I know, I know. I promised you another author interview all about gaming. What can I say? I’m a rebel who changes her mind on a whim. My post this time focuses not on other writers – although my interview with Jacob Sannox is waiting in the wings, lurking like a board game ninja – but on my latest game purchases. As a regular gamer, I know that one of the biggest barriers to getting into any hobby is cost, especially nowadays. While I try to buy new when I can, particularly from independent game creators, the reality is that buying new isn’t always possible.
Now if there’s one thing I love almost as much as boardgames and 80s hair rock, it’s getting a bargain. If being a professional second-hand shopper was a real thing, I’d probably forget about writing and spend my days diving headfirst into thrift store baskets. We try to circulate our board games regularly. We don’t have the room to keep everything we buy, so I usually keep the perennial favourites and switch around everything else at least once every few months. Any games we no longer use go to charity or get taken to our local board game cafes.
For those of you who are interested, here’s what our current games cupboard looks like:
Anyway, I digress. Last weekend, armed with a small handful of great British pounds I set out on a mission to find some bargain board games with an optimistic skip in my step. Here’s a rundown of what we found and how they played.
Bargain boardgame number one: Family Fortunes
The cost for this game was £2 – a bargain by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not usually a fan of board games based on television shows. In my experience, you tend to get a couple of plays out of them before you’ve covered all the bases and after that, nothing new happens. We eagerly opened the box to find all the pieces intact and in good condition. Unfortunately, what we had not realised was you need multiple players. In retrospect, that probably should have been obvious, what with the clue being in the name. The curse of only having two players in the house is a bit limiting at times. Nevertheless, at £2, Family Fortunes goes into our stockpile of games to take on family holidays. Will it replace the current favourite, Pictionary? Only time will tell.
Bargain boardgame number two: Shut the Box
Another £2 wonder – never have I seen my husband audibly gasp in delight at a boardgame discovery. He remembered playing it as a child. So, we brought it, and I have to say, this was my favourite of the bunch. It looks and feels like a classic and is incredibly simple to play, requiring absolutely no skills. Of course, after getting it home, we realised there were no instructions in the box. Despite his misty-eyed childhood memories, my husband had no idea of the rules. A quick Google search remedied that and by the third round of play, things got aggressively competitive. Simple and yet satisfying, you can play the game alone – meaning I was still attempting to see how fast I could Shut the Box until about 1 am.
Bargain boardgame number three: Planet Earth – The DVD game
See my above comments about board games based on TV shows. That said, I love nature documentaries, and Planet Earth is a favourite of mine. Of all the games purchased, this was the most aesthetically pleasing. The board is beautiful, and the player counters are lovely little glass pebbles that appeal to my inner magpie. Unfortunately, any plans to test this game out were scuppered by my forgetting we don’t own a DVD player – probably should have thought that one through first. But for £3, I’m happy to wait for an opportunity to try it. Until then, it can just look pretty on the cupboard shelf.
Bargain boardgame number four: Scattergories
This is a game I vaguely remember having played before. Once we got it home, the reason for this became obvious. On our aforementioned family holidays, we play a homemade version of this game we call Igloo. Named for my brother-in-law, who hates said game with a fiery passion and answers every round with ‘igloo’ regardless of the category. We already know this will be a winner with everyone (aside from my BIL), and it’s nice to have a more official version of something we usually cobble together using ballpoint pens and scraps of paper.
So, a bit of a mixed bag. The point is, I managed to get all these games to try for less than £10. Yes, you can spend big money on getting into games as a hobby, but you don’t have to. Second-hand stores are your friend. The money usually goes somewhere good and you never know what treasures you might find. And if you are lucky enough to get games brand spanking new, please consider taking anything you haven’t played in a while to your local charity shop or offer them to an independent boardgame café. That way, we can keep spreading the love without breaking the bank.
Next time, Jacob Sannox talks about writing and gaming. I promise. Honest.