Gaming On a Budget
Gaming is a great hobby. It is a wonderful way to unwind, it promotes social interaction, problem-solving, and it is a great escape from the mundane. There are games out there for, literally, everyone. Games about slaying dragons, gardening, quilting, building an empire, and even a game where one of the players actually plays the cave that the other players are playing in. And gaming has become increasingly expensive. Many games now have a price point of $60 dollars, and in many cases higher. So what is an intrepid gamer to do? That is what this list is about; where to get great games, at reasonable prices.
Big name stores can afford big orders on their products, and this allows them to lower prices for their customers.
Amazon: Full disclosure here, I am an Amazon affiliate, and I do get a commission when you purchase an item thru one of my links. However; Amazon is rather good at lowering prices for most products. I have seen a game with an MSRP of $60 discounted to $41. And that is a pretty significant price drop.
I do have a word of warning though, I have seen them raise the price of a product as well. For instance, I have seen a game listed for over $190 that I can get at my FLGS, friendly local gaming store, for around $130. So it isn’t always the best price, but more often than not you can get a pretty sweet deal at Amazon.
Walmart: The King of the discount, Walmart has been outselling the competition for years, and this includes games. However, Walmart has a huge drawback; selection. Compared to what you can get at your FLGS, Amazon, or any number of online retailers, Walmart’s selection is quite sparse. If you are looking for big name games though, Walmart may have what you are looking for, and cheaper than you can get elsewhere.
Used Games, like used books, can be a Godsend. Yes, you are getting someone’s used copy, and it most likely has some wear on it. Most stores, however, won’t take used games that are not in good condition and considering that you can get a like new game a lot cheaper than a new game a little wear won’t affect the gameplay.
A few places to check online for used games
Many stores buy gently used games, either for cash or store credit. Usually, you will get more store credit than you will cash, and this can go a long way towards getting that shiny new game you want.
Noble Knight games: This online gaming store buys board games, RPGs, dice, miniatures, comics and more. They offer free shipping for your items, and you can request an estimate before you ship what you have to them.
Local game store swap meets: Many FLGSs will periodically host meetups for gamers to bring their unwanted games to trade with other gamers.
Print and play games
A print and play game is typically a “self-published” game that a designer will put online either for free or for a small fee. They often do this because they are still playtesting the game and looking for feedback. You can find several games that fit in this category on Board Game Geek. If you run across one of these, please do the designer a solid and post some feedback. It will help make their game better, and, by extension, it will help you by helping to improve a game and a game designer.
Another reason designers offer up their games for free is they are shopping the game around, and are trying to build up a fan base that they can call upon to help get the game published, a lot of Kickstarter campaigns do this.
Other designers have a more philosophical reason, they figure that if the game is worth it to you, you will play it, then give them a donation. At least one of these designers, James Ernest, has had his games published traditionally, but still offers the print and play version on his site.
Local friendly game store’s game library
Now, for a lot of you this probably won’t come as a surprise, but for the ones out there who don’t know, many game stores have a “try before you buy” library of games for you to play. If you are not sure that the shiny new game, that costs upwards of $80, is worth all that cash, why not take it for a test drive. An added benefit is that you are in the game store, surrounded by knowledgeable gamers, and staff, who quite often are more than happy to help you get the most out of the game you are trying out.
Finally, shop around. Don’t just take the first deal that you see, check it against others. Go online, check at another store, do your research. You may just find the game you want at a much better price.
If anyone has any other suggestions for gaming on a budget, I would love to hear them. Just leave a comment below.