Small Games to fit your Big Life

We all have busy lives. I have two kids in hockey and curling, neither of whom are old enough to get themselves to the rink with their gear without a chauffeur (usually me), and the bulk of my winter free time is spent at one rink or another, sitting in a viewing gallery. I'm sure a lot of you have been there. Maybe you're there right now. Hockey, curling, gymnastics, dance... We do it because we love it and because our kids love it, but it doesn't leave a lot of time or space for plopping down Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne or even King of Tokyo. Big boxes don't have space to come along, rink tables are usually not big enough to play on anyway, and by the time you've gotten into the game, it's time to pick up and go to the next spot. So what do you do? How do you scrape out enough time and space to game within the confines of extracurricular activity?

I'm happy to let you know that there are games that feel like they were made specifically for these scenarios! Games that are small enough to take with, don't take up a lot of elbow room, and that you can learn and play in the time it takes for a ten year to run an hour of passing drills. Here is a list of small games that will fit your big life.

Zombie Dice

The container of this fast, fun game is smaller than a medium double-double and the learning curve is right at home here in Manitoba: flat! You pull three dice from the cup and roll them (always rolling 3 dice each time). Brains are delicious, delicious points.  Footprints mean that you have to chase down that prey, so you'll roll that one again next roll. A blast means that you got BLASTED with a shotgun. Three blasts and you lose all of the points that you've accumulated this round. So push your luck to eat as many brains as you can on your turn. First to thirteen points wins.
And that's it!
It takes hardly any time at all to play and fits in a jacket pocket.

Rhino Hero

This box is about the size of a novel and the contents are like if Uno and Jenga loved each other very, very much. You have two types of cards: roof cards that you hold in your hand, and bent wall cards that will stay in an accessible pile. Some of the roof cards will have an icon on them (change directions, skip a turn, two roofs, RHINO HERO) and all of them will have a little outline for where the walls are to be placed. Sometimes there will be two outlines for a nice, easy roof placement. And sometimes there will be one, making it more difficult for the next person. And all you do is play cards and build a tower until someone is out of cards in hand or the tower falls. As long as you've got a fairly sturdy surface, this game is good for kids as young as 4 and fun for everyone.


If you've got the space to lay out a 3x4 grid of playing cards, you've got the space to play Similo. The game itself is slightly larger, more the size of a stack of pop-tarts, but smaller than my wallet. At the beginning of the game, one player will draw one card and memorize the picture on it to be the SECRET CARD, and then draw eleven more cards, shuffle them together and place them in a 3x4 grid, face up for all of the guessing players to see. Then draw a further five cards (or draw up to five cards) and pick one to give as a clue. Place it the same as the grid of cards to indicate that something about that card is SIMILAR to the secret card, and place it horizontal to indicate that it is DISSIMILAR to the secret card. Round one, the guessers will eliminate one card. Then two on round two, three on round three and four on round four, leaving two cards and a final clue. If the secret card is eliminated at any point, the game is lost. But if after all of the cards are eliminated you're left with the secret card, you win! Easy, fast and fun.

Love Letter

Shuffle a deck, place card facedown and deal one card to each player. On your turn, you draw a card and play a card until there are no more cards, and whoever has the highest card in their hand receives a victory point.
Love Letter is seriously that easy. You can teach it in no time at all even to someone who doesn't want to learn it. The cards are numbered 1-8 (with some cards having multiples and some only appearing once in the deck) and each card does something different. When you play the Baron, you compare your remaining card with another player's and whoever has the lower card is eliminated from the round; when you play the Prince, you can pick any player to discard their hand and draw a new card; when you play the Handmaid, you ignore all effects from other players' cards this round; and when you play the Princess, you lose. Gotta keep the princess in hand. She's also worth the most! The game comes in a little velvet bag that fits in most pockets and is one of the easiest bring-along games that we have in the store. Come in and get a demo!

Dungeon Mayhem

Dungeon Mayhem is the size of two decks of cards and contains four asymmetrical decks of cards, each representing a different D&D adventurer. Your abilities will depend on which deck you pick (yes, Heather, that's what asymmetrical means) and it's as simple as draw a card, play a card. Some cards do damage, some heal you, some act as a shield, some allow you to take more actions and some allow you to draw extra cards. And then you play your cards and last player standing is the winner. Fast, easy and CUTTHROAT.

Skip Bo

This old standard is about the size of your standard womens' wallet and is fast and easy. Draw cards and place them in one of three piles in numerical order.
That's it!

Break The Code

Break the Code takes up a LITTLE bit more space in your bag (a little bigger than a box of Kraft Dinner)  and a little bit more space on the table (there's a hidden component, so you have to have enough room to put up a little screen to hide your numbers). But this deduction game is easy to play and will get your brain working.


If you've got a bigger group and a small amount of time and space, this hidden role game is perfect. Are the other players members of the CIA? The KGB? Or are they anti-establishment hippies that want to see both fail? And, while we're at it, which group are YOU a part of? This game is simple to play and hard to track, as the roles keep shifting. Best part is that it takes 15-35 minutes to play, requires very little play space and comes in a box the size of a VHS tape.

Ghost Blitz


This game is a little bit sneaky in that it's a little bit bigger to bring along. It comes in a box about the size of a microwavable frozen soup. But the components are small, the play is fast and you WANT the play space to be limited. Draw a card and search it quickly to see if any of the tokens (a white ghost, a red chair, a blue book, a green bottle or a grey mouse) are represented exactly on the card. AND THEN YOU GRAB IT. If none of them are, then you're looking for the thing that ISN'T there. Is there nothing white? Or no bottle? GRAB WHAT'S MISSING. Whoever grabs the item first gets the card.
Fast, yelly, fun, hardly takes any space to play or time to learn.

Sobek: 2 Player

This one's a little bit of a cheat, in that it ALSO comes in a slightly larger box AND takes up a little more room to play. But you can play it on a two-person table and it's fast, fun and easy. You and your opponent both set up a stall at the centre of the board and make market deals in the greater marketplace (which takes about the same amount of space as an unopened pizza box). Do you do deals with your neighbours and cultivate good will, or do you pick and choose stalls from farther away, accumulating CORRUPTION. Make and redeem sets of 3 or more and whoever has the most points at the end wins. I added this one because it's not hard to play and doesn't take up TOO much space, and it's my favourite two-player game.

We have almost all of these games to rent, so come on down for a demo so you can check out how little space and effort it takes to add some gaming to your busy, busy life!