15 of the Most Popular Filler Board Games

A filler game is a light game that can be setup and played within about 30 minutes. Filler games are simple enough that you can reliably learn them on the first playthrough, but may allow for more complex strategies the more you play them. And though they can have a bad reputation ("filler game" itself sounds dismissive), they're actually fairly versatile. A filler game can be played at the beginning of a session, at the end, or as a palette cleanser. If someone only has a few games, they are likely to be filler games. 

1. Coup

Coup is a fast-paced hidden role game, in which each player is given two cards that represent their "roles." Players bluff their way through the game, attempting to amass enough money to take out the other players. At any time, players can lie about the roles that they have -- but they can also be called upon their claims. Coup can play in 10 to 20 minutes and only takes a few minutes to learn.

2. Codenames

Codenames pits two teams of virtually any size against each other. In this guessing game, one player on each team becomes the "spymaster," attempting to guide the other players towards specific words based on their clues. Codenames has a half dozen variants (from Disney to Marvel... which, I guess, is now also Disney). 

3. Skull

If you like betting and bluffing games, Skull is a great choice -- and it can be resolved in just a few minutes. In Skull, players begin to build a stack of flowers and skulls in front of them, with disks. Players can guess how many disks they can flip over before they reach a skull. If they guess right, they get a point -- if they guess wrong they lose one of their own pieces. 

4. Raptor

Raptor looks like a game that should take longer. This asymmetrical game puts one player in the role of a raptor protecting her children, and the other player in the role of scientists trying to collect them. Raptor generally completes in 15 to 20 minutes, and the ability to play either role keeps it fresh.

5. Star Realms / Hero Realms 

Though Star Realms and Hero Realms are balanced differently, they play almost identically. One is space-themed and the other is fantasy-themed, but they're both fast-paced deck-builders. While Star Realms can take up to an hour, Hero Realms can be resolved in 20 to 30 minutes. 

6. Bang! The Dice Game

Bang! has two versions. One is a slower-paced card game, but both are hidden role games with a twist. In Bang! the Dice Game, players take on the roles of sheriff, deputy, outlaw, and renegade. The sheriff wants to kill all the outlaws and the renegade, the deputy wants to keep the sheriff alive, the outlaw wants to kill the sheriff, and the renegade wants to be the last man standing. 

7. Love Letter

Love Letter is a deductive game in which players are attempting to court a princess. It's a fast, simple game with just a few cards -- and it can be played anywhere in ten minutes. At the same time, its simplicity can hurt its replayability, and there isn't a lot to do in the game.

8. Masquerade

Masquerade is a bluffing game for up to 13 players, in which players attempt to guess each other's identities during a renaissance party. Not only do players have hidden roles, but these roles may switch, forcing players to use their own deductive reasoning to figure out who is who. 

9. For Sale

3 to 6 players bid on propertes in For Sale, attempting to flip them for the largest amount of profit. Players have limited cards that they can play, and will need to strategize throughout the game to ge the properties they want. Whoever makes the most money wins. 

10. Arboretum

An attractive, small game, Arboretum lets you grow your own botanical garden, attempting to build your score by drawing and playing cards. Players need to collect the right types of cards and branch their new cards off of existing paths, forcing them to plan ahead. 

11. Quirkle

Quirkle comes in two forms. One is tile-based, the other is dice-based. The dice-based variant goes much faster. In Quirkle, your goal is to create matching patterns of colors or shapes, or finish an entire row of a single color or shape. Once it's learned it's very simple, but it does have the downside of requiring a scoring pad.

12. Sushi Go

If you want something fast and silly, there's Sushi Go. Sushi Go is a "pick and pass" card game in which players are attempting to create sets. These sets can radically impact scoring, so players need to build their hand and strategize in hopes that they get what they need.

13. One Night Ultimate Werewolf

The fastest of hidden role games, One Night Ultimate Werewolf occurs in a single turn. Everyone gets a character and this character does an action during the night. A the end of the night, players are able to suss out the werewolfs based on the context clues they've been given. 

14. Patchwork

Patchwork is a two-player strategy game that plays in 10 to 15 minutes. Players need to create a patchwork quilt using the tiles they have, while also metting out buttons as needed. Patchwork is an attractive game, if a bit larger than the other games listed here.

15. Tsuro

Don't collide! Tsuro is a tile-based game in which players place down tiles that direct where their pawn goes. Players have only one goal: to survive to the end without running off the board or into another player. Due to the way the game is setup, only a single player can survive

Quite a few casual games can be considered "filler" games, but the above are the ones that are most likely to be seen around the table. As an added bonus, since they play so fast, you can try a lot of them out.