Back in the days before rediscovering modern tabletop games we played classic card games quite a bit. One of the best features of those is, obviously, their travel-friendliness. Literally hundreds, and possibly thousands, of games can be played with just one standard deck of cards. (I should really revisit some of those, I realise!)


Even games that consist mainly of cards come with their own deck of specially designed cards now. (This is pretty obvious, as how/why would people buy these games otherwise?) For immersion and rules recollection that is neat, but for travelling this adds unwanted bulkiness. 


Lately I have compressed my travel gaming by bringing one tiny game that allows for playing several others, namely "6 nimmt!". Great games that work with this relatively small deck of cards are:
  1. 6 nimmt itself, obviously. An amazing game that plays from 2 to 10(!) players with increasing degrees of haphazardness - two player is an excellent tactical experience, whereas the more players you add, the more it turns into a slapstick romp. 
  2. The Game can be played by using 1 and 2 to mark piles for increasing cards, 101 and 102 as piles for decreasing cards and the rest of the cards (except 103 and 104) as, well, cards. Of course, as mentioned in the second paragraph above, you miss out on the "Norwegian black metal from 1996"[1] art direction of the original game, but the rest of the tension is there. This is quite a nice game for lazy summer days - if you can stomach collaborative games, that is. (Obviously, you can't play 6 nimmt with cards from The Game, since they have no notion of "block heads". (Or, you could, but it would lead to a more brainy game, since you would have to remember all the rules for block head distribution.))
  3. No Thanks! is one of my favourite bluffing games, and if you have components from either "6 nimmt!" or "The Game", you can easily play this. Just use cards numbered from 3 to 35 as "cards" and the rest flipped over as "coins" (or use any other coins/bottle caps/stones/sausages).
  4. Kobayakawa is another excellent bluffing game that can be played with components from any of the games above. Just use 15 cards with consecutive numbers as "cards", and any other components/cards as "coins".
  5. Update 2018: The Mind, the Spiel des Jahres nomminated game from Wolfgang Warsch, can also be played with the 6 nimmt deck. You just need some way of keeping track of the levels, lives, and shurikens. (For example by printing this.)
The Game played with cards from "6 nimmt!".
(The contents of the piles of cards should normally not be visible, methinks.)
Voila, four five excellent, different enough games – accommodating 1 to 10 players, ranging from bluffing to coop, using one small deck of cards! (Of course, I hope you have bought the original games mentioned here if you chose to do a stunt like this, as otherwise this would not be very nice towards the good people that designed and developed these most excellent games.)

Further work

So, did I miss any? Can you think of any other hierarchy of components for games? Could one, for example, want to play For Sale with components from 6 nimmt/The Game/No Thanks! for "building"-cards and another set for "check"-cards? (Probably divide numbers by 2 to get the same distribution as the original game...) Also, Game of Trains components could be used to play No Thanks! and Kobayakawa, but not "6 nimmt!" nor "The Game" – or vice versa. One should probably make a huge graph of all relations between games like this - to find even more "ultimater" game components for future travels!

Side point: Box sizes

Most games, non-Japanese games that is, also comes in ludicrously unnecessarily huge boxes. (Splendor, I'm looking (especially) at you!) A couple of years ago I packed lots of games into the box of Minivilles (French version of Machi Koro) – Splendor, For SaleEight-Minute Empire, along with Minivilles itself fit snuggly the box. (Only coins from one game came along, otherwise all components were present.) But that is probably meat for another blog post...

[1] Damien André, Plato #88, page 34 :-)