Board games don’t necessarily have to be the wallet busters that they’re often made out to be. Sure, the more famous ones like Monopoly, Risk and Settlers of Catan deserve the expensive rep they get. But there’s also an entire universe of cheap board games that can be afforded on 2 hours of minimum wage.
Bet’cha never even heard of some of these before. Dig out all the hidden change from your sofas and start rolling!
Our 5 Best Cheap Board Games
For a filler game, Age of War is pretty unique in that it can accommodate up to 6 people. In the game, players assume the role of a Shogun involved in a tussle for land in ancient Japan. Players steal territories and castles from each other, literally at the roll of a dice – with the objective being to gather the most tracts of land as possible.
There’s not a lot of strategy here, as most of the spoils of war are the products of fate; but for only $12 it’s good value for money. I’d vouch for it purely for the opportunity to see 6 feudal warlords screaming at each other over the Japanese wartime equivalent of property rights.
In a post-modernistic communist society, two fronts engage against each other – the spies and the Resistance. Members of the Resistance have to stay hidden lest they get captured, while the spies do their best to try and discover who the spies are. It’s a game which brings out the worst in human nature, encouraging outright deception and backstabbing for self-interest.
This game can be likened to Cluedo, but without the board. The game starts with players receiving a card each, which establishes whether they are part of the Spies or the Resistance. From there, it’s a game of social deduction, trying to guess at each other’s body language cues and manoeuvring around baited questions to root out the enemy.
The game is brilliant because it makes use of the players themselves to provide depth and strategy into what appears on the surface to be a very simple game. It keeps your party occupied for an entertaining 30 minutes, and for $15 you won’t go broke picking it up.
Star Realms started life as a Kickstarter, and apparently was so popular it got funded in the short space of 2 months. It’s a sci-fi deck building game, where players take control of space factions and try to destabilize their opponent’s control of their factions.
The best way to describe this game is “Yu-gi-Oh in Space”. Players draw three types of cards – Ships, Bases or Outposts – which they use to establish defences or attack the other players’ cards. There are also special situation cards which enable unique abilities that can make or break a game. The objective is to try and deplete your opponent’s Authority points, whereupon you will be declared the winner.
For a $15 game, there is a surprising amount of depth and replayability to be found here. The cards are beautifully designed, and it’s apparent that a lot of care went into developing the strategy – as well as striking a balance between the strengths and weaknesses of all the possible decks.
Say Anything is a pretty entertaining party game. The game involves a moderator asking a question, for instance, “What do you think the biggest thing in this room is?” You can see how the game can quickly devolve into cringeworthy situations, a la Truth or Dare. But this structure also adds flavour to the game since the tone changes drastically depending on whether you’re playing it with your college mates or at a family dinner.
Non-moderators give their answers to the moderator’s question; they can literally Say Anything, even if it’s not true. The moderator then quietly selects his favourite answer. Once chosen, the non-moderators have a chance to place bidding tokens on the answer they think the moderator has chosen – even if it’s not their own answer. Players win points for supplying the chosen answer or bidding on the chosen answer, and the player with the most points wins.
Unlike the other games on this list, this game doesn’t follow a specific structure, which allows for plenty of variety. It’s only $17, and the smile it will permanently etch into your face is well worth it.
Like Settlers of Catan? Then you’ll love this game. Machi Koro is a city building game which involves trying to earn as much money as quickly as possible. It’s a bit like a mini-Simcity where you have to balance resource production with rapidly encroaching opponents.
The game starts off with each player receiving 2 buildings and 4 unbuilt landmarks. The goal of the game is to complete building of all the landmarks, which you buy with money. Money is earned whenever the roll of the dice matches the number of the building cards in your possession. However, you can also buy more buildings instead of landmarks to speed up your rate of your earnings.
You can see how there’s a little bit of strategy involved here – some players might opt for buying more buildings over landmarks; while others might choose buildings which give them a higher concentration of the same numbers to maximize what they earn when the dice rolls on them.
The artwork is fun and cartoonish, set out in the anime style of Japan where the game originates from. And for $20, it’s difficult to go wrong with this game.