Sometimes it’s good to get some fresh air, but it can be more difficult than it looks. However, if you’re looking to experience the joy and vibrancy of the outdoors, picking out a game to play in the garden can help scratch your wildlife itch.
So, here are ten of our favourite games that embrace the joy of being outside. Starting with-
10. Morels (2012)
More mushrooms than you can shake a stick at. Morels (or Fungi – depending on where you pick up your copy) replicates the sedate joy of strolling through the woods and filling your basket with fungus. But…let’s not forget this is a game – leading two players on a cutthroat game of set collection, drawing cards from a central pile. The game soon becomes a masterpiece of tempo control, bluffs, and passive aggressively filling your opponent’s hand with a bunch of mushrooms with one name more threatening than the next.
9. Nature Fluxx (2005)
Building on the well-received Eco Fluxx, nature is a repackaged version of the ‘take that’ card game with an environmental wrapper. Letting you build your own food chain from worm to bird – this is an explicitly educational game that is, somehow, still fun to play. With Mushrooms, migration, mammals all seeking balance – harmful cards like poisons and spills derail play, all with the goal of keeping the ‘planet earth’ card in play. A fantastic use of the formula and a quick playing delight that any member of the family can enjoy.
8. Petrichor (2018)
Watering crops – a chore in most videogames but a delight in this Kickstarter success story from David Chircop. Giving you a hand of cards, players share control of rainclouds on the table, letting them fill the skies with droplets and shed them on certain plants to maximise their scoring – creating an ongoing tug of war that is gentle yet tense. And with a range of variables to control, the game rewards repeated plays with a unique meta for your group. And with the flowers and honeybee expansions readily available, this brings extra colour and choice to your table without adding excessive complexity.
7. Takenoko (2011)
Love Pandas? You won’t after this. Letting you play as gardeners in the imperial court, you and your friends are required to prepare and water three strains of bamboo all while accommodating the appetite of a lumbering, monochromatic bear. A fantastic entry-level game for most groups, the game trots along at a quick pace with little downtime, with most games over in under an hour. Add in the fact that the decision space is so small, the game will prevent analysis paralysis and frustration. Throw in the tactile joy of popping together bamboo shoots and you’ve got a winner for those pining for a walk in the woods. Plus, bears.
6. K2 (2010)
Games focusing on the great outdoors are fun, but they don’t have to be fun. Focusing on a race to the top of the infamous mountain, players are put in control of climb teams. Designed by Adam Kaluza – an expert climber – the game digs into the psychology and practicality of climbing. This includes taking advantage of your position, managing your oxygen, and leaving enough supplies to get you back to base again in one piece. And if your group wants more of a challenge, Kaluza has brought out packs that let you take on Broad Peak, tackle Lhotse, or add the risk of avalanche to an already challenging game.
5. Discover: Lands Unknown (2018)
Tasking you with surviving in the wilderness, Discover is a recent release from Fantasy Flight that positions itself as a uniquely experiential game. While the game has been subject to criticism, approaching it as an exploratory experience can open you up to new experiences. With each copy of the game featuring a unique combination of parts and components, players are able to visit a unique landscape that has its own mix of environments, story beats, characters, and events to experience. And while the game can encourage competitive paly, the publisher offers rules for an entirely co-op experience, letting your group explore the world of your game together.
4. Herbaceous (2017)
It’s war…with Mr. Jones from the allotment next door. Herbaceous is a quick playing, set-collection game that puts you in the wellingtons of two rival gardeners. Featuring stunning art from Ben Shulman and Beth Sobel, the game asks players to grow and store herbs from your garden – with collections with the most matches and overall value worth the most points. Combining push your luck elements with simple rules make this simple to pick up and fun to master, with your own greed most often proving to be your final undoing. Also available as a print and play game, this lets you try before you buy – with the striking art design worth the price of admission alone.
3. Tokaido (2012)
Fancy a walk? While social distancing may currently make things a little tricky, this masterpiece from the mind of Antoine Bauza captures the joy of going for a ramble – with eh player that has the best journey proving to be the winner. This involves walking Japan’s ‘East Sea Road’ and stopping along the way to enjoy dinners, pick up trinkets, and take photographs of the area’s stunning panoramas. With variable powers, a time tracker, and ongoing strategy – this is the perfect game to enjoy over a languid evening and a couple of candles. An aesthetic delight.
2. Photosynthesis (2017)
Ever wondered what it would look like if a forest fought? Ok, not like that – but this abstract marvel from Blue Orange captures the struggle for sunlight that occurs under the leafy canopies of every forest. And, like nature, the game can be brutal as players compete to gather the most sun and passive-aggressively leave their opponents in the shade. Combining a stunning 3D board and a need for merciless strategy, Photosynthesis is perfect for those who like a challenge and a real piece of art dominating their gaming table.
1. Wingspan (2019)
A classic for gamers and twitchers alike, Wingspan was a recent success story thanks to its combination of silky-smooth gameplay, moreish tactics, and stunning card art. With every piece in the game a labor of love, Wingspan encourages players to build an engine that draws birds to your park and block your opponents from doing the same. Quick to learn and a joy to play, Wingspan is a meditative delight that’s perfect for those pining for the outdoors. Throw on some birdsong, crack open a thermos, and gather 1-5 players to bask in nature for 40 -70 minutes.
Which is your favourite outdoor game?! Share it in the comments below 🙂