Believe it or not, Labor Day is around the corner (at least for folks in the US). The “official” end of summer brings with it one last opportunity for a long weekend of travel, and family or friend bonding. And what better way to bond than with games?
Here are 5 pocket-sized games great to throw in a purse or backpack and bring out when you’re stopping to grab a bite to eat, hanging out around a campfire, or just plain bored.
5211- Next Move Games
If you like games that require you to outsmart the other players, you’ll like 5211. This game sold out at Gen Con, and we’ll be having a Get the Game episode for it released soon. In this game you get a hand of five cards, play 2, then play 1, then play another 1 (great title, right?) Your cards all have numbers 2-6 on them, or a kododo (like a lizard) that is worth 1. The color that is played the most will be the only cards that score points, so you’ll want to see what other players are doing. However! Don’t get too greedy because if you go over a certain number of cards in the same color, they cancel out and the next highest color will score. You also want to look at those kododos, because if an exact number of them are played, they become the score for the round, regardless of their color. It’s a quick-moving brain exercise in trying to guess what the other players will do, and also trying to lead them into doing what you want them to do. All you need is the deck of cards and a little bit of table space.
What’s Up- Strawberry Studio
This fun little game puts a cute spin on the classic game of Memory. You have a set of cards displayed as a grid, and on the card is going to be one, two, or three cute little birds on a wire, of either red, green, yellow, or purple color. You need to collect sets of birds in ascending order, so you can’t get 2 yellow birds before you get 1 yellow bird. The cards are double sided, so you select a card, flip it over, and if you can use what’s on the other side you keep it. If you can’t, you have to put it back on the table, which means someone else can remember what’s on the other side and select it on their turn. The trick is that the opposite side of the card will always have the same color bird but a different number, or it will have the same number of birds in a different color. So you can make educated guesses about what will be on the other side of the card, or you can strategize and flip a card over just so another player can’t have what’s on that side. This is a good game for families with younger kids, or for adults that just don’t want to think super hard and want something light and fun.
Strawberry Studio specializes in small games, so if What’s Upisn’t right for you, check out what else they have to offer.
Welcome to the Dungeon (and Welcome Back to the Dungeon)-Iello
Welcome to the Dungeon is a press-your-luck bluffing game where all the players select a character (warrior, mage, rogue, or barbarian) to go into the titular dungeon equipped with all their armor and accessories. Players then take turns passing the deck of monster cards and have to decide whether to add a monster to the dungeon, or take an item away from the character. If you don’t want to do either of those things, you pass. Last person standing takes the character into the dungeon. If they survive against all the monsters, you win. If they don’t, you die. First to defeat the dungeon twice wins the game! You can also win the game by simply being the last player standing, since if your character dies twice in the dungeon, you’re eliminated. This provides a host of opportunities for strategies; do you make the dungeon easy so you can beat it? Do you beef it up and hope someone else has to go in?
Welcome Back to the Dungeon includes 4 new characters and can be combined with the original as an expansion, or plays as a standalone game.
Sushi Go- Gamewright
This is a card-passing game with ADORABLE art work. Each card has a different power, from directly scoring victory points, to gaining you more points depending on how many you collect, to allowing you to trade cards. Everyone plays a card from their hand, and then passes their hand to the next player. So not only are you thinking about what cards will score you points, but also what cards you don’t want to literally hand to your opponents. So even though you may not need that tempura, you may also not want to give it to someone who already has one, and needs another to score 5 points. This game plays very quickly, and has a lot of replayability because there’s so many different ways to victory.
Dungeon Mayhem- Wizards of the Coast
I know what you’re thinking: Two games with “dungeon” in the title, on a list that’s not “Great Games with the Word ‘Dungeon’ in the Title”? The good news is: Dungeon Mayhem has a very different playstyle than Welcome to the Dungeon, with this one being more of a PvP battle royale. Every player picks their own character (Barbarian, Wizard, Paladin, or Rogue) and play cards to attack each other, defend themselves, or use their special powers, such as stealing defense for themselves or doing an area-of-effect attack that damages all players (yes, including you). This is a very fast-paced game, done in about 10 minutes, which is great for when you just need to kill a little time.
What games do you like to play when out on the road? Is there a go-to game you always have tucked in your back pocket? Figuratively or literally?