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Board Games: The Summer Holiday Essential!

"Wait your friggin' turn, Martha, jeez!"


So, you're about to set off on your summer holiday! You've packed your sun cream, your language guide and a Monster Munch 14-bag variety pack in case the hotel food tastes funny, but it still feels like something's missing. Why is there a big, gaping hole in the middle of your suitcase? And how come your new copy of 'Dixit' seems to fit into it perfectly?

For some of us, board games haven't always come high on the 'absolutely necessary' check list for holidays, but without knowing the best kind of game to take, why would they? Nobody wants to accidentally pack a strategical war game when they're on a lads' blow-out in Ibiza, although it'd be safer and cleaner than every other activity out there. No, what we need – what we ALL need – is a guide on the best games to take on certain types of holidays. And what d'ya know, I've only gone and written one!

Family Holidays

Want an afternoon reading your book in the shade while the kids pick on dad? Try Survive: Escape from Atlantis, and let your kids run wild in splashy, watery, evil fun! Crack out the Carcassonne and build vast lands full of towns, fields, and sleepy farmers in the surprisingly tense game. Try ROFL! for an unsuccessful attempt to 'get down with the kids' as you learn a lesson in what exactly 'OMG WTH like, so, totally LMAO, 100% ROFL!' means, although be warned – it's no easy code to crack. If your teenager's too busy flipping their hair and scowling, then coax them out with Last Night on Earth, the beautifully cinematic zombie survival game that comes with a kick! If you have little 'uns running around then fill the thirty minute wait for dinner with Feed the Woozle, a game of silly snacks that's perfect for 3-6 year olds, or try Rat-a-Tat-Cat for kids over 6 who are already learning the art of cunning deception! Race to the Treasure, a game for the 5 year old in all of us, is a co-operative of peaceful harmony... it's all of you against the ogre!


Couples Holidays

If you're off on your first romantic holiday and you're worried about what to do together, don't be, because Bridget will see you through from the airport departures lounge all the way to a week later, when you're overdosing on giant Toblerones on the flight back. Use your blocks to build a clear, unbroken line across the board... until your opponent ruins it, that is! Lost Cities is a great couples game that uses cards to seek and explore forgotten cities, and really opens up some fiery debates about which of you is the best archaeological explorer. If you're starting to think about having kids, then play Agricola – the stress of living a provincial life with kids to feed and hard work to do is enough to make you shake hands and part ways right there and then. In Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, you decide to give it another go and focus more on breeding animals because you know what they say – three pigs and chicken will ALWAYS save a marriage!


Travelling and Backpacking Holidays

If you're setting off to go and find yourself in some exotic land, then discover a great new game too – Backpacker is a little gem that fuses different scenarios together to make problems for you to solve. The aim of this card game is to return home with the most photos out of your mates, because otherwise who will believe you about that monkey playing poker in Thailand?! If you're making pals from the whole world over, then think of Hive, Bridget, or Tantrix three games that only require you to recognise insects, straight lines and colourful loops respectively, which sounds like a crazy weekend spent with some dubious mushrooms. There's no language barrier to deal with here, and all three come in little portable bags, which are perfect for hostels, cafés, and more! If you're feeling the card vibe, go with Love Letter and use deduction and memory skills to become the Royal Hot Stuff for Princess Annette. Try Coup for some serious manipulation, as you bribe your family's way into power and destroy all those around you! Mapominoes is just like the Dominoes you know and love, but with a geographical twist designed to make you wish you'd listened more in school. If you're feeling old school then there's always Bicycle Cards for the pickings! Favoured by professional magicians, these are beautifully designed playing cards, and even come in an irresistible 'steam punk' version. As small as these games are, they'll pack a real punch for hours waiting between coaches or for when the scenic views just ain't cutting it!


Camping and Caravan Holidays

Back when caravans used to stock their own games, life was good. Alright, it was only Pass the Pigs, but that game saw families through some very rainy holidays on the coastlines of Wales! Better to be safe than sorry though, and Dixit is the ideal companion. As a card game, there are no teeny weeny pieces to squint in the grass for if you're camping, and a summer evening with a barbecue is the best time to perfect the story-telling craft. La Boca is right at home in a caravan site – spending ages shrieking at each other to find that last little cube is all too reminiscent of staggering home and trying to find your trailer after nine too many beers in the site's clubhouse. For even more action, try the frustratingly fun The Magic Labyrinth, where memory, skill, and moving almost blindly through a maze conjures up even more images of – you guessed it – a caravan site! Try the card game Munchkin for some campfire giggles and Snake Oil to figure out which family member is the slimiest – if you can't find them, it's you!


And there we have it; more games than you could shake a stick at! Remember, when you're on holiday, just relax. Grab a piña colada, a drastically oversized sun hat and the dice – you're about to ruin your opponents and catch a tan at the same time! Heaven!

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Jamie @ Mithril Wisdom - July 31, 2014

Cracking set of recommendations :) Whenever I go on hollibobs to West Wales, the suitcase is always packed to bursting. Some favourites are Munchkin, Fluxx, Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt Skullzfyre (I never get tired of calling it by its full title) and Rivals for Catan.

Jay Tee - July 31, 2014

Good list! I haven’t tried LOVE LETTER yet, can’t wait.
We’re just back from a few days’ camping, and enjoyed: PASS THE PIGS (Pig Out!!) , MONOPOLY DEAL (easily the best of any Monopoly variant – I won’t play the boardgame), and KINGSBURG, which has some strategy about it and needs a good sized table. And then of course, GIN RUMMY, a family favourite.
Holidays are the ideal time to play games, because nobody is in a rush. Perfect.

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