We’ve all been on long trips before. And while we all have heard time and again that “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”, sometimes long car drives can be overwhelming. After a while, the passengers may get weary as they may run out of topics or energy to chat, and sitting in a fixed position for too long isn’t any help. Even with the best travel partners, road trips can become quite a difficult endeavor.
Luckily, there is a solution, especially for the board game lovers out there. While there are a lot of classic travel game sets on the market, like travel chess, checkers, backgammon, etc., there are also many modern board games that can be enjoyed in the car as much as on the table.
Here I’ve collected a list of some of the best board games in my opinion that could be played in the car. Note that we presume that the car is in motion, and though it’s not safe to multitask while driving, some of these games can be played with the driver.
Hive was also mentioned in our best games with few pieces post, so naturally, it ended up on this list too. Hive is a 2-player game much like chess; each player controls a set of tiles representing different insects with different abilities, and players try to trap their opponent’s queen bee to win the game.
Hive is an easy game to learn, but it is highly strategic and challenging. In it, there are two sets of insect tiles in black and white, and nothing else. The game has no board, so if you have a flat surface like a tray in the car, you’ll have no problems playing this game with another passenger. Hive even has a pocket edition with smaller tiles that can be played in the lid of another game even, so you can virtually play it anytime during your trip.
Spyfall is a more crowded game because it requires at least 4 people to play. And because it’s completely based on conversation, the driver will have no problem playing it, too. In Spyfall, players each get a card that shows the same location out of the 30 locations in the game, like a bank, the beach, or the zoo. The twist here is that one of the players gets a spy card that shows no location.
The spy must try to remain hidden, while the other players attempt to find the spy among them by interrogating each other and asking questions about the location they are in. At the same time, the spy is looking for clues to guess the location. So, players must be extra careful when asking questions.
Each round of the game is 8 minutes long maximum, and it is very easy to set up; just shuffle a deck of cards, give each player a card, and start the timer. You can play Spyfall for as long as you like, scoring points over several rounds, or just playing for fun.
3. The Resistance: Avalon
Avalon is also a party game and can be played with 5-10 players. In this game, King Arthur is lost, and the knights of the round table gather together to plan a series of missions to find the lost king. We know that not everyone is loyal to the king, and some are minions of Mordred, looking to sabotage these missions. What we don’t know is who the minions are, and that’s the challenge of the game.
Avalon is a hidden-role deduction game where the minority of minions of Mordred try to stay hidden from the knights of King Arthur, and the knights try to find the betrayers. Throughout the game, a series of missions are conducted and some players are chosen to participate in them, and they have the chance to manipulate these missions toward success or failure. The fate of King Arthur depends on these missions.
This game does contain a board as well as tokens and cards, but they aren’t referred to a lot throughout the game, so one person is enough to control the board. Also, because the game is mostly played by talking, the driver could play too. But they should be careful when choosing a success or failure card in secret, so they might need the help of another player. Additionally, before the game begins the minions of Mordred must recognize each other while the other players have their eyes closed. So, if you’re playing with the driver, you must pull over at the beginning of each game.
Skull is a bidding and bluffing game suitable for 3-6 players. In this simple and fast-paced game, players each get four circular tiles in their color; three flowers and one skull. They also get a square tile to place their other tiles on. So basically, you don’t need a lot of space for this game, or even a flat surface.
At the beginning of each round, players place one tile of their choice face-down, either a flower or a skull. Then the bidding round begins, with players adding more tiles, or guessing how many flowers have been placed down. Bidding goes on until everyone passes, and the player with the highest bid must reveal tiles one by one until they lose by revealing a skull, or win by fulfilling their bid.
Play continues until one player successfully fulfills two bids, or everyone is eliminated from the game. Because of the constant checking of the tiles in the game, it’s not recommended for the driver to participate.
Coup is a classic bluffing game for 2-6 players. In Coup, each player is the head of a corrupt family in a distant future and must use their powers of bluffing and deduction to eliminate other players from the game, and retain political power. This game contains a deck of character cards, as well as some tokens used as currency in the game.
In Coup, there are five different characters, three cards of each, making a deck of 15 cards. Each player is dealt two random face-down cards and the game begins. Each character grants certain actions to players, like gaining or stealing coins, changing cards, and even eliminating other players. But players aren’t required to reveal their cards to perform an action. So, you can perform an action without having the right character card; this is where the bluffing comes in.
When a player performs an action, any other player has the chance to challenge them. If the player was bluffing and didn’t have the right card, they must discard a card. But if they were telling the truth, the challenging player must discard a card. Any player who discards both of their cards is eliminated from the game. The last player standing is the winner.
Because each player only has two cards and a few tokens, and each round takes up to 15 minutes, it seems like Coup is an ideal choice for car rides.
Santorini is a simple abstract game that 2 or 3 players can play, as well as two teams of 2. In this game, players take the roles of Greek Gods and legends and control two workers that build and move. The goal of the game is for one of your workers to reach the third level of a building built by you and your opponent(s).
On each turn, a player moves one of their workers to an adjacent square on the board, and then builds a block on an adjacent square. The rules are as simple as that, but the game requires a fair share of strategic thinking. This is why it reminds me of chess. But to keep things spicy, each player gets a card from the deck of Gods that gives them unique and special powers, so it rarely becomes boring.
Santorini is played on a board where the workers and building blocks are placed, so it may be more challenging than other games to find the appropriate space and balance for the board, but with the right motivation, it’s completely doable.
Timeline is a fun and engaging trivia game that only contains small cards, and can be played with any amount of people, but the less crowded, the better. It also has many different versions and themes so you can play it many times.
In Timeline, there is a deck of cards that all show a historical event in the world, like the extinction of dinosaurs, or the end of the world war. On one side of the cards, there’s an illustration and title of an event, and on the other side, it’s the same with the addition of the year that event occurred in. Players aren’t supposed to know or guess the years of these events, rather they must determine their chronological order.
For example, a player might need to determine whether the world war ended before the extinction of dinosaurs, or after it (of course it’s obvious but after a few rounds, events get closer to each other and it becomes a challenge). The player who manages to correctly play all of their cards is the winner.
Timeline doesn’t take up a lot of space because the cards are so small. Each player has a hand of cards, and there must be a common play area to play the cards. And because it’s not required to even hold the cards, the driver can join the fun, too.
True board game lovers will never lose the chance to whip out a game, even in more difficult situations like a moving car. But that won’t be a problem because there’s an ocean of different board games out there, and a lot of them can be played in the car. These were a few games I think you would enjoy playing on a long (or even short) car drive. What other games do you like to play in the car? Do you know any other board games worthy of being on this list? Let me know in the comments below.