What You Should Buy: Games for Lunch and Coffee Breaks!

By Heidi Yi Hughes on

About Heidi Yi Hughes

Heidi rolls a natural twenty for stealth and no longer exists on this plane of existence. Pick up a cat and search for her on the Twitter-plane @PandaBumHah.


My coworkers know that I am obsessed with board games and frequently promise that they will grace me with their presence at my next board gaming event. However, life happens so these plans just don’t work out. But we still talk about it like it will happen in the very near future. Well, if your coworkers can’t make it to your board game nights, why not bring the games to your coworkers? Better yet, why not enhance your breaks during your workday by sneaking in a game at work? Board games promote a low-stress environment in which people can unwind for a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the work day. They can also bring out qualities and personalities in people that you or they had no idea existed. Who knew that sweet little Betty Sue is a master at bluffing games?

When choosing a board game for a work environment, there are a few factors to consider: the game’s playtime, size, and the number of people who can play. Though I have managed to fit in a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill in a (very long) lunch break, not everyone has coworkers who want to/can spend hours in the middle of a work day playing a game. Furthermore, work environments don’t typically contain Geek Chic gaming tables, so the spread of the game is very important to consider. This means that card games are probably your best bet. Also, try to get a survey of how many players you might have in a session to decide what games to bring, but also consider onlookers who might want to jump in after seeing how much fun you are having!

Below you will find some of my favorite and most successful games for lunch breaks.

  1. Coup


Number of Players: 2-6 (2-10 with Coup: Reformation expansion)
Playtime: 15-30 minutes

I love bluffing games, and Coup is one of my favorites. Perhaps it says something about my personality, but I love exercising my deceptive abilities. In Coup, players have influence over politicians in a corrupt government. Players must bribe and bluff to maintain that influence while also trying to destroy the influence of the other players. This influence is represented by character cards. On their turn, players announce who they have influence over, and complete actions based on whom that influence is. The player does not have to be truthful and the other players can call MELARKEY on what others say. If the accuser is incorrect, they lose one influence. If the accuser is correct, the bluffer loses an influence. In Coup, the last player standing wins.

This game is a fantastic choice for a lunch break. Its compactness makes it easy to carry in a bag and it also takes up little space at the table. Furthermore, players don’t really have to handle components of the game that often. You can still accomplish quite a bit in the game by just talking to the other players and keeping your cards face down in front of you. Furthermore, the game is short. I am usually not a fan of elimination games, but during lunch, it can be good since it gives people a chance to eat. This game is also very social. Oftentimes, accusations lead to discussions about how the accuser could ever think that the accused would lie, at which point the entire table pitches in to present the evidence they have to think this. This will lead to continued laughs throughout the day with my group of friends.


Number of Players: 2-5
Playtime: 25 mins

Hanabi is a cooperative game in which the players “build” a firework show together. To do this, the players attempt to place cards down in an order determined by color and number. However, players have no idea what cards they hold in their hands. This game takes a little getting used to at first because you do not look at your hand of cards; you hold them away from you so that the OTHER players know what you have. On a player’s turn, they can inform another player about their cards and the position(s) in the hand that they are in. This will help the players decide what card to play on their turn.

Like Coup, this game is compact and easy to carry around. It also takes up very little space at the table. One downside of this game is that it is not color-blind friendly. Also, it can be awkward since everyone has to hold their cards up the entire time. It could make eating difficult if you don’t have a meal that can be simply eaten with a fork. This game would be more appropriate for a coffee break. The game itself is very short though, and could be something that gets played once everyone has wolfed down their food and still has a bit of time left in their break. Much like Coup, it is also a very social game since the primary goal is for everyone to effectively communicate hints that inform fellow players what cards to play. This exercise in effective communication is another reason this is a great game to share with coworkers.


Number of Players: 2-8
Playtime: 30 mins

I would recommend Tsuro of the Seas if you and your coworkers are feeling especially bold and want to make an attempt at playing a board game at work. This game is beautifully simple and quick. Players take on the role of boat captains who are navigating waters ruled by dragons. Players put down tiles that provide a path for the ship to get away from the dragons while also avoiding the other players’ boats. This is an elimination game, so last boat standing wins. Boats can also knock out other boats if players are clever with their tile placement.


I believe that Tsuro of the Seas is one of the best options for playing a board game at work. It is fairly compact for a board game and doesn’t require a terrible amount of space at the table. Also, it is easy to explain. The game design is beautiful and could attract onlookers (the new networking strategy?!). One downside to choosing this game is that it does not incorporate as much player interaction as both Hanabi and Coup. If you are looking to enhance the “synergy” of your work environment, I would recommend Hanabi before Tsuro of the Seas. However, the social aspect of Tsuro of the Seas can be improved by exploring what kinds of ships you are commanding, why you are sailing this sea, imagining how your crew members are reacting to seeing dragons in the ocean, and making fun whooshing noises as you move your boat around.

Honorable Mentions:

Get Bit! I didn’t include this game in my main recommendations because I have not played it myself. However, I have heard very positive reviews about this game and it seems that it would be a fantastic option to play at lunch time with coworkers.

Exploding Kittens: A fun game that incorporates artwork from The Oatmeal. The cards are hilarious and could attract those who don’t typically like to play games.

Love Letter: I am a horrible person who has not yet played this game. Love Letter is extremely popular due to its short playtime and travel size. I could see this game being a successful choice at a lunch/coffee break.

There are many more options in addition to the ones I mentioned above. Please share some of your ideas and experiences in the comments below!


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