For playing on a crowded bus or train: Palm Island
It’s one of the most all-terrain board games, since, as the name suggests, Palm Island is played entirely using a deck of cards that you hold in your hand – no need from a table. Its very clever game system revolves around using resources to manipulate the top card of its deck in order to progress – and since it works very well for one player, it can be the perfect companion on a long journey in lonely.
Palm Island, Nuts! Publishing, around €13.
For ratatouille strategists: The End of Artichokes
This well-designed deck-building game gives you the sole objective of getting rid of the “artichoke” cards that are in your starting deck, evolving your deck through the purchase of other vegetables with various powers and effects. A good introduction to this type of game, easy to transport in its small box and playable almost anywhere (except, perhaps, if you go on vacation to Saint-Pol-de-Léon, where don’t like people criticizing artichokes).
La Fin des artichokes, Gigamic, around €14.
To think outside the box: The Mind
Already a classic, this little pack of cards promises you a somewhat disturbing experience: in this cooperative game, you simply have to place the cards of all the players in the center of the table, in ascending order, but without being able to communicate. So you have to “read” other people’s minds… The most amazing thing is that it works! Ideal for playing four or five.
The Mind, Oya, around €10.
To play at the aperitif: Smart word
Both very simple and a little tricky, Mot malin offers a small grid in which you have to find words and have them guess them by association of ideas. As these are drawn randomly, the difficulty of the games can vary from easy (most of the time) to horribly complex (from time to time). Accessible and fun, with rules that can be explained in a minute, it’s perfect for a few small games at the end of a busy day.
Smart word, Blue Orange, around €15.
For those who want a bit of “real” strategy: Happy City
Beneath its cute designs and its small format box hides a fairly complete game of resource optimization. Each player builds their city by buying buildings to optimize both their population size and their happiness, while keeping an eye on the progress of their opponents. Simple and fast games, but with the sensations of much more complex games; everything fits perfectly on a camping table or a TGV tablet.
Happy City, Cocktail Games, around €19.
For family evenings: Top Ten
You are a James Bond villain and you must threaten 007, but be careful, you must adapt your threat according to the card you secretly drew: the higher the number it displays, the more terrifying the threat will be … Each round, a new theme is drawn and one of the players is responsible for guessing the correct order of the cards held by the others. A party game that works best with five, six or seven players, and can slip into any luggage – it’s entirely possible to carry only a small deck of cards rather than the box whole.
Top Ten, Cocktail Games, around €20.
To travel with a child: Bubble Stories
A very good exploration game that can be played from the age of 4, Bubble Stories offers several small scenarios in which you visit an unknown place by choosing your movements and carefully studying the setting. It’s up to the players to tell the story that goes with it. Simple and effective, it will pleasantly occupy a trip or a downtime between two swims.
Bubble Stories, Blue Orange, around €10.
For Augustians who like puzzles: Unlock! short adventures
Unlock! Short adventures is a series of short-game adventures based on the Unlock system, released in mid-July. Six really minimal packs (thirty cards) are offered, for an escape game experience that fits in your pocket and can be played even on the beach (provided the wind doesn’t play up).
Unlock! Short adventures, Space Cowboys, €6.50 per pack.