Table Top

Have Board Games, Will Travel

Eventually, we’re all going to start traveling again, and I know a lot of people who have used 2020 to travel more locally, finding state parks, national parks, and places to camp. If you’re like me, you probably always travel with a few games. If I’m just going to see family, I don’t need to worry about game size, but if I’m going camping or somewhere for work, you need bang for your buck with games.

Solo Or Not

The first thing to think about is if you’ll be playing games with other people? If I’m going camping, I probably will be going with friends or my wife so I’ll have a second player. If I’m going on a work trip, there’s no guarantee that’ll be the case. So I need to think about who I’ll be playing with that what player count I’m needing.

Where Am I Going?

This also matters, if I’m going camping, I don’t want something with too many pieces, if I’m going to a gaming convention, that can also be the case as well. If I’m going to work training and have a hotel room, I can leave something set-up or potentially have more room to work with so I could pack something with more pieces. This also, though, depends on how many days I’m going to be somewhere, what suitcase or bag I brought along.

So What Games Pack a Good Bang For Their Buck?

I’m generally looking for small games that are a bit punchy, by that I mean that aren’t just filler, but give you some choices as well. I will point out where some of these games work better as some of them might be a bit much for a camping trip.

Image Source: Board Game Geek
Criss Cross

This one is a little roll and write game that would work well almost anywhere. Yes, players have their little sheet of paper, but it’s one little sheet of paper that you have to keep from blowing away, otherwise it’s dice. Super easy that way, this game is generally a bit more of a filler game but does offer a few choices as you try and maximize your points. It also isn’t a game that doesn’t have you thinking, you need to score in both the rows and columns as you’re filling in your sheet, and that requires some thinking and tracking of things. The box is also tiny, it’s one that you could even stick into a backpack on a hiking trip and have no added weight from it.

That’s Pretty Clever (Ganz Schon Clever)

The last roll and write game that I’m going to put on the list. This one is a whole lot more complex, but still limits what people have to a piece of paper and a pen and then the dice. Another good one for taking almost anywhere. Ganz Schon Clever gives a whole lot more choices though as you try and optimize your scoring, get as many bonuses as possible and get a big score. The other two games in the series, Twice as Clever, and Clever Hoch Drei both would work as well as the premise is the same and the amount of stuff is the game.


The two above can be played solo just fine and also be played in groups. Onirim is the entry on the list for purely a solo game. This one I don’t know would work as well camping, because you are putting out cards, I guess in the tent, but it’s a great hotel room game, or even an on the flight game. You are trying to pay out cards in a certain order and way so that you get three of a color in a row, they just have to be non-repeating symbols, in order to find doors to escape from this dream world with nightmares trying to stop you. It requires a bunch of shuffling, but I don’t mind that, and it’s a nice game that has enough going on to keep t interesting, but not so much that you can’t pay attention to anything else.

Image Source: Z-Man
Silver Amulet (Coin, Bullet, or Dagger)

The Silver games work well for small box games that pack some interesting choices. And you could probably get all of them into a single box if you wanted to give you a lot of game to take along. In the game you are trying to get the village with the lowest points. You do that by swapping in cards to your face down village, the trick is that you only know what two of your cards are at the start. So the cards have powers and you can use those powers to see more cards, swap cards with an opponent, or more. Eventually someone will call for a vote, and if they have the fewest points, they get zero and everyone else scores their points. If they don’t you get 10 additional points, lowest after four rounds wins. If you were to stick it all in one box, you’d have tons of different combinations to play which means even for a longer trip, this game has a lot of bang for it’s small size.

Claim/Fox In the Forest/The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

I’m lumping all three of these together because they are all trick taking games that come in small packages. Fox in the Forest is specifically a two player game, so won’t work for every trip. The Crew is a cooperative trick taking game, and Claim is an interesting game where you play through twice, and the second time is when you score, the first time is building your hand for that second time. But trick taking games are nice, and obviously you could do things like Hearts as well with just a deck of cards, but that’s certainly a good option as well. These all will feel like a bit of a step beyond your more standard trick taking games while still really using the same mechanics.

Image Source: Board Game Geek
Codenames Pictures

Final one on the list, and there could be a whole lot more, but Codenames Pictures works really well for a game with a little bit larger box. The downsize is the box is a bit larger, the upside is that you can play with almost any number of people, you just split into two teams, one clue giver from each team and everyone else guesses when it’s their teams turn to do so. While I don’t love Codenames in general, I think that pictures works well and shortens a game that feels like it should be a party game but often plays quieter than that. Pictures helps keep the energy level higher, but really any version of Codenames would do. It is also nice because it isn’t too large. The downside is that you are laying out cards on a table, so while it might work some places, give it a bit of a breeze and you might be running around trying to pick-up cards. But good for gatherings where you are going to be indoors.

What are some games that you take when traveling? Do you have a favorite that you’ll always grab?

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