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Mid Week Games


Unfortunately, my life quite often gets in the way of me playing games. There’s the small matter of my full-time job as well as general life admin, walking the dog and taking the bins out. I love longer mid to heavy-weight Euro games, but I need some free time at the weekend to fit them in. As I’m still itching to play throughout the week, I like games that I can play when I’m short on time, after work and somewhere before or in-between making dinner.

Card games

So many card games fit the bill for quick mid-week gaming. They’re usually quick to learn, set-up and play.

The Fox in the Forest and The Fox in the Forest Duet

I was delighted by The Fox in the Forest when I first played it (and still am). I love trick taking games, although often these don’t play well at two (which is how I play most games). This is a trick-taking game for two-players. There are three suits; Bells, Keys and Moons with some cards that have special abilities. The number of tricks you win determines how many points you score at the end of a round. Although you want to win more tricks than your opponent, there’s a sweet spot. If you win too many you end up with nothing.

The scoring is simple, and you can easily adapt the game to play shorter or longer by altering the number of points you play up to. This is a go-to game for me, great as a mid-week game and nice and compact to pop in a bag in case you find time to sneak in a game whilst you’re out and about.

As well as trick taking games, I love co-operative games, so I am equally delighted by The Fox in the Forest Duet. The basic set-up and gameplay are very similar to the original, but players work together using the tricks to determine their progress. Without communicating, players choose which cards to play in tricks so that they can move through the forest and collect gems, if you can collect all 22 you win.

If you like limited communication and trick taking but have more than two players, The Crew Mission Deep Sea is another brilliant choice.

Solar Draft

Starting with three cards, each player is building their solar system. On each turn you can either draw or play cards. Each card is a planet, moon, or comet. The planets are different colours and sizes, and each have a point value. Most cards have an additional scoring condition which might relate to where they have been placed in the tableau or the number of moons they have. The game ends when a player plays their eighth planet card, which can add a fair amount of tension. You don’t want to end the game too early if your opponent(s) are likely to have a higher score than you!

The artwork is really sweet, and the game provides a pleasing puzzly challenge without being too taxing.

Herbaceous and Floriferous

Herbaceous is a neat card game that is very relaxing to play. Each player is collecting herbs and creating various assortments to score points. Each turn, players gather herbs by taking two cards from the deck. Before looking at the second card they must decide whether the first card is planted in their private or communal garden, the second card will be planted in the other. At the beginning of each turn players decide if they want to pot herbs. The game ends when all players have used all four of their containers and the player with the most points wins.

As well as being a perfect mid-week game, it’s a perfect choice for the end of a bigger game night when you’ve played some big brain-burny games.

If you want something with just a little more going on, Floriferous, in the same series, is a great choice, although to be clear I love both. Just like Herbaceous the art is beautiful and it’s a gentle paced relaxing game. Played over three rounds, players take steps through the garden collecting flowers and garden ornaments. On each turn players draft cards from the active column, the card selected determines the turn order in the next round, making players consider what to select when. Most cards represent different flowers in various colours. By themselves, flowers do not score points, but can be combined with other cards to meet the scoring criteria on ‘desire’ cards. There are also ‘bounty’ cards with objectives that all players can work towards throughout the game for additional points.

Real time games

Most games have an estimated play time, for real time games it is built into the gameplay itself. A guarantee that it won’t last longer than it says on the box, making them a great fit for quick mid-week play.


In Fuse you have ten minutes to diffuse a bomb. In sharp contrast with lovely mellow Herbaceous and Floriferous, this induces rather than alleviates stress, but in a fun way!

The bomb is represented by a series of cards, and each must be resolved with a combination of dice. The cards set out the criteria that you’ll need to meet, this might be to do with how the dice are stacked or placing numbers to solve simple equations. Working as a team if you’ve not resolved all the cards in ten minutes, the bomb will explode.

Combining the pressure of real time play with some dexterity elements and basic arithmetic (although in the moment simple addition feels like advanced further maths) makes this so much fun. The player interaction is fantastic, it’s important to assess who needs what and how to prioritise this, it’s likely you’ll want the same dice sometimes. You probably won’t always make the right choice, but you must be decisive to have to beat the time limit. You can absolutely use a kitchen or phone timer, but there is an app. Just in case Herbaceous had made you feel too relaxed, the app plays tense music to really up the pressure.

Escape: The Curse of The Temple

Like Fuse there is an atmospheric soundtrack CD (also available online) which acts as your timer. Players must find the exit tile to escape by rolling dice and taking actions simultaneously. The dice faces allow you to take different actions, for example, moving into a new room, opening doors, and revealing the next tile. In some rooms you discover magical gems and the more you find, the easier it will be to escape once the exit is revealed. As you move through the temple you may be cursed, adding a constraint like limited movement or communication, you’ll need to use your dice to remove the curse. To add to the tension, at certain points of the game players must return to the safe room in time before continuing play. If they don’t make it, they lose one of their dice. As soon as the exit tile is revealed, players can escape by reaching that tile and then rolling a number of keys equal to the gems remaining. If all the players escape, then you win.

I love the frantic dice chucking. The theme works really well, especially with the little Indiana Jones style meeples. It’s so easy to set up and get playing, it’s just hard to escape!

Small game, big experience games

Card games and real time games are great as they most often require minimal set-up. However, they can feel quite light and sometimes you still want a deeper gameplay experience in a shorter game.


This is a two-player game, in which players allocate their military forces across different theatres of war. Each player has ground units, naval units and air units which are wild. Each unit token has a number to indicate how far you advance on the relevant track, moving the balance of military power. The spaces on the board show what type of unit can be placed there. Some of the board spaces activate effects for example unlocking special weapons, or increasing the number of units you can draw, or scoring victory points. Within each theatre the greater the difference between the positions on the track, the better the victor will score. This creates some difficult choices, particularly with your progress across five theatres to consider and balance. You may need to lose a battle to win the war. The game ends when one player reaches 25 points.

This is not a big gritty war simulation, but it is a brilliant thinky tug of war full of strategy, and that you can play in 20 minutes or so. I am so rubbish at this game, I don’t think I’ve ever won, and I’ve played a lot, but I love it.


This a tile-laying game in which you’re building Glasgow, also for two players. At the beginning of the game, the action tiles are placed in a circle interspersing opportunities to gain resources with opportunities to claim building tiles. Moving clockwise round the circle, players place their meeple on an available tile claiming the resource, action or building indicated. Most tiles provide the resources that you need, bricks, steel, and gold to construct buildings. Each building must be placed immediately in a central grid, when claimed. You need to think about the placement carefully as each type of structure activates and scores differently. A Player keeps moving round the track until they pass their opponent (like in Patchwork).

Glasgow is a smart simple game, making it very easy to learn. Nevertheless, it creates some really interesting choices and decisions. The time track style turn order and tile placement scoring provide players with lots to think about. I love the understated but clever way the theme has been implemented. There are lovely small details on some of the tiles like the cone on The Duke of Wellington’s head. The grid set up reflects Glasgow’s grid layout, which admittedly is subtle, but really works for me. That being said, you don’t need to have been to Glasgow to appreciate the game, but you probably should because it’s wonderful.

Roll for the Galaxy

Each round players roll their dice and allocate them to match the five different actions in the game, selecting one to play. This is done behind a screen and when players reveal their selection, this determines the actions available for the round. These are all straightforward,

although it may take a little time to get used to the iconography. Actions allow players to ‘build’ through exploration, settlement and development and ‘trade’ through production and shipping. New tiles that you explore, settle and develop provide new dice or abilities. Trading earns you money or points. The game ends either when a player adds 12 tiles to their tableau or reach a defined number of points depending on the player count.

Space themed games aren’t always my favourite, partly because I sometimes find they feel a bit generic and abstract. This is a little generic, although I think there’s a good argument that it’s not abstract. Full disclosure, this does not fit the short or quick brief when it comes to learning the game and does require some initial investment. However, once you’re up and running, this plays super quickly. There’s definitely some strategy, particularly at a higher player count, being able to predict what actions your opponents select is a big advantage. The gameplay happens simultaneously, making it a great choice to play for three, four or five players when you’re short on time.

As well as mid-week gaming some of these are great to start games night with, fill in gaps or play at the end of the evening, and some are great travel games. In short, they’re great to play anytime.