As the summer months approach, so we grab opportunities to worship our fickle sun whenever it chooses to appear. The barbecue is dusted off and the patio hosed down for the imagined nightly al fresco dinners. We’ve developed strategies to manage the odd gust of wind when eating outside, the rock on the paper napkins, for example, but even a gentle breeze can completely ruin outdoor game playing. Playing cards take flight, plastic game pawns glide and paper money dances about in the air, to the soundtrack of the frustrated family. At mealtime it doesn’t matter if a few leaves of lettuce are blown across the table, but at game time is critical that everything stays where it has been put. Nobody wants granny to end up with their hard earned £5000 note, after a windy interlude. But don’t despair, the British summer doesn’t completely prohibit outdoor gaming, you just need to choose games with weather-resistant components. Here are some ideas you can try:
- Kamisado. A two-player strategy game played on a more colourful version of a chess board. Each player controls 8 satisfyingly chunky ‘dragon towers’, which can move straight forwards or diagonally forwards. The colour square your piece ends up on determines the colour piece that your opponent must move on his/her turn. Your aim is to get one of your pieces to the other side of the board, whilst preventing your opponent from doing the same. Play multiple rounds in the sun or easily transfer the board between rounds. This game won’t even feel a few drops of rain.
- Upwords. This is a popular alternative to Scrabble, where letter tiles are stacked on top of each other to change words. The higher you stack the letters, the more points you score. The whole game is made of sturdy plastic and the tiles are designed to tessellate vertically, so the towers aren’t about to topple over. I reckon you could play this in a full blown thunderstorm. If you do, please send me a video.
- Railroad Ink. This is a ‘roll and write’ game in which everyone is working on their own board. Four communal dice are rolled. These dice give sections of road and/or rail that each player must draw with dry erase markers on their board. Over 7 rounds, players create their own network of interconnected roads and railways. The boards are laminated and thick, so can be held if sitting or placed on a blanket, if you’re having a picnic.
- Rummikub. This is the tile laying game based on the popular card game, Rummy. Players lay tiles from their hidden rack to build up sets and runs of numbers and can rearrange tiles that have already been placed to give more options for placement. The tiles are weighty and will not not skate across the table in a gust of wind. Rainproof and hardy, this is a good option for those who enjoy a classic.
- Tantrix. The only components in this puzzly game are the 54 hexagonal bakelike tiles. Each tile contain paths of three of the four possible colours. Players must try to place tiles to create the longest line or, ideally, loop, in their colour, whilst placing tiles that force their opponents to help them. Tiles are weather-proof and the tile bag will easily fit in a spare corner of your picnic basket.
Perudo (aka Liar’s Dice). In this bluffing game each player has a cup and a set of five dice. Players roll their dice, secretly look at them, then cover them with the cup. In turns players make declarations about the dice on the table e.g. “There are seven 4s.” Each declaration must be greater than the last. At any point a player may challenge the declaration and depending on the result, someone loses a dice. The last player standing with any dice is the winner. Dice and plastic cups. Perfect for outdoor gaming.
Tokyo Highway. A breezy day will add a layer of complexity to this road building dexterity game where a steady hand is essential. Players gain points when they’re able to construct a road that travels over or under a previously constructed one. If you’ve mastered the weather-free version, take it outside and see what happens!
Now roll on summer.