Light, easy, fun game?
June 29, 2015 12:40 PM   Subscribe

What is the lightest-weight thing that can bring the most joy and laughter to 4-5 people?

Aside from LSD, I mean.

At the end of this week I'll be doing a 4-night backpacking trip in Maine. I would like to bring some sort of game to play at night. As I will be carrying a ton of other stuff I would like whatever I bring to be light and small.

I don't want to just bring a deck of regular playing cards. I am open to card-type games as long as they're not just a rehash of some regular card game.

Whatever I bring should be:
  • Light weight. I will be carrying it on my back uphill for several miles.
  • Compact (think a deck of cards... only not a deck of cards)
  • Easy enough for a bunch of tired people to quickly learn
  • Fun. Like, rolling on the dirt from laughter fun.
  • Durable. Perhaps moisture resistant. It doesn't need to last longer than the trip, however.
  • Clear enough that it can be played by candlelight. No fine print to read, etc.
  • I need to have it by Wednesday, so I'll need to pick it up locally (Boston area) or (preferable) order it Amazon prime (or overnight)
  • Tasteful enough to play with 4-5 strangers
  • Doesn't need a table to be played on.
  • Non-electronic. No iPhone or GPS games.
Aaaaand... go.
posted by bondcliff to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (44 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Bring a Dixit deck and leave the board and pieces at home.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:42 PM on June 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Family Talk.
posted by heathergirl at 12:44 PM on June 29, 2015

Bananagrams should be playable on a cleared spot of ground. Scales between 2-5 or 6 players (or more, even, I forget), nice and compact, and the tiles are indestructible. Plus, it comes in a banana-shaped bag, so it's got to be good.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:46 PM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Was coming here to say Bananagrams, and you could even print your own on heavy paper and make it even lighter.
posted by jessamyn at 12:50 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, maybe Munchkin, too? It's a deck of cards (and you'll need some way of keeping track of each player's level - they suggest tokens, but a pencil and paper work fine) and is good if you like games where treachery is encouraged.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:51 PM on June 29, 2015

Cosmic Wimpout meets most of your criteria although I can't promise rolling-in-the-dirt levels of merriment. It's available via Amazon Prime, in either the no-frills tube of dice version (you'll need paper and pencil to keep score) or a nice traveling set with pouch and scoreboard. Have a good trip!
posted by usonian at 12:52 PM on June 29, 2015

If you can print stuff off, Cheapass Games has a ton of printable stuff that usually doesn't require more than the printed cards and a pair of dice. I'm particularly fond of Unexploded Cow, which does require Monopoly like money (they also have a template for that), but you could keep the money score on a piece of paper.

Is this group likely to be tired of Phase 10 or Uno? There's a variety of Uno from hell rules that make things considerably more interesting.
posted by joycehealy at 12:54 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, one more! I really like Guillotine - compact, dead simple to learn, clever premise. Win points by executing French royals. The cards have a little bit of text on them, but it's mostly large numbers and artwork. It's the size of a standard deck of cards if you take it out of the box.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:59 PM on June 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

Dobble is a fun, easy game. Basically, once you find the matching symbol on two cards, you yell it out (and there is always a matching symbol, though once you start to play you may not believe it)! This seems to be a cheaper version of the same game.
posted by Blissful at 1:01 PM on June 29, 2015

What I call "Telenary" but which is sometimes called Eat Poop You Cat is a party game rather than a competitive rules-based game, but it remains the most fun I've had with 4 or 5 people, and doesn't require anything other than paper and pencil.

There's also the game Ghost, which requires nothing, except players, and knowledge of the simple rules.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:07 PM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I should add, it would be preferable if everyone didn't need to be gathered around something in the center. We might all be on whatever logs or pads we can find to sit on, possible attempting to stretch out our tired legs and feet. We'll also be doing this by headlamp or candlelight.

The ideal sort of game would be something like Apples to Apples (though Apples to Apples would be too heavy), where everyone has their cards that they focus on and we just toss one of them into the center to occasionally be collected by someone. Laughter ensues. Nobody needs to constantly be focused on a board or a bunch of tiles in the center of the "table."

By all means recommend games that don't meet this particular criteria but if you have games that do, that's best.

Really, Apples to Apples would be the perfect game if it was lighter and everyone hadn't already played it a billion times already, but that's the sort of vibe I'm going for. CAH is right out.
posted by bondcliff at 1:10 PM on June 29, 2015

Twister. It doubles a tarp!
posted by jrobin276 at 1:11 PM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Really, Apples to Apples would be the perfect game if it was lighter and everyone hadn't already played it a billion times already, but that's the sort of vibe I'm going for. CAH is right out.

With this update, I am even more certain that a Dixit deck is exactly what you want!
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:13 PM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We Didn't Playtest This at All is weird and hilarious.

Celebrity requires only a pen and paper and can be pretty entertaining.
posted by rebekah at 1:13 PM on June 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hot Dice is my go-to group camping game (similar to Farkle). Durable. Cheap. Though it fails your sitting-around-in-a-circle test.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:25 PM on June 29, 2015

Liar's Dice is easy to learn and very fun.
posted by meta87 at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2015

How about the alphabet game ... I'm thinking of the one where you say "A is for apple", then the next person says "A is for apple, B is for banana" etc. and you're out if you forget what someone else said. You can give hints to keep it going if people have trouble. This is a good one because the rules are dead simple but it gets hard fast and allows a lot of creativity in the words you choose. When you get to Z, go back to A and keep going! I've made it through close to 3 alphabets - at that point each person is reciting like 60 words or something. That particular game included a 5 year old kid if I remember correctly - it's just a straight up memory test.

And you can't re-use words from the last time either. Usually you limit it to nouns, but that's optional ("I is for I'm f***ing sick of this game!").

Bonus: Weighs zero.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've played Catchphrase at a lot of parties. It's fun for sitting around a fire pit.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 1:34 PM on June 29, 2015

Cards Against Humanity if you are lenient on the "tasteful" criteria (and maybe after hiking or whatever with these strangers they will be friends enough to pull out this crazy game).... you will laugh so hard.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 1:42 PM on June 29, 2015

Or Superfight -- in a similar vein as but smaller/lighter than Apples and with less of the CAH "wow I wish I didn't know these people any more" risk.
posted by dorque at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Telephone pictionary is my go-to answer to this question, although 4-5 is a small group. All you need to play are pens and paper.
posted by capricorn at 2:07 PM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hear me out that good old "twenty questions" has been a surprisingly huge hit for even the hippest carload of road trippers! One person is "it" and thinks of a famous character, they can be real or fictional. Then the rest of the crew tries to guess who, and the team building that takes place as folks work together to reach consensus on 'official' questions is great. No circle gathering or any equipment is needed! One person keeps track of how many questions have been asked on their fingers.

My other usual camping game is threes but it usually involves circle-sitting. It only requires 5 regular dice and it's dead simple to learn. We usually bet quarters.
posted by leemleem at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2015

I'm a big fan of Story Cubes.
posted by Mchelly at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2015

came in to say celebrity and liars dice, so will just nth them :)
posted by pennypiper at 2:11 PM on June 29, 2015

If you have enough people to make a few teams Time's Up is a lot of fun. Sort of like Team Charades but a little faster paced. It's got a biggish box but ultimately it's just a deck of cards and a timer.
posted by jessamyn at 2:14 PM on June 29, 2015

Quiddler, Five Crowns, Phase 10

My girlfriend and I play all 3 of these pretty regularly... lots of bang for your buck

pro tip: totally playable on LSD
posted by bobdow at 2:26 PM on June 29, 2015

Monikers is a version of Celebrity that I've heard great things about. The full box would be too heavy, but given that they're crowdfunding a 112-card expansion/standalone version you could break off part of the entire game and take it with you.
posted by O9scar at 2:39 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Celebrity would also be good as it requires minimal light (you only need individuals to be able to read their slips of paper, you don't need table space)
posted by maryr at 2:47 PM on June 29, 2015

Another couple games like freecel's alphabet game -

* The Picnic game. This is more of a guess-the-secret-rule game - everyone takes turns naming what they'd bring to a picnic, and the leader (who knows the rule) tells them whether they did it right or not:

"I'm bringing an elephant and a candle."
"Great, EC, you can go."
"Uh....okay, I'm taking a kiwi and a watermelon."
"Sorry, galvanized unicorn, you can't go."

And you just do that over and over until everyone's figured out that the "rule" is that each person has to name two things that match their own initials.

* Go nuts with different mini mysteries types of situational puzzles. My cousins were nuts for these things when they were eight and nine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

For young people, a Frisbee or similar.
posted by SemiSalt at 3:38 PM on June 29, 2015

The Resistance!
posted by ghostbikes at 3:41 PM on June 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yes to the Resistance game! You don't need to face anyone (because you are a LYING SPY I JUST KNOW IT) and it's amazing fun.

I originally came in here to mention Superfight, too.
posted by erratic meatsack at 3:44 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Say Anything is exactly what you want. You can take the cards and board and markers out of the box and fit them squarely in your backpacks. Funnest party game ever.
posted by jbickers at 4:35 PM on June 29, 2015

+1 to The Resistance, came here to say that. Avalon if you want a more medieval themed version instead of futuristic.
posted by miasma at 4:36 PM on June 29, 2015

What people are listing fall into the category of Parlor Games. This is a fantastic collection. Memorize the rules to 4 or 5 that use few or no props and you're set. Strongly recommend you play Decadence at the end with that smug bastard who has been winning all the other games being 'It'. Not that I'm vindictive...
posted by plinth at 4:46 PM on June 29, 2015

Best answer: Snake Oil. I've played this with about a dozen different groups, all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds, and every single person has had an absolute blast, many of them going on to buy copies for themselves. It's fast, it's fun, it's clever, it's as long or as short as you want it to be, and some of the stuff people come up with will surprise the hell out of you, or have you wiping tears from your eyes as you bust your gut laughing all over the place. Honestly, it's dynamite, give it a try.

Protip: if playing over multiple sessions with the same people, keep track of which cards have been used. You need to keep it fresh.

Note on non-preview: Snake Oil is made by the same company as Apples to Apples.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:51 PM on June 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

(Also, you know about Apples to Apples To Go, yes?)
posted by theweasel at 9:00 PM on June 29, 2015

I was thinking I'd recommend Monikers, but got beat to that particular punch.

Of the light, fun games I own:
1. Coup. Lie, steal and kill your way to victory.
2. Resistance / Avalon. Lie your way to victory.
3. Sushi Go! Everyone picks a card then passes their hand around the circle. Cards combo with other cards in the deck in simple teachable ways, and whoever has the most points wins!
4. One Night Ultimate Werewolf. A single round of lying your way to victory. Technically has a moderator app for the night phase, but it's not required if you know them all.
posted by pwnguin at 11:41 PM on June 29, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. I bought We Didn't Playtest This at All and Snake Oil.

I just hope the people I'm hiking with all have a sense of humor. If not, screw 'em. I'll be vacationing with my family in a couple of weeks and I can always use the games then.

Feel free to continue suggesting games for future generations.
posted by bondcliff at 5:55 AM on June 30, 2015

Doesn't quite fit with your 'not round a table criteria', but my favourite travelling game of this sort is Jungle Speed. It's kind of like Snap but for a bunch of people. Definitely gets the energy up, and can lead to full on wrestling if people take grabbing the totem too seriously, which you can't say about Dixit.
posted by greytape at 3:51 AM on July 1, 2015

Response by poster: I took We Didn't Play Test This on the hike but we never even played it. Too tired each night, too many black flies. I'll take it on the family vacation next week and play it then.
posted by bondcliff at 5:13 PM on July 5, 2015

I highly recommend Hanabi . It's a cooperative card game - the only way to win is if everyone works together. Not sure it fits your requirements entirely as it requires everyone to look at each other, sitting in a circle.
posted by Political Funny Man at 2:04 PM on July 6, 2015

For next time, if Apples to Apples has been overdone, and CAH is not appropriate, try Other Foot.
posted by booksherpa at 11:47 PM on July 12, 2015

Response by poster: We Didn't Play Test This At All was a HUGE hit with me, my 13 year-old son, my wife, my friend from Portland who brought me socks in the pattern of PDX carpet, and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.

From now on I shall carry a banana wherever I go. Comic Sans is awesome.
posted by bondcliff at 11:14 AM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Going to Curacao - all advice welcome!   |   iPad dock/speaker thing/clock type question Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.