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Top 10 Games To Play Outside

Games to play outside (10)
Games to play outside (10)

So the weather has finally started to improve and us gamers will venture outside, but there is a problem, how do we bring our favourite hobby with us? We all want games to play outside, don't we!

I have written this Top 10 list of games to play outside with all types of gamers in mind whilst also considering different budgets and table sizes. I have also considered games that don’t have too many light components that can get blown away as well as games that can be packed up quickly should the rain start to fall (let’s be honest that will happen). Hopefully you will find the right game for you and then you can enjoy your gaming in the summer sun and maybe invite a friend or two. 

Very Small or No Table – Love Letter & Just One 

My first choice for games to play outdoors is Love LetterThis is an amazing micro game from Z-Man Games for 2 to 6 players and definitely falls into the smaller budget end of gaming. This game can be taught to anyone and plays in less than 20 minutes.. This is an amazing micro game from Z-Man Games for 2 to 6 players and definitely falls into the smaller budget end of gaming. This game can be taught to anyone and plays in less than 20 minutes. 

In this card game you are tasked with delivering a letter to a princess and you want to be the ‘last one standing’ at the end of the round. If you are successful you will be awarded with a royal seal / token and if you collect enough of these you will be crowned the winner. You can eliminate other players by using the special powers on certain cards or you may even come unstuck with the card in your hand if you have to reveal that you were holding the princess card before the round ends. A great game that is very portable in its lovely velvet purse. 

The second recommendation for a small or no table is Just One. This party game for 3 to 7 players will really get everyone laughing. It is a simple (but clever) word game where players will write on a stand a clue word to help the current active player guess the secret word. The twist is that if multiple players use the same clue then these words are eliminated.

Regardless of whether or not the player correctly guesses the word the active player will move to the next person and the fun continues. The rules do include a scoring option but we always just play this for laughs. Being a simple word game you can get anyone involved in this from a long time gamer to your nan who has just come to visit for tea in the garden. 

Small Table – Harvest Dice & Colt Super Express 

Now, games to play outside on a small table. Perhaps there will be space for a cuppa while you're at it! 

Some of us gamers also like to garden and even grow our own fruit and vegetables, so what better way to play a game outside than Harvest Dice. This excellent roll and write game from Danny Devine (more from him later) gives 2 to 4 players the chance to grow as many tomatoes, lettuce and carrots as possible all whilst feeding the cute little pigs. This is a really small box game and will take up very little room on the table. You are essentially grouping your different vegetables together all whilst trying to increase the points each set will score. It plays in less than 30 minutes and has been a success every time I teach it to new players. 

What to do when you really want to play Colt Express but outside? The easy answer to that is Colt Super Express. This is a vastly smaller (and less fiddly) game than the original Colt Express. It allows 3 to 7 players to shoot, run, climb, and jump on a horse all to become the best and most ruthless train robber in just 15 minutes.

It keeps the same clever card play in which you program your character with three cards and then turn them over and carry out the actions one at a time. The problem being that your devious plans can be scuppered by the actions of the other train robbers.  I actually prefer this simpler and very low cost version over the original and with its easy rule set and cards and meeples components you can teach it to almost anyone. 

Medium Table – Azul, Kohaku, Cascadia, King Of Tokyo 

Four games now that meet the requirements of being able to play them outside but also require a slightly bigger table. 

Azul by Michael Kiesling doesn’t need much of an introduction as I am sure everyone has at least heard if not played this modern classic by now. It has been so successful that there have already been 3 sequels and there is even a chocolate version being released soon. I personally love the original and will take this game outside and play with anyone. It has such a clever drafting and placement mechanism and is very easy to understand. It looks amazing on the table and the components are of such a high quality it is hard to see how Next Move Games makes any profit from its sales. 

Kohaku (Once again designed by Danny Devine) has become a favourite in our home since we purchased this game in April. This is a beautiful tile laying game about building the best Koi pond by combining different coloured Koi with scoring tiles (made up of flowers, statues etc). The tiles are made of a good quality and have some weight to them so it would be hard to blow them out of position.

The game allows 1 to 4 players to build a pond in less than 30 minutes and a special mention to the solo play which provides an excellent version of the main game with very little upkeep. Although this isn't the deluxe version sold via Kickstarter this 2nd edition retail version still has a very high quality to the components. 

Talking of high quality, the next game I would like to recommend is Cascadia by AEG and Flatout Games. This is another tile laying game but this increases the difficulty just enough that it will attract the more seasoned gamers to your table and due to the amazing illustrations by Beth Sobel it will also attract nature lovers as well. Every turn you have to draft a new landscape tile as well as the animal placed with it. You then place these in front of you building your wilderness as you go. At the end of the game you will have connected mountains, rivers, deserts, grasslands and forests which are populated by deer, bears, salmon, foxes and eagles. There are many different scoring objectives that can be randomised meaning no two games play out the same. 

Finally in the middle size table games to play outside, I have included something for the kids and big kids alike. King of Tokyo (or King of New York) from 'iello' is one of the most popular and successful games series to be released and for good reason. This game allows you to live out the dream of being a giant monster hell bent on destroying the city as well as the other monsters in it. It is a clever dice game similar to Yahtzee in which you have 3 chances to roll your dice to get the combination you want. I have the Dark edition which includes some of the expansions and a cool new art style but the base version of this game is just as great for getting people round the table to play some games.   

Big Table – Downforce & Camel Up (2nd Edition) 

Okay, so you have a big garden table and you have some friends coming over. These are two of my favourite games to play inside let alone in the glorious sunshine. 

Camel Up (2nd edition) from Eggert Spiele is probably the funniest game you will ever play. Everyone is betting on the outcome of a camel race, however these camels are crazy and they stack up on each other and two of them even run in the wrong direction and drag any other camels on their backs back towards the start. The components included in this 2nd edition are very good especially the pyramid that is used to store and play dice. The game allows 3 to 8 players and lasts less than 30 minutes. But you will definitely be playing a second game straight after finishing.

My final recommendation is the brilliant Downforce from Restoration Games. This is one of my favourite games of all time. It is a race game where you also bid for ownership of one or more cars before the race begins. The race is played by using cards which have numbers next to the colours of the cars which indicates how far each car will move.

You can block opponents, race ahead or hold back until a final push at the end of the race. Three times during the game you can place bets on the outcome of the race. Once all cars have crossed the finish line (or crashed out as there wasn’t enough cards to get them to the finish) final scores are calculated from the money you spent on the cars, your successful bets and the finishing positions of your owned cars.

There are two expansions which increase the track total from two to six. Once of the expansions even includes jumps and animals that get in the way of the leading cars. If you are like me you will play all six tracks in one sitting totalling your winnings for a grand prix style season of races. 

I hope this list of my Top 10 games to play outside has helped you continue your awesome gaming hobby outside. I also hope the weather holds but if not we can always play games indoors. Happy Gaming from Board Game Happy.