Bigger isn’t always better. These games are fun-size for a reason! Plus, our top picks for the best small box board games are easy to transport and won’t take up too much space in your game collection.
Table of Contents
🏆 Our Top Picks for Best Small Box Board Games
In a hurry? Take a quick peek before you go.
Playing time: 30-45 minutes
The Queen conquered new lands and tasked her cartographers with the important role of mapping these areas. However, she has specific requests to follow – and the cartographer who meets her demands best will win the job.
In this map-building game, players get their own blank map. Pick cards with different symbols: water, mountain, village, monster, forest, or farm. Now it’s your turn to draw it on your personal map. Be careful where you place it to maximize space and future potential.
You should beware of the Ambush Card! If chosen, a player gets to draw for you and might sabotage your space.
Cartographers is played over four seasons, each with a specific scoring system. So play for the present, but don’t miss opportunities to score future points.
Can you draw your road to victory? Grab a map and start planning that route!
Playing time: 30 minutes
Enjoy the Renaissance in all its splendor!
Splendor is naturally compact as it’s played solely with cards and chips. It’s a game of card drafting, set collection, and resource management.
In Splendor, you are merchants vying to gain more prestige than any other player. On your turn, you can collect chips, buy or build on a card, or reserve a card. Chips are used as currency to buy and build. You can pick two of the same chips or three of different colors.
Cards gain you prestige, as do visits from nobles. But they’ll cost you a pretty penny – so use that money wisely. The first player to reach 15 prestige points wins the game.
Race for the Galaxy
Playing time: 30-60 minutes
It’s a race to build the best galaxy space has ever seen.
Race for the Galaxy is a card-collecting and engine-building game. Collect the most profitable cards and pair them wisely to gain even more victory points.
Each turn, players pick and reveal a card. Cards represent stages that will be played that round: Explore, Develop, Settle, Consume, and Produce. Different actions can be taken at each stage. Settle a planet by playing it in front of you or produce goods to later trade for points.
The game ends when one player has placed 12 cards or all the victory tokens have been used. Count up your card points and tokens – the highest-scoring player wins.
The game packs a decent amount of complexity and replayability in one deck. It takes a few rounds to catch on, but you always feel like you’re moving forward and building something out of this world.
Archeology: The New Expedition
Playing time: 20 minutes
Dig up or steal treasures while exploring the desert. As you collect rare pieces, you can sell them to museums for points – but waiting may be beneficial as pieces always sell better in sets of two or more.
In Archeology: The New Expedition, players dig – or take cards – until they find a treasure. You can trade with the communal marketplace or sell to the museum. If you get a thief card, steal from another player’s hand.
But beware of digging up a sandstorm – it can blow away your tent or treasure in one big gust! You only get one tent, but several sandstorms are headed your way, so use it wisely.
Push your luck to see how many points you can collect. Players can pass when they’re satisfied with their hand, and when all players pass, it’s time to tally up points.
If you enjoy exploration-themed card games, you just might dig this one!
Playing time: 45 minutes
Your ship has crashed in unknown waters. You find yourself in a Forbidden Desert where you don’t want to be.
You’ll need to collect four crucial parts to repair your ship and be on your way. Working with your shipmates, find these four pieces before succumbing to the forces of this Forbidden Desert.
Players complete four actions per turn: move your pawn, clear sand from nearby tiles, excavate a tile, or pick up missing pieces. As players progress, they’ll have to face the harsh elements.
Players start with specific amounts of water and strength. The sun may dry up all their water, or sandstorms can weaken their overall power.
If your team can fix the ship and make it out alive, it’ll be a success!
Prefer island life to the scorching desert? If so, why not give Forbidden Island a try?
Playing time: 15-30 minutes
High Society is all about flexing those elitist muscles. Gain more prestige than others to win the title of the most elite member of society.
Naturally, players start out quite wealthy with 11 money cards. Status cards are revealed in the center of the table one by one. These cards can increase your value with status – or lower it with a disgrace. Nobody wants a Faux Paux or Scandal on their hands!
When a card is revealed, players bid to win or avoid it. The player to bid the highest wins. After all, being a member of High Society means keeping your cool – and putting on a poker face once in a while.
The game ends when the third Avant-Garde Card is revealed, and players show their current wealth. The poorest of the bunch is cast aside while the other players tally up their status to determine who has won.
King of Tokyo
Playing time: 30 minutes
King Kong isn’t the only monster to rule Tokyo. In this game, players are monsters trying to overtake the city.
In this dice game, players take turns rolling 6 action dice Yahtzee-style. For each roll, choose which you want to keep and which you want to reroll. After 3 rolls, resolve the actions on your dice.
Claws enable you to attack opponents, the heart might be able to heal you, and lightning can give you energy. 3 of the same number gets you victory points.
If your health plummets to zero, your monster has died. However, if you can get 20 victory points first- you are the King of Tokyo!
Playing time: 15 minutes
Grab a seat at this restaurant! Sushi Go! turns a popular style of sushi cuisine into an easy-to-play card game.
In Sushi Go! players start with 10 cards. Pick one you want to keep and place it face down on the table. Reveal the chosen cards. Then, pass the rest of the deck to the left, and repeat.
It’s a conveyor belt of sushi making its way around the table. You get to choose one dish you like from each hand.
Pick yours strategically as sets are worth more. That maki may get you a bonus, but nigiri can triple your score. Whatever you discard can be snatched up by your opponents — so don’t hand them anything too tasty.
Want to play Sushi Go! with more players? Why not try Sushi Go! Party? The more, the merrier!
Playing time: 15-20 minutes
Do you have a green thumb? This card game may be for you!
In Herbaceous, it’s your job to plant the most beautiful garden. Every player has four containers in their personal garden. Every turn, players pick two cards to keep or add to the community garden. If you add them to your garden, you may plant or pot them.
Rules dictate which plants go in which containers. You may need two rosemary plants for one container or 3 different herbs for another. Potting might get you more points but cannot be moved.
Each set is worth different points, so pick, plant, and don’t be afraid to push your luck a little!
One Deck Dungeon
Playing time: 30-45 minutes
The size is in its name. One Deck Dungeon requires just one deck of cards and dice.
But first, you must get there! Burn through the deck to get to the stairs. Three sets of stairs, and you’ll be face-to-face with your enemy.
Along the way, you’ll encounter traps and creatures. Fighting these will determine what skills you acquire and what damage you incur. Roll the die to see how you fare… and hope that luck is on your side.
If you can make it to the end of the dungeon without dying, you’ve successfully slain the dragon!
We hope you enjoyed our list of the best small box board games! Sometimes big things come in small packages. These games may be small in size but huge in fun and replayability. You can also pick them up for a very reasonable price. Have you tried any of the games on this list? Did we miss any of your favorites? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.
Cheryl is a teacher, writer, and board game fan. She likes incorporating games into all areas of her life, from classrooms and family nights to lively parties with friends. While she’s played too many to count, her favorites have always been classics like Codenames and chess.