Baxter’s Top 10 Great Small Box Games

Hey hey folks!  Welcome back to the den. I hope the past week has treated you well?  This week I’m looking at my Top 10 favourite games that come in small packages.  Great for taking up less shelf space without compromising on gameplay or for taking on holiday, when everyone’s allowed to do that again.  So, let’s see what’s on offer!

 

10. Coup

Beginning life as a small production from an Indie developer, Coup was reprinted in 2013 with a shiny new set of clothes and updated to take place in the futuristic universe of The Resistance rather than in an Italian city-state as was the case in the original 2012 printing.  Coup is a bluffing game where players are trying to catch one another out by bluffing, or calling what they believe to be the bluffs of the other players.  The last person with a face down card remaining, referred to as influence, wins the game!  Sounds simple, however the real game isn’t played on the table, but rather in the minds of the players as they search the faces of their rivals for any signs of deceit. Greater than the sum of its meager parts, the game only consists of a few cards and coin tokens, Coup relies on the social interactions of the group to drive the emergent narrative forward.

 

9. Shelfie Stacker

This fresh new take on the drafting systems of games like Azul and Sagrada, Shelfie Stacker has the added appeal of its board game theme.  Imagine a board game where the goal is to organise board games, it’s crazy and I love it! Players draft dice representing the games in their collections and attempt to organise their shelves in the best possible way to achieve their objectives, whether that be arranging their games by colour, having less games on their shelf of shame, or filling a row from bottom to top. Shelfie Stacker works since the type of people who buy and play this game are likely pretty into their board games beyond a casual pass time. Use this game to introduce a newbie to board games and they’ll likely end up confused by the in-jokes, but when played with a like minded group to just get it, Shelfie Stacker really comes into its own! 

 

8. Kingdomino

If you’re looking for a medium weight tile laying game to engage you, then I suggest Carcassonne, if however you want a more light-hearted experience, then look no further than Kingdomino. Placing tiles to expand your kingdom the core of the game relies on connecting at least one end of each domino tile to a matching one on your board.  Points are awarded based on the matching areas created and the number of spaces covered in the 5x5 grid. Kingdomino doesn’t try to be anything more than a fun time filler. The pups can get in on the action too making this one a great choice for family game night! 

 

7. Railroad Ink

This great little roll & write game has players building railroads and other routes on dry erasable boards.  Railroad Ink is a series that seemingly came out of nowhere and has quickly established itself as a heavy contender in the roll & write space.  Available in several ‘colour’ variations, each one offering a unique spin on the formula, Railroad Ink is immensely playable as both a single player experience and as a group. Rolling the dice and using the results to try to out-track your opponents is an engaging way to spend an hour or so here and there.  The production value is great too with well designed dice and components that suggest this is a serious game that plans to be around for a while! 

 

6. Fort

Leder Game’s Fort is a great example of how to make an innovative variant of the tried and true deck builder. In fact, I’ve been so impressed with Fort that it made my recent list of my top 10 deck building games! In Fort, childhood friendships and rivalries are at the core of the game as players try to entice friends to their yard, friends being represented here as cards, each with their own abilities to help you achieve the goals of building your fort or becoming the most popular kid on the block by gaining the most victory points. The best part about Fort is the difficult decisions you have to make when choosing which friends to play with, knowing that any friends you ignore, may be recruited by that snot nosed kid up the road, isn’t that right Kevin?

 

5. Under Falling Skies

Under Falling Skies is basically space invaders meets Independence Day (the movie not the US holiday). In this dedicated solo dice placement game in which you must defend a city against a fleet of alien attack ships as they swarm out from the ever descending mothership. Dice are placed in various rooms of your underground shelter by rows with the aliens descending in that row one level for each pip on the die. Higher values mean stronger actions but also a faster approaching enemy.  Including rules for both one-off games or a full campaign, Under Falling Skies provides an epic fight for survival in a package filled with dice, plastic ships, game boards and more.  Many elements of the game are adjustable too, so no two games need be exactly the same!

 

4. Targi

This 2-player worker placement game has players competing to trade for goods in a Tuareg  desert community. Targi sees players placing their workers on action spaces determined by cards laid on in a 5x5 grid taking the actions or rewards on those spaces, the game can be as much about action denial as it is about worker placement.  Do you gain the salt you need, or deny your opponent the last card he needs to complete his set at the expense of taking a more useful action yourself? A deceptively complex game wrapped in an intriguing theme, much like the Tuareg men the game depicts, Targi always delivers!

 

3. Fallout Shelter

Like many, I’m a huge fan of the Fallout video games, with my great grandfox having started with the very first 2D isometric Fallout through to my own recent forays into Fallout 76, between us, my family have played every game in the series!  The one I was least impressed with (other than 76 of course) was Fallout Shelter the mobile game. It just seemed a bit bleh! Imagine my surprise when they not only released a board game version of the app game, but it turned out to be… awesome! Fallout Shelter tasks players with building and defending their own Vaults in this fully fledged worker placement game add new rooms, expanding the actions you can take and keep the denizens of the wasteland at bay.  Fallout Shelter packs an apocalyptic level of fun into its lunchbox themed tin!

 

2. Cartographers

Cartographers is a roll & write game in which you are tasked with mapping the landscape for the queen of the fantasy world of Nalos.  Rather than rolling cards, players flip cards depicting the “dice faces on them, instructing players in which type and configuration of land they have discovered, which are then drawn on each player's blank map sheet in whichever way they choose to place them.  The player with the highest number of reputation stars at the end of the winter season wins.  There is something strangely therapeutic about drawing in the terrain and gradually filling out your map, seeing the trees, rivers and houses take shape. Better still if you use coloured pencils and you’ll end up with a beautifully detailed map you can take pride in!

 

1. Mint Works

Mint Works is by far the smallest game on this list, at least in terms of box size, but don’t be fooled as it could just as easily be a full sized worker placement game.  In Mint Works, players are placing workers, in the form of mints, to build their businesses and upgrade their workforce.  The amount of game you get here is actually impressive, cards represent the various buildings, upgrades and abilities you’ll unlock or utilise during the game and the little mints are a cute representation of the theme. 

The soft pastel colour palette brings to mind the printed comics of the 50’s and you could imagine the motivational workplace posters hanging in the walls of your factory in this style.  Mint Works delivers a solid gameplays experience that only benefits from its smaller form factor.


Thanks for joining me here and I hope you found something on the list that appeals to your sense of fun and storage. Be sure to share your own pick for your favourite smaller boxed games or let us know what you think on the Game Kings Gamers page!  Until next week, remember to brush your tails before bed and stay safe!

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