These days, a lot of the more popular games take a long time to play. At games nights I have attended, certain games have been infamous for taking as long to explain to a new player as it takes to play any other game in the room. Passionate fans of these lengthy games are numerous and the games themselves have become game night staples. Many of the games that I enjoy, such as Torres and Trivial Pursuit, take a while to play, too. But sometimes you just want to play a short game. Perhaps you don’t have a lot of time, or are playing with people without long game attention spans. What are some quick games? What if you only have five or ten minutes? Even Go Fish can take quite a while, if the players are taking their time.
I was so happy to see that Out of the Box Games*, the same people that brought you Apples to Apples and the 10 Days in… games, have put out three really fun card games that engage your mind while giving you a bit of fast-paced fun. The key to making these games fast is eliminating the turn taking. They are free-for-alls, with everyone playing at once.
Run Wild, Super Circles and 7 Ate 9 each come in a handy tin that holds the cards and the instructions. Open it up, take everything out, shuffle the cards and start airing out that New Game Smell™. The first time you play each of these games, it takes a few minutes to learn. But after that, a few minutes is all it takes to play. Their portability makes it easy to take them along wherever your travels lead you.
To help with my review, both of my kids also gave their (short) feedback for each game. (My daughter will be nine this spring and my son will be six.) Both did well with the games, but the published age range of 8 to adult is probably pretty accurate. All of these games are officially for two to four players, but we have also played them pretty well with six.
The first game we played was Run Wild. It is a lot like Rummy and Rummikub. Unlike those games, though, you don’t take turns in Run Wild. Since everyone plays at once, speed is key. You try to make sets and runs with the cards, and you can build on or steal from what other players have put down. You need paper and a pencil to keep score, so it’s not as quick and portable as the other two games. You will need a decently large space for this game. Make sure you have an area that is at least 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet, but larger would be even better. You put down a lot of cards in this game, and it’s easier if they aren’t crowded. While you’re technically supposed to keep score for each round and then total them up at the end, we also enjoyed playing just one round at a time without keeping score, making for a faster game with fewer rules.
Daughter: She thought the game was “interesting,” and said it was “part hard, part easy.” She thought it took up a lot of room.
Son: He mostly understood what to do the first time we played, but he really got the hang of it after playing once. This was his favorite of the three games.
Next we played Super Circles, my favorite game of the three. To play, one card is placed on the table to start the play stack, then the rest of the cards are divided evenly among the players (there are 73 cards in total). During game play, to be able to play a card, you have to match the color of one of the circles on the top card of the play stack. Since everyone is playing at once, you have to be quick because the circles on each card are different. You have to play your entire stack to win. The rules of this game are very easy, and it is probably the best game of the three for young children, since players only need to know their numbers and colors. Sometimes simpler is better.
Daughter: She thought the game was “fun and hard” and said, “I like that it’s fast.” This was her favorite game of the three, also.
Son: He thought it was just “hard,” but it grew on him. He said, “I love some fast games; this fast game I love.”
We played 7 Ate 9 last. I was most excited to play this game, because I really love math. Being able to do simple arithmetic in your head quickly is a necessity for winning. On each card is a number, along with a +/-1, +/-2 or +/-3 in the corner. The next card you play has to be equal to that card’s number plus or minus the number in the corner. Sometimes this is easy, but it gets more complicated “playing around the corner,” when you subtract from one or add to ten. This keeps everyone on their toes.
Daughter: She was happy that she finally beat her brother at a game, but she thought that this game was too fast.
Son: He thought the math in this game was hard, but he’s not used to doing math quickly. He’ll catch up very soon. He also thought it was too fast.
Having each of these three games was interesting, because we had slightly different preferences. The games are fast enough to play, though, that we could play all three in one sitting and make everyone happy in the end. My daughter and I liked Super Circles best, then 7 Ate 9, then Run Wild. My son liked Run Wild the most, then Super Circles and then 7 Ate 9.
These games are simple and easy enough for the kids to play on their own, but challenging enough for the whole family. Each time we have played, there has been laughter and wonderful chaos. Run Wild, Super Circles and 7 Ate 9 are each available for around $10 each.
Wired: The portable tins are very handy and durable. Games are exciting and quick, and can be played on any flat surface (though you’ll need a large one for Run Wild). Great prices, fun with multiple ages.
Tired: Cards are slightly thinner than I would prefer, since they can be easily bent during the fast play. Having to keep score in Run Wild seems an unnecessary game complication, but that rule can easily be ignored for shorter game play.
* Out of the Box sent me review copies for all three of these games.