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Top 5 Quick Games To Play During A Lunch Break


Lunch. A time to escape from the crushing boredom of the workday; refilling your batteries with mediocre meal deals and awkward silences with your workmates. You may be thinking to yourself “how can lunch possibly get any better than this?”. My answer to that is my answer to everything: board games. So let’s go through the top 5 board games that you could play during lunch break.

Colt Super Express

What makes Super Colt Express a great lunch break game is it’s essentially about failing upwards; something we can all aspire to do at work. On a turn, each player will pick three action cards to be played out in sequence, with each player getting to play their first action before the second action is reached. The fact everyone else gets to do their first action before you can do your second, means that long term plans usually crumble right after you make them. That player that you planned to move to and shoot? They’ve taken a horse to the front of the train and onto the roof leaving your bullet to zip harmlessly by. That player that you thought was going to shoot you? They’ve ambled on by, whistling a jaunty tune while you make a reflex action to shoot back at no one, causing you to fall over.

The inherent silliness and unpredictability of Super Colt Express makes it perfect for a lunch break; a nice shot of fun in the middle of the day where you can leave your brain in the office and let loose.

Pandemic: Hot Zone - North America

Pandemic is a staple of modern board games and a must-have in any collection. Pandemic: Hot Zone - North America takes all the good things about Pandemic, shortens the runtime - without sacrificing player count - reduces the box size and adds a bit of crisis into the mix to make this a fun and frantic lunch break board game. In Pandemic: Hot Zone - North America you and your friends will work together to find a cure for three diseases which plague North America, all while trying to keep the spread of the diseases under control. On your turn, you move your pawn around the continent treating disease and using your unique player actions. When you are out of moves, you draw from the infection deck and the player deck, with the former showing which new cities will be infected by the diseases, and the latter being where things get interesting. Like the original Pandemic, the player deck gives you city, event and epidemic cards which help you cure diseases and fly to different cities, give you special abilities and make the diseases more infectious respectively. Pandemic: Hot Zone - North America adds a bit of extra spice in the form of ‘crisis cards’, which do all sorts of tricky things like limit your hand size, doubling the number of infections in a turn, or blocking you from flying between cities.

For a game in which victory is not often found, it inspires a great sense of camaraderie no matter the result, as you all put your heads together to try and save the world against insurmountable odds and realise that the real pandemic was the friends you made along the way.

The Resistance

Changing tack from a game of helpful cooperation we have: The Resistance, a game which teaches us that the only thing more fun than helping out your fellow co-workers is accusing them of being spies. In The Resistance you are all members of, you guessed it, a resistance movement trying to overthrow an evil empire. Each round, one player will be assigned as team leader and will choose players to go out on a mission to sabotage the empire. But there are spies in your midst who want to make sure your secret missions fail, as each player on the mission privately chooses whether or not the mission fails. Over several rounds, you and all the other players will shout, accuse and, most importantly, lie to complete your goals and lead your side to victory. The Resistance takes a lot of inspiration from the classic game Werewolf but differs in one major way in that there is no player death. This is a massive boon to the game, especially as a lunch break game, as there is nothing worse than getting eliminated right at the beginning of Werewolf and having to sit there twiddling your thumbs for the rest of the game.

The Resistance works so well as a lunch break game as, despite its accusatory nature, it gets people worked up and energised in the best possible way; something we all need during that halfpoint of the day.

The Grizzled

Granted, the First World War is not the cheeriest setting for a quick lunch break board game, but The Grizzled makes that trip to the frontline worthwhile. You and your fellow players are all soldiers, counting down the missions until peace can finally be achieved. A mission consists of all players drawing a certain number of cards (determined by the player who is the team leader) from the shared ‘trials’ deck and throughout the course of the mission, trying to get rid of them all from your hand by playing them into no man's lands. Every card has symbols on it, representing various hazards e.g. night-time, gas, shells, etc, with a maximum of two of each symbol being allowed in no man's land at any time, or the mission will fail - causing all cards played to be shuffled back into the trials deck.

To make sure players don’t constantly fail on missions, everyone has the option to retreat back to trenches instead of continuing to play cards. This comes with two consequences: the first one is positive as it allows you to give any player ‘support’, with the player that receives the most support at the end of a mission getting to remove any debuffs they have acquired (or restock their personal player ability). The other is that the number of unplayed cards you have left in your hand is taken from your ‘morale’ deck, and when that deck is exhausted, the war is over and so are you. On the other hand, if you deplete the trials deck and reveal the white dove of peace, everything is all sunshine and rainbows (relatively speaking).

Like Pandemic: Hot Zone - North America, this game works during a lunch break because it’s highly cooperative. The outcome of your character's mission depends on everyone else and vice versa, meaning you’ll really have to think as one to succeed. Put on top of that a game which offers a surprising amount of depth for such a short and small game and you have a classic lunch break game.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest

This is by far the largest and, indeed, longest game discussed on this list, but it would be remiss of me not to include a game with a bit more complexity in terms of gameplay and components that could still be fit into a lunch break. In Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest, you and your fellow players are competing pirates trying to scour the high skies (you are sky pirates after all) for treasure that will net you the most doubloons. The main draw of this game is the 50 unique crew cards which you play across the three voyages that make up the game length. At the start of each voyage, every player gets the exact same six cards from their deck into their hand and secretly decide on each day of the voyage which one they want to play. Each card has a numbered value and a unique ability, with higher valued cards being able to have first pick of the loot and lower valued cards (for the most part) being able to use their ability first. Card highlights include a Bull Brute who can kill the highest valued card played that round, a Horse Witch who can copy other players cards abilities, and an Owl Thief who can steal treasure tokens from another player's ship.

The raucous pirate atmosphere lies thick on this game, as you and other players use the cards' abilities to roughhouse with one another all in the pursuit of doubloons; after all, is that not what work is all about?