Anyone who attends cons knows about the scourge of long line-ups. They can plague any convention, no matter how well organized it may be. The negative side of long lines is…well, you’re stuck in a long line for an indeterminate length of time. The positive side of long lines at cons? You’re stuck in that line with other nerds, which makes it a perfect time to play a game!
Obviously this isn’t the time to whip out an Arkham Horror or Risk. No, for “line games”, you need something with minimal to no set-up, very few (if any) moving parts, easy to teach rules, and a relatively short playing time. Here are three games I’ve found that fit the bill perfectly.
1) Zombie Dice/Cthulhu Dice – Okay, so you’re actually getting four games, because I’ve lumped Zombie Dice and Cthulhu Dice, both from Steve Jackson Games, together. Both involve dice rolling as their main mechanic; Zombie Dice uses just dice, while Cthulhu Dice uses a combination of a single die with counters. In Zombie Dice, you are a voracious zombie trying to be the first to get to 15 brains. In Cthulhu Dice, you are an eldritch cultist trying to be the last to retain your sanity while you explore the eldritch horrors of The Great Old One. Both games became flash-fire hits upon release, so it’s likely your line-mates will know how to play. But if they don’t, instruction takes 2 minutes, tops, and can happen during the first round of play. Games run about 15-20 minutes, which allows you to potentially play several times depending on the line length. Best of all, each game fits in your dice bag without displacing your dice.
2) Danger Patrol, Pocket Edition – It might seem odd to recommend an RPG as a line game, but hear me out. Danger Patrol, by John Harper, is currently in Beta Test mode, and is a rollicking good time. I highly recommend it if you like some pulp sci-fi in your game night. But there is also a Pocket Edition which distils the game down to two pages. Yes, you read that correctly; two pages. While you aren’t going to get a heavily nuanced role-playing session out just two pages, that’s okay, you aren’t looking for that in a line game. You want a fun way to kill 20-30 minutes, and the high action, pulp sci-fi Danger Patrol is perfect for that. The game uses standard RPG dice (you’ll have those anyway, right?), and it’s easy enough to print extra copies of the game to hand around. You can be role-playing sci-fi action in minutes, and with the right group you can entertain not only yourselves, but everyone around you in line. Nerdy sci-fi fun!
3) Button Men – There are many Cheapass Games that would fit the “line game” bill, but Button Men is one of the few that is wearable. Well, if you have the original buttons, that is; it’s out of print. But Button Men cards are available for free download from the Cheapass Games site, so it isn’t hard to throw a set together and pull them out of your dice bag when needed. Button Men is a strategic dice capturing game, played with the usual selection of RPG dice. Game play is deceptively simple; you try and capture your opponent’s dice by rolling higher than him on opposed dice rolls. But there is a wonderful level of nuance and luck that affects strategy, and games can take interesting twists and turns. Games run about 10-20 minutes, there is little or no instruction necessary (rolling higher is sort of second nature to gamers), and best of all…it’s free! Can’t beat free fun!
There you go, three (four+) games you can play while trapped in a line with your fellow nerds. Do you have a favourite quickie game you like to play? Share it in the comments!