"It's Not The Size That Matters" or How to Game on Vacation
Everybody knows it's not the size that matters; it's how you use it. Summer vacation has finally arrived and many families are off to traverse the globe or simply relax at the cottage. Wherever your destination takes you, bring a little piece of us along!
Cottages are a great place to forget your winter worries, and kick back with some family and friends. Usually the best games for this environment aren't long, worker-placement, Euro games. You want to play a game without having it feel like you're taking away from the social aspect of being at a cottage.
Avalon is one of my top picks for cottage trips. There's no real board, and very few components to set up. The game itself is entirely social. Conflict-averse gamers beware, this is a game that definitely raises the volume of the room and can have some very heated moments. Try not to forget at the end of the day that it is in fact just a game. Your uncle isn't actually Merlin and you are not an actual Assassin.
Other games that fall into the category of social gaming include: Spyfall, Werewolf, Mafia, Codenames, Mafia de Cuba
If you want a bit more game to your experience, perhaps something like 6 nimmt! would work well with your group. A very simple, fast-paced sequencing card game with often hilarious results. Packaged in a tiny box, it'll take up virtually no space in your bag and very little space on the table. Few card games can support up to 10 players and still be a quick burst of fun.
If you're venturing out further across the map, you may find yourself stuck on a plane for 10+ hours. In-flight entertainment can only get you so far. Eventually you'll feel the urge to stimulate your brain. I know it sounds impossible, but even somewhere as cramped as a plane, board games can still work.
When looking for the right game for plane rides, you want to find games where table setup is minimal or not integral to the game functioning. You need something that won't be disrupted by a little turbulence. You probably want to avoid dice too, because of the risk of having them roll off the tray and into the aisles.
The two most popular choices would definitely be Love Letter and Coup. Planes usually seat 2 to 3 people side-by-side in a row, which are both suitable player sizes. Both games can be played with minimal to no-table space. And both fit easily into the small pockets of a carry-on bag. A less obvious choice, but still a very great choice would be Agent Hunter. A deduction game for just 2, three cards in front of each player is the only table requirement.
And for those with tablets, there are plenty of really well-made apps of popular games that feature Pass-&-Play functionality. I would recommend looking into Splendor, Ticket to Ride, Castles of Mad King Ludwig and Star Realms.
There are hundreds of small box games to consider when packing your luggage. Packing efficiently is an art form, it's almost a game in itself. But why limit yourself to games branded as "travel games", not every big box title requires and actual big box. Some of your favourite games can be condensed into a travel sized package for very little.
Take a look at your library and think for a second: what components are actual essential to the experience? Coins, counters and health trackers can easily be replicated using a simple app on your phone or tablet. Many card-based games will fit easily into one or two deck-boxes. Smash Up, Munchkin, Guild Hall are just a few examples of games that can be shrunk.
Here's one of our own makeshift "gamehacks" of a popular game, Machi Koro:
All 108 sleeved cards, 78 coins and 2 dice from the base game are compressed into one single Ultimate Guard Deck Case (100 cards). Take your city building experience on the road, and save tons of space in your luggage for more essential things (like more games!).
You don't always need fancy solutions, sometimes a $5 deck box or dice bag will suffice for the core components of several non-travel-size games.
Hope this gives you all some ideas on how to best game-on-the-go. Don't forget to drop by to stock up before your travels. Enjoy your vacation!