Fun with Filler Games
For the purposes of this article a filler game is defined as a rules light game that plays in 30 minutes or less. These games are meant to be played in rapid succession or as filler between long games. It can sometimes feel under praised or under noticed, but these underdogs can be a night all onto themselves. There are quality games out there and I want to speak about 4 of them here. All of these games are inexpensive card games.
First is “No Thanks!”, a game lasting only about 20 minutes that seats 3 to 5 (Ages 13+). It would best be described as a reverse trick taking game. A deck of cards is in the center (numbered 3 through 35 with 9 randomly taken out) with play passing continuous around the table. On each person’s turn they can either take the card and set in front of them gaining that many points as well as an chips on it (worth negative one point each) OR they can put one chip on it and say “No Thanks!”. Runs are only worth their lowest point value, (15, 16, 17 is only worth 15 points). You play until the deck runs out and total up your points, lowest score wins. A solid game worth it’s money. I bought it as soon as I saw it on our shelves.
Second is “Godzilla Stomp” (2-5 Players, Ages 14+, 30 minutes), it is a fairly standard trick taking game with a twist. In “Godzilla Stomp”, players take 6 turns to score as many points as possible. They have a hand of 6 cards (1-5 and Rampage) and have to play one card face down each turn. Order is determined with highest card going first (rampage goes last) taking 1 card from the middle (and rampage taking the rest). When there are ties the person sitting closes clockwise from the person with the tie smasher goes first. In the case of a rampage it means the second rampager takes only 1 card and they go dead last. The person who has the lowest numbered card (such as a 1, not rampages) in each round (with ties whoever went last of that) has the new tie smasher for the next round. There are not just 3, 5, 7 and 9 (each more rare than the last) numbered building cards but also Power Plants which vary based on the number you’ve collect by the end of the game. A decent game, but it is in need of a good expansion.
Third is “Zombie Dice”. It is probably the fastest of all of them, usually taking only 4-5 rounds to get to 13 points. It seats 2 to 8 players, but I feel after 4 players it takes a little too long between turns. The game is a push your luck dice game. Players get points by rolling brains . All the brains at the end of the round are scored towards your point total. However, if you a roll a shot that die is dead and cannot be rerolled. If you roll three shots then you lose all your points for the round. You always have to roll 3 dice, and you can decide to stop or roll new dice from the cup. It’s fairly quick, fairly luck based, and is about risk-mitigation which most of these games are just that. A solid end-of-the-night filler to pad out the time. It has fun expansions too.
The final game, “Hanabi.” It seats 2-5 players and plays best with a higher player count (Ages 8+).
“Hanabi” is a cooperative game that hands you a hand of cards that you have to face outward to the other players. The short-term goal is to “correctly guess” and lay down an appropriate card, adding to the fireworks display. At the end of the game the fireworks launch and points are scored based on how high of a card is laid on each display. You get chances to tell people what they have by using 1 of your countdown timers.These countdown timers are limited and must be used sparingly. It’s a tricky game that requires a lot of hinting. This game is a little more complex than the others and is less likely to receive multiple plays in the same night.