Getting into board games can be pretty expensive. Most big board games today cost $50+, so building a collection can definitely be costly.
There are a few different ways to cut down on all of the costs that you can run into with this hobby though. Buying a digital version of the game or playing the games online can cut the price of games down to a fraction of the physical games.
The other option is to just buy cheaper games. Luckily, there are some fantastic games that come in under the $20 mark. Getting these games will not only fill out your collection, it will also add some high-quality games to your shelves.
1: The Mind
This game is different from any other game on the list. Actually, it’s different than pretty much any other board game out there.
The Mind gives players the simple task of putting down numbered cards in sequential order. However, players are meant to do this without speaking or making any gestures to the other players.
It feels like a social experiment inside of a game and its had its fair share of raving reviews for it.
Coming in at well under $20, I dare say this is a no-brainer for any board game collection.
2: Point Salad
This is a new card game that has been making the rounds. Point Salad has players draft veggies to make the best salad, the player with the highest amount of points wins.
There are several award nominations for this game. It has also won several of prestigious awards for board games:
- 2020 Origins Awards Best Card Game Winner
- 2020 Nederlandse Spellenprijs Best Family Game Winner
So this is a great game to look into at this price range. It’s also a lightweight game that is relatively small, so it’s an easy one to get to the table with any group.
This game from 2015 sets you as an arborist setting up an arboretum by collecting trees and making paths with them. The game’s charming theme and beautiful artwork immediately set it out from the rest of the games that came out around the same time.
Arboretum is another light game that is easy to bring anywhere and set up quickly. The games don’t last long and pretty much anyone can enjoy playing it since there aren’t many rules to learn. However, there is some deep strategy in this game which is what makes it so enjoyable.
This game has garnered some attention from several board game reviewers and critics, as well as being nominated for several awards.
This is definitely an easy choice to add to any collection.
Ohanami is a card drafting game from Pandasaurus Games (makers of The Mind). Players grow their zen garden over several seasons, the person with the best garden at the end of the game wins.
This is a fun quick game to bring to the table with pretty much anyone. Since it’s a card drafting game the rules are pretty simple and the gameplay is fast, which makes it perfect for people new to board games and veteran players alike.
The game works well with 2 players and can be played with up to 4 people. That makes it super easy to bring it to the table with any size group.
This is a great game that is well under the $20 budget.
5: One Deck Dungeon
This game normally is right at the $20 mark and is a steal at that price. One Deck Dungeon is a roguelike board game that has 1-2 players dungeon crawl and build characters culminating in fighting a dungeon boss and beating the game.
Ultimately, One Deck Dungeon is a great pick up at the $20 price but you can get it cheaper by buying it on iOS or Android. So if you’re going to be playing this one primarily solo, that’s the way to get it.
Otherwise, it’s a great game to add to the shelf and will be one that pays itself off quickly.
6: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine
With The Crew you get a trick-taking game that places players as astronauts with individual missions to accomplish. You only win if everyone completes their mission and the missions get more difficult over time.
This is a solid game with a laundry list of awards to its name:
- 2020 Nederlandse Spellenprijs Best Advanced Game Winner
- 2020 Kennerspiel des Jahres Winner
- 2020 Guldbrikken Best Adult Game Winner
- 2019 Meeples’ Choice Winner
- 2019 Golden Geek Best Cooperative Game Winner
The game comes with 50 missions which give plenty of variation for this game to be played over and over. Overall, this is a great game to get at a great price.
7: Star Realms
Star Realms has been an extremely successful game since its release in 2013. The game focuses on spaceship combat and presents it in the form of deckbuilding. Each player uses Ships or Bases acquired from trade to generate combat and attack your opponent. The first person to completely destroy their opponent’s Authority through combat wins.
There are several factions to choose from and all of the inherent replayability that comes with deckbuilding games, so this game has a ton of replay value built into it. The only real caveat with Star Realms is that it requires exactly 2 players to play. So it’s not the most flexible game on the list.
One of the expansions increases the max player count to 4 players, which does give some flexibility and it’s easy to decide to buy an expansion when the base game is so cheap.
8: Exit: The Game
This is actually a series of games that aim to simulate an escape room type of experience at the table, which is a great concept. These games are super thematic and a ton of fun to solve.
The downside here is that replayability is pretty much non-existent. You’ll have one playthrough of this and you will destroy parts of the game throughout it. The same way you would destroy any legacy same.
Putting that aside, these games are cheap enough and fun enough to warrant spending the small price on them for the amount of enjoyment they’ll bring to your group.
Not only is the original Codenames game extremely popular, it’s had several renditions of the game that have been successful in their own right.
The game is based around playing spies trying to find a secret codeword from your teammate without the enemy spies figuring it out. This is probably one of the best communication games ever made and is a great game for the price.
The game has won the longest list of awards and is one of the best party games you can get since it can support up to 8 players. It’s also been easy to find at any local stores, which is nice since some games can only be bought online.
Overall, this is an easy pick for any group but is best if you’re looking for a board game that can be played with a larger group.
10: Skull King
This is one of the many trick-taking games on the list. This one in particular is similar to spades since players have to decide how many tricks they will win each round.
Just like spades, this game has a ton of replay value but there is an expansion that switches things up if you feel inclined to change the game some.
Skull King isn’t the most innovative or prettiest game on the list but it’s built around some solid gameplay that is worth trying out. Not to mention that pretty much anyone can learn to play it quickly.