The term filler is generally used to indicate a game which can easily be slotted in and around other longer games. Maybe you arrived to your game night late and you’re waiting for your friends to finish a game of Lisboa, or perhaps you want to play a quick game before turning in. No matter what your reasoning, filler games have you covered. The games on this list are smart, fun, and most of all play in under a half hour. Stand proud filler games…you deserve your place on this list!
Very few games in 2018 captured the attention of gamers like The Mind. Equal parts game and social experiment, The Mind requires players to cooperatively play the cards from every player’s hand in ascending order…without speaking. Starting with only a single card in round 1, the difficulty increases with each subsequent round as players are dealt a correspondingly higher number of cards. Noelle stares daggers at Mason, who is himself eyeing Jaime with disappointment that she isn’t picking up on his non-verbal clues! The Mind is also notable for its pedigree; it was nominated for this year’s Spiel des Jahres, quite a feat for relatively new designer Wolfgang Warsch! Read our full review of The Mind.
Publisher(s): Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag / Pandasaurus
Designer(s): Wolfgang Warsch
Artist(s): Oliver Freudenreich
It wouldn’t be a Best Filler game list without at least one dexterity game, now would it? In Drop It, players take turns sliding wooden pieces down into a thin clear tower to score points. The higher the stack, the more points you get. But there’s a catch: if your piece touches another piece of the same shape or color, you get nothing! Slide extra pieces into the bottom and sides to add additional challenge to the game. Those pieces never seem to go where you want them – will they behave the same for your opponents?
Designer(s): Bernhard Lach, Uwe Rapp
Artist(s): Not credited
Build your perfect neighborhood in an idealized version of the 1950s where the flamingos are pink, the Cadillac tail fins are tall, and the martinis are bone dry. Welcome To…puts a spin on the
roll and write flip and fill genre by making clever use of decks of double sided cards. Flip over the top card in each of three stacks, and combine the bottom of the card you just flipped over with the top of the card still on the stack. Build swimming pools, fence in estates, create green spaces, or become a better real estate tycoon and increase the value of all of your investments.
Publisher(s): Deep Water Games
Designer(s): Benoit Turpin
Artist(s): Anne Heidsieck
Go on a worldwide hunt for the elusive golden scarabs in this polyomino game from Blue Orange. Players map out identical dig sites and do their best to locate and excavate these priceless artifacts by placing Tetris shaped tiles on their personal player board. The more scarabs you enclose in a single section of your dig site, the more valuable each of them becomes. Earn the most points by the time all tiles are placed and you might be the winner! Read our full review of Scarabya.
Publisher(s): Blue Orange Games
Designer(s): Bruno Cathala, Ludovic Maublanc
Artist(s): Sylvain Aublin
Ticket to Ride: New York
Ticket to Ride is a classic, and for good reason. It’s a staple of modern board gaming, combining set collection, route building, and a dash of take that. It’s fun for the whole family and has spawned dozens of expansions and extra maps. But now Days of Wonder has zoomed in to the city level with Ticket to Ride: New York. Set in the 1950s, on a third sized game board, players swap the iconic trains for taxis and attempt to connect to routes all over the city. But wait, this is the filler game list! That’s right, TTR:NY plays in about 15 minutes…try it out, you’ll see!
Read our full review of Ticket to Ride: New York.
Publisher(s): Days of Wonder
Designer(s): Alan R. Moon
Artist(s): Leon Schiffer
Kariba is a delightful little game about controlling the friendly neighborhood watering hole. Barely bigger than the cards within it, Kariba is a packed with fun. In Kariba players place animals around a central watering hole: mice, meerkats, cheetahs, and others…8 different animals in all, and each with a distinct number. Cards placed around the watering hole will scare away the next lowest card…with the lowly mouse (the number 1) being the only animal who can scare away the mighty elephant (the number 8). Be clever in your card placements so that you don’t leave an opening for your opponents, and scare away the most cards to win the game! Read our full review of Kariba.
Publisher(s): Reiner Knizia
Designer(s): Felix Kindelan
Ganz schön clever
Roll and write games made a huge showing this year, with over 40 different titles being released in this category. But Ganz schön clever was a legit phenomenon, coming from out of nowhere and going on to be awarded a nomination for the Kennerspiel des Jahres, or “the Connoisseur game” of the year. The premise is simple. Roll six differently colored dice, and apply one of them as a mark on your score sheet. All dice with a lower number than the one you pick are taken out for the round. Repeat this process 2 more times, applying each die to your scoring sheet as desired. The other players may each select a single die from the remainder to apply to their own scoring sheets. Yahtzee might have been the grandfather of this game, but Ganz bears very little resemblance to it’s forebear. Good luck Ganz!
Read our full review of Ganz schön clever.
Publisher(s): Schmidt Spiele / Stronghold Games
Designer(s): Wolfgang Warsch
Artist(s): Leon Schiffer