What’s the Longest Game You’ve Ever Played?

I know, I just posted a board game article on this blog last week. But I promise this entry applies to all types of games: tabletop games, roleplaying games, sports, video games, The Hunger Games, etc–any type of competition.

Some games are simply longer than others. For example, soccer is typically a 90-minute game. A game of baseball can easily be twice that.

While I don’t hear many people saying they wish certain types of sports lasted even longer than they already are, I’ve often heard video games reviewed based on how many hours of gameplay they offer. That’s part of their value proposition.

My forte, of course, is the world of tabletop games. I’ve found that I start to disengage in most games after 2 or 2.5 hours. 3 is really my max.

I have, however, ventured outside of that range a few times, playing games that I see as a necessity for me to experience as a designer. Eclipse took us over 5 hours, A Game of Thrones lasted almost 6 hours, and Star Wars: Rebellion has taken me over 4 hours to play (and it’s a 2-player game!).

There’s one highly acclaimed game that’s famously long. It’s the game many people point to when they talk about “epic” games, and the length plays a role in the description. The game is Twilight Imperium, and I played it for the first time today.

My understanding of Twilight Imperium is that a short game lasts around 3-4 hours, a typical game somewhere in the 5-8 range, with some games tipping the scales at 10-12 hours. In fact, a friend of mine played a 13-hour game of it!

We were playing a 5-player game of the latest edition, so I set aside a full day to play it. We started at 11:00 am, and I was hoping to wrap up no later than 8:00.

In the end, though, we finished right at the 5-hour mark, so it wasn’t even the longest game I’ve ever played.

What about you–what’s the longest game of any kind that you’ve played? Does length enhance or detract from the experience for you?

12 thoughts on “What’s the Longest Game You’ve Ever Played?”

  1. I don’t qualify to comment on this blog entry due to a short physical sit span. But the entry somehow led me to the adjacent eBook on Blogging. It has, of course, been on this blog all along; but today is the day I read it. It’s TERRIFIC; the writing in it is truly a blog style to be emulated! Thanks!

    I think readers of the stonemaiergames blog would find it useful there too.

  2. My sweet spot is also around the 2-hour mark, typical of the medium-to-medium-heavy games I enjoy most. I’m more than happy to go beyond 2.5 or even 3 hours if the gameplay is great (Terra Mystica is a good example of this) or if turns are short enough that it doesn’t feel like it’s taking 3 hours. However, that’s usually that’s where most games will enter the dreaded “it’s good but too long for what it is” territory. My friends have been talking about TI lately so I’m sure we’ll try it sooner than later but for now my longest game has been Game of Thrones that clocked in at just over 5 hours. Glad I played but sold it shortly after because I knew it would never hit the table again!

    • I can absolutely relate to this, Charles! The turns actually are short in TI4, but there are certain phases that take a while.

  3. We tried playing TI3 at Geekway 2016. 5 player, 6 hours. We didn’t finish. That was 3 rounds. We called it after that. To many of us were unfamiliar with the game that it just kept taking too long.

    But then there are those long term games of Diplomacy. Which if they do one move a week can take months to finish. Last one I played though I was out after just two game years.

  4. Longest for me was my complete play of The Colonists last year at Geekway. 9 hours. Not sure I’ll do that again (although I might with people I enjoy being with…) but I can’t wait to play TI again.

  5. Jamey,

    I don’t mind length, provided, int he words from a friend, “the juice is worth the squeeze.” The longest games I play and I do so, more for the social aspect due to the incredibly long downtime between players is Twilight Imperium. It’s a fine game, but I don’t find it epic as much as I find it long. Your point resonated with me in that as a designer, I have to play myriad games so that I understand not only mechanics but the experience it creates.

    Most of the game I play and/or design come in at the 90-min to two hour mark, as that’s the most I can expect anyone to sit and play a single game…oh, and during that 90-120 minute I want to make (or design) decisions that have an impact on the game. People aren’t simply filling time in the chair until the event ends.


  6. I recall playing a pretty epic game of Dune back in the 80s. We had a habit of breaking away from the board for snacking during the nexi (nexuses?) Which was a necessary break but also extended the game and made for good in game politics.
    But that was s lost summer afternoon inside.
    I’m pretty sure it was 5-6 hours. I don’t know that we ever played again.


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