How to Play Board Games on a Budget
I’ve written in the past about the awesome benefits you will realize playing family board games. The one challenge I have with board games is the cost. This is amplified with kids board games, because they are developing so fast a lot of games only hold their interest for a year or two. So how do you get the most out of your board game budget? Check out our how to play board games on a budget guide!
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When it comes to playing board games on a budget I think there are two main approaches. One is to find great deals on games to stretch your budget over as many games as possible. The other approach is to make sure the games you are buying are games you want to play over and over, I’ll talk about both below.
Buy Used Games – Thrift Stores
I have to give credit to my wife on this one. She’s a thrift store expert and she turned me onto the awesome deals you can find on board games during thrift store hunting. If you’re hunting for thrift store board games deals, here’s four tips that have helped us find success:
1. Patience is Key
I would estimate one out of every four or five trips to a goodwill that we actually find games to buy. It’s pretty common to see thrift store shelves riddled with copies of Scene-It and Trivial Pursuit, so don’t get discouraged if that is all you see in the first few trips. The most exciting thing about looking for board games at thrift stores is that when you do find something good it tends to be like hitting the jackpot, finding a bunch of great games for super reasonable prices.
2. Look through the toy shelves
A lot of times we’ll find great card games stashed among the toy shelves rather than separated with the bigger board games. We’ve found some of our favorite kids games like Sleeping Queens and Spot-it! buried among the toys. If we had only been looking on the board game shelf we would have missed out on a lot of awesome finds.
3. Don’t focus on specific games, but look for brands instead
Keeping an open mind when thrift store hunting is essential. There’s a pretty low chance of finding a specific game. So rather than heading to the store looking for one game, we tend to keep an eye out for brands that we know make great games. If we see games by Gamewright, Blue Orange, Peaceable Kingdom, Ravensburger, or Kosmos at the thrift store its pretty much an instant buy for us!
4. Consider buying incomplete games
Its pretty normal to see games at thrift stores that are missing critical pieces. Rather than just passing on the game, consider buying the game and finding replacement parts. A lot of companies will send replacement parts for free! Others may charge you for replacement parts, but the cost of the game + replacement part is often still a steep discount to buying the game brand new. If you can’t get a replacement part from the company, a lot of times it can be found online from sites like eBay.
Buy Used Games – Other Options
Thrift stores aren’t the only place to find amazing deals on used games, I also love to hunt for them in games stores, on eBay, or in buy/sell/trade groups. You usually won’t find the crazy deals of thrift stores, but there is still some deep discounts over retail to be had.
I have been seeing more and more game stores carry a used game section. There’s a few great reasons to shop for used games at game stores. First, you can see the condition in person, so you know exactly what you’re getting making it much easier to buy with confidence. You can also be assured the game store has validated that all the parts are included! Most stores that have a used game section will also accept used games for store credit as well, giving you a perfect path to get some utility from games you no longer play. Last but certainly not least, this is also a great way to support a local business rather then sending your money away to other economies.
I have also noticed some video game stores will carry used board games, sometimes at great prices. Be sure to check them out as well!
eBay is a great place to find discounts when you’re looking for a specific game but trying to avoid paying full retail. I have found eBay really supports their customers and makes sure you get what you expect with purchases. It’s nice to have some recourse in the event you end up purchasing a game that is missing pieces or not in the described condition.
Buy/sell/trade groups are another great option. Especially with kids board games, trading can be the perfect option. Once a game you own no longer challenges your kid, find someone to trade with and you both come away ahead! As with most marketplaces, there can be scammers involved, so make sure you take steps to protect yourself. Here are two of our favorite buy/sell/trade groups:
- Facebook – Board Game Exchange – completely run through Facebook, lots of activity with people looking to buy, sell, and trade.
- Board Game Geek’s – Geek Market – Board Game Geek has a great forum to learn more about board games, and a very active market.
Buying New Games
There are a lot of great games that won’t break the bank! Check out the 20+ best games under $20 as a starting point. There are also some great deals to be had on more expensive new games as well. Some of our favorite spots to find deals are Amazon and Target. Amazon has great deals on board games throughout the year and especially during the holidays. Target has really grown their board game selection and offers buy one board game, get one 50% off around once every three months. They also have some great black friday deals on games.
I also try to shop at local board game stores as much as possible. While they can’t necessarily compete on price with online retailers and big box stores, but they can help you save money in other ways (more on that above and below!). These local game stores are a great resource so, if you can, don’t overlook shopping there when possible!
Try Before You Buy New
The above has mainly focused on stretching your board game purchase dollars as far as possible via getting games for as cheap as possible. The below tips are more geared at playing games for free, and helping you make sure the games you do buy are games you love and will play over and over! All the below places are options for you to try before you buy.
In a cool new trend, I’ve been noticing a lot of libraries have been adding board games you can check out! This presents a great opportunity to try before you buy a board game. Or if there is a game that you just have interest in playing once or twice, you can check it out and play for a week or two, and return it to move onto the next game!
Game stores are another place that can really help you ensure the games you buy are games you’ll love. They often have copies of popular board games available to try out in store. This is a great way to make sure a game you expect to love is a good fit for your family. While you’re there, take the time to talk with the staff and explain what your looking for in a game. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into a store expecting to buy one game, but been convinced (correctly!) that a different game will be a better fit.
Board Game Cafés
Board game cafés are really cool if you haven’t been. They typically charge you a cover ($5-$10) to get in and they have a huge library of board games to play. This is a great set up to get some family or friends together to try out a bunch of board games to find your next favorite game!
Free Printable Board Games
There are tons of great printable board games available online. These generally don’t have the replayability of a boxed game you’d buy, but they are usually free, and a lot of fun for one or two plays. Here’s a list of a bunch of free printable games to get you started!
How do you Board Game on a Budget?
I hope these tips can help you get more bang for your board game budget! Now I’d love to hear from you! What are your tips for playing board games on a budget? Comment below!
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