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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Looking For Mr. Goodgame

My wife and I are going to Paris and Tuscany (the European versions) in May with another couple, and I'm trying to choose three good games to take with us for those times when we're on the train. My wife is not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination (as I've mentioned before), and our friends have roughly the same level of interest. As such, I have a few criteria I need to meet with these games, and I'd appreciate a little help in choosing games from you, my readership.

Here's my criteria:

Small box footprint - This means primarily card games, although I know there are a few games that could be taken "sans box" and take up an equivalent amount of space.

Shorter playing time - Anything longer than an hour is not going to fly. Even better is a game that can be played in a variable number of rounds so that we can scale playing time as needed.

Simple rules - By simple, I mean I should be able to explain the game in three rules or less. Mamma Mia! is a good example, as you play x cards of a given ingredient, an order if you wish, then draw back up to seven, and you try to have enough ingredients in the stack to fill your orders. The rest can be explained as the game goes on.

Play well with 2, 3, or 4 players - There may be times that just two of us are travelling, or want to play anything, so scaling well for a varying number of players is important.

I will be taking a standard deck of cards or two, and that may actually be enough. The other games I'm considering are:

Katzenjammer Blues - Great, and even better with Dave's partnership rules, but I think this is best with four and doesn't play well with two.

Mamma Mia! - Again, not a two-player game.

Money - May be a little dry, theme-wise, but this is one of my favorites.

Bohnanza - Has the huge advantage of being something my wife already knows how to play, but perhaps a bit complex for the friends with all of the trading.

Geschenkt - I'm not sure I can see playing this for two hours, but this is one of my favorites for a quick game right now.

Travel Settlers - This would really be pushing the envelope on several fronts, but I think it could be very popular once people learn it.

Travel Blokus - I've only ever played with four, although I do hear it works for two.

I'll probably end up with one "board" game, two card games, and a deck of cards (maybe a cribbage board as well).

It's a drag that no one else like video games, or else I'd get Dave (the other guy travelling, not the one who used to post to this blog) a Nintendo DS and play Advance Wars the whole trip. Sigh.
Any other suggestions?


  • At 12:52 AM, Blogger dave said…

    Our standard travel game is Take It Easy. I just take enough boards/tiles as needed for the number of players and baggify them, leaving the box at home. I believe it matches your other criteria - especially the bit about variable rounds - although you sould keep an eye out for fear of math.

  • At 4:42 AM, Anonymous Jason Spears said…

    Blokus is excellent with 2. (3 is awkward.) When playing with two, I much prefer the 14x14 board with one color each (as in blokus duo) rather than the full board with two colors each.

  • At 7:26 AM, Blogger Chris Brooks said…

    I've got a few other suggestions. Agora, the Cheapass hip pocket game is easy to teach, fun, and very portable. Carcassonne is very portable (esp if you leave the scoring track behind) and scalable. And of course Havoc!

  • At 3:05 PM, Blogger Eric said…

    One of the Mystery Rummy games, perhaps? Or Wyatt Earp if they like westerns.

    Good gateway games for card players.

  • At 3:43 PM, Blogger Dug said…

    All good suggestions.

    Take It Easy sounds good, although I'm less concerned with FoM and more concerned with FoT (Fear of Thinking). The solitaire feel may not fly, too.

    I'm almost certainly going to get a travel edition of Blokus, even though FoT is a bit of a concern.

    Carcassone may have too much board space required for train trips. I think I have a copy of Agora, I'll check on what other Cheapass games might qualify.

    I like the Mystery Rummy/Wyatt Earp games, although the latter has too many bits and would take some teaching. And, frankly, the argument would be that if we're going to play Gin, we might as well just play Gin without the extra rules.

    Another possibility is Coloretto, which is very easy to teach and can play for several rounds or just a few.

    Thanks for the suggestions!


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