Travel games (Saturday Review)

Instead of looking at a particular game, this week I want to look at a number of games that are great to have with you when you’re out and about. These games are easy to learn and quick to play, don’t take up much room in your pocket or on the table, are quick to set up and put away, but still create enough interest to while away the time. Most of these games will already come in a small box, but some you will have to re-package yourself to make them portable.

The list of games in this article is by no means complete and the games aren’t listed in any particular order. I have just chosen some that have been tried and tested successfully by my family and me on a various trips, be it days out or longer holidays away. Most of them can easily be played in a pub or restaurant while waiting for your food, or even on a train or plane. All of them fit easily into a suitcase and can be played in your hotel room or holiday house. There is a lot of choice for most types of players. The article won’t explain what the games are, but there are links to pages that explain more, so you can decide if they are for you.

The most obvious choice are the many mint tin games available from publishers like subQuark, Five25 Labs, One Free Elephant, Thing 12Games and others of course. They all come in a small, sturdy box, a metal mint tin, and some, the mini versions, are so small they fit into your trouser pocket without much problem. They can definitely be played in pubs or restaurants and on trains and planes.

If you’re looking for lighter, more luck driven games, then check out the range of games by subQuark, my favourite being Mint Tin Mini SkulduggeryMint Tin Mini Apocalypse and Mint Tin Pirates. All of these have been played while we were out and about and in a pub while waiting for food. There is a lot of dice rolling involved, so luck plays a huge part, which means players of abilities can equally enjoy it.

If you want a slightly heavier, more thinky game, then have a look at Mint Works by Five25 Labs, which is a worker placement game and therefore requires a little more planning and thinking, but it’s in no way heavy. Microbrew by One Free Elephant is another great game that requires a bit more planning ahead, but still isn’t too taxing. Both games are easy to take with you and don’t take up too much table space, even though you might need to move the cutlery out of the way if you want to play this while waiting for food.

The next set of games don’t come in a mint tin, but in a small cardboard box. These games will need a slightly larger coat pocket if you want to take them with you, but still easily fit into a rucksack or suitcase. They are all card games and therefore take little space on the table, so can still be played while waiting for food in a pub or restaurant.

The two obvious games that come to mind are Fluxx, in all its versions, by Looney Labs, and Star Realms by White Wizard GamesFluxx can be played with 2 to 6 players, while Star Realms is 2 player only unless you buy two packs, when you can also play it up to 4 players. They’re both very quick to play and great fun.

The next set of games also come in a cardboard box, but a slightly bigger one, probably requiring you to put them in a rucksack rather than a coat pocket. They also take up a little more table space and take a little longer to play, so might not be best suited for playing in a pub or restaurant while waiting for food. Both games I want to recommend are from Undine Studios, and they are Oaxaca: Crafts of a Culture, and Project Dreamscape. They both require a bit more planning, but still aren’t too taxing, and they’re great fun to play with beautiful illustrations and good quality components.

Finally there are a handful of games that come in a relatively large box, which means they don’t fit into a rucksack and probably take too much space in a suitcase. However, you can easily re-package them and put them into a plastic container, because the boxes they come in have way too much empty space in them. The games are also not suited for playing while waiting for food, as they need a fair bit of table space and time to play.

The first is Hanging Gardens by Hans im Glück, which is a lovely tile laying and set collection game for 2 to 4 players. It easily fits into a smaller plastic container, making it much more portable, and it’s such a fun, quick, light game, that there is no reason why you shouldn’t take it with you on holiday.

The next two are King of New York by Iello, which is a great dice rolling game all about monsters attacking New York and each other, and Carcassonne also by Hans im Glück, which is a tile laying and area control sort of game. I was able to fit both of these games into a smaller, plastic container, without much problem. For King of New York you will have to print out your own, smaller map of New York to make it fit, and for Carcassonne I was able to put the base game, the river mini expansion, shepherds and traders into the box, but had to print a smaller scoreboard.

So, as you can see, there is a lot of choice for games that you can play virtually anywhere. We will take a good selection of the above games with us on our next holiday, specifically Mint Tin Mini SkulduggeryMint Tin Mini Apocalypse and Carcassonne. We’re even going to take Wingspan by Stonemaier Games, but these will have to find room in the car under the driver’s seat, as it won’t fit into any rucksack.

Please let me know what you think of my selection of travel games. Have you got games that you take with you? Do you re-package games so you can play them on holiday? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d really appreciate it.

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