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Playing Games on the Go

Trevor Harron
United States
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So You Are About To Go On An Adventure

With GenCon and many other conventions coming to a close (but many more to come), I want to talk about games you take while you are traveling. As I have been going around to conventions like PDX and (eventually) PAX Unplugged I have had to look at my game shelves to see what games I can take without taking up too much weight and/or space and play en route. In that spirit this morning, let us look at how to tell how travel friendly a game is.

What Should You Look For?

Stating the obvious, size and weight are your enemies when packing games for travel. Now the size of the game can be broken into two categories: storage size and table footprint size. Now depending on how far you are traveling, the method, and your time at your destination these things can change but for the most part you want games that will minimize these size factors (so you have more room for other games). Looking at my own shelves, there are many classics that don’t make this mark: Lords of Waterdeep, Power Grid, and Carcassonne to name a few games that would be difficult to pack or play while traveling. Now some of these games you may want to play at your destination and I’ll talk about how you can still get your games to your destination. So what do these games all have in common? A lot of components to them and with a lot of components you get big boxes and large table footprints.

As a starting place, games that come in compact boxes are a good starting point. With a small box, the amount of space that the game takes up is minimal leaving room for other games or other luggage. The second thing to keep in mind is that the number of components should Ideally be minimal. With more components things could get lost enroute and more table footprint. Card games are particularly good for travel since they can have a limited number of small components and the footprint can be minimal. In fact, a deck of cards is also a good choice since there are a number of games that can be played with a standard deck and most of these games don’t take up a lot of space. Also for games to play on the road, dice games are not ideal since dice can fall to the ground.

Finally, depending on how you are travelling, the number of players is important since most forms of travel limit the proximity that you can have with other players. If you think about airplanes then you would want to look for 2 or 3 player games since it is easier to talk to your neighbors while sitting in a line. If you are travelling by yourself then you may want to look to some solo games or games with solo adaptations.

So What Games are Good for Travel?

There are also several games that are good for travel ranging from Mint Works to Harbour and to Collectors and Capers. These games that have a small box, limited components, and the right number of players but the the Tiny Epic Series of games (and especially the Ultra Tiny Epic Kingdoms) are great in this regard. However if you are concerned that these take up too much space on the table and in you luggage then you cannot go wrong with a deck of cards. With all of these games the table footprint can be minimized, the box itself is small, and the number of components is limited.

What About Mobile Adaptations?

Now these games can still take up a bit of space and an obvious solution to this is to play games that have an mobile app version. These games can be played with friends online or by oneself and have the smallest amount of table space needed to play. These games can help pass the time if you have the battery for it but miss out on the tactile experience of a board game.

Final Thoughts

So in short if you are planning to pack some games to play via travel the size of the game, the table space the game takes up, number of components, and number of players are all things to keep in mind. If you don’t mind missing the tactile experience then mobile digital adaptations are great but in the end a deck of cards is always a good choice. I hope this has given some food for thought for you this morning and would love to hear about what you think.
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