- Simond Makalu
After a day of exploring a mountain range and setting up shop at that perfect campsite, nothing tops off an evening under the stars like a good game with great friends. Whether you’re car camping with room to spare or need a pick-me-up on a long backpacking trek, these games will lift your spirits and help pass the time.
From warm, desert nights at Kane Creek to pre-dinner, best-of-three matches outside Lamar Valley, these five games have risen to the top of my list for groups ranging from you and a friend to however many tents you can cram into your site. They also cover a wide range of difficulties so some may be better for families than others. When space and weight aren’t top priorities, throw a couple of these into your adventure mobile for your next night in the great outdoors.
The goal? Get rid of your cards by recognizing when two cards, which have a colored shape on them, match. (Bonus challenge if you’re colorblind like me!) When you’re in a match or “battle,” lunge for the totem to win the round and give the loser all your upturned cards. Other fun cards add certain elements of surprise, like matching colors instead of shapes or a free-for-all totem grab. But there is a penalty if you mistakenly grab the totem—you’ll get all the cards that are face up from everyone in the circle.
Increasing in difficulty, this deck-building game has become one I can’t leave without. A deck builder means there are a bunch of different cards that, as the game goes on, you end up incorporating into your own hand. Set up some lights and get your headlamps out because this one will have you playing until dawn. It’s a tricky one to learn, but for those who are into deck builders—or the ever-popular Settlers of Catan—this is well worth the effort. Consider Dominion a great option for two to four people.