The holidays are knocking at our door and we all know too well how expansive board games can be. However, if your office party is coming up and there is a 20$ limit, you will need to get creative.
We sometimes need to be reminded that a cheap game does not mean a bad game (Looking at you, Kickstarter). Here are our top 5 games under 20$ (perfect for stockings!)
If we forgot a great game under 20$, please let us know!
5. Star Realms
Deck-building is one of my favorite mechanic and Star Realms uses it perfectly. Deck-building is the concept of each player having the same starting deck of (usually) 10 cards. During the game, you will buy better cards from a "market" laid out in front of you. These cards will then be shuffled in your 10 starting cards and, through that process, your deck will get bigger and better with every card you buy.
Star Realms is a 2 player card game that nobody gets tired of. The deck-building is simple, efficient and super easy to learn and teach. The goal of the game is simple: destroy your opponent's space fleet before they destroy yours.
There are many expansions available for a few bucks and you can also buy Frontiers, the 4 player variant that came out this year.
4. The Mind
The Mind is the most ridiculous game I've ever seen. Each round, you and up to 3 of your friends (or enemies, I don't judge) will have numbered cards (from 1 to 99) in your hands matching the round you are currently playing (1 card in the 1st round, 5 cards in the 5th, you get it). Your common goal: playing the cards in numerical order from lowest to highest. Easy right? The catch is you can only communicate with your Mind. You can't talk, signal or wink to your friends, ever.
The game sounds stupid (and probably is), but playing it is just so funny. You will laugh so hard because you and your friends have been staring at each other for a good 30 seconds like the end of a Sergio Leone movie and you will get so excited when, telepathically, you put your 31 right before your friend puts their 32 and your third friend puts their 33.
3. Love Letter
Love Letter is a modern classic. The card game plays up to 4 players (the premium version plays up to 8 and is definitely worth considering). The goal of the game is simple: seducing a beautiful princess by sending her love letters... or killing every single one of your rivals so that she has no choice but loving you.
While the theme is questionnable, the gameplay is fantastic. You start the game with one card and, each turn, you draw a second one. You now have to play one of those 2 cards. Each of the different 8 types of cards has their own effect that will be applied instantly.
You win the round by having the highest card when there are no more cards to draw or... by killing every single one of your rivals (recurring theme here).
A simple, bluffing card game that experts and novices both enjoy, Love Letter and its many themes (Batman, Adventure Time, Munchkin, ...) are terribly enjoyable for all ages.
Unlock and Exit are the board game equivalent of Escape Rooms. Usually, the rules give you 1 hour to solve the mystery. By flipping the cards on the table, you will find clues and puzzles that you need to figure out to exit the room you are currently trapped in.
If you like escape rooms, you will adore these Unlock and Exit. They are really immersive, clever and challenging. I can't same much more than that without spoiling the fun.
Please note that once you've played these games, you can't play them again. The fun resides in the mystery so when there is no mystery, there is no fun!
1. Oink Games
Oink Games is a Japanese publishers that does amazing small board games. The art is minimalist and simply stunning. The quality of components is off the charts and the designs are always simple, smart and enjoyable. Some of their most famous games include:
- Deep Sea Adventure: the "push your luck" game of drowning trying to get treasures
- A Fake Artist Goes to New York: we working on a collective drawing but one person doesn't know what the hell we are trying to draw as we pass the paper around. That person needs to figure out what we're all drawing before everybody realizes who doesn't know what's going on.
- Insider: a game master is trying to make everyone guess a word. One person within our group knows the word and tries to guide us in the right direction. We all win if we can guess the word and find out who the Insider is. The Insider wins if we can guess the word and accuse someone else of being the Insider.
Perfect to bring on a picnic, bar or even to work on a lunch break, Oink Games makes wonderful little boxes full of amazing party games.