Super Fun With Friends in Under Half an Hour (Probably)
As much fun as board games are, they do sometimes go on for longer than desired. The first few turns of a new game at a party are filled with good humour and laughter, but when the fourth hour rolls along, the mood tends to die down a little. With everyone wanting to go either home, to bed or to a trendy bar for the rest of the night. A board game can seem never-ending when you want to head home to take the dog out or relieve the babysitter, and waiting for it to end can suck out all the fun you were originally having.
Of course, an epic board game session can be, well, epic, in the right company and at the right time. But at a social gathering, when someone suggests bringing out a board game, it might be better to suggest one of these titles. You’ll have some fun, play the game, then get to bed at a reasonable hour.
What I love about Love Letter is that is name and artwork (at least in the original version) seem to present it as some long, epic, twisted traditional game, with specific rules that seemingly come out of nowhere! (The popular medieval artwork version also makes it look like some long fantasy saga.) But really, it’s just a quick and fun card game.
Each player in this game is a suitor for the Princess, the aim being to woe her and eliminate your opponents. (That’s the original version. There are a couple of spin-offs, such as a Batman version and one inspired by The Hobbit movie’s, if you’d prefer. As the rules vary a little in each spin-off, I’ll try and keep the explanation vague.) Love Letter consists of a deck of sixteen character cards, with eight characters to choose from. At the start of the round, every player draws one card. On their turn, each player then draws a new card and plays a card. Each character has an action written on them which comes into effect when played. For example, in the medieval version, playing The Guard allows you to ask another player if they have a particular card. If they have that card they are out of the round.
After playing the card you must leave it face-up, so other players can try to figure out which cards are left. At the beginning of the game, one card is immediately removed from play (without the players learning what it is.) This is to make following the playing cards more difficult. After a player is out of the round, they must place their cards on the table, exposing them to the other players.
You keep playing until one player has four tokens “of affection.” They have then won the heart of the Princess and the game.
At first glance, it may seem that Love Letter is time-consuming. But each round can last less than five minutes- which could lead to a winner being declared after twenty!
I fell in love with Splendor after playing it in a boardgame pub with some friends. What’s truly beautiful about the game, is that it surpasses all languages. None of the game pieces has any text on them, so once you know the rules, you can play it with any friends in whatever language you like!
Splendor is a game based on trading and economy. The aim is to purchase the most “gems” and becoming richer and more powerful than the other players. After the game is set up there should be three separate piles of “development” cards. (These are in blue, yellow and green. Or three, two and one. These colours indicate difficulty or value, aka the blue/three cards, are more expensive and harder to acquire but are worth more.) Four cards should be displayed next to each pile which are available for purchase. There are also six different types of gems (tokens) used in play.
On your turn, you can choose to either take three gem tokens of different colours, two gem tokens of the same colour or use your gems to purchase one of the development cards. Each player can only have ten gems at any time. But there is no limit to the number of development cards you can buy. If you have your eye on a development card that you can’t quite afford, you can also use your turn to reserve it. This means that no other player can buy it, but its effects don’t come into play until you earn the gems to buy it yourself. When you reserve a card you also get a “gold” token- which can be used to represent any gem.
You win the game by gathering “prestige” points, which are indicated on cards. Once one player gains fifteen prestige points, they win the game. (The other players can then carry on until there is one loser or start again. It’s a free world.)
Although this game has the longest explanation, there are some things I haven’t covered in my summery, the game itself goes past really quickly! Once the first couple of turns go by, wealth adds up really fast! Honest to God, the first time I played this, the winner didn’t even realise she’d won until two turns after! One round, with four players, probably lasts around half an hour.
The length of Spyfall depends entirely on how well you know the people you are playing with.
This game is one of deception, observation and relies on the player’s ability to bluff their way through each round. In each round of Spyfall, a card is dealt out to each player (which they must keep to themselves.) The cards come with a location on them. All except one- which is given to the spy. During the round, players ask questions to each other, related to the location, in order to suss out who really belongs there and who is the spy. The questions must be vague enough to not give the location away to the spy, but specific enough to warrant a related answer out of the player asked.
Although all players will know how which locations are in the game, they are all unrelated to each other. Ranging from a Space Station to a Circus. Once you answer a question, it becomes your turn to ask a question to another player. Questions cannot be repeated, and you cannot ask a question to the player who just questioned you.
If the spy manages to guess the location before the other players call them out on being the spy, then that player gets the point. When someone thinks they know who the spy is, they can express this and if all other players unanimously agree that that the player is the spy, they can call them out on it. If they are correct, then all players (except the spy) get a point. The spy also gets the point if another player is accused of being the spy by the others. This dynamic creates a perfect balance of competitiveness and team spirit.
When playing Spyfall you can carry on for as long as you wish, but each round usually lasts between five and fifteen minutes. Spyfall is a great game for a social gathering, as its base game is designed for up to eight players.