cover image for an article giving tips on how to save money on board games, the picture shows a playing board with tokens and real money

Save Big - How to Enjoy Board Gaming With a Tight Budget

Save Big - How to Enjoy Board Gaming With a Tight Budget

Board gaming often gets a reputation for being an expensive hobby, but that's not entirely accurate. While some games can be pricey, there are many ways to enjoy board gaming without spending a fortune. In this post, we'll explore how you can dive into the world of board games on a budget, with tips, recommendations, and advice on trading games, buying second-hand, and finding the best board gaming deals.

My Story of Getting Into Affordable Board Gaming

A few years ago, I found myself intrigued by the world of board gaming but worried about the costs, especially being a collector at heart. Determined to enjoy the hobby without overspending, I started exploring budget-friendly options. One of my best finds was getting an impressive sale on two classics - like "Carcassonne" and "Ticket to Ride" for a fraction of their full retail prices.

I am also considering joining local board game groups through This can be a fun way of meeting new friends while trying out a variety of games without purchasing them. You can trade games among members, allowing everyone to experience new titles without additional costs. This approach can save a lot of money and introduce you to a fantastic community of fellow board gamers.

So, let's explore finding the best deals, trading, and buying second-hand board games as a way to enjoy this hobby without breaking the bank!

Addressing the Misconception

Many people believe that board gaming is an expensive hobby, often citing the high prices of popular games and the need for constant purchases to keep up with new releases. This perception can be daunting for newcomers who think they need to invest heavily to get started or stay engaged. However, this is only part of the picture.

The truth is that board gaming can be as affordable or as expensive as you make it. Plenty of high-quality games are available at various price points and many ways to enjoy the hobby without spending a lot." This highlights that with the right approach, board gaming can be accessible to everyone.

split image of a board game with rolling dice in the upper section, and a wallet with money in the lower section

Buying Second-Hand Board Games

One of the best ways to enjoy board games without spending a lot is to buy second-hand games. This approach has several benefits.

Benefits of Buying Second-Hand Board Games

  • Cost Savings: Second-hand games are often significantly cheaper than new ones. If you are lucky, sometimes you can find a seller who wants to give away their collection for a fraction of its full price.
  • Environmental Impact: Purchasing used games reduces waste and promotes recycling.
  • Access to Out-of-Print Games: Sometimes, the only way to find older or out-of-print games is through the second-hand market.

Recommended Places to Find Second-Hand Games

  • eBay: A vast marketplace where you can find various used games at competitive prices.
  • BGG Marketplace. Find your favorite game on, and then scroll down to the "For Trade" section. You can trade in the game or buy it used from real people.
  • Local Thrift Stores: These can be treasure troves for finding classic and contemporary board games at bargain prices.
  • Board Game Conventions: Many conventions have flea markets or bring-and-buy events where attendees sell their used games.
  • Facebook Marketplace and Local Buy/Sell Groups: These platforms can connect you with local sellers, allowing for quick and easy transactions.

Risks of Buying Second-Hand Board Games

Of course, buying second-hand comes with some risks to consider:

  • Scammers: When dealing with individual sellers, you have limited protection against scams. So, be sure to check this seller and communicate all the details with them before paying them.
  • Inconsistent Quality. When buying second-hand, you'll buy a used item (even if it is unopened), so expect it might have some defects. So, be sure to ask for possible defects and ask them to send photos of the box and components.
  • No Warranty. Used items do not have a warranty or refund policy, so don't expect to return it just because you did not like it.

That being said, these risks are standard all across every used item you buy, so don't let it scare you. Just be vigilant, ask questions, and pay only after knowing all the essential questions, and you should be fine!

Board game enthusiast Tom Vasel from The Dice Tower states, "Buying used games is a fantastic way to expand your collection without emptying your wallet. Often, these games are in great condition, and you get to enjoy the same experience at a fraction of the cost." This highlights the value and practicality of purchasing second-hand games for budget-conscious gamers.

Trading Games with Friends

Trading games with friends is another excellent way to enjoy a variety of board games without spending extra money. Here's how it works:

How Game Trading Works

  • Identify Friends with Similar Interests: Find board gaming groups or connect with friends who have a passion for board games.
  • Create a Trading System: Establish a simple system for trading games, whether it's a one-for-one swap or a temporary exchange.
  • Set Ground Rules: Agree on the condition the games should be in. And agree on the duration of the trade.

For example, a few months ago, a friend of mine traded his copy of "Carcassonne" with a friend for their "Pandemic." This temporary exchange allowed both of them to enjoy new games without making any new purchases. They set a one-month period for the swap, which gave us plenty of time to delve into and appreciate the new games.

Benefits of Trading Games

  • Cost-Effective: Trading eliminates the need to buy new games, saving money.
  • Variety: It provides an opportunity to experience different games, keeping the hobby fresh and exciting.
  • Social Interaction: Trading games fosters a sense of community and connection among friends.
  • Sustainable: Sharing and reusing games reduces the demand for new products, making it an environmentally friendly option.

What to Consider When Trading Board Games

Each situation is different, so your particular considerations might be completely different from the ones mentioned below, but there are a few things that need to be considered often.

  • Time Period: Are you trading indefinitely or for a timed period? If it is the latter, set a specific date when you will both be returning the games to each other.
  • Similar "Class": To make the trade fair, try to trade games of similar quality/price points. For example, trading Gloomhaven (200+ USD game) with Ticket to Ride (<50 USD game) might raise concerns over time.
  • Line of Contact: If you are trading a game with a person you don't know well, set up at least two possible lines of connection (e.g., email and phone) so you are sure to reach one another when the time comes.

All in all, trading games with friends not only broadens your gaming experience but also strengthens bonds and promotes a sustainable approach to the hobby.

Joining Board Game Groups and Meetups

Joining local board game groups and meetups can greatly enhance your gaming experience, especially if you're on a budget. Here are some key benefits:

  • Access to a Variety of Games: Group members often bring their own games, allowing you to try out many different titles without buying them yourself.
  • Learning and Sharing: You can learn new games quickly with the help of experienced players and share your own favorites with others.
  • Community and Friendship: Meetups foster a sense of community and can lead to lasting friendships with fellow board game enthusiasts.
  • Cost Savings: Regularly participating in group events can reduce the need to purchase new games, as you'll have access to a broad selection of games shared by others.

How to Find These Groups

  • This is a great platform to find local board game groups. Simply search for board game meetups in your area and join the ones that interest you.
  • Facebook Groups: Many communities have Facebook groups dedicated to board gaming. Search for groups in your city or region, and join to get updates on events and meetups.
  • Local Game Stores: Many game stores host regular board game nights and events. Check their bulletin boards or websites for schedules.
  • Libraries and Community Centers: These venues often host game nights and can be a good place to meet fellow gamers.
  • BoardGameGeek: The site has forums and community sections where you can connect with local gamers and find information about meetups.

By joining local groups and meetups, you can enjoy a wide range of board games, save money, and build a strong community of fellow gamers.

Exploring Free Print-and-Play Games

Print-and-play (PnP) games are board games that you can download, print, and assemble at home. These games are often available for free or at a minimal cost, allowing you to enjoy a wide range of games without a significant financial investment. All you need is a printer, some paper or cardstock, and basic crafting supplies like scissors and glue.

Resources for Finding Quality Print-and-Play Games

  • BoardGameGeek: This website has a dedicated section for print-and-play games, including user reviews and ratings to help you find high-quality options.
  • PnP Arcade: PnP Arcade offers a variety of print-and-play games, many of which are free or available at a low cost.
  • Print-and-Play Facebook Groups: Joining these groups can provide access to a community of enthusiasts who share recommendations, files, and tips for creating your own games.
  • Publisher Websites: Some board game publishers offer print-and-play versions of their games as a promotional tool. It's worth checking the websites of your favorite publishers for these offerings.

Print-and-play games are a fantastic way to expand your board game collection without spending much money. With a little effort, you can enjoy a wide variety of games that are often just as engaging as their commercial counterparts.

five rolling dice on 50 Eur bills, a close up

Find Sales on New Games

For those who want to save money but enjoy opening a new game so much that buying it used just isn't an option - the best option is to look for the best deals and sales!

How to find the best board gaming deals and sales

  • Know the Retail Price: The first step in finding a good deal is to know the retail price (or average price) of the game in question. Otherwise, you can't know if the "sale" price is actually good. To do so, simply compare the average prices on multiple web pages.
  • Local Stores/Web Pages: Find a local retailer or e-commerce store that offers reasonable pricing for board games all across the board. Sometimes, you don't even have to wait for a sale to find a good deal for your favorite game.
  • Search For Sales: Search for a specific sale or wait for some bigger store-wide sale. Most shops organize periodic sales, offering very good prices for even new games. The most notable being the Black Friday sale, of course.
  • Adding Games "In Cart": Often e-store send specialized discount codes, so by adding your favorite game in their cart, increases your chances of receiving an email with a discount code.
  • Start With Great Value Games: If you can't wait for a sale but want to play a great-value board game right now, look for a game that offers excellent value, even at its retail price.

Affordable Game Recommendations (Under $30)

Exploring the world of board games on a budget can lead to discovering some real gems. Here are 15 exciting and engaging games, each priced under $30:

  1. Azul - A beautiful tile-laying game where players take turns drafting tiles to complete patterns and score points. Price: Around $25.
  2. Sagrada - Players draft dice and use them to build stunning stained-glass windows, balancing color and number restrictions. Price: Around $25.
  3. Kingdomino - A domino-style game where players expand their kingdom by matching tiles and creating valuable land combinations. Price: Around $20.
  4. Splendor - A game of chip-collecting and card development where players build a trade empire by acquiring gems and gaining prestige. Price: Around $30.
  5. Point Salad - A quick and simple card-drafting game where players create the best combinations of vegetables to score points. Price: Around $20.
  6. The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine - A cooperative trick-taking game where players must complete missions together by playing cards strategically. Price Around $15.
  7. For Sale - A fast-paced auction game where players bid on properties and then sell them for the highest profit. Price: Around $20.
  8. Patchwork - A two-player game where players create a quilt by drafting patches and placing them on their board, balancing time and buttons. Price: Around $20.
  9. Welcome To... - A roll-and-write game where players act as architects, designing the best new town with clever planning and resource management. Price Around $25.
  10. Tiny Towns - Players take turns placing resources on their boards to construct buildings and create a thriving town. Price Around: $30.
  11. Bohnanza - A unique card game where players trade and plant beans, aiming to harvest the most valuable crops. Price: Around $15.
  12. Just One - A cooperative party game where players give one-word clues to help guess the mystery word, aiming for the highest score. Price: Around $20.
  13. Hanabi - A cooperative card game where players work together to create a beautiful fireworks display, playing cards without seeing their own hands. Price: Around $10.
  14. The Mind - A cooperative game where players must play cards in ascending order without verbal communication, creating an intense and unique challenge. Price: Around $15.
    Read our the Mind review here.

Mid-Range Games (Under $80)

When you're willing to stretch the budget slightly beyond entry-level prices, you can access a broader range of engaging and complex board games. Here are some standout games under $80 that provide deep strategic experiences and high replayability:

  1. Wingspan - A stunningly illustrated, competitive bird-collection game where players aim to attract the best birds to their wildlife reserves. Price: Around $50-$60.
  2. Terraforming Mars - Players work as corporations to transform Mars into a habitable planet, balancing resource management and project completion. Price: Around $55-$70.
    Read our Terraforming Mars review here.
  3. Scythe - Set in an alternate-history 1920s, this game combines area control, resource management, and engine building in a dystopian Europe. Price: Around $70-$80.
  4. 7 Wonders - A card drafting game where players develop civilizations through three ages, building one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Price: Around $40-$50.
  5. Concordia - A peaceful strategy game of economic development in Roman times where players trade goods, develop cities, and earn the favor of gods. Price: Around $55-$65.
  6. Cascadia - A tile-placement game where players build ecosystems by arranging tiles of different habitats and populating them with wildlife. Price: Around $35-$45.
  7. Spirit Island - A complex and thematic cooperative game where players are spirits protecting their island from colonizing invaders. Price: Around $60-$70.
  8. Root - A game of woodland might and right, where players control different factions vying for control of a vast wilderness. Price: Around $60-$70.
  9. Gloomhaven - A sprawling cooperative campaign game of tactical combat in a persistent, ever-changing fantasy world. Around $80 (often on sale).
  10. Cosmic Encounter - A classic game of alien diplomacy, betrayal, and strategic alliances where each player uses a unique alien power to control the galaxy. Price: Around $50-$60.
  11. Ark Nova - Players plan and develop their own zoos to protect species and promote conservation efforts in this strategic card-driven game. Price Around $60-$70.
  12. Betrayal at House on the Hill - A tile-laying game where players build a haunted mansion and experience one of 50 possible haunting scenarios. Price: Around $35-$45.
  13. Pandemic: Legacy Season 1 - An evolving cooperative game where players work as disease-fighting specialists aiming to save the world from deadly outbreaks. Price: Around $50-$70.
  14. Everdell - A dynamic tableau-building and worker placement game where players gather resources to build a city of critters and constructions. Price: Around $55-$65.
  15. Viticulture - A strategic game of winemaking where players manage workers and resources to develop their vineyard and craft the best wines. Price: Around $50-$60.

These games represent a range of mechanics and themes, offering something for every type of gamer looking to deepen their board game collection without going overboard on spending.

Community Engagement

We'd love to hear your budget-friendly board gaming tips! Share your experiences, favorite affordable games, and any money-saving strategies in the comments below. Your insights can help others find new ways to enjoy board gaming without breaking the bank.

Those looking to connect with other budget-conscious gamers should consider joining online forums and communities. Websites like BoardGameGeek have active discussions on finding deals and affordable gaming. Additionally, Facebook groups and Reddit communities dedicated to board gaming are great places to swap tips, find second-hand games, and join game swaps. Together, we can make board gaming accessible and fun for everyone.

close up of a board game playing board with rolling dice, tokens, accessories, cards, and real money


Board gaming doesn't have to be an expensive hobby. By exploring second-hand markets, trading games with friends, diving into print-and-play options, and joining local groups and meetups, you can enjoy a wide variety of games without spending a fortune. Affordable games and mid-range titles offer excellent entertainment and strategic depth, proving that great gaming experiences are available at every price point.

With the right approach, board gaming can be both fun and affordable. We encourage you to share your own budget-friendly tips and favorite games in the comments. Let's work together to build a community where everyone can enjoy the rich, engaging world of board games without worrying about the cost. Happy gaming!

Related Articles

Top 20 Must-Have Board Games Under $20: Affordable & Fun

30+ Best Card Games to Play with Friends or at a Gathering

Best Places Where to Find and Buy Board and Card Games

-Best Bang for Buck: Top Value-For-Money Board & Card Games

Best Board Games with Stunning Miniatures: Collector's Guide

My Personal Board Game Wishlist for 2024

Looking for a new card game to play with your friends?

The Spheres of Life: Mythical Forest is a new completive fantasy card game for 2-7 Players. From stunning design to fun gameplay, this exciting game can be a fantastic addition to your family and friends' game nights!

Shop the story

Leave a comment

* Required fields

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.