I've talked about Sprawlopolis in the past, an amazing little wallet game that packs perhaps the best solo experience you can get at that size. It plays well coop too although better with solo. Yet I just played Circle the Wagons and I think it's even better.
Both of these games come to you from Button Shy games, and both literally fit in your pocket. They consist of a handful of cards, often a small wallet holder and that's it. Rules too I guess. These two games in particular share a lot, in terms of having variable scoring and then the rest of the game relies on laying cards strategically to accomplish those goals. But whereas Sprawlopolis you're playing against the game, in Circle the Wagons you're playing against each other.
Now don't get me wrong, I love a good solo game, and I do enjoy Sprawlopolis. I just find that sometimes the luck of the objectives can define a game as being too easy or too hard. Whereas in Circle the Wagons you're both dealt the same hand so to speak. Additionally the gameplay mechanism of Circle the Wagons, allows you to force cards on your opponent. Adding a fascinating option to have negative conditions in play, things you want to avoid, and through avoiding pass those onto the other player.
Both games remind me of The Hanging Gardens, an older and hard to get game, in the overlaying placement of your cards. Yet both are easier to teach, quicker to play, and give you a variable game play compared to the static nature of The Hanging Gardens. I've also heard comparisons to Honshu, which is now on my radar to try thanks to these two.
Color me interested in anything Button Shy Games puts out next. These last two have been well worth the minimal investment.