Playing new games can sometimes feel cumbersome – big boxes don’t always travel well and if you’re leaving the house, you often need to pick only a couple games to bring if you want to avoid packing a suitcase. Even with smaller games, not every game travels well -- keeping track of all the tiny settlements and cities in Catan makes me reluctant to take it to a friend’s on game night. That said, it’s nice to have a variety of choices of games to play, and to be able to bring games on the go.
The last year has been hard in a lot of ways. When Colorado locked down, the Stellar Factory team had to find new ways to scratch our game itch. We used to have regular weekend game nights at our friend Miles’ house. His kitchen table was huge, the lighting was good, and the beer fridge was *usually* full. The connection with other people was the best part and was something we weren’t willing to give up completely. So, we got creative! We tracked down the most portable games and started playing them everywhere (when safely possible). We play games outside at breweries, on park picnic tables, on Zoom in different time zones and even in hospital beds. Hopefully soon things will change, and we’ll be back at Miles’ kitchen table, together. But even then, I have a feeling we’ll still be playing these games everywhere we go, as we’ve learned that with the right size game, you can really play anywhere.
Check out the games below for some of our favorite portable and convenient games on the go. The games that made the list are lightweight, compact, and convenient, but most importantly, they’re fun! Some you can even play alone!
Bandido (or Bandida, depending on your version!) is a team-based cooperative game in which you and your teammates will work to stop the prisoner from escaping the jail! The size and weight of the box makes Bandido super practical to include on game night, at 3.2 ounces and 4.3 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches. Designed for 1-4 players ages 6 and up, Bandido is another game that can be played anywhere and anytime, by strategically laying down cards to keep Bandido in jail. They even recently released a free Covid-19 edition on their website!
We’re huge fans of the games that come out Oink game studio. They’re super fun to play, but their size and accessibility are what landed them on our list of the best games for connection on the go. With so many portable but unique games to choose from, we almost always end up playing one of the Oink games at Game Night, no matter where we play. Below are some of our favorites.
Deep Sea Adventure: Deep Sea Adventure is a 30 ish minute game designed for 2-6 players, ages 8 and up. The box is a great size for carrying in our game bag, measuring at 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 inches and only 3.5 ish ounces. In the game, you’ll collect the treasure on the ocean floor to try and get the most points. The catch? You’ll have to work with the same players you’re competing against to share the only oxygen on the boat. Can you grab enough treasure before the air runs out?
Nine Tiles Panic: Sizing up a little bigger than most Oink games, we love Nine Tiles Panic for its rapid game play and challenging puzzle nature. A little heavier than the other games on our list at 12 ounces, the box is still approachable measuring at 1.4 x 5.2 x 4.3 inches. In Nine Tiles Panic, you’ll try to create the perfect city under constantly changing game conditions with 2-5 other players over the age of 7.
We’re pretty obsessed with this game and often grab it on our way to the coffee shop or park for some friendly competition. It’s addicting, easy to learn, and so easy to set up and tear down. Designed for 2 or 4 players, the game is described by the creators as “chess, but less” – you’ll try to get your pieces from one end of the board to the other in fewer moves than your competitor. The box effectively and compactly holds the board and the pieces in just 1” x 5.5” x 3.8” inches and 7.2 ounces. Last time we checked, they had a couple choices for board art! We love this one.
Less sadly isn't available anymore, but some searching around, you may be able to find it used.
Button Shy Games
The Button Shy wallet games have inspired us for a long time. They have great art, fun gameplay and are SO portable. We were introduced to the studio by our good friends Matthew Bethancourt and Danny Rankin. Matt and Danny are Instructors at the University of Colorado and co-founded the Whaaat!? Festival, an incredible and innovative annual festival dedicated to games that break the mold. It was at Whaaat!? Festival that we were first introduced to Jason Tagmire and his games at Button Shy. While all of the games on this list fit easily in a backpack or small bag, the Button Shy games are so portable that they can fit in your back pocket. The ones we own weigh between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces depending on how many cards in the pack, and measure at 4.5” x 3”. We keep them in our day bag all the time, should we find ourselves with time to play anywhere we go. Some of our favorites are Circle the Wagons, Tussie Mussie and Strawlopolis.
Circle the Wagons: Play someone else to craft the best town in the West, strategically placing territories to gain the most points. We love this one as they also came out with a solo version!
Tussie Mussie: Play with 2-4 players to explore the hidden meanings of the flowers in your hand and in your books. With incredible artwork for the flower lover in your life, the player with the most points at the end of the third-round wins!
Strawlopolis: You and up to three others will work together to build a growing city, but the infrastructure requirements will change each time you play! You’re in charge! Designed for players age 8 and up.
Even though we made it, we have to give a plug for Strawberry Sunset, the newest game in the Stellar Factory collection. Packaged in a portable standard playing card deck box (2.5” x 3.5”) and made in the U.S.A., Strawberry Sunset is as visually appealing as it is gratifying and convenient. In Strawberry Sunset, you’ll create a vibrant and flourishing strawberry patch – ideally one more fruitful than your neighbor’s if you intend to win. Choose which unique features you’ll add to your garden to earn points, such as koi ponds, gnomes, and Zen sand gardens. The game is based in strategy but has a quick game play (15-20 minutes) and is easy to learn for 2-4 players ages 7 and up.