03 August 2010

Games on a Plane

As always, one of the first thoughts I entertain when planning for a long trip is what games I will bring with me.  I love games and own a lot of them--particularly board games and card games.  The thought of a sixteen hour flight has me wondering what the in-flight gaming possibilities are, especially since my brother and my game-lovin' cousins will be flying the friendly skies with me.

In anticipation of the trip, I asked for the game Chang Cheng for my birthday. Chang Cheng is a board game about the building of the Great Wall of China. Players try to build up sections of the wall, increasing their reputation in the eyes of the emperor, while at the same time defending the most important parts of the wall from the ever-threatening Mongol raiders. The theme is apropos, but the box is huge, which prohibits its inclusion in what promises to be a challenging packing job.  This one is best left to the Chien family reunion later this month.

The challenge is to find a game or games that will be popular, but will pack down to a manageable and portable size without significantly weighing down the carryon luggage.  My ever-reliable source on all things board game, boardgamegeek.com, yields some promising suggestions. Plus, I have a few ideas of my own.

High on the suggestion list is cribbage. Board and cards are all that are required. Fits the bill for being packable and somewhat light. Not sure how long I can play it, though, before tiring of it. However, even if a cribbage board doesn't make the trip, a standard deck of playing cards is a must.

Another one high on the list is a small, magnetic chess set. However, I'm not much of a chess player, and would get frustrated by it quickly. Much more appropriate would be Go, the ancient "surrounding game" invented in China over 4000 years ago--the game played by Confucius and Sun Tzu. I first played Go in college (I particularly remember playing a game against my dorm-mate, Jeff P., while watching the Yankees win the World Series in 1978). I'm not very good at Go, either, but it is an absolute must that I get a small magnetic set to bring on the trip.

Another game on the suggestion list is one of my favorite games, San Juan. I had practice packing San Juan into a smaller container than it's box when I took it to Florida earlier this year.  It's well worth the effort to bring it. Travel Blokus is another one I own and like, although it would be ever-so-slightly more awkward to get in and out of the carry-on. Although the pieces "lock" into place, a brief bout of turbulence might send the little plastic bits flying.

There are several suggestions of games I don't own, but might consider: Hive--one of the most highly rated games on boardgamegeek.com--is a consideration, although the pieces are a bit large for travel. There are suggestions for construction of a smaller, more portable set, though. Another suggested game I don't own is Roll Through the Ages: Bronze Age.  It's a dice rolling game of ancient civilization building--I've enjoyed playing the iPhone version for a while.  I'm a little concerned about the constant rolling of dice disturbing my fellow passengers, although with a little ingenuity that might be minimized. If not, it would rule out other dice rolling games, like Farkel, Phase 10 Dice, and Catan Dice Game.  For solitaire play, I'd like to try the print-and-play game Pocket Civ, a pencil and paper civilization building game.

Not on the suggestion list, but under consideration are Treehouse, Munchkin or it's western counterpart, The Good, The Bad, and the Munchkin (my cousins know the Munchkin games), and Pocket Scrabble.

Only a handful of these games can make the cut. I don't want to be lugging a backpack full of games, most of which we'll probably never find time to play, around China. So it looks like I've got some game trading to do in order to get those titles I don't own, some checking with my fellow travelers, and then some winnowing down of the candidates. I welcome other suggestions readers might have, as well.


Anonymous said...

Newark to Bejing flight was about 13 hrs. Our flight last year with Continental offered an extensive seatback video entertainment system: hundreds of movies to choose from, thousands of songs, and dozens of video games. It get Jeannette (age 8 at the time occupied for virtually the entire flight!). I've got a couple Chinese themed games that I'll bring to Delhi - we can check them out. David

MissLorieO said...

Many of the games you mention are available on the iPod touch (which I happen to know you have) for a few dollars per app. I have the official Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Uno and a few great cribbage and backgammon on mine. Plus card and other games. Many of them have multi-player, pass the iPod versions. It kept Dan and I well occupied when we traveled last year.