This time last year we were planning our annual holiday, which was to be a trip along the canals of the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Warwickshire, with Anglo Welsh Holidays, starting from their base at Tardebigge. We spent a week on the Stourport Ring going clockwise via Worcester, Kidderminster, Kinver, the Netherton Tunnel, Brindley Place and back via Cadbury World and Alvechurch. A key part of the planning was “what board games to take” of course. With space limited on the boat, there was going to be little opportunity to lay out anything with a huge playing board, and also not wanting to lose any small pieces we went for the games with fewer components. In fact it struck us that these were similar criteria we had used previously when planning a camping holiday so if you are going camping, caravanning or campervanning this summer, these might also work for you.
Games that made the cut and went in to the suitcases included:
- Dodekka – a card game that plays out in a long line of cards on the table, ideal for the table in the boat.
- Concept – a small board with only a few playing pieces and consists mainly of playing cards.
- Exploding Kittens – which had recently arrived as a result of our Kickstarter sponsorship, a simple card game to play on deck or in a canalside pub.
- Dixit Odyssey – with seven on the boat this is a nice game for up to 12, with an elongated scoreboard ideally shaped for the dining table, and again consists mainly of playing cards.
- Carcassonne – using an iPad scoreboard app we dispensed with the scoring track to save space and obviously ensured our road building did not take us off the edge off the tile-able world.
Due to lack of funds we’re not narrowboating this year (unless this e-store becomes seriously busy!), but if we were, we might also take with us some newer acquisitions such as The Game, again doesn’t need much space to set out the card piles, and perhaps Jungle Speed which just requires space for the players’ card piles and the central totem.
After the holiday it got me thinking – someone needs to create a board game about narrowboating. And make sure it fits on a long, narrow board, so narrowboaters can play it! The only recent game I know of on this theme is Canal Mania but that’s more about building canals. There is actually some strategy to narrowboating itself, particularly around locks, whether to wait for someone coming the other way to fill a lock, or wait for someone to accompany you through a double lock. Also tidal considerations if using rivers – and so on. Plus… there is always the possibility of a broken lock gate, or closure of a section of canal to throw your travel plans into disarray.
Perhaps a board game with a flavour of Catan where you are trading traditionally-canal-shipped goods like coal or wool around the country. Or maybe a 21st century version where you are a marina manager trying to hire out all your boats and recover them in one piece within 7 days, and managing the resources needed to deal with breakdowns and other issues that may crop up. Perhaps incorporating an element of Tokaido where the boats need to visit as many interesting places as possible before the game ends. I can also see a canal-themed version of something like The London Game working well, where players can thwart each others’ plans with a “shopping trolley tangled in your propeller” or “hireboat caught on lock cill, miss a turn” cards.
So, to board game designers out there, as Bamber Gascoigne or Jeremy Paxman would say, “there’s your starter for 10” for a narrowboat game. Happy to help with play-testing and future sales of what could be a veritable board gaming masterpiece. And if our dream of owning a narrowboat called something like “The Floating Meeple” ever comes to fruition, we’ll be able to play it in the correct environment too!