The Gamer's Travel Bag

Written by Steve / Published October 17th, 2013 / 0 Comments

The holidays are coming, and that often means travel - whether it's to visit family in far-flung parts of the province, or to warm destinations to escape your family. Either way, you ought to have games with you for those mid-afternoon lulls before Aunt Louise arrives with the cousins or in the airport lounge waiting for your connection.

The exact nature and number of games you should have with you depends on many factors: where you're going, how much luggage space you have, how many traveling companions are with you, and so on. As such, no list could possibly hope to be exhaustive, but here are some ideas to help you pack your travel bag.

My satchel: When I go to a game night at a friend's place, I make sure to fill a tote bag with whatever I think I'll feel like playing, but there are times when I don't know that games are the plan but could be. It's for times like that that I have a satchel with me. It's not big (just enough room for my tablet, a book and a few games) but it's perfect for those times when I don't know what's on the agenda.

Here's what's in it right now: Saboteur, Love Letter, No Thanks, Hanabi and Coloretto. Here's why:

Saboteur is good for large groups (up to 10). It's not as good a game as The Resistance, but the smaller box makes it perfect for travel.

Love Letter is good for smaller groups (2-4) and it's really easy to learn, so even if I'm with non-gamers (what???) I have something they can try.

No Thanks is perfect for slightly larger groups (3-5) and is simple to learn. It takes most people, even novice gamers, just one or two plays to see the joys that this treacherous game has to offer.

Coloretto is also good for small- to medium- sized groups (2-5) and has a little more depth than No Thanks, so I can break it out for the hardened veterans in the crowd.

Hanabi (last year's Spiel des Jahres winner ) is small and plays up to 5; it's a co-operative card game that will really warp your mind.

So what should be in your bag? That depends on the sort of travelling you're doing and who you expect to be playing with.

Long trip with your spouse or significant other? You wants lots of portable two-player games. Anything with "Pocket" in the title is likely to be your friend! Mr. Jack Pocket, Hive Pocket,and Hey! That's My Fish Pocket all cram a lot of game into very small packages. And Hey! That's My Fish has an added bonus: you can play with up to four if you make some friends on your journey.

Jaipur and Blokus to Go are also good, portable two-player games. Quoridor Mini is another one that gives you the flexibility to play with some extra players.

On the other hand, if your travel plans involve going somewhere you will have numerous players, you'll want to pack some multi-player games. To save your luggage space, we will stick to small package games that support a variety of group sizes.

Your greatest player-number-to-box-size ratio is Werewolves of Miller's Hollow. It supports up to 18 players and is only slightly bigger than a pack of standard playing cards. Again, The Resistance is a superior game, but it only plays 10, and the box is about three times the size of the standard Werewolves box.

Mascarade plays 2-13 people and is a reasonable size.

Anomia and Ghost Blitz (both very popular here at the cafe) are small and easy enough that Aunt Louise can learn, even if she hasn't played anything but Cribbage in decades.

Shrimp Cocktail, Spot It and the Alles series of memory games are fast, small, and great for kids and adults alike.

Fandooble and Dungeon Roll are both fantasy-themed push-your-luck games packed into small boxes.

Eight Minute Empire is a fairly meaty conquest game that plays in under ten minutes and has minimal drain on your luggage space.

If you like a little more strategy than most small box games provide, remember that many games are much smaller than their boxes imply. Safe travels and good gaming.

In addition to being a Game Guru at Snakes & Lattes, Steve Tassie is an actor, comedian, certified English & drama teacher, writer and game designer. Follow him on Twitter @RealSteveTassie or read the blog he shares with his wife, novelist Christina Upton

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