Average Rating:7.53 Overall Rank:106]
john newman
United States
Lafayette
Louisiana
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Great two-player set collection game and hand management economic filler that plays in about 15 minutes.

The economic aspect of this game forces you to make some risk/reward trade offs. Do you get your goods to market to get the higher price, or do you wait to get a larger collection and receive a market receive bonus? Do you grab the herd of camels that can help you later, but may provide your opponent the goods they need now?

My wife enjoys this one which is always a plus.
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23. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:203]
john newman
United States
Lafayette
Louisiana
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Hive has become my favorite abstract game. Hive is extremely portable, easy to teach, has beautiful pieces, meaningful decisions, and it plays in about 15 minutes. The one negative is that there is a steep learning curve to play Hive well.
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24. Board Game: Battle Line [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:179]
Helmer Aslaksen
Norway
Oslo
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Great two-player game!
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25. Board Game: Mr. Jack Pocket [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:604]
Helmer Aslaksen
Norway
Oslo
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I love this two-player game.
 
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