Featured photo credit (resized): Matěj Baťha, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Small box board games are an excellent option for people with limited space or those who want to have a game to take traveling. This list is a collection of fun games that come in a box small enough to throw in a backpack. Our top pick is Best Treehouse Ever Forest of Fun. It’s a small box game that is whimsical, brutal, and fun. It’s a good option for most types of gamers.
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- Best Small Box Board Games in 2021
- Best Overall – Best Treehouse Ever Forest of Fun
- Best Euro Style Game – Oh My Goods
- Budget Option – Sushi Go
- Best Quick Play Game – No Thanks!
- Best Simple Game – Love Letter
- Best Push Your Luck Game – Deep Sea Adventure
- Best Easy To Learn Game – Coloretto
- Best Cooperative Hidden Information Game – Hanabi
- Best Dice Scoring Game – Clever
- Best Roguelike Dungeon Delve – One Deck Dungeon
- Best Game Similar to Exploding Kittens – Goat Lords
- Best Bluffing Game – Bamboozled
- What to Consider When Buying a Small Box Board Game
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Small Box Board Games in 2021
Best Overall – Best Treehouse Ever Forest of Fun
Best Treehouse Ever Forest of Fun is a deck drafting game. In each of the three rounds, you get to place cards to build your treehouse. This means adding rooms like an ice rink, an observatory, or a hot tub. At the end of each round, you score your treehouse based on the colors you have grouped together.
However, to make this a more competitive game, each round, players can alter the way the scoring is done. So you can maximize your points and stop other players from scoring so well. It’s a good mix of whimsical and brutal!
This game works equally well for 2 – 8 players. It only takes about 20 minutes to complete a full game of three rounds.
Best Euro Style Game – Oh My Goods
Oh My Goods is a resource building game. For such a small box game, it really packs in a lot of interesting gameplay. There are elements of worker placement, push your luck, engine building, and set collection. It feels like a much bigger game than the box suggests it will be.
This is a great option for anyone who knows and loves Euro-style games. It’s a little complicated with a lot going on, so it might not be the right choice for new gamers.
The game works well with 2 players and can have as many as 4 players in each game. It takes around 30 minutes to play through once you all have the hang of the mechanics.
Budget Option – Sushi Go
Sushi Go is a great game to travel with as it comes in a light but sturdy tin. The game is really easy to pick up and learn, and the cards are bright and colorful.
Each turn, you look at a hand of cards and pick on to keep. You pass the rest on. Once the hand is empty, you add up your score. And start another round. When all the cards are gone, the player with the best sushi wins.
This is a game for 2-5 players that takes no more than 15 minutes to play.
Best Quick Play Game – No Thanks!
In No Thanks!, the aim is to have the lowest score at the end. The first player turns over a card, and either takes it or pays to leave it on the table. Play continues with players either taking the card along with all the tokens on it or paying to leave it. Once it’s taken, a new card is turned over.
The game is simple, but the scoring rules add a nice layer of strategy to your choices. It plays fast and is simply fun.
This game works with a minimum of 3 players and a max of 7. It takes no more than 20 minutes to play.
Best Simple Game – Love Letter
Love Letter is an exquisitely simple and minimal game. It has a small deck of cards and a few red tokens. This is a game of deduction and intrigue. You use your cards to try and get your letter delivered to the princess by the highest-ranking member of the court possible. You play in rounds. The first player to win 3/4 rounds wins the game.
This game for 2-6 players is elegantly simple in design and concept. It takes about 20 minutes for you to win the princess’s favor.
Best Push Your Luck Game – Deep Sea Adventure
Deep Sea Adventure is a game of three rounds. In each round, you roll dice to dive up down the ocean. At each stop you make, you can pick up a treasure of unknown value. The deeper you go, the more valuable the treasure. However, the oxygen will slowly run out, and if you don’t make it back to the sub in time, you lose all your treasure.
Each round, the deeper treasures get more valuable, tempting you to push your luck and go deeper.
This game for 2-6 players takes around 30 minutes to play.
Best Easy To Learn Game – Coloretto
Coloretto is a great game to introduce to new people. It’s a simple set collecting game with a few twists that push you to think strategically. Cards that match your sets score positively while any other score negative, so you must pick with care.
This is a great family game for 2-5 players. It takes around 30 minutes to collect all the chameleons in the deck.
Best Cooperative Hidden Information Game – Hanabi
Hanabi is an interesting take on a hidden information game. You can see everyone else’s cards, but you can’t see your own. With that in mind, you have to work together to lay the cards down in the right order, relying on memory and teamwork to do so.
This is a pretty and fun cooperative game for 2-5 players. It takes about 30 minutes to launch your fireworks and find out if it was a success or if they just fizzled out.
Best Dice Scoring Game – Clever
Clever is aptly named. If you like Yahtzee as a kid, you’ll love this game. Each turn, you roll the 6 colorful dice and pick which one you want to keep. Any with lower numbers are discarded for other players to use. As long as you have dice left, you can roll up to three times. So you need to think strategically to maximize your score.
You earn points by collecting combinations of dice in different colors. The included score pad helps you to keep track.
This is a great little dice game for 1-4 players. It takes no more than 45 minutes to complete.
Best Roguelike Dungeon Delve – One Deck Dungeon
One Deck Dungeon is the ideal choice for anyone who likes RPGs but doesn’t want to spend hours building characters and games. The deck takes you through a dungeon where you are faced with numerous challenges to overcome. Each time you succeed, you can choose to get XP, an item, or a new skill. This is how you grow your character to delve deeper.
The game packs in many of the elements of much larger RPG and roguelike games into a really small package. This is definitely one that’s worth a try.
The game can be played with 1 or 2 players. It takes around 30 -45 minutes to play.
Best Game Similar to Exploding Kittens – Goat Lords
Goat Lords is a game that will look familiar to anyone who has tried Exploding Kittens. It has the same silly feel but offers a very different mechanic. If you like Exploding Kittens but want to try something new, this is a really good choice.
The game is essential about collecting pairs. However, you can steal goat pairs from other people in duels. The game is well balanced to prevent you from totally wiping each other out, so it stays interesting and competitive throughout.
The game works for 2-6 players and takes around 30 minutes to play through.
Best Bluffing Game – Bamboozled
Bamboozled is a fun little dice game. There are two dice, a set of 42 cards, and a dice cup—every turn, you have to roll a higher score than the player before you. If you don’t, you must bluff about what you rolled. Get caught bluffing, and you get a strike. Falsely accuse someone of bluffing, and you get a strike. Three strikes and you’re out.
To add an extra dimension, there are action cards. You start with one and can earn more through bluffing. These cards can help you to get out of a tight spot when you need some help.
It works with 2-8 players, so it is nice and flexible to group size. No matter the group size, it will take around 15 minutes to play through.
What to Consider When Buying a Small Box Board Game
Number of Players
It’s not uncommon for small box games to only support a small number of players. So it’s worth checking on the player count before you choose a game. If you need a game that’s more flexible, it can be a good idea to look for card based games as these are usually more flexible on player numbers.
Small box games tend to rely on either cards or dice. That means your likely to find a lot of deck drafting and dice collecting games. If these aren’t mechanics that you enjoy, then you’ll want to look for options like Best Treehouse Ever or Port Royal. These games feel more like big box games than some of the other options.
As with anything, it’s always a good idea to pick something with a theme you will like. The artwork on some of these games is very distinctive. Choosing one that you like the look of and has an attractive theme will make the game even more enjoyable for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a small box board game?
There are a few different definitions of small box board games. Some people are only referring to the size of the box, while others are referring to games that don’t come with a lot of pieces, and for some, they are ones that have minimal mechanics. For the purposes of this list, we have taken small box board games to be one that comes in a box that is sized for travel. There are also some options that meet the other definitions as well.
Are card games board games?
It depends on who you ask! However, ‘board game’ is becoming a very broad term. When you see it used now, it is referring to any game that is mostly based on physical objects. So that might be a board, it might be a deck of cards or a set of dice.
For those who really care about terminology, it might be better to call them all tabletop games. But, as most people just use the term, they know better board games is the most common name used for all these games that you play on a tabletop.
Are small box games as good as regular board games?
Just because a game comes in a small box doesn’t mean that it’s less fun than a full-sized board game. In fact, many of these small games have simple rules and are quick to play. This can make them more accessible and fun to play than some more involved options.
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Last update on 2021-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API