Emergency Games Kit

117 games in one pocket
Wednesday the 24th of August 2016
The Emergency Games Kit, v4.0 The Emergency Games Kit v4.0, from 2015

I've been carrying a version of this around for a few years now: a collection of game components that's small enough to fit into any bag or pocket, and which unpacks into a decent number of card and dice games. It's inspired by the huge plastic toolboxes of the Seattle Cosmic emergency games kits, which I admired but never really understood the "emergency" aspect of, until I realised that everyone involved presumably had a car.

This kit began in 2013 as dice, plastic poker chips and a half-sized deck of regular playing cards. In 2014, the deck was replaced with a custom-printed one which included added corner numbers (0-5 in six "circle" suits, and numbers 1 through 35, which is enough to play a lot of things) and scanned-in chunks from games I already owned and was playing at the time. It looks a bit baroque, but you quickly tune out the parts of the cards that you don't need for whatever game you're playing.

In 2017 I swapped out the densely formatted deck for a simpler one of just regular poker values, alternate six-of-eight suits in the other corners, and big central numbers of 1-52. I've released that under a CC licence as The Skeleton Deck.

As of September 2022 the full kit stands at 31 interesting games playable with the card deck, dice and/or poker chips, and 86 in the Freeze-Dried Games Pack (a mixed bag of 100-word rulesets for card, dice, paper and word games that I've been compiling on a single sheet of paper), for a total of 117 games.

Version 4.2

Full contents:

It all fits inside the pencil case, the chips being bound with two rubber bands in a single stack.

List of games

An emergency game of Santorini in a cafe An emergency game of Santorini

Games in and around the card deck:

The kit also includes the rules for 86 small games from the Freeze-Dried Games Pack (Yahtzee, Boggle, Lynx, etc), all playable with dice, standard poker cards and/or a pen and paper. And the deck of cards can obviously be used to play any card game that takes a single regular (or stripped) poker deck.