Daily Illuminator

September 14, 2019: Backpack Games!

Each year, between business trips and vacations, I fly about one to two times every month. After years of airline flights across the world, I've slowly built a catalog of games that are a blast to play and don't take up too much space in the backpack. (When you plan for a nine-day trip to Hong Kong and design the entire journey around carry-on only, that backpack space is valuable; you must carry only the most compact of games.)

  • Yahtzee: Steal the Deal – At less than three inches to a side, this portable Yahtzee game is the #1 entry in my list of backpack games. It helps a lot that it is one of the best Yahtzee games Hasbro ever published; it's just too bad the game is long out-of-print and becoming difficult to find. But if you can find a copy, grab it! From the same evolutionary tree that includes Risk Express and Elder Sign, Yahtzee: Steal the Deal uses cards and dice and gives you specific target dice rolls every round. Works great for two!
  • Age of War – Larger in size than Yahtzee: Steal the Deal, Reiner Knizia's Age of War is from the same family of games as that Hasbro offering. Originally known in Europe as Risk Express, Age of War again uses dice and cards . . . though this time you're competing to capture territory. If you can't find Yahtzee: Steal the Deal, this makes a great substitute. And while I would never take both on the same trip, it's great to own both games since it allows for variety between trips.
  • Zombie Dice Horde Edition – Though the basic Zombie Dice game costs less, the Horde Edition is the better travel game because the dice bag allows you to collapse everything to take as little space as possible. Leave the expansion material at home on your travels to make the game take even less room in your bag! The big benefit to Zombie Dice as a backpack game is that it is so easy to learn that you can even include the non-gamers you meet in a session.
  • Scrimish. There have been a number of Stratego-like card games over the years (Hera & Zeus and the Wyvern CCG stand out as favorites), but none have been as easy to carry as Scrimish. The game is a single deck of cards in a small tuck box, and it carries the hidden-unit mechanics and feel of Stratego without the need to carry the board and all the loose bits. A good choice . . . and again for two players. The game is sold in decks of different colors, though, allowing for more players at a time.  

What are your favorite travel games? Join our forums and let us know!

-- Phil Reed

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