Who else is unbelievably excited for beer gardens being open now? Finally, we can sit out in the sunshine (or the snow, if this crazy weather continues) and enjoy a hard earned pint. And as we all know, nothing goes better with beer than board games.
We just did our list of top 5 games to play outdoors, so what’s the difference between that list and this one? Well, games to play outside was for those games in which you had open space, but no table. This week’s top five requires the use of a table, but each game is small and easily portable, quick to play, and can be set up and put away in a matter of seconds.
So tiny, you could fit all five of these into a backpack and still have room for several bottles of hand sanitiser, here are our top 5 games to play in a beer garden.
For those who like to drown their friends: Deep Sea Adventure
Almost as soon as we started playing and teaching Deep Sea Adventure, it earned the affectionate nickname ‘Everybody Drowns’.
A simple to learn game of deep sea diving, players roll dice and make their way down underwater, swiping up treasures as they go. The deeper you get, the better the treasure, and you can collect as many as you like! So feel free to fill your pockets with riches aplenty.
But there’s a catch. All that glittering gold you’re holding has to make it up to the surface with you, and the more treasures you’re holding, the quicker the oxygen available to the whole group will deplete. Plus that treasure is heavy! Don’t expect to be going anywhere fast whilst it’s weighing you down.
The best part of Deep Sea Adventure has to be that shared oxygen pool. There’s way too much joy to be had in drowning deep underwater covered in jewels and priceless artifacts, whilst your friend with their single golden chalice makes it almost to the home submarine before running out of breath. Sure, you both died, you both score no points for that round, but at least your death looked more meaningful. This one lets you be so delightfully evil, I’m giggling to myself just thinking about it.
For working together: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
Okay, we can’t all be evil all of the time, I get it. So how about a nice game of teamwork as you jet off together to a distant planet?
One of my favourite games of last year, The Crew takes the traditional form of a trick-taking game like Hearts or Whist and gives it a modern twist. The Crew is a co-operative game in which you’ll be trying to get particular members of your crew to win specific tricks. Who has to win which trick is common knowledge, so that makes things nice and simple. But we can’t have things being too easy, so for the duration of The Crew players cannot discuss strategy, or talk about which cards they have in their hands.
What emerges from this, is a delightful puzzle, of determining who has what and trying to narrow down the best way to get a particular player to win their trick. The Crew is at times tense, or satisfying, needing reasonably complex strategy in a game that’s quick and easy to learn and a single round rarely takes longer than ten minutes.
For families: Go Nuts for Donuts
Just because the kids can’t drink the beer, doesn’t mean they should be left out of the fun. So here’s one for families (but works great in adult groups too!)
The aim of Go Nuts for Donuts is to make the best collection of donuts. The only way this game could be better is if you actually got to eat all those delicious looking donuts afterwards. Go Nuts for Donuts is a reasonably quick playing card game, in which a number of donuts, with a range of different ways of scoring points, are revealed for the round, and each player secretly selects which donut they would like. Then everyone’s choices are revealed, and you get to take your donut, so long as nobody else wants the same one. There’s an element of social deduction here as you try to work out which donuts everyone else is going for, whilst you try and hope that nobody else has noticed how awesome that donut on the end is.
An easy one to get everyone playing straight away, Go Nuts for Donuts is one of those games that we’ve found fits every group. Be warned though, it might make you pretty hungry.
For those with loads of energy: Anomia
Not one for shyer players, as Anomia causes players to race to shout out seemingly random words.But for those of you who want a game that’s high speed, high tension and hilarious, Anomia might be your perfect match.
It’s basically snap, but whilst you’re watching to see if you’re symbol finds a pair, there’s another element to each card that you’ve got to be aware of. As well as the symbol, each card also states a category, think ‘Fairytale Character’ or ‘Shampoo Brand’ or ‘Zoo Animal’, do you see where this is going? It’s not enough to realise your symbol matches with someone else’s, you must shout out something from their category before they shout something from yours. So, in reality, shout Snow White before someone else manages to scream ‘Loreal.’ Then there’s wild cards to throw in and add even more tension to the game because suddenly your squiggles not only match with other squiggles but also with spirals.
Sound confusing? Don’t worry, it all falls into place once you start playing. Leaving you with just the challenge of trying to think of a brand of washing up liquid at lightning speed.
For smaller groups: The Mind
So as awesome as beer gardens are, and as much as they’re a great, fun environment for game playing, they can have their drawbacks. Namely, they can get a tad noisy, so that can make playing games a bit tricky.
Which is why what you really need, is a game where you don't have to talk, in fact, a game where you're not even allowed to talk or communicate in any way.
Enter: The Mind.
The Mind is a co-operative game in which players work together to play cards in numerical order. Like in The Crew, players cannot talk or discuss strategy in any way, instead they must play in silence. So how do you know whether the cards in your hand are lower than the ones held by other players? The answer to this, is that you don't know, you can't know until you play a card and either hear the other players around the table breathe a sigh of relief, or lose a life.
Unlike The Crew, The Mind works really well with just two players, so a great one for couples!
So beer gardens are open, the sun is shining, it's time to get some board games to the table!