Fillers You May Not Know About but Should

Ryan fills you in on some fillers you should know about, but may not.

“Filler,” to some it’s a dirty word when discussing board games, while to others it makes them even more interested in a game. It can also sometimes be hard to define – if you are used to playing 2 or 3-hour games, a filler could be a 45-minute game. While if you are used to playing more gateway games that take 45 minutes a filler is something that is 15 minutes. For some, fillers are just games to play in-between longer games, it just something to fill the time between games (hence the word, ‘filler’). While for others, they rather play “fillers” over longer games.

For the purposes of this article, we are looking at games that around the 20-25 minutes or less mark. In fact, a handful of games mentioned here can be played in 15 minutes or less. Many of us know of the standard filler games – Qwixx, Sushi Go, For Sale and 6 Nimtt! – so I thought I do an article on some fillers that you may not have heard of and are worth a first (or even second) look. This one for those filler-lovers, new gamers or perhaps someone that recently found they don’t have a lot of extra time on their hands for some reason (perhaps a new baby or job) but still want to play a quick game at night:

Diner ^

Designer(s): Matthew O’Malley
Publisher: Dice Hate Me Games
# of Players: 2-4 Players
Playing Time: 5-15 minutes
Availability: Readily available in US

Diner is a neat little real time game where you complete orders for awaiting customers. Instead of having unlimited actions, you have action chips that are used to complete each action and then pass them onto the next person. Every action one can take in the game takes exactly one action chip.

The 2-player game takes around 5 minutes to play (including set-up) once you understand the rules. I am not a huge fan of real-time games (Ricochet Robots being the exception) – but I really enjoy this game. It’s portable (think Coloretto size box or so) – and plays extremely fast. If you currently in a busy season of life (say a new baby) and finding it hard to find time to game – this little gem may be the answers to your prayers. Even if you only have 15 minutes – you can get in around three 2-player games in that time. It should also be mentioned that back in 2013 Dice Hate Me Games ran a 54 Card Design Contest, Diner was the winner of that contest.


 Designer(s): Bernhard Lach, Uwe Rapp
 Publisher: NSV
 # of Players: 2-6 Players
 Playing Time: 15 Minutes
 Availability: Import. Though copies can be found on Amazon

From the company that originally published first version (German) edition of Qwixx, Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag (NSV) also has put out another write-and-roll called Qwinto. In this game – players will roll 1-3 dice and will be filling in blanks on your score sheet with numbers, unlike Qwixx where you are crossing out numbers.. The rules to how you can fill in the blanks are such:

  1. All numbers in a row must increase from left to right.
  2. No number can be repeated in a vertical column.

That’s first there is both row and column scoring, though don’t worry the scoring is not hard to understand, and is easy to grasp. In the end – Qwinto while still being a fast filler, is a more of a “gamers” version of Qwixx. Actually I find Qwinto to be more enjoyable than Qwixx and one that is really worth a look if you like the Write-and-Roll genre.

Wok on Fire ^

 Designer: Chen Po-Chiao
 Publisher: Green Couch Games
 # of Players: 2-4 Players
 Playing Time: 20 Minutes
 Availability: Available now.

Wok on Fire is a Taiwanese game that was picked up by Green Couch Games in 2015, successfully Kickstarter and now is selling on their site.This unique card game may be best described as set collecting with a pinch of dexterity. In Wok on Fire, players use a playing card as a spatula and use it to flip over cards that have food pictures on the front sides of them. Most cards do nothing until the end of the game, where they are scored Sushi Go! style. There are 4 cards that have effects that come into play during the game. For those of you that want to play this game as a family filler, I would note that that child around the around age of 7 can play this game, though they will need some help with scoring (all the different foods score differently; like the aforementioned Sushi Go!). Wok on Fire is a good game for those of your looking for a quirky filler to play with your gaming group or looking for a game to play with your family.


 Designer: Chris Handy
 Publisher: Perplext Games
 # of Players: 2
 Playing Time: 10 minutes or less
 Availability: Spring of 2017

ORC is a Lost Cities tableau style game, but here’s the Kicker – it takes less than 10 minutes to play and comes in a box the size of a stick of chewing gum! So ultra portable. In ORC, players play a dual colored card, trying to claim territories. Cards are dual split (think dominoes) with each side having a different color and number of Orcs (either 1 or 2). Players will be playing cards in a tableau under a color battlefield – the color cannot match the color of the battlefield or what the enemy as played. Once you play a color it is locked in as the color you must choose. After playing a card, if it had 2 orcs on your side, you draw 1 card or if it has 1 orc you draw 2 cards. Each battlefield has four draw cards next to it, and players can pick from any battlefield when drawing. When a draw pile has been exhausted, you see who won the battlefield next to it (whoever has the most orcs, with rules for ties). You play until all battlefields have been won. The hook, however, is that you want colors left in your hands to correspond to the battlefields you won. So, if I won the green battlefield, I want as many green orcs in my hands as I can score each green orc left in my hand (1 point each). While you do score either 1 or 2 points per battlefield you won, the colors you have in your hand are the main way to score in ORC.The first time I played it, I felt like the game ended too soon, but by the second play, I adjusted my exceptions and play-style, ORC makes a great 5-7 minute filler! ORC would make a great game to take on vacation or restaurant with you. It also has the best tagline – “War is Ugly.” – Get it? You are playing orcs…. nevermind.

Bubblee Pop ^

Designer: Grégory Oliver
 Publisher: Bankiiiz Editions
 # of Players: 1-2 Players
 Playing Time: 20 minutes
 Availability: Will have to import

Bubblee Pop is 2-player game out of France, that is best described as an analog version of a head-to-head match 3 games that would expect on your smartphone. On a player’s turn, they will pick two, “bubblees” from the center of the board to fall from the sky in a straight line, you then look to see if you have 3 in a row/column of the same color that are lined up – if so – they “pop” (taken off board for scoring later). The twist here is that each color has its own power, to either allow you to manipulate your side of the board or to cause trouble for your opponent. Play goes until a player reached the top and cannot play a bubble or if all the bubblees are gone from the draw bag. If you like games were your go head-to-head and enjoy the match 3 genre, this is a great analog version of that, and ended up being one our favorite new releases we played in 2016. There is also solo player challenges in the rulebook, though I haven’t tried any of them.

11 Nimtt! ^

Designer: Wolfgang Kramer
 Publisher: AMIGO Spiel
 # of Players: 2-7
 Playing Time: 30 minutes or less - with fewer players
 Availability: Imported, but can be found on Amazon

Many readers may have heard of the classic filler 6 Nimmt! (sometimes called Category 5 or Take 6), well 11 Nimtt is designed by the same designer and part of the Nimtt family of games. However, I will say that I enjoy 11 Nimtt much better that it’s classic big brother, 6 Nimtt. Cards are numbered 1-100 and have different numbers of oxen heads (which are bad and you don’t want to be stuck with). Players stack cards in a single pile by playing a card that is no more than 10 points higher than the card currently on top of the playing pile.. If you can’t (or don’t want to) play – you have to pick up the pile and then start two piles! So piles will grow in the game (but so can your hand), giving you more options. However, the twist is any time you take a stack with 3 or more cards you can get a bull card – which allows you play an extra card from your hand, the more bulls you have, the more cards you can play. The object is the first one to get rid of all of their cards. All other players take minus points for each oxen head that appears on the cards they are left holding and a new round starts. You play the number of rounds as there are players in the game – winner is the one with the least amount of minus points. Note if you do get a copy of this game, you will need to print out a copy of the English rules from Board Game Geek.

Rhino Hero ^

Designers: Scott Frisco, Steven Strumpf
Publisher: HABA
# of Players: 2-5
Playing Time: 15 Minutes or Less
Availability: Easy to find.

Perhaps the most known of the fillers on this list – Rhino Hero’s very basic description is it’s a dexterity game where you are building a tall building out of cards and cardboard. Players are trying to get rid of all these roof/floor cards before anyone else. The twist being that many of the cards have special powers that allow you to do things like place two cards or maybe skip someone’s turn. It is a family amazing game and one where the players will want to play another game of it, right after finishing the first.

It should be noted that HABA recently announced later this year (2017) a more advanced version of the game coming called Rhino Hero: Super Battle, which will be adding all sorts of new twists if the promo pictures are anything to go by (more heroes, dice, bigger and more cards, spider-monkey villains that can hang from cards).

Circle the Wagons ^

Designers: Steven Aramini, Danny Devine, Paul Kluka
Publisher: Button Shy
# of Players: 2-players
Playing Time: 15 minutes
Availability: Coming to Kickstarter in April 2017

Winner of the Button Shy Wallet Contest (that had 70+ entries) and coming later this year, Circle the Wagons is a great filler. Now some may think that on this one I’m being biased, because besides writing for The Indie Game Report – I work for Button Shy Games. However, not so – this is a game that i genuinely really like, and is the only Button Shy Wallet Game as of now (games that come in vinyl wallets) that I have publicly praised – and this game makes an awesome filler! It is a 2-player, map-building, card-drafting game – set in the Wild West – if you like to know more you can check out this Board Game Geek posting.

So there you go – hopefully, there is something here you didn’t know about and now is on your radar. If you enjoy this article – let us know in the comments and who knows maybe we will publish a part 2 (games like 20 Express, Kung Fu Zoo, Botswana, Doodle Quest and Rocky Road a la Mode come to mind).

Note: Some of these blurbs come from old (or reworked) reviews from The Inquisitive Meeple (what The Indie Game Report spun-off of) – a few of the games were given as p/review copies, though for an honest opinion.


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