Melt your brain in 15 minutes or less...
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Over the last year or so, I've developed a liking, no, an obsession, over very short, very deep games.

When a game lasts 15 minutes, I find that the time commitment makes it much easier to pull it out. And the next thing I know I've wasted an hour in rematch after rematch.

This has to be a very hard type of game to design, however. And I don't think there's a whole lot of really good ones. Here's my list of the ones that make the grade. Feel free to add your own.
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1. Board Game: Pente [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:1060]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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I have a GO board. It misses GO. Pente is an incredible game that's absolutely worthy of your time. Over the last 4 months or so since I first discovered it, it has become by far the most played game in my collection.
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2. Board Game: Twixt [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1140]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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The geek has this at 30 minutes. Its never been that long for me. Even with large amounts of thinking time - its obvious who the winner is by then.

And what a great game it is. Melt your brain is right - and one small error can bring your plans crashing down.
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3. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.80 Overall Rank:24]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Most games on this list to be abstracts. Their typical elegance and small rule sets makes them the most likely candidates. But RftG manages to bring the euro-style without sacrificing depth or time.

San Juan is almost as deep, but seems to take longer.
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4. Board Game: TZAAR [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:259]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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I gotta be honest. Tzaar is my least favorite of the active Gipf games (PUNCT forever!). It is, however, the fastest. And least favorite of this series, still places it as one of the best games of the year.
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5. Board Game: ZÈRTZ [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:317]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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This is the only other GIPF game that I believe does not cross the 15 minute mark consistently. Good gamers can set up long chains of forced moves which both makes the game awesome, and fast.
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6. Board Game: Blokus 3D [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:600]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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I like Blokus. But it hasn't been pulled out of my shelf in a long time. Why should I if Rumis is deeper, more fun, AND much much faster.
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7. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:147]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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This one is pushing the 15 minute mark, but it still makes it when I play. I suspect that as my partner and I get better, the 15 minute mark will get longer and I'll have to remove it from the list. But since that hasn't happened, it stays.
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8. Board Game: Knockabout [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:4202]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Not enough people know about what IMHO is the deepest dice game of all time. My SO and I play it while eating dinner fairly often, and we're always done with the game before the food.
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9. Board Game: Pikemen [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:4399]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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There's a good number of good Icehouse games that are quite deep and still fast.

This is, in my opinion, the deepest Icehouse game in the 15 minute time frame. Its much deeper and more fun than the more talked about Volcano - Mainly because once you're at a disadvantage, a good player will tear you apart fast. Deliciously evil.

Other good ones in that time frame are Ice Towers, Pylon, and Subdivision. But Pikemen is better without a doubt.
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10. Board Game: ConHex [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:2616]
Terry Bailey Sr.
United States
Jonesborough
Tennessee
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My favorite in this type of category. Simple yet amazing and a lot of fun.
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11. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:433]
Olivier Lamontagne
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
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This brain-burner is evil, because it is a race.

That's why I like it so much.
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12. Board Game: Complica [Average Rating:6.44 Unranked]
Caleb
United States
Seminole
Florida
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Although I've never played this in real-time face to face, I suspect it fits the time criteria. This is a tremendous game; don't let the similarity to Connect4 put you off. Play online for free at www.superdupergames.org
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13. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:474]
Josh
Canada
Cambridge
Ontario
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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
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Don't let those cute little penguins fool you! This game has a rather surprising level of depth to it considering the simplicity of the rules. And a game can easily be knocked off in 15 minutes (unless I'm playing 2-player with my brother Dan, in which case he could spend the full 15 minutes agonizing over which one of his 4 penquins to move...).
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14. Board Game: Blam! [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:6732]
Subhan Michael Tindall
United States
Portland
Oregon
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One of my favorite abstracts - a suprisingly deep game with simple rules. 2P is very strategic, 3-4P is fun but much more chaotic.
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15. Board Game: Quarto! [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:709]
Doug Ratz
Canada
Thunder Bay
Ontario
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This would be close to the 15 minute mark. I always start by giving the other player the small/brown/round/hole piece, just to let him know what I think of him! laugh

I suppose it could go longer, if analysis-paralysis sets in, but I try and play it as a fast moving game. Smack my piece down, and quickly give my opponent his piece. Generally fast and fun.
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16. Board Game: Ubongo [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:595]
Jae
United States
Bryan
TX
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Also, Ubongo Extrem and Ubongo Das Duell.
Excellent brain burners and never takes more than 15 minutes to play!
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17. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:996]
Alvin C
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Find someone who hasn't played the game before and watch their head explode in the first 5 minutes.
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18. Board Game: Saikoro [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:5047]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Here's another one I've been sucked into lately. A game is about 5 minutes long. There is a question about Depth tho'. Its not as deep as, say, the Gipf series, it's maybe medium deep. But so far in my games I've discovered enough intricacies to keep it here.

Maybe I've already gone as deep as this goes, but I doubt it. It's at least as deep as "Hey! That's my Fish", which feels somewhat similar.
 
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19. Board Game: Gyges [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:2763]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Short and evil. This is my first new obsession of the year. One mistake ends the game.
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20. Board Game: Blokus Duo [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:529]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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I feel like Blokus didn't fit, which someone added earlier. So I'm removing, and adding the 2 player version which easily clocks in under 15 minutes AND manages to be more interesting at the same time.
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21. Board Game: Axiom [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:2703]
Felix Rodriguez
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Another one. I can't wait till the German boat with my copy arrives.
 
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22. Board Game: Domina 4 [Average Rating:5.06 Unranked]
Néstor Romeral Andrés
Spain
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I hope you like it!


 
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23. Board Game: TAIJI [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:5136]
Néstor Romeral Andrés
Spain
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TAIJI takes around 15 minutes to play. TAIJI Deluxe (11x11 board) takes a bit more (around 20 min).

You can give it a try here:

www.iggamecenter.com

I hope you like it!



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24. Board Game: The Game of Y [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:3505]
Jim "git yer stinkin' themes offa my mechanic" Puccio
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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I've recently taken up this game. My impressions so far are that it is not as deep as Twixt (but that may be because I'm still getting my legs with it), though deeper than Pente, which I also quite enjoy. It is quick, though; or at least all the games I've played so far have been fairly quick. They're like peanuts: you're likely to get in a lot of them in a pretty short period of time.

I kind of wish the board were larger, to deepen the game, but as it is, I think it fits in fine with the rest of this list.
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25. Board Game: Wu Hsing [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:6613]
Jim "git yer stinkin' themes offa my mechanic" Puccio
United States
Needham Heights
Massachusetts
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The Domino Bead Game, as detailed in A Gamut of Games is another quickie you can throw together with two sets of double-six Dominoes.

I find that some people I've taught it to have a fairly hard time grokking the repeating pattern concept. For them it is a serious brain-burner. For anyone familiar with regular expressions, the idea will be very intuitive. But the tile adjacency constraints make it challenging nevertheless, sort of like a micro-Scrabble with a simple abstract grammar.

Qwirkle fans should go for this, and will probably find it a bit trickier, which is a good thing, right?

It's good, quick, fun, and "thinky." What more do you want?
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