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Long distance travel is a perfect time to play games. You’re all stuck in the same place and it can be dull. What better way to while the time away than with a few games. But the table space is limited, the seating arrangements are fixed and the journey can be bumpy, so what games work well in these conditions? Here’s a few ideas for you.

 

  • Quixx. In this roll and write game, players work on individual player boards (writing with dry erase pens), which fits onto a small table or you can hold in your hand. Boards have four rows of different dice colours, each row contains the numbers 2 to 12. Roll different colour dice and choose which totals to cross off on the corresponding row colour of your board. Some colours require decreasing numbers to be crossed off round on round, other colours require increasing numbers. You must always work from left to right and can’t go back and fill in missed numbers. Gain points for each crossed off number. The winner has the most points. My own version of this game comes with a foam-lined lid, designed to give you a perfect noise-dampened dice rolling tray. This works really well on planes and trains where a dropped dice could cause havoc!
  • Coloretto. Play multiple games of this simple set-collection card-drafter in between visits from the drinks trolley and trips to the loo. Each card is one of 7 colours. There are also some wild and bonus cards. You’ll need enough space on the table for 4 rows of 3 cards. This card tableau needs to be in reach of all players.  In turns players choose to either take a card from the top of the deck and place it in one of the four rows, or to take a whole row of cards. If they take a row, they are out of the rest of the round. At the end of the game, players score points for three of the colour sets and negative points for any other sets of different colours. Aim to collect as many cards as possible in only three sets and as few other cards as you can.
  • The Mind. This is a co-operative card game where mind-reading or x-ray vision would be a distinct advantage. The deck consists of 100 cards numbered 1 to 100. Each round each player is dealt a few cards. The players aim to place the cards down in sequential order, the player with the lowest card dealt placing their card down first. The thing is, you can’t talk or signal in any way. You have no idea what the other players are holding. You have to make judgements based on probability and the amount of time people are leaving between playing cards on the central pile. As soon as someone plays a card that is greater than one left in someone else’s hand, the round is over and a loss is recorded. Play ever-more complicated rounds as more cards are dealt out each time and win bonuses to keep you progressing. You could conceivably play this across the aisle of an aeroplane, though it is much easier to play with people who are closer to you. Just keep your cards hidden from your neighbours.
  • Battle Kittens. In this card game, player draft different super-powered kittens into their hand, which they then divide up into squads to fight in three different battlegrounds. Each Kitten card has scores for the four attributes: Strength, Wisdom, Agility and Cuteness. Each battlefield will use a different attribute for the fight, so players want to form their strongest squads to battle in each location. In an interesting twist, battlefields may give more points to the player who has come second in the battle. Some kittens have special abilities which may help you win, or possibly lose, points. A small space is needed for 6 face up cards and a couple of draw piles.
  • Cockroach Poker. This is a game all about bluffing. Each card shows one of eight animals – bat, fly, toad, rat, scorpion, spider, stink bug and of course, cockroach. Your aim is not to take sets of four cards of the same animal type. On your turn, you select a card from your hand and slide it face down to a player of your choice, claiming (rightly or wrongly) which animal you are passing. The other player can choose to accept the card or to peek at it. If the player accepts, she must name the bug she thinks has been passed. If she is correct, it goes back to the original player and is placed face up. If she is incorrect, she keeps it for herself. If she peeks, she then passes the card on to someone else – again stating the bug the card is (different or the same as before). Etc. This is a light-hearted game that requires minimal space and is so fun that time seems to speed up (which can’t be bad on a long journey).
  • Nyet! Another card game – but card games are really good for travel.  This one comes with a small board which players use to determine the suits of the trumps and supertrumps, who will be starting player and how many points each trick is worth. All players need to be able to see this small board. So you could play as three people in neighbouring plane seats using the central table for the board or around a table on a train. When the conditions for the round have been determined, the round plays out as a whist-style trick-taking game with a few quirks. Keep track of scores on a notepad.
  • Take It Easy – On the face of it, this game isn’t as easy to play in limited space as it has tiles which need laying onto a board. However, each player has the same set of tiles, which could be put into small tupperware boxes and place on each player’s lap or to the side of the table. Players also have their own, individual board which they can place in front of them on a small table. Each hex tile contains three pipes (or stripes) of different colour that cross each other.  The aim is to lay tiles that continue the same colour pipe as far as possible. Points are awarded for stripes of a certain length and some colours are higher value than others. Each player plays independently and totals their own score when they’ve finished. Player then compare scores to declare a winner. This is a true multi-player solitaire game. You could be dotted around in different seats in your train carriage and you could still play this – apart, but together.

 

So there you have it, games to while away the travelling hours. Just make sure that you don’t get so carried away that you miss your train station.