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Top 5 Games for Small Spaces


If your plans for the summer include endless waiting in an airport, or hours spent on a plane, maybe sat at table on a train or cramped in a caravan or tent, then boredom-busting games will be a must to keep your sanity intact. Space is usually hard to come by where holidays are concerned, but there are some neat smaller games on the market that are a perfect choice when you’re feeling the squeeze. Here are some recommendations of our favourite travel-size games for two or more players.

Exploding Kittens

This fun, quick paced card game is a great choice for families or friends on the go as it needs only enough playing space to have a card deck and discard pile. Suitable for up to 5 players, the concept is simple: don’t be the one to draw an Exploding Kitten from the deck! Cards have functions, such as skipping a turn, looking at the top three cards and forcing players to relinquish cards from their hand with the aim of getting hold of the limited number of ‘Defuse’ cards in the deck, or having cards in your hand that can see an opponent reveal an Exploding Kitten and (if they do not hold a Defuse card) and knocked out of the game. This continues until, with two players left in the game, the final player draws the inevitable Exploding Kitten. For a game with such a simple play mechanism and basic cards, it’s a surprisingly fun way to spend an hour or more with a minimal space requirement.

Odin’s Ravens

A little more space is needed for Odin’s Ravens but a coffee table will be plenty, and we reckon you could play this across two aeroplane tray tables too. The game starts with 16 scene cards placed between players to create a ‘route’ for two raven-shaped game pieces to move down. Each card has two scenes (think of fields, mountains, rocky canyons) that create the route there and back, and player must discard a card with the matching scene to progress down the path. It’s a game of strategy as on each turn players can pick up three cards, a choice from either the deck with scenes (which you can play outright to progress) or the ’Loki’ cards that create mischief such as moving the opponent backward, adding additional scene cards to their route, or moving yourself forward. It’s a fast-paced game that takes around 15 minutes to play, and in the event of a desperate shortage of space, the number of scene cards on the route can be reduced to create a shorter route. Or you can get inventive with the layout of the route with the space available. The sky’s the limit for Odin’s Ravens!

Codenames Duet

Another card game that works well in small spaces is Codenames Duet, which is the condensed version of the original Codenames game. You’ll need enough space to lay out a selection of cards, but its certainly still manageable on a coffee table or train table space. Codenames Duet is a co-operative two-player set up, challenging you to work together and find creative ways to link random words for the other player will guess. Over nine turns, players must guess nine correct codewords each and identify the friendly ‘spies’ without guessing the three ‘assassin’ codewords. All 18 codewords must be guessed correctly in 9 rounds so finding links to 3 or more words is the challenge. If your team mate guesses a word from a blank space on your grid, the turn ends. Guess an ‘assassin’ word, the game is over. Players have to think, not only about how they are describing the items on the cards, but also how the other player is likely to interpret their description – a lot of the cards have thematic cross-over, including the ‘assassin’ words! It may need a little more space than some of the other options in this selection, but we think it’s worth it for the fun that Codenames Duet brings to the (coffee) table.

Ticket To Ride London

The smaller sibling of the original Ticket to Ride game, TTR London offers a scaled-down version, both in size and complexity. The game board is compact enough to fit on most travel tables and the cards are smaller to accommodate space-saving play too. This version has a number of similarities to the original, such as the collection of coloured cars (taxis have replaced trains and locomotives) and tickets, but it’s a lot smaller and simpler. The destinations are landmarks from the capital such as Regents Park, Piccadilly Circus and Tower of London and there are a lot less of them with much smaller ‘trains’ to be built. There’s also new rules, such as additional points on offer for players connecting certain locations. This all stacks up to making a great TTR travel game that is simple for younger children to grasp and plays through quickly for board gamers on-the go.

Azul Mini

Azul Mini is a pint-sized version of the much-loved Azul. It plays in exactly the same way as Azul, with players taking turns to choose tiles and create completed rows for points, but has been squeezed down into a travel-friendly size. Azul Mini has smaller and thinner tiles that connect to the board via studs (helpful to keep the game stable during turbulence, or if the surface you’re playing on gets knocked) and the board itself is smaller. There’s also a slider on the board to help with keeping score. If you love playing Azul, we’d definitely recommend keeping Azul Mini to hand as a travel distraction – and if you haven’t tried Azul before, learning when you have the spare time is a perfect opportunity!