When less is more: 3 challenging games with easy rules and minimalistic setups
Sometimes it seems like it takes far longer than forever to arrange all the fancy tokens, pieces and little piles of cards. The struggle is real, and ain’t nobody got time for that! There is a solution though: quite a few magnificent creations out there feature minimalistic setup, rules that are not hard to figure out in under 10 minutes and challenging gameplay. Sounds too good to be true? Keep reading for our selection of 3 amazing games you can start playing in minutes, and stay puzzled for hours!
1. Codenames.Unboxing Codenames, a masterpiece by the almighty Vlaada Chvatil, is a true pleasure for any minimalist. All you get is a bunch of cards and some, well, different cards, along with a tiny rulebook. This game is intended for 4-8 people, divided into 2 teams – and picking a team leader and the team color (red or blue are the options) takes up more time than the actual setup.
From now on, you are a team of secret agents, sriving to find all other agents in the field before the opposite team does. A grid of 25 words is dealt, along with a word map card only available for team leaders. The latter designates each card on the grid to one of the agents or innocent bystanders, and you want to find all agents of your team color. There is also one assassin word, which is deadly.
Each turn, the team leader gives a clue to his agents by calling out a “category” word and a number representing how many grid words belong to it. For instance, if “Movies 2” is called, chances are you want to pick “Camera” and “Cinema”, not “Banana” or “Fish”. If you guess correctly, the team leader covers the word with a corresponding card – hopefully, the agent of your color. You don’t want to pick out innocent bystander1s (loss of current turn) or uncover opposite team’s agents (loss of turn and a present for them), not even speaking about the dreaded assassin word!
Misinterpreting the grid, forgetting about the deadly word or not being able to categorize more than one without overlapping with the opposite team’s clues – the leaders are not having an easy time there, although the task is very clear. Interpreting their sophisticated clues is not a breeze for other players either! And at the end, success feels absolutely amazing, yet if you loose, it’s not such a big deal somehow. Perfect balance.
So make sure to try – it’s fun, hard and extremely addictive!
2. Concept.This game is based on associations and has some cards in the box too, but this is pretty much where the similarities end. You also get a board with lots of icons, as well as some colorful plactic tokens. 99% of the “rulebook” are actually gameplay examples. The rules can be explained in 3-5 minutes, and you don’t really need to set anything up.
A group of 4-12 players is divided in 2 teams. A team, located on the same side of the table, draws a card with a few different word/phrase options, picks the one depending on preference and difficulty level agreed upon, and then the team places pieces judiciously on the available symbols on the board.
Here is one of the examples from the manual: “milk” may be coded by placing the question mark (meaning “main concept”) on the liquid icon, and then one cube of the same color on “food/drink” and “white” – although this is not the only way to communicate the word, and this is what makes the game so challenging and interesting! The possibilities are endless.
The first player to guess correctly receives 2 victory points, all other team members receive one point each as well, and the player who ends up with the most points wins the game…that is, if you actually use the points. From the experience of many fans and the creators themselves, you will probably play 1-2 “proper” games and then ditch the scoring system altogether. It’s not about the victory, it’s about the process!
Try Concept today!
3. RapidoughPictionary, is getting a bit stale, and everyone knows what every single doodle of yours means? Try Rapidough – no more pen and paper…the twist is, you get a ball of play dough instead! There is no setup whatsoever, and everybody knows the rules already, it’s just the dough that makes it so different. Very different, in fact.
The deal is to model words for your team using only the play dough and the plastic knife supplied. You only have one color (yellow or blue), and your sculpting skills are likely much less amazing than you think! Moreover, the team that loses the round also uses the portion of their dough, meaning next round they wil have even less material to deal with. Ever tried to model a battleship in a couple of minutes, having a pea-sized piece of blue dough? We tried. We’ve lost. It was hilarious.
If you are not convinced yet, simply search #rapidough on Instagram – some brilliant, brilliant stuff out there.
Hope you found this little guide helpful! One last bonus: if something is easy to unbox, it’s likely easy to put back together as well!