Whether you’re stuck inside your van due to bad UK weather, trying to save on using your limited battery or simply are looking for a nice way to spend the evening, board games are a fantastic way to have fun. However when it comes to van life board gaming you have to consider some pretty unique factors when choosing a game. Limited storage space as well as table space mean that a lot of the games you might consider playing simply won’t fit in your van. In addition to that the number of players required for van games is usually between 1 and 2 players and so it’s vital that a board game work well at those player counts.
Therefore I’ve put together a list of my favourite board games for van life that are small to pack away, small to play and work well with one, two or a small group should you meet some fellow vanlifers on the road.
Board games for one person
If you’re looking to host your own game night and you travel alone then there are a bunch of fun solo board games that pack away into tiny boxes but pack a big board game punch.
For anyone trapped inside their van then look no further than Friday for a solo board game night. You play as Robinson Crusoe’s trusty helper Friday trying to help him survive the perils of the deserted island. You start with a weak deck of cards and as you overcome challenges your deck of cards becomes ever more powerful in the hopes you may eventually defeat the pirates and escape. Friday is a challenging and fun deck building game and will be unlike anything you’ve played before.
Onirim is a solitaire game which bares a passing resemblance to games like Freecell but with much more going on. You are trying to collect cards within your labyrinth to unlock doors of different colours and finally escape the nightmare. Discarding certain cards provide you the ability to look ahead and plan what’s coming and drawing evil cards forces you to discard your hand. Escape before the deck of cards runs out or forever live in the nightmare.
Board games for two people
For those of us lucky enough to be travelling with a partner you may want to try out some of these board games for your van life board game night.
Despite how it looks, Love Letter is a cut throat card game about courting the affection of a Countess in an old timey court. It is a simple game in which each player has only had to deal with one card at a time and is trying to either identify your opponents character or surviving till the end of the game. Each card has an interesting action you can take to garner information or guess your opponent’s card which makes Love Letter a game of intrigue and back stabbing. It plays well with 2 but also can be played up to 4 and when you take it out of the box it can store down into a tiny little bag.
Hanamikoji is a beautiful card game in which you are trying to gain favour from 7 geisha by providing them with more gifts than your opponent. It’s an incredibly simple game to understand but deceptively difficult to master. You are limited to 4 moves per round and each move allows your opponent to get first choice on cards you may want to play and so it’s a balancing act of giving your opponent something without giving away too much. A tricky game which repeats multiple plays. It’s one that comes out all the time in our van and is a true favourite.
Board games for groups
The following games are board games that while are also good for 2 players they work wonderfully with groups; so if you have a large family travelling or simply park up next to some new friends, you can bring out these games and wow the crowd.
Zombie Fluxx feels like wonderfully thematic game simply using a deck of cards. It starts exceedingly simply, you draw one card and then play one card, that’s it. However the cards you play will add more rules to the game, new allies, zombies and the way to win; it’s as the name suggests, the game is in constant flux. It’s a silly card game that has players making zombie sounds, picking up a tonne of cards, playing even more and then trying to collect certain allies only to see the goal of the game change the following turn. It’s mayhem in a box.
It may seem stupid, but bare with me when I describe The Mind to you, because although it doesn’t sound like it would be fun it really is, it won a tonne of awards so it must be good! The goal of The Mind is simple, each round you work as a team to play down the cards from your hand in ascending order. Cards are numbered 1-100 and each round you start with an additional card in your hand, starting from 1 card in your hand in round one up to 12 in round 12. The catch, you can’t talk, say anything, make any signs or indicate in any way what card you have, everything is played with the power of your mind. It seems stupid and impossible but after a while playing you’ll feel like you’re Derren Brown reading each others minds. It’s stupid and fun and is great for 2 players and even better as a group. A must own for the family board gamer.
And there you have our list of van life board games, perfect for camping, travelling or just keeping in your van ready for a rainy day. All of the above pack away into tiny boxes and if you’re like me you’ll just decant them into one easy to pack back and you’ll end up with loads of interesting board games stashed away in your van ready for board game night.