Home Videos Games Podcastle

How to make a travel game collection


Hey there, long time SUSD reader, but first time in the forums, actually. It’s nice here. Love those drapes.

Anyway. In February I am going on student exchange to Italy which means I will have to interact with loads of new people and I intend to enlist board games to help me with socializing.

Here’s where I turn to you dear SUSDers (I don’t think that’s a thing). What games should I take with me baring in mind these conditions:

  • It must be a gateway game. I have no way of knowing what level of player I will meet.
  • It must be playable by a non-native English speakers. Doesn’t mean the game has to be language independent, there can be for example text on cards but I would avoid games that are ABOUT language (Codenames, Dixit).
  • It must be as small as possible. This doesn’t mean that the box has to be small. Just neccesarry game components must be compact. I will throw boxes and any other fluff away.

With these criteria I want to build a game collection that I can take with me and whip out everytime there is an opportunity. I intend to take a box the size of Codenames and fill it so it’ll pack the biggest punch possible.

My current idea of what I am going to do:

  • I already have The Mind, Dao and I just ordered Welcome To… (if I want to go crazy I can laminate some playsheets)
  • bunch of colored pens and few notebooks and I can play Tellestrations and Fake artist
  • I can throw away the rules and put PDF versions in my phone

What do you think? What other games should I get? What about some great PnP stuff? Any other ideas of how to maximize coolness:size ratio?


Original version of Sushi Go is pretty small and easy to teach. Cockroach Poker, very language independent and could get some laughs. It is also small form as well.


Skull, definitely skull.


Red7 (in a card-box) lives in my jacket pocket. You might manage Star Realms, though it’s bigger, especially if you have the bits for four players.


Liars Dice!!! Yahtzee!!! Dice!!!


I think all the games I would have recommended have been. Oh, one more: Eurogames Condottiere. You can rebox it. The Italians I know dug that old school playing card flavour.

Also, some general advice: try finding and playing games that the people you meet already play. It’ll be much easier to make friends with boardgamers than to make the people you meet boardgamers.


Diamant/Incan Gold

+1 to Skull and Cockroach Poker


I just thought of another one…

Catacombs: Conquest


HMS Dolores is just a deck of little square cards once you’ve chucked the box and the manual.

And it’ll give you the opportunity to learn some new swear words.


the duke is cool because it’s a chess like game where all the pieces show their movement. Similarly onitama will work well I think.


I love Onitama but it’s huge (at least the Arcane Wonders version which I have). I’m working on a design for a travel set, but I haven’t got there yet.


Just realised that no one’s mentioned Hive Pocket. The super quick game that’s actually not that quick because you keep wanting to play again because this time you’ve got it figured out :confounded:


Just registered here so I could recommend Deep Sea Adventure! Fits in your pocket, and very very good!


I think Cockroach Poker is making a very strong showing here, as is Skull. +1 on both, IMHO. They both fit in a pocket and are easy to pick up.

I’m going to also back up Hive Pocket, it’s a great abstract game.

One thing I always have in my backpack is Zombie Dice. Easy to learn press-your-luck game with a little strategy, comes in a small package, and I really like the dice.

I will mention Exploding Kittens, it’s quick to teach and doesn’t take long to play. However, as you said, language could be an issue, and it’s one of those games where some of the rules are written on the cards. (I know language independence isn’t what you’re asking for, I just thought I’d mention it). That being said, the art is adorable, and I think it’s a fine game for beginners, or to play on a bus/train/plane.

I will also mention We Didn’t Playtest This at All because I’ve played it in the back seat of many a trip and we never noticed where the time went, although the chaotic nature of the game may frustrate certain types of players. It also takes about 30 seconds to explain the rules. (Also, it is language dependent, all the rules are on the cards).

I’m also a fan of Mancala. It can fit in a pocket. And I swear, one of the proudest moments of my life was when I finally, at the age of 42, beat this little girl at this game (she was 12, she had been killing me at Mancala for over a year!)


Thanks everyone for the replies. You are too nice. Here are some of my thoughts:

Sushi Go, Cockroach Poker, Zombie Dice - Never played these, but they seems easy and fun and are in stock it seems so they are going on my “considering purchase” list.
Skull – I played it once in a pub where I made the game on the spot using pen and coasters there, so basically I already have the game. Beautiful art on the official game is tempting, but it’s going on “eeeh, if I am feeling fancy” list.
Condottiere – Game where you fight over Italy while being in Italy? Now we’re talking. I though that game is out of print, but there is new version from Z-Man? This is definitely going on my “both eyebrows raised with excitement” list.
Catacombs: Conquest – I had no idea this game even existed. I like this, because it’s so different than everything else here so I will check i out.
Liar’s dice – We have bluffing here with Skull already, and I like Skull’s swiftness more, but stuffing few dice into cracks sounds doable.
Red7 – Played it, it was fun, but it also feels a bit too finicky.
Star Realms – Although I think there are ways to play with more than 2 people, it’s mostly 2 player game, right? Not interested in those as much.
Diamant – Diamant has too many fiddly bits. I could get rid of the meeples and treasure chests and camp. Just keep cards, dungeon tiles and gems, but then you have to know to keep separate tiles for what you have already have in your camp and it will lose some of the theme.
Deep Sea Adventure – The only thing I’ve heard about this game is that most often everyone dies and loses, but also people seem to like it? What a puzzle.
Kobayakawa – No idea what this game is, will look into it.
HMS Dolores – Looks good, but Sushi Go looks more newbie friendly and appealing.
Duke, Onimata and also Mancala – These are strictly head to head 2 player games. I am not much into those.
Hive Pocker – Bit too abstract, but so many people said it’s good, I have to look into it.
Exploding Kittens and We Didn’t Playtest This at All – I really don’t like this sort of games that are just “something just happens at random”. I had my fair share of fun with Munchkin and Fluxx, but that was long time ago and now I wouldn’t enjoy them.

So thanks again and maybe once I am in Italy I will post some updates on how is it going.


Also, I see no-one has suggested Love Letter yet. Also not entirely language independent, but fairly easy to sleeve and slip in a translation if needed with just 16 cards.


Carcasonne is actually surprisingly compact considering the box it comes in. I ditched the score tracker mat and just used a notepad app on my phone to keep score, and then all the tiles and a small baggie for the meeples fit perfectly into a standard ‘plastic container from the Chinese takeaway’ box everyone has lying around.


Hanabi and Welcome to the Dungeon are both very small boxes.


rhino hero! dexterity games are language independent and rhino hero is one of the best. It is one of my go to travel games. It is already pretty small but if you ditch the box it’s tiny.

**animal upon animal ** is also very good and if you ditched the box it would be pretty small.


Wow, I don’t see how we missed that. I don’t see how I missed that, that’s also a game I keep in my backpack pocket!