I make no attempt to hide the fact that I love small games. Some of my favourite ones have fewer components than the ingredients it takes to make toast! Haha okay so maybe not that small. But having fewer bits and bobs than I have fingers and toes is pretty darn micro (especially as I don’t have a full set anymore!). And many of the great ones are that economical on the component front, but achieve so much enjoyable, replayable gaming! So I am here to give you a selection of top micro games that will pack your pocket with more crunchy fun than a whoopee cushion made from crisps!
For me, Sprawlopolis is the grandaddy of micro card games. Not because it came out first. But because it incorporates everything a micro game should have: a pocket sized presence, crunch, multi-use cards, replayability, solo play, and fantastic optional expansions! In Sprawlopolis, you are trying to design the best new city by placing 18 cards in a way that achieves all 3 scoring objectives in play for the game. Co-operative or played solo, you have 4 different urban zones which will also score based on majorities at end game. How you place and where you can place are subject to restrictions. And there are also roads that will cost you points because, basically, highway maintenance sucks! 15 minutes of crunchy fun that also now has a number of excellent expansions including Beaches, Construction Zones, Interstates, Points of Interest and Wrecktar which are available here to pre-order
Again Squire for Hire ticks all the boxes in this category. And not only that but its 18 cards feature cute anthropomorphised woodland critters who are trying to get hired to help their favourite hero! Awww. Another card patching game, this time you are packing a bag of valuable items and trying to avoid carrying pesky junk! With a choice of 4 unique Squires (or more if you get the add-on pack), each one gives different end game scoring bonuses based on the type of items they prize the most. They can also mitigate the negative cost of all that rubbish taking up valuable space in your bag. But you have to follow their rules! A game for 1-2 players (or 3-4 when combined with the brilliant stand-alone expansion Mystic Runes), Squire for Hire now goes everywhere with me!
Moving away from card games for a moment, Tinderblox brings you a dexterity game that you can almost fit in the palm of your hand! As you can probably tell, it’s a game about building campfires and if you’re not careful in your placement, you’ll get burned! Flipping cards determines which piece you must add to those already on the Campfire Card. And tweezers must be used to help keep your fingers safe from the flames. If you cause a piece to fall or your piece touches the bottom campfire card, it’s instant elimination, aming this one hot pocket sized game!
A lovely themed 18 card game from Alleycat Games, Pier 18 is for 2-3 players and based on trying to construct the country’s greatest Victorian seaside pier. Here, each card has to be placed over the top of your previous card so that the pier you are building stretches out into the sea. You can cover as much or as little of the previous card as you like. But you will need to think about the Plan card you are following, as well as the general scoring condition for each of the 4 symbol types displayed. There are also Patron based bonus points up for grabs at the end of each round, so picking the perfect card each turn just got trickier!
Agropolis is the worthy successor to Sprawlopolis, especially in this micro games list. In effect, it’s a re-theme of and standalone expansion to that same brilliant patching, point producing game. But this time you’re cultivating the countryside! Vineyards, farms, fields, and orchards vie for space amongst tracks that will again score you negative points for carving up the rural idyll! And once more you can co-op the construction or go solo (which is suuuper tricky in the best possible way!). With 3 randomly picked scoring objectives also giving a total score to beat, Agropolis is a mini-beast that feels like much more game than its diminutive size, mini budget, and short play time should achieve!
Another awesome 18 card game that has captured my solo gamer heart as well as my competitive two-player one. Circle the Wagons will have you donning your Stetsons and boots ready for a night around the campfire. Played over two rounds, you draft cards from a circle to try to gain territory majorities, achieve scoring objectives, and rack up prosperity points. But for every card you pass over, your opponent gets to add to their collection! As crunchy as cold baked beans from a tin but a whole lot tastier!
Air Land Sea is a brilliant tactical two player tussle played over 3 rounds. Just 18 cards again, but that just means your war is going to be fought tight and tense! And trade-offs between possible actions is what this game is all about. Cards played and valued 1-5 trigger powers that manipulate either players’ cards in matching theatres, or can be used as wilds in other theatres. 6s are brute force power. Each round ends when all players have placed their 6 cards to the Land, Air, and Sea Theatres, or one player has withdrawn from the fight. Withdraw? Well, yes! You can because you don’t have to go into each battle guns blazing. Withdrawing early will mean you losing a round. But denying your opponent the chance to earn more points right there could just be what the Sergeant Major ordered in terms of final scoring! Plus with expansions content, you can extend your tactical battles beyond the original rules of war!
Love Letter – sounds so sweet….but don’t be fooled! In this small, velvet drawstring bag holds all the cards to the Princess’s affections! But you are going to be competing against up to 5 other worthy contenders in the heart-strings department! Every turn you draft a card and choose to lay one of the two cards now in your hand. With each one triggering a different ability, you’ll be deducing and manipulating your way around the romance department. With each round reducing the deck size, the stakes get higher, and those royal favour tokens become even more prized! Deduction in a diminutive size; perfect for any group with love and betrayal on their mind!
Okay so Hanamikoji doesn’t have the smallest of boxes. But it’s still just a few cards and tokens. And with only 4 actions per player, this is a mega-micro mind mashing game of the best kind! Vying to earn the favour of the famous Geishas in old town Japan, every decision counts in this I cut-you-choose crunchtastic 2 player card game. With cards numbered 1-5 (3 of each), you must decide which of the 4 one-time actions you will take on each of your four turns.
Will you bank a card from your hand? Will you offer your opponent one of three you are holding? You must use each action exactly once. And as you are drafting a new card into your hand each turn and allocating others to the Geishas, your strategy has to stay sharp! Whoever wins the majority of each Geisha type by the end of the round, will gain their favour. Scores are based on the total value of the favour you have gained per Geisha, and whoever gets to 11 first wins! And in a final tactical twist, if a new round begins because the winning condition hasn’t been met, the tokens stay where they were going into another head to head battle!
No micro games list could really finish without mention of one of the oldest types of small game – Top Trumps! You know the age-old battle of stats; whose dinosaur has more teeth, or whose car has more horse-power. And over the years, so many different themes have come out that it’s probably impossible not to find out that happily takes you back to car journeys as a kid! Luckily, Zatu stock a copy that features one of my family’s favourite objects – Tractors! Top Trumps featuring tractors! What a combination! But you don’t have to be down with the muddy like we are – you can trump anything from Disney characters to sea creatures to great bakes! 30 cards in your pocket – who will you Top Trump today?
I hope we have inspired you to think bigger than the box – game play comes in all shapes and sizes, and these pack a pocket sized punch for sure!
That concludes our list of Top 10 Micro Games. Is there any micro games we missed? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames.