I’m a big boardgame fan, so car camping trips rarely go without throwing one or two into my bag.
If our campsite has a brewery/taproom nearby, and we plan to stop there, we take a whole bag of games… oh all the jealous looks!
To me, a good camping boardgame is:
1. Quick to play
Long, complex game have their time and space, and a camping trip isn’t it. I’m not taking Arkham’s horror or Scythe.
2. Medium complexity
While I don’t want to spend an hour setting up and learning the rules, I personally don’t like games which are only about luck either. I like strategic games which are not too heavy.
3. Take little space
We will probably only have a narrow picnic table, half of which will be taken by lanterns, candles, food etc. For that reason, I’ll leave Catan will all the expansions at home.
4. Doesn’t have many little elements which are easy to loose
I like my games and I prefer to keep them safe. At a campsite we will be likely playing in the dark, with headlamps. If we drop a tiny figurine, it will be very difficult to find it in the grass…
5. Good for small groups
This depends on your habits, of course, but we usually go camping just with my bf and I, or with a couple more friends.
For all those reasons, my perfect camping games are card games.
Here are my picks:
GAMES I’VE PLAYED AND LOVE
2-8 players (plays well with 2)
10-15 mins play time
It’s sort of a mix of Dixit and Codenames. Your friend chooses a character and then gives you visual clues about which character they chose. You (or your team) then eliminate characters you don’t think fit the description, until you arrive at the final guess.
Multiple themed versions of Similo exist, all with amazing art, but I prefer Fables (fairytales) because it’s more universal.
COVER YOUR A$$ETS
2-6 players (best 4-5)
15-45 min play time
You try to accumulate the most money invested in assets such as property, cars, etc. Your so-called friends are trying to steal your properties from you.
I never tried a 2-version game, but we’ve tried it with 3 people and it was just fine,
15 mins play time
I find that for Coup the more is the merrier (I wouldn’t play it with 2 players), but it’s good for a group of 4+.
You play one of the characters in a corrupt government, trying to cheat your way to power. You lie, steal, kill characters, trying to be the last one standing.
HERE TO SLAY
Play time 30-60 mins
This is quite a simple game we keep going back to. It’s from the creators of Unstable Unicorns, so if you know that one grasping Here To Slay won’t be hard. You’re assembling an army of magical creatures and using them to slay monsters… The first person to assemble a full party or to slay 3 monsters wins.
I find that it played best with 4-5 people.
COLT SUPER EXPRESS
Play time 15-30 mins
There’s a game called Colt Express, which is awesome but bulky. This is the simplified card version. You’re riders on a train, shooting each other, jumping between wagons, and trying to be the last person who still stays on the train. Your perfect strategy can be easily messed up by other players doing an unexpected thing, so you have to guess what you’re friends are likely to do… it’s super fast paced, and playing a round or two at a campsite table (or in a bar) is always fun!
Play time 30-60 mins
You’re wandering through a magical forest collecting supernatural creatures. Grimwood is lesser known game, and I love the uniqueness of the art. I also like the competitiveness of it. You’re not just waiting for one turn after another, racing each other, but you’re actively stealing from each other… which makes strategy a bit trickier.
What I don’t like about Grimwood is badly written rules. We’ve come up with a set of house rules, if you’re also confused and would like a working version of the rules, write me a message!
Play time 15 mins
It’s very different from classic monopoly! You still buy properties and collect money, but it’s really fast paced (plays in 15 mins) and easy. It’s really nothing special, but a good $5 game to have in my collection.
If you can, choose the version in the green (not blue) box. It is exactly the same game, but the graphics are clearer.
GAMES I HAVEN’T PLAYED YET (but want to!)
I can’t recommend these from a personal experience, but they are on my buying list after a lot of research.
2-6 players (they say it plays well with 2)
Play time 20 mins
They say it’s really easy to learn and addictive.
CLUE CARD GAME and CLUE SUSPECT
3-5 or 3-4 players
Play time 45 mins or 15 mins
Two unrelated card versions of Clue. If they are half as good as the card version of Monopoly, its totally worth spending the little money they sell for.
Play time 20 mins
They say the rules are a bit tricky, but then again, it plays in 20 mins so how difficult can they be.
There’s also a sequel (or two, I’m not sure).
Play time 30 mins
A very highly rated game with an intriguing concept. You walk in a forest collecting mushrooms and creating collections.
It’s one of the rare games designed specifically for 2 players, so it should be good for couple trips.
Play time varies
Uni is a simple luck-based card game. If there’s any strategy involved, it’s very little. This makes Uno good for children, but it also makes the game quite boring. It would normally be a pass from me, but we recently played it on a camping trip and I surprisingly enjoyed it in a “raining outside, need to kill time in the tent” setting.
Play time 30 mins
Splendor isn’t just a card game, there are more elements there, but they are big & bright so aren’t that easy to lose if dropped. Also, I love Splendor so much and play is so often that I couldn’t help adding it to the list.
It’s a strategic game where you try to increase your wealth by accumulating cards that produce gems. Ultimately, you score points by buying resources, and the first person to reach 15 points wins.
Splendor plays just fine with 2 people, but there’s a new version designed specifically for 2 players. Since it’s a bit more complex, I wouldn’t recommend it for a camping trip, but otherwise it’s awesome!
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