Top Ten: Travel Games

With the holidays rapidly approaching, a lot of people will be traveling to visit friends and family. It’s also a great time to introduce new and old games to the people in your life. Box size is a concern for many, especially those flying – so that’s where this list comes in! To me, a travel game is something that doesn’t take up too much space in your luggage but is also a game that is likely to actually get played (sorry Endeavor).

10. Star Realms – Star Realms is a great two-player deck builder in a small package and the only reason it’s not higher on my list is that the app version of the game has basically replaced the physical game for me. The app for this game is rarely glitchy and there is a lot less upkeep. However, a lot of people prefer physical games (which I totally get) so Star Realms deserves a spot on this list.

9. Monopoly Deal Card Game – I know, what is a Monopoly game doing on this list?! But hear me out – sometimes you’re not going to get your family to play that game “that is so much better”. Occasionally, friends and family want to play a game that they’re already familiar with. I’ve lost count how many times this game has been played on trips and how often it’s requested. The old mechanisms of collecting sets of the same property color is there with extra elements of take-that and hand-management.

8. Jaipur – In Jaipur, players are either taking cards or selling cards to the market, with higher sets earning you more points. It’s played in three rounds, with the person who wins two out of three rounds winning the game. Jaipur is an interesting blend of tactics, strategy, and luck. While playing the game, I often find myself questioning, “how many camels is enough camels!?”

7. Coup – Coup has bluffing, deceit and assassinations, who wouldn’t want to play it with their nearest and dearest during the holidays? In Coup, you’re trying to be the last person standing. While there is player elimination in this game, it plays so quickly that the first person out isn’t usually waiting longer than 10 or so minutes.

6. The Mind – Players attempt to place cards numbered from 1 to 100 in ascending order without ever talking to each other. I admit, when explaining this game, my family looks at me like I’m crazy BUT after playing a round, it clicks and most of them have gotten super into it. The highs and lows that this game can bring is amazing.

5. Codenames – Codenames is probably one of my favorite word games of all time. In this game, two teams are competing and racing to see who can be the first to correctly guess all their assigned words via one-word clues given by the team’s “spy master.” Codenames accommodates a large group of people, which makes it great for get-togethers.

4. No Thanks! – This game is deceptively simple. On the surface, you’re only making two decisions – you’re either picking up a card or paying a token to avoid picking it up. But the tension of when you should pick or pass is delicious and can lead to either groans of despair or laughter.

3. Cockroach Poker – This game is hysterical and you quickly find out which one of your friends lie really well and which ones are horrible at it (that’s me!). Here, you’re trying to bluff and trick each other until one person has collected four of one type of critter in front of them. At this point, the game is over and that player loses while everyone celebrates in their shared victory. Cockroach poker plays up 3-6 people. I personally wouldn’t play it with less than 4 people.

2. La Granja: No Siesta – This was the first “roll and write” I ever played and it still remains one of my favorites. No Siesta is an euro-game in a small box and it packs a punch. While playing, you’ll actually feel like you’re making interesting and strategic decisions in a relatively short time.

1. For Sale – I should probably stop writing about this game, BUT I LOVE IT SO MUCH. It’s an auction and bidding game where players are buying and selling properties. The simple rule set, speed of play, and interesting decision making will have your friends and family laughing around your table! The box is bigger than it needs to be so just throw the components into a zip-lock bag and take it everywhere. Read my review here.