Sometimes you just need to have a pint with your game…or vice versa. Pubs are fantastic social spaces for gaming that are easy to get to, have enough space to game, and don’t leave you with a bunch of plates and glasses to clean up.

So, we’ve made of a list of our favorite Pub games that combine portability, durability, and easy-to-grasp rules. Each number on our list is perfect for throwing into your bag and meeting friends for drinks, a meal, or a beverage of your choice.

PLEASE NOTE: At Rathskellers, we believe in playing safely and considerately. Please follow official medical advice that is appropriate for your area and self-isolate where appropriate – whether this means avoiding bars and carrying out social distancing. Remember – we’re all in this together and please do not put yourselves and others at risk by behaving irresponsibly. After all, the drinks and games will still be on your shelves when this is all over.

Described as knife fight in an elevator, Arboretum is the poster-child for games that hold a cutesy exterior but are as vicious as all hell once they get to the table. Playing up to four, this set collection game asks you to manage your scoring while also being mindful of what your opponents have in their hands. While the end game can be a little difficult to grasp, this is perfect portable fun that scales excellently and has beautiful art to match.

9. Azul

Gorgeous and quick to learn, Azul is perfect for tables of any size. Built around a drafting mechanic, players build a pattern on their board from a shared pool of tiles. But before long, greedy or risky plays become punished as the space and options shrink. Effortless to pick up, the game leaves little to luck while still being a welcoming and tactile delight, with the gorgeous bakelite tiles resisting spillages, drops, and staining from greasy fingers.

Want to enjoy the thrill of an escape room but still hold onto your pint? The Exit series offers players a one-and-done puzzle experience, asking players to solve a string of puzzles to escape from where you’re trapped – with games in the series ranging from ancient castles, speeding trains, dangerous labs, and more. These require teamwork, reasoning, and innovative thinking to get out before the timer stops, making groans, air punching, and cheers commonplace. A little unwieldy with larger groups – with the sweet spot landing around four or five – this is exceptional, affordable fun.

7. Jenga (with a twist)


A mainstay of pubs throughout Europe, everyone and their cat has tried their hand at Jenga. But what if we told you it could actually be fun? Try this – set up a game and download a chess clock timer on your phone, setting it to a minute. And…GO! What was once a painful, slow game explodes in a burst of energy as each player scrambles to pull their pieces and set them back – with the first to run out of time and topple the tower losing. While repeated setups may take time – because the because the piece
will end up going everywhere – this is perfect for settling who needs to get the next round in.

Don’t Like Jenga ? Check out 10 games better than Jenga according to Tom Vasel

A perennial favorite, Carcassonne is perfect for players who want to enjoy a good conversation as much as a game. Easily teachable and able to accommodate others joining the table, the game is satisfying, simple fun that asks for little mental energy and guarantees maximum fun. And the limited dimensions of a table add a little extra tactical control as you build around other people’s drinks and bowls of chips.

5. Skull

Perfection for groups of four and up, Skull offers all the fun of poker without any messy gambling. Highly portable and even playable with a regular deck of cards (deal each player out three black cards and one red card), Skull takes seconds to teach and takes up little space for transport. Crack it out in a public space and the game quickly becomes a spectator sport as insane bluffs and risky plays reduce the room to laughter. While its use of player elimination can be frustrating, short game times mean each player is quickly back and wiser than before.

An absolute masterpiece, there’s a reason that Condottiere – named after the mercenary knights of ancient Italy – has been in rotation since its creation in the late 90’s. Forcing players to play venetian tic-tac-toe, each player holds a hand of cards that are played over each region with the winner connect provinces on the game map. With options to bluff, change the state of play and out-muscle your opponents, the game hits its stride at four players and works surprisingly well with the maximum of six. Portable tactical excellence, the game is an absolute gem that is perfect for any pub gaming night.

Beloved for a reason, Cosmic asks you to invade your alien friends and make no apologies about how unpleasantly you do it. Each turn sees a player ‘encountering’ a friend and quickly clashing over the value of a chosen card in their hand – with winner potentially able to place one of the five necessary colonies necessary to win the game. Add the fact that species possesses a unique power that breaks the rules of the game, Cosmic is a modular delight that fits any cramped or voluminous pub space and scales up to an insane eight players. Perfect for messy, self-balancing fun – no two groups will enjoy the same setup and no two games are ever the same.

It’s also Tom’s favorite game of all time, so check out why Cosmic Encounter deserves some love below :

One of the world’s greatest fillers, Cockroach Poker is a ‘reverse set collection’ game with one loser who has four of the same card shoved in front of them. Play involves bluffing and mind games as players pass cards and attempt to nobble their opponents at every turn. Quick to learn and effortless to play, the game creates moments of drama like no other and quickly attracts other patrons with screams of laughter and frustration. Glorious fun that never overstays its welcome, a perfect gem for groups of all stripes, ages, and experience levels.

Arguably the greatest pub game of all time, Hive is perfect for players looking for portable, crunchy, quick-playing fun. Building on the fundamentals of chess with tempo control, pinning, and endgame management – Hive asks players to marshal their insect forces to surround their opponent’s queen bee. Playing in a fraction of the time required for the great game, sessions are quick and results definitive – making improvement quick and simple. While the better player will always win, the minimal piece count, intuitive strategy, and joy of sliding your tiles across the table and sipping your pint is sublime. Affordable, deep, long-term fun.

Any board game you think Deserves a place on the triumph ? Comments below !

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