best card games to bring on summer vacation
Peter Mumford
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Somerville
Massachusetts
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I always pack a few card games (and some compact boardgames) on trips. The ideal game would play well with different numbers of players, be easy to teach and play with non-gamers and my nieces (5 years old) and have a nuanced, eurogame feel to them. Few games will meet all my requirements, so I like to bring a selection of maybe four games. But I have not played all the goodies yet. Please add to this list if you have favorite packable games for vacation play with family and friends.
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1. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
 
Eric Johnson
United States
Rohnert Park
California
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A physically beautiful game with simple rules, but with engaging strategy decisions. Scales well from two to four players. Recommended.
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2. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:228]
Peter Mumford
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Somerville
Massachusetts
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This is a good one, it is high on my packing list. It is easy to teach, and addictive. It plays in a nice amount of time (30-40 minutes) so you can easily play two in a row. It has a eurogame feel, with multiple paths to victory. You have to choose a strategy early, which I like. It's only drawback is that it doesn't play well with more than three. Four seems unsatisfyingly predicable for some reason.
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3. Board Game: Modern Art [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:227]
Peter Mumford
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Somerville
Massachusetts
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A rather challenging game, yet I think it can be enjoyed at many different levels. Not hard to teach. Plays best with four or five. Actually I've taken this to my family before, so I won't have to teach it again.
 
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4. Board Game: For Sale [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:261]
Peter Mumford
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Somerville
Massachusetts
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This is a strong possibility for me. A very light and entertaining game - close to a party game. Might be great on summer vacation afternoons.
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5. Board Game: Biblios [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:288]
Peter Mumford
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Somerville
Massachusetts
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A cool, weird and deep game. Scales well from two to four. I think I'll bring this along. I love the way it uses dice, but you never even roll them.
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6. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:316]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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This game scales well, plays well for 2 or 3 in my opinion and happily scales all the way to 6 or 7. Maybe a little fiddly for a 5yo.
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7. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:366]
Gerald McDaniel
United States
Lakewood
Colorado
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A must!
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8. Board Game: Coloretto [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:482]
Colonel Mustard
Canada
Unspecified
Ontario
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This game is simple, light, fast and fun. It is cheap to buy too.
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9. Board Game: 6 nimmt! [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:573]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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This is a great one as it scales up to ten and plays quick, easy though a little chaotically, but as you can play as many round as you like it's versatile.
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10. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:613]
 
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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Diamant or the more recent Incan Gold is packaged in a way oversized box this really packs small and can play well from 3-8 players, your 5yo will love this too, though for your more cerebral players this isn't going to satisfy any cravings.
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11. Board Game: Caylus Magna Carta [Average Rating:6.95 Overall Rank:665]
 
Peter Mumford
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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I don't own this, but I'm thinking about getting it. It seems to be a heavier game than most on my list, but lighter than Caylus. I've played Caylus quite a bit, and I like it, but I always thought it was just a little too convoluted. Maybe Magna Carta would be both more portable, and a better game as well? It would be cool to bring along something with a real eurogame feel (cubes!).
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12. Board Game: Meuterer [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:802]
pronoblem baalberith
United States
Pleasantville
Massachusetts
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I've taught this to non-gamers (but poker players) and they loved it. Plays only 4 in my opinion, even though it claims 3-4.
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13. Board Game: Mü & More [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:824]
George Leach
United Kingdom
Godalming
Surrey
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...or the recent Mu and lots more, is an excellent package and packs tiny, some might argue that a deck of standard playing cards can provide as much fun, but the game of Mu is a brilliant game which really grows in stature as everyone learns the nuances of the game. Again, this involves multiple rounds and could happily occupy your more cerebral companions over a summer holiday.
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14. Board Game: Blue Moon [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:877]
Peter Mumford
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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I love Blue Moon. Of course it only plays two and does take up a little more space, with the dragons, board, rule book, decks, etc. I don't really want to leave any part of it behind, because you always need the rulebook, so I might as well pack the box to keep it all safe.

If I think I'll have a steady opponent, I'll bring it with me. The base set and maybe two additional decks. But which ones? Buka and Flit, most def! The lovely Aqua? Always the Hoax of course, I love the Hoax. The Vulca I can drop from the list. That makes four decks: perfect.

 
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15. Board Game: Turn the Tide [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:919]
Gerald McDaniel
United States
Lakewood
Colorado
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Might be a little too advanced for your nieces, but fun for everyone else. We play this fairly often in our family, with up to 7 players.
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16. Board Game: Guillotine [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1001]
SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
England
York
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Aristo chopping fun fun fun.
 
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17. Board Game: Kingdoms [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1046]
Peter Mumford
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Not a card game, but it does pack up small. Simple, but deep, and scales pretty well. Chaotic with four, but still fun, I think. Said to be good for teaching arithmetic to kids (but I think that would be the worst reason to pack it). This also has a mix of strategy and tactics.

The ultra cheap production is a plus: if it got pancake batter spilled on it, I would not be heartbroken.
 
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18. Board Game: Oltre Mare [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1193]
Peter Mumford
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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I have the compact first edition, but not yet played. I need to test it. This is basically a card game with a tiny board. I understand it needs four or five to work well. I am hoping this will be a hit, for a somewhat heavier game evening.
 
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19. Board Game: Frank's Zoo [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1194]
Jeffery Bowling
United States
San Francisco
California
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Works well with non-games and kids alike. Not super deep but a fun little card game none the less.
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20. Board Game: Razzia! [Average Rating:6.82 Overall Rank:1225]
Peter Mumford
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Nearly perfect. True, RA is the better game, but Razzia! is just so easy to teach and thematic and portable that I am very excited to bring it this year. Plus, it scales very well from two to five. Very high fun factor.
 
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21. Board Game: Mamma Mia! [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1277] [Average Rating:6.48 Unranked]
Sandra Sherwood
United States
Colorado Springs
CO
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We started playing this when my son was 5 and everyone always enjoys it. Our 5-year-old has also won his fair share of games.
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22. Board Game: Circus Flohcati [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1361]
Gerald McDaniel
United States
Lakewood
Colorado
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A winner for families; good for all ages.
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23. Board Game: R-Eco [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1409]
SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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Clever scoring in this simple game, plus an eco message for the kids!
 
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24. Board Game: Friday the 13th [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:1433]
Peter Mumford
United States
Somerville
Massachusetts
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Another creepy Knizia card game for kids.. I could add Mmm, Brains too. Vampire has already been added. But which one is the best? How can Knizia expect me to buy three card games all targeted at the exact same market?
 
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25. Board Game: Bananagrams [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:1543] [Average Rating:6.34 Unranked]
SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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You can play this VERY quickly (it's a speed game), on a small table space. It's loads of fun, high replay value. The best thing is, it's a word game for people who don't like word games. "Is it like Scrabble?" "No, it's much easier!" Only downside is that you need to be able to read, so small children are out.
 
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