While buying gifts for family and friends can be a wonderful experience, the holiday season can be an expensive one if you’re not careful. There’s nothing like a substantial dent on your bank account to put a damper on all of the season’s goodwill. Thankfully, there are plenty of fun and affordable options for your gamer friends and family. Instead of maxing out your credit cards to buy everyone their very own copy of Gloomhaven, here are 10 terrific games under $20 each.
Vegas Dice Game
Go to your nearest Target and find this game, which is merely Rudiger Dorn’s Las Vegas re-packaged in a cool-looking six-sided die. In Vegas Dice Game you’re pushing your luck in Sin City, as you roll dice and attempt to place the most dice on the areas that’ll win you the most money.
MSRP: $19.99 – Ravensburger (Target Exclusive)
Shards of Infinity
As I put it in my in-depth overview of this game, “Shards of Infinity uses familiar deck-building mechanisms: shuffle your deck, draw five cards, play your cards to buy more cards and deal damage, then discard.” It’s a deck builder that’s fast and furious at a fraction of the cost of other similar-style games.
MSRP: $19.99 – StoneBlade Entertainment
This Mensa Select winner is a quick to set up and play, with top-notch components guaranteed to attract a crowd when it hits the table. Players each get a secret objective and a set of cards to manipulate a column of tikis, hoping that the tikis line up just right to score them points. It’s always fun playing the topple card since it usually elicits groans from those who see their plans go down in flames. Muahaha.
MSRP: $19.99 – Gamewright
Go Nuts for Donuts
As I described in my food & games menu article, “Go Nuts for Donuts has a similar set collection mechanism as Sushi Go!, but its drafting mechanism is different: each turn you’ll bid on a community set of donut cards and if you’re the only one bidding on a card, you claim it. If you and another player bid on the same card, you both get nothing. You’ll build sets of donuts and the highest score wins.”
MSRP: $14.99 – Gamewright
In Mint Works, the Five24 Labs crew came up with a pure worker placement game that fit into an Altoids-sized tin. This time, they distill the pick-up-and-deliver mechanism down to its essence in Mint Delivery. Players pick up mints from various cities and deliver them to other cities to fulfill their order cards. With optional player abilities and road conditions, Mint Delivery provides lots of big fun despite its small size.
MSRP: $12.99 – Five24 Labs
Unlock! Escape Adventures
Escape rooms are a blast, but they can get expensive after a while. Thankfully, you no longer have to spend a lot of money or even leave your house for an escape room experience. Fellow Geek & Sundry contributor Charlie Theel described this series of games as, “[a]n economic little deck of cards that has you solving clever puzzles and locating hidden numbers”. This game is a steal for the experience.
MSRP: $14.99 – Space Cowboys
This classic auction-with-a-twist from designer Reiner Knizia was recently updated with gorgeous new artwork. Players take on the role of the European elite looking to spend in flashy ways. You may bid any amount on the current card, whether it’s on the latest perfume or a day enjoying equestrian sports. However, before the final scoring takes place, the player with the lowest amount of money is out, no matter how points they’ve scored. It’s all about spending just enough to maintain your status in High Society.
MSRP: $20 – Osprey Publishing
Designed by renowned game designer Bruno Cathala, Raf Cordero described award-winning Kingdomino as, “is a light tile-laying game by prolific designer Bruno Cathala. Despite playing in only 15-30 minutes, it’s been praised for its tactical decisions and beguiling turn-order system.”
MSRP: $19.99 – Blue Orange Games
Karuba: The Card Game
The original Karuba is a fun tile-laying game in an Indiana-Jones-like setting. The card game version is even easier to learn and quicker to play. Each player has their deck of cards with various bits of path adorned with gems, gold, explorers, or temples. You’ll play two numbered cards and if your total is the lowest you’ll have to discard one. Otherwise, play the cards in a 4×4 grid and attempt to line up your adventurers to get to their temples to score the most points and win.
MSRP: $19.99 – HABA
Who knew you could roll and write while farming? As I put it in my games and noms article, “Harvest Dice is light but more substantial than you might expect. In this roll-and-write game each player drafts dice to plant veggies in their garden. Dice represent carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce and each round one will go to market, increasing in value for end-game scoring. If you can’t use a die, you’ll feed it to the Pig. As the pig fills up on food, it’ll give you special abilities such as changing a die’s color or increasing/decreasing its pip value.”
MSRP: $14.99 – Grey Fox Games
What are your favorite budget-friendly board games? Tell us in the comments!
WANT MORE BOARD GAME GOODNESS?
- International Tabletop Day on a Budget: 5 Games for $15 or Less
- Board Game Buyer’s Guide: Great $20 (or Less) Games for Gifting
- 4 Great Games Under $20 to Play on International Tabletop Day
Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola
Ruel Gaviola loves board games, books, food, travel, Star Wars, and date nights with his wife. He writes about games for iSlaytheDragon and tabletop-test.com, podcasts about games for The Five By, and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog here.