New England Street’s board game centre recommends the best games of the summer. While it may not always look like it outside, summer is nearly here and with all these barbecues, birthday parties and picnics to attend you’ll be pleased to know that there is an alternative to inane chit-chat. The solution comes in the form of board games, and here are five great ones to play this summer.

Dobble (2-8 players)

Dobble comes in a tin around the size of your palm and contains three simple games in one pack of cards, so it’s great for portability and there’s plenty of play time to be had. Each card contains a number of colourful symbols and, while there are loads of symbols, you’ll always be able to find a match with another card on the table. Identifying these matching symbols is key to each of the mini-games. Dobble is fast-moving and requires all the speed and precision of a traditional game of Snap – you’ll have to be sharper than all your competition at spotting duplicates.

Klask (2 players)

Each Klask player uses a magnetic piece to try to direct a ball into their opponent’s goal, much like in arcade air hockey. Magnetic traps and the annoyingly easy mistake of falling into your own goal will set you back, so it’s a good idea to practice before declaring a tournament. The game itself is chunky but easily transported to the garden – just watch your barbecue-fingers on the pieces!

Coup (2-6 players)

Coup’s description reads like an epic. Set in a future where the oppressed masses toil under a privileged few, a rebellion is brewing and players must seek to drive their rivals into exile. Fortunately, the game only takes around 15 minutes, so you won’t be there plotting your attack all day. Like Dobble, Coup comes in a compact box which is easily portable, although it probably isn’t as easy as Dobble to pick up for younger players. Players initiate coups throughout the game, using their character cards and coins to boost their cause or protect themselves. Marx thought that religion was the opiate of the people. Perhaps instead it is board games.

Chameleon (3-8 players)

From party game pros Big Potato Games comes The Chameleon, a word association game with the twist that one player is actually a secret reptile. In this game, players shout out words they associate with something. The problem is, the chameleon doesn’t know which word they’re meant to be associating with. At the end of the round players will have to accuse the person they suspect of being the chameleon, and that’s when the arguments start.

This game is more shoebox-sized than pocket-sized but it’s a simple-to-play game for a summer’s afternoon that’ll get everyone interacting with each other (potentially in an accusatory and slightly aggressive way, but at least you’re getting Timmy off the Xbox).

Skull (3-6 players)

Rather arrogantly declaring itself “one of the greatest bluffing games of the 2nd millennium,” Skull may or may not be bluffing. Just kidding, this game is definitely top tier. Centred around bidding and bluffing, this speedy and beautifully designed game is housed in a tiny box that’s easy to throw into your bag. Players bet on how many cards they can turn over before finding a skull but, of course, not everyone will tell the truth. Get your poker face on for this one.

All these games and many more are available to both play and purchase at Dice Saloon, which has just moved in to a new HQ on New England Street. And, if the draw of hours of entertainment isn’t enough – did we also mention they serve pizza?