If you’re currently ‘enjoying’ a typical English summer, or are anywhere looking for games to take on holiday – camping, to a festival etc – check out this list of my most likely candidates for outside gaming.
all these games are either totally non-cardboard/paper, or are close enough that you’ll be able to get away with it.
So don’t waste your poor old phone or tablet battery trying to entertain yourself in the tent or on the beach – grab a few of these classic games and enjoy the last of the drizzle in the great outdoors.
The outdoor gaming top 10
- Mölkky: Pictured above, this Finnish take on skittles sees players throwing a wooden baton at a bunch of other lumps of wood – but there’s more to it than initially meets the eye. You get a point per pin knocked over, or the number on the pin if you can hit just one. Plus, once they are knocked down, they are stood up again where they landed – meaning it gets harder as you go on. You need to finish on exactly 50 points – bust and you go back to 25. Alternatively it can end up being last man standing, as three straight misses and you’re out. Plays up to 10 people.
- Pickomino (Heck Meck): This classic push-your-luck dice game (think Yahtzee, but good) comes with just 8 dice and 16 domino-style plastic tiles, so all you need is a flat surface. You roll dice Yathzee style to claim scoring tiles from the centre, but can also steal them from your opponents – adding a great take-that element. Plays up to 7 players in about 30 minutes. Pickomino review here.
- Hive: If you prefer a more chess-like, two-player only abstract game experience you can’t go wrong with Hive. The travel edition is just 22 plastic tiles in a handy carry bag – you don’t even need a board, just a vaguely flat area. Each player places/moves their pieces in an attempt to surround their opponent’s queen – with a game lasting about 20 minutes.
- Werewolf: This classic party game is great for big groups as the original plays 8-24 people – with more modern variations filling in the gaps in both directions (One Night Werewolf plays with as few as 3, Ultimate Werewolf s many as 68…). Games run from 10 minutes to several hours. Each player receives a card with a role – werewolf or villager (many have specific powers). At night the villagers close their eyes and the werewolves will plot and kill a villager – but by day everyone will discuss who they think the werewolves are – and put one to death. Great, silly and often loud fun.
- Hanabi Deluxe: This prize winning co-operative game sees players trying to lay their tiles onto central stacks in the right number and colour order – the big catch being they can see everyone’s tiles except their own! Each turn you can lay a tile or give a clue to another player about what they have – but with restrictions on what you can say it’s incredibly tricky. Originally a card game, the deluxe version uses domino style tiles and takes 2-5 players about half an hour to play.
- Crossboule: Another ‘proper’ outdoor game, Crossboule is all about throwing hacky sacks at a smaller hacky ‘jack’, much in the same way you’d play classic French game Boules – but sillier. Each round begins with the jack-thrower making a rule for the round – maybe throwing under your leg, off the wall, over your head etc. You get bonuses for getting close, but also for landing on/touching other sacks. And while it plays up to six, you can of course add more sets for more mayhem.
- Blokus: Another classic abstract board game, Blokus is an all-plastic affair – both board and pieces. The bits look like Tetris pieces and you can only connect yours corner to corner. The idea is to block your opponents off while laying as many of your pieces as you can, with both defensive and attacking strategies at your disposal. Blokus Duo/To Go is great for travelling but only two-player, while the big box version plays two to four – either version in less than an hour.
- Can’t Stop: This is another classic push-your-luck dice game, also with a plastic board and plastic pieces – and like Blokus you can even play on the move, as it is played on a grid. A game lasts about 30 minutes and takes 2-4 players, but you can buy extra playing pieces cheaply to take it 5 or 6. This one isn’t as nasty as Pickomino, as the essence is much more on the pushing your luck than in the take-that elements – so pick your poison (I recommend both). Can’t Stop review here.
- Qwirkle: This award-winning wooden tile game sees players matching colours and shapes to score points in classic family game fashion. Playing 2-4 players in under an hour it’s a brilliant abstract game of pattern building – and all you need is the 108 tiles in a bag. There’s also a dice version, Qwirkle Cubes, which is every bit as good (same player numbers and time) – and better if you rolling dice, I guess!
- Liar’s Dice (Perudo): Talking of dice, this has 30 of the little blighters – plus six plastic cups. Roll your dice, secretly hide them under your cup, and then guess, lie and fluke your way through as you declare higher and higher totals of a number with your very limited information (three 4s, four 2s, five 6s etc) – until someone calls the last player to guess’ bluff. Everyone then reveals their dice and you count so see who was right – the loser losing a dice. Simple, thoroughly entertaining fun.
With the exception of Hanabi Deluxe (which is easy to find, but a little pricey) all of these games can easily be found inexpensively at your favourite friendly independent online retailer – as long as your favourite online retailer sells games, of course. Or worst case scenario, they’re all on Amazon.
You shouldn’t have to pay more than about £20 for any of them either. So what are you waiting for? Become part of the great social gaming renaissance. Or if you really can’t drag yourself away from your smart device; Qwirkle, Can’t Stop, Blokus, Hive, Perudo and Hanabi all have apps too…
What I have I missed? Let me know below.