One of the things our family loves to do on camping trips (well actually any time) is to play board games. There is just something really fun about sitting around the table in our camper arguing a little and laughing a lot, over who has the superior strategy. On our travels we always enjoy tracking down game stores and finding new games to purchase and play. That way many of our games combine memories of both heated competition and fun trips we have shared.
We purchased Kabaleo on a summer day in Copenhagen and played it there in an outdoor cafe. Smallworld is from a game store in Scotts Valley, CA purchased on one of our many trips to Costanoa. On this trip we stumbled into a great store, Retrofix Games in Missoula, Montana and picked up a copy of a Kickstarter funded game called Artifacts, Inc.
I’ll start with that one and tell you a bit about some of our favorites.
Artifacts Inc. was created by Ryan Laukat and funded through Kickstarter in 2014. It is a strategy game for 2-4 players where you compete to grow the most famous archeology company. The package says it takes about 60 minutes to play but it took us much longer the first time since the cards are a bit complicated. Basically the game consists of rolling dice and making decisions about searching for or purchasing artifacts and then selling them to museums. Based on your actions you gain reputation points and the person with the most reputation wins. The artwork is beautiful and I liked the archeology context. We found the various actions on the cards a little hard to keep track of and as a result, each person took a long time on their turn and the other players got a little disengaged.
We will play some more but I don’t want think this will be a long term favorite.
Sushi Go, on the other hand, is one of our all time favorites. It’s fast (typically 15 – 20 minutes) and easy to carry and play anywhere. While it is quick to learn, the game has tons of adaptions that keep it interesting. We started with the regular version a few years ago and recently upgraded to Sushi Go Party which provides new cards and a nice game board. In this game you are eating at a sushi restaurant and trying to grab the best sushi dishes as they go by. You start with a set of cards and then decide one to keep and pass the rest. There are lots of different ways to win and to block your opponents so it never gets dull. A great choice when you need a quick gaming fix.
Qwirkle is a tile based game for 2-4 players. There are beautiful wooden tiles, each painted with one of six colors in one of six shapes. The goal is to gain points by creating rows of tiles that share one attribute. It kind of feels a bit like dominoes. This one requires more luck than strategy, which may be why I like it so much. Oh yeah, also because this is the one I win the most!
This is a relatively unknown game and one our family (or at least 2 out of 3 of us) really likes. It is essentially a puzzle game in which the robots must be moved to selected locations in as few moves as possible, working within strict constraints. It is unusual because everyone works on the same puzzle at the same time with the goal to be the person to solves it first and in the fewest moves. Each game consists of 17 puzzles and the person who solves the most wins. In our family my son typically gets all the puzzles before I have even developed a strategy. My objective is to simply keep up. If I am first in solving even one puzzle I count it a huge win. Great game to help kids develop problem solving skills.
Suburbia is a tile playing game where you are planning and building your own town. The goal is to balance the growth of businesses, civic and residential features so that you are profitable and can attract the most residents. I like that there is not one strategy that always wins. I might be successful focusing on building a really nice community with features like movie theatres and lakes in one game and then in the next, my husband will triumph with heavy factories and slaughterhouses. This makes it fun to play again and again! The main challenge with Suburbia is that you do need a pretty good chunk of time to play. Our games typically last at least 90 minutes.
Ticket to Ride is another game that takes awhile to play, but is always fun. The objective is to connect cities with trains and complete a series of goals known only to you. You score points based on the number and length of your trains and on how many goals you conplete. Depending on your mood you can really cause problems for other players or play nice. We recently purchased the expansion pack so now we have even more routes. We have played this with tons of different people and have yet to find anyone who didn’t enjoy it.
Kodama: The Tree Spirits is another recent game funded through Kickstarter. It is super visually appealing with illustrations of trees and cute forest creatures. Players attempt to cultivate trees with the right mix of flowers, insects and branches to attract Kodama tree creatures. This one is pretty relaxing and creative.
The final board game we ended up playing on this trip was given to me by a friend whose family loves games as much as mine. The unique part of Hanabi is that it is a cooperative game. You work together to create colored fireworks (Hanabi means firework in Japanese.). You know the other player’s cards but not your own and have to communicate with bits of information to control the play and avoid blowing up the firework too quickly. It actually reminds me of team work exercises I have done at offsides. It’s a fast, portable game which makes it perfect for trips.
Finally, a quick shout out to car games. I keep a box in the van for long boring stretches of road or for taking into restaurants. Worst Case Scenerio typically makes us laugh with questions like “How do you protect your eyes after a volcano erupts?” You are given 3 answers to chose between. In this case “wear a motorcycle helmet and scuba diving mask” ( I swear!). Over Under is basically a trivia game. Theories is another question based game based on sometimes scientific, mostly weird theories about the world. And of course I can always threaten my family with pulling out the Conversation Cards. I can get them to do almost anything under threat that the alternative is to have to answer questions like “What historical person would you like to invite for dinner?”
I hope you enjoy trying some of these out.