I have a confession to make: I hate traveling.
I love being somewhere new—seeing new sights, eating new foods, meeting new people—but I absolutely detest the process of getting there. You know, the actual traveling part of travel. It’s just spruced-up waiting. Waiting in a terminal, waiting on a moving vehicle, waiting to pick up your bags, waiting to get into the actual city or town, waiting, waiting, waiting. My mom once told me, when I was an unruly young’un in line for Splash Mountain at Disneyland about to throw THE temper tantrum of the year, that waiting is half the fun. Wise words from a wise woman, but little comfort on an eleven-hour flight.
Often our forms of entertainment during these periods of waiting are electronic (e-readers, iDevices, laptops, 3DS, PS Vita), and we don’t always have enough battery power to last us. Lightweight, compact, and never at risk of dying just as you’re halfway through a dungeon with no save point in sight (I’m looking at you, Bravely Default!), a simple deck of cards can be your best friend on an hours-long train ride, enduring an empty early-morning terminal before a connecting flight, or spending a rainy afternoon stuck inside a hostel. But why settle for a normal, boring deck of cards, when for about the same size and weight, you can take along one of these kick-ass games?
(Disclaimer: We have not been approached by any of these companies to promote their product. Jeff and I just really do love these games! We seriously wish we would have brought one of them with us…)
For Sale is house-flipping in card form. In phase one, players bid on houses, and in phase two, players “sell” those houses. The player with the most cash at the end of both phases is the winner. A simple and quick game, great for when you have an awkward amount of time to kill, and it doesn’t take a lot of time to learn.
Great for: Travellers looking into getting into international real estate.
Jaipur is all about supply and demand. There are five rows of tokens that are colored to match the materials illustrated on the cards. Each player starts with five cards; each turn, players can either trade a card for a token of the same color, or pick another card from the row of five in the middle (a la Gin Rummy) in order to build a combo for trading in cards their next turn. If you play a combo of three, four, or five cards of the same color, you get an extra token, which counts for more points at the end of the rounds. Oh, and there are camels. Who doesn’t love a game with camels?
Great for: Travellers with an intricate understanding of global market systems.
The goal of the game is to work together as a team to arrange five separate piles of cards (blue, white, red, green, and yellow) in ascending numerical order from 1 to 5. It sounds simple, until you realize that the cards in your hand are facing out. That means you know what the other players have, but not what you have. On your turn, you can choose one of three actions: play a card, discard a card, or use a token to give another player a hint about the cards in their hand. We have never played a perfect game of Hanabi, but every time we fall short of a perfect score of 25, I immediately want to play again.
Great for: Travellers who “get” each other on a level deeper than mere words.
Coup is a bluffing game. There are five different government officials, each with their own special abilities and actions. You get two cards, and no one else can see them, so you can basically take any action you want, even if you don’t have that character in your hand. Who’s gonna know, right? Be careful though—if someone calls bull on your move and you don’t have that character, you lose one of your cards (called your “influence”). When you lose both of your influences, you’re out of the game. I’ve heard a great strategy is to simply not look at what cards you have at the beginning of the game and take whatever actions you damn well please, because that way even you yourself don’t know if you’re telling the truth or not. Sounds a lot like actual governing, if you ask me.
Great for: Travellers considering a career in foreign relations.
My personal favorite, Fluxx is a game that embodies chaos theory. The rules and goals of the game change as players play their cards; nothing is the same from one turn to the next. The best part is that Fluxx comes in many different flavors, from Wizard of Oz to Cthulhu. One game can last anywhere from one minute (I’ve won in one turn before) to forty-five minutes or even an hour. It can be a bit complicated when you’re first learning the game, but all the directions are written right there on the cards, so you can pick it up and play just about immediately.
Great for: Travellers who just like to watch the world burn.
How do you get through travel down time?