Working in marketing has been a real learning experience for me, especially in a fast growing environment like the Board Game Industry. Everything changes so quickly, there are new games being discussed weekly, often numbering in the dozens. It's hard for any one person to keep up, however, that's part of my job and it's part of the reason I attend conventions every year. Having my fingers on the pulse of all the games coming out is just one of my responsibilities on the Marketing Team at GTS Distribution. I'm hit with more and more solicitations for products daily. It's my job to take those products like the little lions that they are and hold them up to the sky, while epic music plays in the background to announce, “A new game is born!” Okay, it's not that dramatic but it is important for me to be well-informed, and that requires traveling.
As a huge board game fan, one of the most stressful times of the year can be convention season, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking of. What stresses Brittanie Boe out more than anything else? Having to decide what games to bring. I'm actually tearing up just thinking about having to choose between all my games with their beautiful boxes and perfectly-sculpted miniatures.
When traveling to conventions, I barely have any space in my luggage for games, and fitting NEW games in my luggage on the way home proves to be even more of a struggle! After GenCon last year, I realized that I had to find a solution, which is when I stumbled upon what I like to call “a luxury deck box”.
Ultimate Guard is a company that makes accessories for card and board games. They have it all, everything from 7 Wonders sleeves, to Xenoskin binders, to the Twin Flip'n'tray. The Twin Flip'n'Tray is the inspiration behind this recent challenge for myself. How many games could I fit in a deck box for traveling purposes? I made sure to design multiple boxes, and of course these combinations are just ideas. I would love to hear other people's ideas as well on what they would have in their #TravelGameBox.
Making most out of the space I had
I wanted to make sure that I was always making the most out of the space I had in my Twin Flip’n’Tray, so the first thing I did was pull out all of my favorite small box games and figure out how to best fit them all in the Tray.(I’m using Munchkin Loot Letter cards for scale.)
For the first box I made, I managed to fit quite a few games! Get Bit by Mayday Games, Red 7 by Asmati Games, Hanabi from R&R Games, Love Letter from AEG, iota from GameWright, Rocca Town, and Council of Verona from Crash games. BUT HOW you say? WHY these games? Well, I have answers for that as well.
As you can see in the photo, there’s a card tray, a small horizontal box and a small vertical box. Despite the massive box sizes in the first picture, there aren’t a shocking number of components, and for many of them, you could easily reuse tokens for multiple games. For example, you could easily choose to replace the Hanabi tokens by using different Council of Verona tokens to represent the bomb ticks and hint tokens. They could also serve as Love Letter tokens. That said, I managed to squeeze all of them in to this box.
So why select these games? Well, they share some common themes as well as mechanics. With this array of games, you can introduce anyone new to gaming to our wonderful hobby. Proving to them once and for all that they are more games out there than just Monopoly.
Also, these games represent a wide range of game mechanics. I’ve tried to include “something for everyone”, no matter their game-play preferences.
Here are some descriptions about the games themselves; if you want to skip these descriptions, click here. (Insert Page Anchor to past game descriptions here)
Council of Verona - Council of Verona is a game for 3-5, designed by Michael Esuke, that plays in 20 minutes or less. Why did I choose this game? Well, there aren’t many small box games that play exactly five players; most play 3-4 players. if you’re traveling, there’s always a chance that a fifth player will want to join in. It’s also very easy to teach. I often find myself stuck at an airport making friends with fellow stranded travelers, . After I mention what I do for a living, these people often asked me to teach a new game. Because there are usually more than four people waiting for their flight, I’ve regretted NOT having Council of Verona on me at times.
From boardgamegeek.com (BGG):
“In Council of Verona, players take on the role of influential citizens of Verona and act to use their influence to either add characters to the council or cast them into exile. Through thoughtful hand-management of their cards and clever placement of influence tokens, players gain victory points based upon the agendas of the characters at the end of the game. The player with the most victory points wins!”
Love Letter - Love Letter is a modern, classic, small- box game for 2-4 players that takes minutes to teach! This is a game that can use components from other games. Love Letter uses tiny tokens to indicate who has won a round, which means you could be using Cheetos to keep track of the score and it’d all be fine. Please don't eat cheetos while playing board games. Love Letter plays in about 5-20 minutes, which makes it an absolute delight to play while on a plane. However, when choosing which Love Letter to purchase, choose carefully because there are plenty of options. I'm just kidding, buy all of them. They're worth it for the artwork alone.
“Love Letter is a game of risk, deduction, and luck for 2–4 players. Your goal is to get your love letter into Princess Annette's hands while deflecting the letters from competing suitors. From a deck with only sixteen cards, each player starts with only one card in hand; one card is removed from play. On a turn, you draw one card, and play one card, trying to expose others and knock them from the game. Powerful cards lead to early gains, but make you a target. Rely on weaker cards for too long, however, and your letter may be tossed in the fire!”
Hanabi - Honestly, I don’t think I ever leave my house without at least one Antoine Bauza game. He’s been one of my favorite game designers over the last 2 years and he will likely continue to be for the rest of my life. Hanabi is a game for 2-5 players that plays in about 30 minutes. Why did I choose Hanabi? Hanabi is a co-op unlike any other game in this #TravelGameBox. It also won the Speil De Jahres in 2013!
That said, if you don't mind paying to ship expensive and heavy games, there's always the option of purchasing Hanabi Deluxe which comes with beautiful, heavy tiles instead of cards.
“In Hanabi the card deck consists of five different colors of cards, numbered 1–5 in each color. For each color, the players try to place a row in the correct order from 1–5. Sounds easy, right? Well, not quite, as in this game you hold your cards so that they're visible only to other players. To assist other players in playing a card, you must give them hints regarding the numbers or the colors of their cards. Players must act as a team to avoid errors and to finish the fireworks display before they run out of cards.”
Get Bit - Get Bit is a fantastic and often hilarious game from Mayday Games. Get Bit plays 2-6 players (although I wouldn’t recommend it as a go-to, two-player game). In this 20-minute game, tiny men with removable appendages are ‘Getting Bit’ by a shark that’s regularly chomping at the “slowest” swimmer.
“The order of the swimmers is determined by simultaneously playing cards face-down then revealing the values. The number on each player's card determines position in line (higher numbers in front, lower numbers in back), however ties don't move. The swimmer at the back loses a limb to the shark and is flung to the front of the line! The process is repeated until only two swimmers remain on the table. When this happens, the swimmer at the front of the line wins the game!”
Red 7 - Rodney Smith from @WatchItPlayed got me hooked on this game at last year’s BGG.con, and it’s one of my favorites Why did I choose Red 7? Simple: it’s an easy to teach, quick-playing game with a decent amount of depth. It also has a regular mode and advanced mode options. You can introduce people to the game by playing the normal/simple mode; once they grasped the basics, you can teach them to the advanced rule set. This game is simply a deck of cards - a great choice in a place where using meeples and markers is challenging, like on a plane.
Rocca Town - Rocca Town is a game that @425suzanne got me interested in; @zencred mailed me a copy all the way from Japan. Rocca Town plays 2-10 players in just 10-20 minutes.
“Rocca Town is a hexagon-shaped card game designed to look like a cube. Connect houses with same colored roofs.
On a player's turn, they can play a card that connects to a similar colored roof card on the table. Alternatively, if they are not able to do that action, they draw a card. If they can play that card they do so, otherwise turn goes to the next player.
The arrows on the house cards determine the direction the houses have to be played.
A card with an arrow pointing up, allows for purple "level" cards to be played on top of it. Making the house into a tower. If a house/tower with several levels is topped with a big roof card. The next player has to draw cards equal to the number of levels the tower has.
Cards with a cat on the roof allow you to play another card of the same roof color.
Playing a "Trulie" card allows you to roll the dice to see what happens. This can be both good or bad for you.
The first player to empty their hand of cards wins the game.”
Iota - Iota is a game published by @GameWright for 2-4 Players that plays in 30 minutes. Why did I pick this game? It’s literally a perfect fit. Look! [missing photo?]
iota is a great 2 player game, which can be hard to find. That said, it plays great as 2, 3 or 4 player!
“IOTA is a card game in which players score points by adding cards to a grid. The deck consists of 64 regular cards and two wild cards; each of the 64 cards contains three properties – color, shape and number – with each property coming in four different types. The two wild cards are identical and can be played in place of any other specific single card. They can also be recycled by a player who can replace a wild card with a card that works in that position.”
There you go! Seven games you can travel with in a box smaller than my cat.
Mechanics you’ll learn/teach in these games:
Simultaneous Action Selection
In addition to containing a good variety of game mechanics, each game has a different feel to it, and each is good for introducing new players to a broader gaming experience. These games all share an easy learning curve and are teachable in under 10 minutes. I recommend playing Love Letter before playing Red 7. While they share two mechanics—player elimination and hand management— Red7 has a slightly steeper learning curve and a longer play time.
I’ll be building more #TravelGameBox’s with different themes, so keep an eye out for them. I encourage you to write your own blog post about your #travelgamebox. If you enjoyed this post, please link back to my blog!