With August here, we’ve entered into the depths of summer, where beaches, barbeques and patios are calling. For those of us who love sitting down and busting out a few good games, summer can sometimes get in the way. If you are wondering how you can combine your desire to be outside with your desire to play more games, look no further!
There are a few key things to look for when deciding what games to bring outside. Most importantly, you need to know where you will be playing. Do you just want to play on your porch, or are you thinking of playing on the beach during swimming breaks? How durable a game is goes a long way to determining where it is safely playable.
Durability Level – Play on the Lawn!
Molkky is an outdoor Finnish dexterity game where players toss wooden pieces across a lawn to try and knock down a wooden pin at the other end. The basic setup involves standing up the twelve pins (each labelled with a number – the point value) so that the most valuable pins are in the centre. The trick is that if you knock down more than one pin, you only score points for the number of pins knocked over, not the point values. A quick little lawn game where the first player to exactly 50 points wins.
Durability Level – Play on the Porch!
The Duke is a great supplement for those strategy gamers that love chess but are looking for something a little bit different. In The Duke, players must try to capture the other player’s Duke piece using any of their pieces, but start with just the Duke and some Footmen. Players can reinforce their forces by pulling more pieces from the bag, and the diversity of units is what makes this game exciting. Not knowing what’s coming forces you to drastically change your strategy – both the Longbowmen and the Assassin fill completely different roles, and you never know which one you’re going to get. The Duke features stained wooden pieces on a 6×6 grid, and can be played anywhere you can set up a small board (I even played it recently at a restaurant, drawing the grid on the brown paper that they used as a tablecloth!).
Durability Level – Play on the Beach!
Hive is another one of those two player chess supplement games, but employs a different method of thinking. Both players have 11 tiles including one Queen Bee and several different insects including Ants, Grasshoppers, Spiders, and Beetles. In Hive there is no board, and players only need a relatively flat surface to play. The “board” is simply made up by the pieces, and the hexagonal tiles determine where pieces can be placed – everything has to be physically adjacent, for example. The game is over when one players has surrounded the other player’s Queen Bee with other insects, at which point the former player wins. Since all the pieces are made of a relatively durable bakelite, this game doesn’t necessarily need a table for you to play – it could even play on the beach!
Exit: The Game
Durability Level – Play Anywhere!
Exit: The Game is the first game (or rather, series of games) on this list to features cards, and the only limitation to where you can play this game is that you don’t want the cards to blow away. Whether you toss an elastic band around them or put them under something heavy is up to you. Currently there are three games in this line that you could pick up: The Abandoned Cabin, The Pharaoh’s Tomb, and the Secret Lab. The Exit games are legacy games, and you can only play them once as you will cut, rip, and tear the components of the game as you play them. Structured like escape rooms, they are a great way to come together for 60-90 minutes with a few friends and see how well you can work together to solve the puzzles. The Exit experience is unlike any tabletop experience I have had before, and since you will recycle the components at the end, you can really play this anywhere that isn’t super windy.
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space
Durability Level – Play on the Porch!
Another game featuring cards, Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space did us a favour and made cards that are a touch thicker and a touch heavier. In this game, players are either human or alien and have different objectives: the humans want to escape the ship before dying, and the aliens want to find and kill the humans. There is no board, and players are secretly recording where they are on the map in booklets in front of them, while paying attention to others’ moves to figure out where they are and whether they are alien or human. When a player enters a space, they draw a card, which will either be white, red, or green. A white card means that you don’t tell anyone where you are, while a red card forces you to tell the group the exact coordinates of where you are. Green cards are just like red cards but you get to lie and tell the group any set of coordinates that you want. Since the group has no idea what card you drew, the game always feels like bluffing and double bluffing as you run away from (or towards) the members of the other team.
As the Summer continues to heat up, get outside and play some games! It’ll be just as fun as playing inside, but you get the lovely sun on your back.