We’ve all looked at an intimidatingly sized game box and thought ‘hey, that looks… big…’ but here at Vault, we don’t let size intimidate us! And we've found that sometimes, the mightiest games come in the slimmest packaging. Below, we've sorted through some well beloved, bulky boxes, and discovered some gateway games to get you started! Whether you’re a veteran looking for a lighter load to teach, or a newbie looking to dip your toes for future board game nights, read further if you’ve always wanted to play…

Terraforming Mars? Try Terraforming Mars; Ares Expedition!

Terraforming Mars is a crunchy, multilayered resource management game, where you play as a one of many giant corporations, sent by the World Government to to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment is habitable on the titular Mars.While the terraforming is cooperative, players duke it out to receive victory points that are awarded not only for your contribution to the terraforming, but also for advancing human infrastructure throughout the solar system, and other heroic feats. While terraforming, you must keep track of 6 types of resources, project cards, and your rival corporation’s boards - a lot of things to keep tabs on.

That's where Terraforming Mars; Ares Expedition comes in. Ares Expedition brings all the flavour of the world of Terraforming Mars, but focuses on a streamlined version of play by turning the board into a card game. There is still plenty of tension with the introduction of phases of play, chosen privately and then initiated by each player, allowing you to be the first to plant heather, or begin to fill an ocean. This allows the feeling of complexity from the original Terraforming Mars, but with a quicker platime in Ares Expedition. With a solo mode as well as up to 4 players, this is a fun little engine building game, perfect for slamming down card combos and watching your opponents weep as you sip pina coladas in your perfectly curated and habitable new environment.

7 Wonders? Try 7 Wonders Architect!


7 Wonders has you become the leader of one of the seven great cities of the Ancient World. Those familiar with Age of Empires will reminisce fondly on the gathering of resources, development of trade routes, and the slow build of your military might. The game takes place over three ages, and players receive a hand of cards before choosing one and passing them on. In essence, 7 Wonders is a card development game. Some cards have immediate effects, while others provide bonuses or upgrades later in the game. 

7 Wonders Architect takes the challenge of this formula and focuses it on the building of a single World Wonder. While that may sound easy enough, the effects of cards can still unbalance your play, and bring immediate game changing effects into your match. This game players for 2 -7, and is adapted for colourblind players with a symbol that matches to each card colour!

Mysterium? Try Mysterium Park!

Mysterium is a murder mystery game with a catch; the ghost is present, and sending you haunting hints to solve their murder in the haunted mansion where they once lived. Through eclectic dream cards that evoke colours, shapes and feelings, the ghost communicates the location, weapon and suspect of their murderer. The game board and pieces are a hefty set up, to match the grandeur of the murder mystery unfolding, but can put a lot of pressure on your ghostly game players to keep tabs on numbered cards for suspects, evidence and location. Sometimes, you want the joy of the otherwordly, in an easy to pack away side show. For that, you have Mysterium Park!

Mysterium Park takes place in a 1950’s carnival, whose elusive director has gone missing, with no investigation uncovering any leads. You, as a band of psychics, are drawn to the circus to discover what dark happening occurred, behind the smiling paint of the clowns and the sickening sweetness of the cotton candy. This addition features stream lined rules for quicker set up and play, with the same vivid illustration cards to represent dreams and send you haunting clues. 

Werewolf? Try One Night Ultimate Werewolf!


Werewolf asks the question; if I, and randomly selected friends were werewolves in a village, how successfully could we cannibalise eachother? This hidden role game relies on subterfuge and pokerfaces to make it through the multiple evenings of play, where roles given to the simple village folk (such as the Seer, the Witch and the Huntsman) must be used carefully to attempt to identify the wolves among you. All the while, the werewolves must try and conform during the day, and kill at night. 

One Night Ultimate Werewolf takes this premise, and blasts it up; condensing the tension, the high stakes and the double crossing into a single evening, played over a time limit. This brings the tears, the laughter, and the out-plays into an even snappier turn around, and there's plenty of fun in replaying again and again. A great game for bringing people out of their shell and creating lasting alliances. 

Caverna? Try Cave vs Cave!


If you're looking for the simple life, Caverna is a farming game situated entirely within a cave, in the faraway mountains. You play as a dwarven farmer who must rise to the challenge of finding resources, mining within your cave and conquering the forest beyond the mountains to expand your idyllic farmlands. You begin with a farmer’s family, with each member representing an action you may take within the game. Slowly, you begin to gain resources, lovely furnishings for your home, and minerals to turn into weapons. Caverna is a hefty box filled with many moving parts - lots of resource tokens, and boards to play depending on the amount of dwarves in the mix, which can go up to seven players. If it sounds like a lot to juggle, thats ok! Thats where Cave vs Cave comes in. ;)

Cave vs Cave is a two player only addition, based on many of the same principles as Caverna, with a streamlined board design and a competitive edge. Allowing two dwarven families to go head to head in battle for supremacy of the mountainside, you still aim to cultivate the nicest home, and greatest wealth but on half the game time. The 8 turn limit allows snappier game play, and brings intense rivalry into this quaint farming life. Star Dew Valley, but on hard mode.

We hope these lightweight games don’t fool you with their size - they still pack quite the punch, and are the perfect entryway for new and older gamers alike to dip their toes into some exciting titles!