When packing for camp, there’s always that recommendation of bringing something to entertain yourself. At the same time, it’s not like electronics are something you can always have access to. My go-to is always board games, but try fitting Shadows of Brimstone, Zombicide, or Gloomhaven in your camping bag. It ain’t happenin’. And don’t even get me started on those really trendy for-board-game-backpacks. Goodness gracious, why not just strap a mini-fridge to your back.

All those constraints aside, I thought of 5 games that I felt would be rather entertaining to bring to camp that are slightly out of the ordinary and would probably garner you an award for the most unique tabletop board gamer in your cabin, tent, or yurt. At the same time, they aren’t excessively bulky and could probably even replace that inappropriate box of snacks you’re trying to smuggle in.

Campy Creatures (2017)

Players: 2-5          Estimated Time: 20-30 minutes

Revisit your favorite campy horror movies with Campy Creatures. You’re a mad scientist who needs humans (mortals) to complete your experiments, so you send out your army of creatures to retrieve what you require. The game uses hand management and set collection to achieve your goals and save the day. Will you collect enough humans? Or will your experiments fail?

The artwork will make you think of the heyday of horror and might even inspire in you and your friends your own campfire stories. Make sure you don’t fall into the pit-traps of getting stuck with the fickle engineer, the vengeful hunter, or even the deep sea diver and his unpleasant harpoon gun. Campy Creatures is good for a laugh and lots of fun!

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger (2018)

Players: 1-100 (Recommend 1-4)          Estimated Time: 60 (depending on how many chapters)

Most of us remember reading Choose Your Own Adventure books. Your grade school teachers might have even had you write your own. Yet while we all treated it like a storytelling device, had we ever really thought about it being a tabletop game? Z-Man games has answered your unasked question in the form of a thrilling cooperative storytelling adventure game.

You and your gamer buddies read through the chapters of House of Danger and follow the options at the end of each card. You gather equipment, face various challenges, and look for clues to help you solve the mysteries. Players take turns reading the story cards and making your decisions, but watch out for a premonition of your own death! They will leave chills running down your spine!

While the box might be a bit large and might be considered heavy for your camping backpack, treat it like packing a book that you can share with your whole cabin! Worth it for the campfire suspense and you could do a chapter a night! Pick up this game and relive all the magic of your favorite adventures by choosing your fate!

Fairy Tale (2004)

Players: 2-5          Average Time: 30 minutes

Fairy Tale is a fantasy themed set-collecting, card drafting game that plays so quickly it’ll make your head spin! Easily transportable in the box or a Ziploc, Fairy Tale is a wonderful game from Japanese designer Satoshi Nakamura, picked up by Z-Man games, that will have you playing round after to round to see who can make the best combos and get the most points for your creatures. The artwork is gorgeous and will leave you with inspiring images as you drift off to dreamland in your bunk.

Kodama: The Tree Spirits (2016)

Players: 2-5           Estimated Time: 40 minutes

Kodama are little tree spirits and they have a goal to help grow the best tree in the forest. As you build a tree off of your trunk base, you are looking for images that match to create sets, but each Kodama also has a goal that you want to achieve. To make matters even more complicated for the poor Kodama, their work is assessed after each season and they have to fulfill that goal as well. Each Kodama, though, has their own view of what success is, but at the end of the four seasons, will you have the most amazing tree?

Kodama can play 2-5 players and is based on set collection and card placement. The images on the tree branches are the sets that you are trying to match up for points and the actual tree limbs are the tile placement portion. It is a wonderful game for players of all ages, but make sure you have a large space in the mess hall so that you can spread out your amazing trees!

Wizards of the Wild (2015)

Players: 1-4          Estimated Time: 30 minutes

If you like magic and you like the wild and cute adorable animals with powers, then you’re probably going to fall in love with this game. Players are an animal wizard who has a special player power that will help you to defeat the other wizards you are battling against. Each round you use your dice to gather materials to purchase spells and challenges that will help you pay the Acolytes of the Lost Masters to score and allow you to defeat the other wizards! Hone your own magical skills and attempt to be the ultimate wizard of the wilds.

If you can’t get a hold of these through your favorite tabletop game providers, here are some others that might just fit the bill. All worthy of adding to your collection, while also being accessible enough to teach to others, perfect for a fun time, and easy to slip into your overnight bag.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Animal Upon Animal (2005) – A dexterity game that comes in various sized versions, including a mini-version.
  • Dragon Slayer (2014) – A great dice game.
  • Hanabi (2010)
  • Love Letter (2012) – Many different themes to suit your geeky needs.
  • Noah (2012)
  • Red 7 (2014) – Card game using hand management and set collecting to play the best colors/numbers.
  • Sushi Go! (2013) (Party or Original) – A set collecting, card drafting game themed out with delicious sushi!