My shoe box full of games
ErikPeter Walker
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Rochester
Minnesota
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Sometimes when I travel I try to bring along as many games as possible, so I will carry a couple favorites and then as many small games as I can fit in a beat up old shoe box. All of the games on this list are compact enough for travel, and most of them are fun to play!

Currently there are nineteen games in the shoe box, and a few extra decks of playing cards, all of which could keep a cadre of younger gamers entertained for quite a while. Also, many of the pieces could be cannibalized for spontaneous game design purposes.

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1. Board Game: Tantrix [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:2161]
ErikPeter Walker
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Tantrix is a great strategy game, as well as a fun solo puzzle game for all ages. The colorful bakelite hexagons are just delicious. Tantrix is perfect for a rainy afternoon or a quiet fireside game night.

I also own the travel-size version, but the standard game fits in the shoe box just fine.
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2. Board Game: Mhing [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:2589]
ErikPeter Walker
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I'm a huge fan of mah jongg, and Mhing is a more travel-friendly version to fit in a suitcase or duffel--or shoe box!

Playing with cards, you miss out on the tactile enjoyment of building the wall and shuffling the mass of tiles; also, the game's similarity to Gin Rummy only grows more apparent. Still a lot of fun, though.
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3. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:554]
ErikPeter Walker
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Always a classic, there are two cribbage boards in my shoe box.

I love the little rules that players new and old can easily overlook, creating a tighter, more cutthroat game. Especially nobs.
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4. Board Game: The Great Dalmuti [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1148]
ErikPeter Walker
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One of my all-time favorite group games. The simple rules are familiar to anyone who's ever played the standard deck version, but the varying quantities of each rank in this deck make the game far more interesting and strategic than "presidents and a-holes".

Even before the first and last place players swap cards, it seems like the Dalmuti usually gets better cards dealt to him/her. Spooky.

I have two decks in the shoe box, and it is possible, but a little boring, to play a game with double the cards. With more than seven or eight players, waiting for your turn to play or pass becomes especially tiresome. One could conceivably play in the style of Bridge, shuffling one deck while the other is being played.
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5. Board Game: Rook [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1935]
ErikPeter Walker
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An interesting card game similar to the original Tarot.

To be honest, I haven't played more than once or twice. The 100th anniversary edition came with a large box, but the deck itself is small and portable.
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6. Board Game: kuuduk [Average Rating:4.96 Overall Rank:14852]
ErikPeter Walker
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Not the most exciting game. However, I do enjoy non-standard decks and dice, and this game's cards each have a color, number and letter, leading to some unexpected probabilities.
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7. Board Game: Rubik's Checkers Challenge [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
ErikPeter Walker
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Picked this one up at a tourist trap along with a couple others on this list.

The gameplay is nearly identical to checkers (imagine squishing the unused squares until they are nonexistent), with two exceptions: the pieces start as kings, and can be jumped twice before they are captured. Unfortunately, the rules do not explain whether another king can simply double-jump a piece to kill it instantly--A frustrating lack of clarity. Also checkers has little or nothing to do with the "Rubik's" name, which was obviously tacked on to gain brand recognition.

I mostly got this for the double-sided, two tone tiles. The board conveniently snaps shut for travel, as well.
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8. Board Game: Combat Dominoes [Average Rating:5.40 Unranked]
ErikPeter Walker
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I enjoy games with unique pieces and rules, and this game's compact size means it fits in the shoe box with everything else. It's too bad, though, that this game is hardly more exciting than regular dominoes.

Some of the dominoes have special symbols, which correspond to a power that activates when that domino is played. I think I'd more likely use this one for parts than actually play it.
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9. Board Game: ZOKI [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
 
ErikPeter Walker
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I bought this game in Japan. The tiles are relatively sturdy, and can be used as a solitaire puzzle or head-to-head strategy, akin to Tantrix. However Tantrix is a lot more exciting.

One nice thing about Zoki is that the 34 tiles are unique, and thin enough to be held in your hand like cards, allowing them to be used for a strange betting game not unlike Poker, or Pyramid (from Battlestar Galactica).
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10. Board Game: Tic-Tac-Toe [Average Rating:2.61 Overall Rank:15327]
ErikPeter Walker
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This game hasn't gotten much play, but you never know when you might need to start a little gamer on the basics.

If anything, the board and pieces could be used for some creative endeavor.
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11. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1218]
ErikPeter Walker
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A classic abstract pattern-recognition game. I'm not a huge fan, but many people love it.

As you can see, card games are a recurring theme in the shoe box due to their compact size and variety of playability.
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12. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:6614] [Average Rating:5.69 Unranked]
ErikPeter Walker
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Another classic card game for players of all ages, especially younger ones. Fluxx is very random and the tension of the game can shift dramatically in a single round. Some people hate it for lacking strategy, but it's great as a simple, variable game that can be taught in less than a minute.
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13. Board Game: Fjords [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1095]
ErikPeter Walker
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Fjords takes up the most room of any game in my shoe box, which is acceptable because it is also one of the best games I've got in there for two players.

Fjords is easy to play and learn, but requires a lot of strategy to win. The game occurs in two phases: a strategic tile-laying phase (sort of like Carcassonne), that sets up for a territory control phase similar to Go. Overall, a lot of fun for abstract strategy lovers.
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14. Board Game: Knatsch [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:8969]
ErikPeter Walker
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Knights is a good card-and-dice game with very simple rules. It plays sort of like "battle Yahtzee", relying on a good bit of chance/calculated risktaking with the dice but also some player interaction.

As an added bonus the cards and dice fit snugly inside the box, keeping it nice and portable.
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15. Board Game: Shake [Average Rating:4.86 Unranked]
ErikPeter Walker
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Another game I bought at a tourist trap because it had nonstandard parts. An interesting thing about this game is that the red dice have two different variations, leading to some interesting probabilities.

Sadly the game itself is a loose rip-off of Farkle, and far less entertaining. Definitely a kid's game. Also the shaker is insanely loud: I would not recommend playing within earshot (like 50 yards) of someone who is trying to read or pay attention to something else.
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16. Board Game: Three-Dragon Ante [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:2023]
ErikPeter Walker
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The dungeons and dragons theme might turn off some players, but I think Three-Dragon Ante is fun for an hour of casual competition or gambling between friends. Be warned: with two players, this game is only slightly more engaging than War or Go Fish.

My shoe box does not actually contain the poker chips or monopoly money this game requires (poker chips, or possibly nickels, are best), but I imagine I could fit a bag of little tokens to facilitate it (and other betting games).
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17. Board Game: Cinq-O [Average Rating:5.61 Overall Rank:10511]
ErikPeter Walker
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An incredibly simple math game with almost no strategy. The best thing about it is the strange number/arrow die and convenient key chain carry case.

Not very exciting, but works to pass the time when sitting outside in the shade.
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18. Board Game: Shogi [Average Rating:7.29 Overall Rank:1079]
ErikPeter Walker
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Although I've learned it a couple times, I don't actually remember how to play shogi.

The shogi pieces, and the small box they came in, fit inside the shoe box quite nicely.
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19. Board Game: Morgan's Revenge [Average Rating:4.40 Overall Rank:14364]
ErikPeter Walker
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Morgan's Revenge, "The Pirate Game", is simply a little cloth bag with a six-sided top and some replica doubloons. The top is heavy for its size and well-constructed, but the game itself is possibly most interesting as a historical curiosity, since it is variation on one of the oldest forms of gambling. Anyone who has ever played with a dreidel will find this game instantly familiar.
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