Top 10 Board Games that Come in Small Boxes

Geek Culture Tabletop Games

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There’s nothing like a game you can throw into your bag – ready to pull out whenever the mood strikes, or even as a social device; ‘Hey, I’ve got this super cool game with me…’ But small doesn’t mean pint-sized; Here are some of the ten best games ever made that fit in a jacket.

1) …and then, we held hands

2 players ♠ 45 minutes ♠ Ages 12 & up

Around $16 according to

A co-operative game about relationships and emotional journeys. Oh, and you can’t talk.

The illustrations of artist Marie Cardouat (Dixit) give the game a beautiful, haunting quality.

…and then, we held hands is a game about empathy, compromise, and balance, with lavish illustrations and wonderfully simple design. Players must journey around the board together, playing cards from each other’s hands and arriving in the center at precisely the same time.

An evocative experience, …and then, we held hands is one of the most unique and memorable games out there.

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2) Arboretum

2-4 players ♠ 30 minutes ♠ Ages 10 & up

Around $40 according to

Build your own little forest, and then have a nice walk through it. Arboretum is a deceptively simple game that hides some vicious depths.

How vicious can a game about trees get?!

Each game, players attempt to build their Arboretum using sequences of tree cards – not knowing, of course, which trees their opponents are holding. Trees are scored by how long of a path you can walk through at the end – with numbers in ascending order, of course!

…but if your opponent is holding the 8 of Ashes while your highest Ash is only a 7? You score nothing. Trees, eh?

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3) Bottom of the 9th

1-2 players ♣ 20 minutes ♠ Ages 13 & up

It’s all tied up in the final inning with only moments to go…

Image credit: Gab Pal

Bottom of the 9th is a game that recreates the tense moments of the last inning in baseball. Can you strike out the batting team, or will they score the single run they need to win the game?

This game of careful, tense pitching – followed by frantic dice rolling as the players scramble to the bases while trying not to get tagged out. Bottom of the 9th is as intense as it gets in such a small package.

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4) Capital Lux

2-4 players ♠ 30 minutes ♠ Ages 10 & up

Around $12 on

The Capital provides opportunities for all, but only one can prevail.

Artist Kwanchai Moriya (Kodama, Catacombs) provides his vision of a science fiction future.

Capital Lux is a card game of razor’s edge decisions – bluffing, sacrifice, and manipulation – as players try to build up their own cities with clerics, merchants, scholars, and agents – but none may ever outshine the Capital.

Send your best and brightest – or save them for yourself? Who can ride the political line and come out ahead in this game of margins? Welcome to Capital Lux.

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5) Condottiere

2-6 players ♠ 45 minutes ♠ Ages 14 & up

Around $21 according to

Battle for Renaissance Italy with the power of mercenaries, heroines, winter, and the Pope.

Bishops and Drummers and Courtesans, oh my!

Condottiere is a long standing classic card game where players are trying to eke out control over portions of Italy, trying to commit just enough military force to win the game while being aware of devastating plays from the other side.

A well-timed Drummer can double the effectiveness of your forces while Winter can neutralize entire armies. Condottiere is a game of brinksmanship, timing, and shouting ‘NOOO WHYYYY?!’ really loudly at your friends.

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6) Dale of Merchants (1 or 2)

2-4 players ♠ 40 minutes ♠ Ages 10 & up

Around $19 according to

Adorable animal merchants trying to outsmart each other in a race to the finish.

The competition just got a lot cuter.

In Dale of Merchants (the gameplay in 1 & 2 is identical, just choose which set of animals you like more) players try to stock a market stall as quickly as possible to prove you are the best at merchanting.

To help you out, you have observant owls, cunning crocodiles, plucky polecats, and all manner of beast and fowl who would love to help you out. A sharp, extremely well-balanced card game with just the right amount of cute.

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7) Grifters

2 – 4 players ♠ 30 minutes ♠ Ages 14 & up

Around $16 according to

These are not your ordinary criminals, and Grifters is not your ordinary card game.

Masterminds, hackers, and conmen.

Set in the world of The Resistance, Grifters is a card game about building powerful combos with your gang of thieves and using their abilities to complete high stakes jobs.

It’s a dirty race to the finish as players extort, steal, bribe, and charm their way to victory, but this quick playing card game loses none of its luster even after repeated plays. Highly recommended.

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8) Monikers

4 – 20 players ♠ 60 minutes ♠ Ages 18 & up

Around $35 according to

“The only game I’ve ever seen someone lose because they were laughing too hard.” – Thrillist.

A box of everything.

Also known as Celebrities, Monikers is a very old game given a fantastic polish. Imagine charades with supplied cards, except with three, increasingly difficult rounds using the same cards.

Round one: do anything you want. Round two: Use the same cards, but you can only say one word. Round three: Same cards, no talking. Round four: same cards, no talking, and you can only use your head. Round five…

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9) Sushi Go!

2 – 5 players ♠ 15 minutes ♠ Ages 8 & up

Around $7 according to

A cute game about collecting the best combinations of sushi so you can eat them. Sushi Go!

Who knew wasabi could be this whimsical.

Just like a conveyor belt, the cards are always moving – you only have time to grab one, so grab the one that will score you the most! Will you go for small bites or try for a huge score with plenty of points?

Sushi Go! is a simple, pleasant game that can be played by almost anyone and still require strategy and timing. Don’t forget dessert!

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10) Welcome to the Dungeon

2 – 4 players ♠ 30 minutes ♠ Ages 10 & up

Around $9 according to

No, YOU go in first. No, I absolutely insist…


Welcome to the Dungeon is a game about walking the line between ‘I’m the toughest, meanest, most powerful dungeoneer out there’ and actually proving it. How much equipment can you take off before you can’t beat the monsters? What about your friends?

It’s last one standing, winner takes all. Welcome to the Dungeon.

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2 thoughts on “Top 10 Board Games that Come in Small Boxes

  1. Condottiere, unfortunately, is out of print in the US and nearly impossible to find. Shut Up & Sit Down caused a run on the last copies when they reviewed it and the only way to find a new copy at this juncture seems to be buying a Chinese language copy on Alibaba and downloading English directions on BGG.

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