Shelf Savers! Five Games in Small Packages
Do you live in an apartment or just don’t have a lot of storage space? Do you travel frequently? Here is a list of games that provide big fun in a small box.
- Love Letter by AEG
Love Letter is an incredibly short game that is kept in a small box or a little bag depending on your copy of the game. A round of the game usually lasts less than 5 minutes, and a game lasts less than 30. Love Letter is a social deduction game. Each person is dealt a card, on their turn players draw an additional card and select one to play. How each card works is written directly on the card. Some cards knock other players out of the game and some cards may force you to be out of the round. As player’s cards are revealed they are out of the round. The last person standing or the person with the highest ranking card wins the round. The winner of the round gets a letter token and then the deck is reshuffled and players play again. The winner of the full game is the person with the most letter tokens at the end of the game. Part of what makes this game great is that you can play until one player gets 5 letter tokens, or you can play this as a filler game. A game that can be played while waiting for your perpetually late friend because you can always just count up the tokens when Mr. Needsawatch arrives, declare a winner, and move on to your next game. This game works for 2-4 players, is kept in a tiny box or bag, is very light weight, and doesn’t have very many pieces making it a good game to take on vacation as it can easily be played in airports or on small tables while on the go.
- Welcome to the Dungeon by iello
Welcome to the Dungeon is a press your luck game for 2-4 players. For those who love Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder the theme of this game will be very familiar to you. The idea is that you are filling a dungeon with all your favorite bad guys: goblins, zombies, orcs, vampires, golems, liches, demons, and a dragon. An adventurer is selected to take on the dungeon, the adventurers include a mage, a rogue, a barbarian, and a warrior. Each adventurer has equipment to help them take on the dungeon. The game play works by selection one adventurer to take on the dungeon. Then each player takes a turn either putting a monster into the dungeon, or discarding a monster but when you discard a monster you must also discard a piece of equipment from the adventurer. The game of chicken continues until one brave soul remains. That brave player must take the adventurer and whatever equipment they have left through the dungeon. If the adventurer prevails they get a success card,if a player gets two successes they win, if a player gets two failures they are eliminated from the game. Rounds continue until someone has 2 successes. This game comes in a small box, plays in less than 30 minutes, and is fun way to test your bluffing skills. In a two player game I have tricked my opponent into a dungeon with a dragon or a demon, after removing the equipment needed to defeat such a foe, on several different occasions. That friend doesn’t play this game with me anymore. One of the reasons I really appreciate this game is because the game play is very unique. It is difficult to create a game with a chicken style of competitiveness and be able to strike a good balance between strategy and light mechanics. But this game hit the nail on the head! This game has a sequel called Welcome Back to the Dungeon that gives you a new group of adventurers: the princess, the ninja, the necromant, and the bard. This game works as a standalone game or can be combined with Welcome to the Dungeon.
- Dragon’s Hoard by Renegade Game Studios
Dragon’s Hoard is a game for 2-4 players. This game is super cute as it has colorful sheep that are concealing great riches. As a dragon you want to collect the sheep with the best riches. To win the game players race to collect 10 treasures, then the treasures are counted and the wealthiest dragon is the winner! There are many ways to collect points in Dragon’s Hoard, collect the best treasures, collect a lair and then collect treasures in the same color of that lair, or play cards to prevent other players from getting the cards they need. To play this game shuffle the colorful sheep into a main deck and then set out four sheep to serve as your field. Each player is given four cards to start with. On their turn players draw two cards, then take two actions, or decide to pass. Actions can be played in any order and the options include: play a card from your hand or play a treasure from your hand. If a player opts to play a lair that is the only card they can play for that turn. Lairs allow you to get extra points for collecting treasures of the corresponding colors to the lair. In order to play a treasure you will have to discard sheep in the corresponding colors to the treasure. So as a dragon you need to collect sheep carefully so you can fill your lairs with glorious treasure. This game is quite silly which adds to the fun, but it does leave me asking many questions like, “what does the dragon do with the discarded sheep, why is their treasure in the sheep? Why are sheep so colorful? Who dyed the sheep all the pascalian colors?” These are questions I shall ponder as I play this wonderfully compact and affordable game. This is another game that would travel well as it is a deck of tarot sized cards and doesn’t require any additional pieces and plays in less than 45 minutes.
- Hero Realms by White Wizard Games
Hero Realms is one of my favorite deck builders. It is a very straightforward to play, if you are transporting just the base game it doesn’t take much space, and it provides hours of enjoyment. This one is a little longer than some of the other games on this list. Hero Realms lasts at minimum 45 minutes. In this fantasy themed card game players start with 5 cards, the main deck, the marketplace, and the draw deck. Players flip over five cards and lay them in the center of the table and these serve as the market cards, there will be a stack of fire gem cards that go to the right of the market cards. Buy market cards and use the damage to smash your opponent’s 30 life points into oblivion. This game has tons of expansions including character packs that allow you to play as a cleric, ranger, fighter, thief, or a wizard. The character packs definitely add a another level of strategy to the game. There is also two boss deck expansions that turn Hero Realms in a cooperative game, then take on a real challenge and get the story mode “Ruins of Thandar.” Once you have gotten addicted to this game and own all the expansions it isn’t really a shelf saver anymore. Still this is a fantastic deck builder that is easy to teach, fun to play, and comes in a small box at least the base set doesn’t take up much space.
- Tiny Epic Series by Gamelyn Games
Gamelyn Games makes a series of games that come in small box called the Tiny Epic Series. My favorite so far is Tiny Epic Galaxies. In this space themed worker placement game players are given a player mat, tracker tokens, and a secret mission. Two more planet cards are flipped over than there are players. Players roll dice and perform the actions depicted on the dice. These actions can be resolved in any order. The goal is to fulfil your secret mission and get to 21 victory points before your opponents. One of the unique mechanics of this game is that you can use culture points to follow another players action. This encourages all the players to continue to pay attention even when it is not your turn. Tiny Epic Galaxies takes about 45 minutes to play. Most of the games take about the same amount of time. What is truly amazing about these games is that they are not re-skins of the same game, Tiny Epic Kingdoms, Quest, Zombies, and Mechs all work differently. Tiny Epic Kingdoms is an area control game that has some battle elements, whereas Tiny Epic Zombies is survival game where you need to manage your resources in order to survive a zombie invasion. Gamelyn Games is currently working on a Kickstarter for their newest game, Tiny Epic Tactics this game is going to be basically a miniature war game. It looks like it will have all the strategy and mechanics of a regular war game, but comes in a tiny box and can be played in an hour or less. The retail version of this game will be available in stores after November, but I had to back the deluxe version. I couldn’t help myself i needed wooden meeples, and extra maps, and mini-expansions!
There you have it. Five games (or more) that won’t take up much space, but will provide hours of enjoyment. These are a great way to grow your collection without having to worry about your space issues and these games are also going to be gentle on your wallet.
Got any small games you love? Let us know in the comments.