Best Fun Cheap Board Games
Board games are a great way to spend time with family and friends, and they don’t have to cost a fortune. We’ve put together our list of the best fun, cheap board games for you to try out on your next game night!✍️ February 14, 2023
- 🧝 Best Overall: Saboteur Strategy Card Game
- 🎴 Best Classic: UNO Family Card Game
- 🦗 Best Strategy: Cheating Moth
- 👨👨👧 Best Cooperative: Pandemic: Hot Zone: North America
- 🍣 Most Unique: Sushi Go! The Pick and Pass Card Game
- 👉 How we picked and tested
If you’ve ever shopped for board games before, you know that they can be ridiculously expensive. The good news is that there are plenty of fun, cheap board games out there that won’t break the bank. Our top pick for the best cheap board game is Saboteur Card Game because of its easy-to-learn gameplay, and flexible rules, making it perfect for any game night.
We’ve put together a list of the top 5 cheap board games because we believe that having fun doesn’t have to be expensive. We’ve tested over 20 different games and narrowed it down to our top 5 favorites. If you want to know more about how we curate our lists, you can read our process here.
1. Best Overall: Saboteur Strategy Card Game
- Player count: 3 - 10 players
- Duration: 20 - 40 minutes
- Ages: 8+
The winner of our list is the Saboteur Strategy Card Game because it’s a short, quick-to-learn game that small or large groups can play. It’s a cooperative card game where players take on the role of miners trying to reach their goal, but there’s one or multiple saboteurs within the group who are trying to stop them.
Why we love it
We love the Saboteur Strategy Card Game because it’s a perfect mix of chance and strategy. Its concept is similar to the popular online game Among Us, but with a board game twist. You need to play your cards right if you want to win, but you’ll also need a little bit of luck.
This game is great for all ages, from beginners to experienced gamers. The gameplay is straightforward enough that even kids as young as five can understand it, but there’s also enough strategy and replay value to keep older players engaged.
We love that the compact size of the card deck makes it small enough to fit in your pocket, purse, or backpack, so you can take it with you on the go. The cute map and artistry on the cards are also a nice touch.
One possible downside of this game is that it can be a little tricky for saboteurs to win if they decide to conceal their identity. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! The game mechanics just force you to start sabotaging early on to have a good chance of winning, which can be frustrating for players who prefer a more stealthy approach.
We should note that this game needs quite some space to play as there needs to be a designated number of pathways between the start and finish. In short, while it’s portable enough to carry around, it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for a game to play in a small space.
How to play
To begin the game, separate the cards into four decks: path, action, nugget, and dwarf. Among the path cards, you’ll find one start card showing a ladder and three goal cards.
Place the start card face up on one end of the playing area and shuffle the gold cards, then place them face down in a row next about seven card spaces away from the start card. One of these gold cards will be the path that the miners need to take to reach their goal.
1. Dwarf cards: Players are assigned either a dwarf or a saboteur card, which they keep secret. Shuffle all the dwarf cards together and deal them out according to the number of players.
If you’re playing with five to six people, then there will be two saboteurs; if you’re playing with seven to nine people, then there will be three saboteurs; if you’re playing with nine or more people, then there will be three saboteurs; if there are ten players, all dwarf cards are dealt out. The player who is the youngest will go first and the play goes clockwise.
2. Action and path cards: After the dwarf cards have been dealt out, shuffle the action cards and path cards into one deck. Deal them out according to the number of players.
If there are three to five players, give the players six cards each; if there are six to seven players, give the players five cards each; if there are eight to ten players, give the players four cards each.
Place the remaining action cards face down in a deck next to the playing area.
3. Nugget cards: Finally, shuffle the nugget cards and place it face down in a deck next to the remaining action cards.
On your turn: On your turn, you’ll either play a card in one of three ways. You can place a path card to help the miners reach their goal, play an action card to help or hinder the other players, or discard a card and draw a new one.
To help the miners reach their goal, you’ll play path cards in front of you, connecting them to the start card or other path cards that have been played.
The miners can only move forward, so the path you lay down must always be going in the direction of the finish. As a gold digger, you must establish an uninterrupted path toward the treasure hiding in one of the three gold cards. This is how you win a round.
If you play an action card, you can either prevent a player from placing a path card, help a player recover from an obstacle, remove a path card from the table, or secretly look at one of the face-down gold cards.
End of the game: The game ends when the treasure is found and there is an uninterrupted path from the start to the finish card. This means the gold diggers have won and the saboteurs have lost.
If at any point there are no path cards left to draw and the treasure has not been found, then the saboteurs have won and the gold diggers have lost.
Distribute the gold nuggets evenly among the winners and begin a new round. After three rounds, the player who has the most gold nuggets is the ultimate winner.
2. Best Classic: UNO Family Card Game
- Player count: 2-10 players
- Duration: 10 - 20 minutes or more
- Ages: 7+
The next board game on our list is one of the most classic card games of all times: UNO. We picked this game as our favorite classic because it’s perfect for families and people of all ages. All the nostalgia of the game comes from the design and packaging, which has remained unchanged for years.
Why we love it
We love the Uno Family Card Game because the rules are simple and easy to understand, but it still has an element of luck and strategy that makes it exciting to play. The game can also be finished in a relatively short amount of time, making it ideal if you don’t want to commit to a long game night.
This game is an excellent way to teach kids about colors, numbers, and strategy. It encourages them to think about the moves they’re making and pay attention to the cards that their opponents are playing.
We didn’t like that the game came with way too much plastic packaging. It’s wasteful and not very environmentally friendly, and it was because the tin, which is where the cards are kept, was too big and needed some “fillers” to make it fit in the box.
The tin isn’t also sturdy enough to survive multiple uses, so you might have to DIY a better storage option for the deck of cards. Apart from this, though, UNO is a timeless classic that’s still enjoyable to play. If you’re looking for a classic card game to bring to your next family gathering, you can’t go wrong with UNO!
How to play
Getting started with Uno is easy: just gather up two to ten players, deal out seven cards each, and place the remaining cards in a pile face down. The top card is then flipped over and placed at the start of a discard pile.
The player to the left of the dealer starts the game by playing one card from their hand that matches the color, number, or symbol on the top discard pile. For example, if the top card is a red eight, they can play any red card or any eight. If they don’t have a matching color, number, or symbol, they must draw a card from the deck until they do.
Once a player has only one card in their hand, they can call out “UNO” to let everyone know they’re almost out of cards. If they fail to do so, and another player notices before the game ends, they must draw two cards from the deck.
The first player who has no cards left in their hand wins the game!
👉 If you’re old enough, try turning your game into a drinking game. Follow this link and learn how to play UNO as a drinking game.
3. Best Strategy: Cheating Moth
- Player count: 3-5 players
- Duration: 15 to 25 minutes
- Ages: 7+
Cheating Moth takes the Best Strategy Board Game title in our list because the game revolves around outsmarting your opponents. While cheating is typically frowned upon in most board games, this game encourages it by allowing players to deceive their opponents and get rid of their cards as quickly as possible.
Why we love it
We recommend Cheating Moth for those who love a good game of deception and strategy. The game is all about finding ways to get rid of your cards before your opponents do. To do this, players must be creative and make strategic decisions while trying to outwit their opponents.
The game also has excellent replay value because every time you play, you can try out different strategies and explore new tactics to get rid of your cards. No two games are ever the same, so you’ll never get bored playing it!
A significant drawback of Cheating Moth is that it’s not nearly as fun to be the player who has to catch other players cheating as it is to be the one doing the cheating. In addition, there are no clearly defined rules when it comes to cheating, so the game can be a bit confusing for new players.
Overall, Cheating Moth is an excellent game for those who are willing to put in the effort to outsmart their opponents and cheat their way to victory. If you’re looking for a lighthearted board game that encourages strategy and deceit, then this is the perfect game for you!
How to play
To set up a game of Cheating Moth, the oldest player takes the Guard Bug card and places it in the deck. The player shuffles the deck and deals out eight cards to each player. The remaining cards are placed face down in a pile on the table, and the top card is flipped over into a discard pile.
On your turn, you must discard a card that must be one number higher or lower than the card in the discard pile. If the card in the discard pile is a 2, your card must be a 1 or 3. If the discard pile is empty, you can place any card in it. The 1 and the 5 are exceptions. You can place a 2 or a 5 on top of a 1, and a 4 or a 1 can be placed on a 5.
If you don’t have a card to discard on your turn, you must draw a card and end your turn. Now, here comes the cheating part! If the Guard Bug isn’t looking, you may discard a card that doesn’t match the one in the discard pile. You can do this in a number of ways, such as dropping the card on the floor, hiding it in your sleeve, or even sliding it under the pile.
You can only discard one card at a time, and your hand should always remain visible. If the Guard Bug catches you cheating, you must get the card back, get a card from the Guard Bug, and receive the Guard Bug card, meaning you get to be the one catching cheaters.
The round ends when a player gets rid of all their cards. The remaining cards are then rounded up as scores for the players. Each number card scores 1 minus point, each Action card 5 minus points, and each Cheating Moth 10 minus points. You play as many rounds as the number of players. The player with the lowest score at the end of the game is crowned the winner!
4. Best Cooperative: Pandemic: Hot Zone: North America
- Player count: 2-4 players
- Duration: 30 minutes
- Ages: 8+
A compact version of the popular cooperative board game Pandemic comes in the form of Pandemic: Hot Zone: North America, and it packs just as much of a punch as its predecessor. Compared to the original game, this one is focused on three diseases that are threatening to spread all throughout North America.
Why we love it
What we love most about Pandemic: Hot Zone: North America is that it’s an intense cooperative game that requires teamwork and strategic planning. Players must work together to contain the various diseases before they spread throughout the continent. You either win or lose as a team, so it’s essential to think and act together.
This is a great game for those who are new to cooperative games, or the Pandemic franchise, as it has shorter playtime and less complexity than the original. And because it’s a scaled-down version of Pandemic, even kids as young as five to six years old can get in on the fun and understand the game.
A possible downside is that experienced gamers or fans of the original game may find this edition overly simplified and not as challenging. The good news is that Pandemic: Hot Zone: North America features expansion packs to add more complexity and difficulty as you progress.
Overall, we still think that Pandemic: Hot Zone: North America gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s a fun, intense game that requires teamwork and planning to win. And the fact that it can accommodate younger players and can be expanded with expansion packs makes it even better.
So if you’re looking for a fun and cooperative game, this is definitely one to consider!
How to play
In this game, two to four players take on the role of outbreak responders as they try to contain three deadly diseases in North America. The diseases are spreading across the continent and each player is tasked with working together to contain them.
1. Setting up the game: Shuffle the role cards, which designate each player’s specific tasks throughout the game, and deal one to each player. Keep the remaining cards in a stack face down on the table. Give each player one of the double-sided player reference cards to refer to during the game.
Place the game board in the center of the table and give each player the corresponding colored pawns to move around the board. Place all the pawns on Atlanta, which serves as the starting point. Then, place the Outbreak and Infection Rate markers at their corresponding starting points.
Shuffle the 24 player cards, which have city names on them, and four cards which “Event” on them into one deck and deal each player two cards face up. If you only have two players, deal each player three cards.
Divide the remaining cards into three even piles and put one Epidemic card on the bottom of each pile. Combine these piles together to form one Player Deck. Set this deck aside for now.
Shuffle the Infection cards and place them facedown on their corresponding spot on the game board. Then, flip over two Infection cards and place three cubes of each color in the cities that are depicted on the cards.
Next, flip over two more cards and place two cubes on the cities they depict. Finally, flip over two more cards and place one cube on the cities they depict. Place the remaining cubes off to the side of the game board, as these are for replenishing the cubes during play.
2. Playing the game: Look at your player cards which have cities on them. The player that holds the most populated city will go first. The play then passes clockwise until the game ends.
On your turn, you can do one out of the three possible actions: do four actions that are written on your reference card, draw two player cards, or draw an infection card.
Doing four actions: You can move your pawn to a city that’s connected by a line, share knowledge with other players by trading your cards, move to a city that’s not connected by a line by discarding the card with the corresponding city name, move to any city by discarding the card of the city you’re currently in, treat diseases, or share knowledge with other players by sharing cards.
Drawing two player cards: Draw two cards from the player deck and add them to your hand. If the deck doesn’t have enough cards for you to draw two, do not draw any cards as the game immediately ends and you lose when the deck runs out of cards.
If you draw an epidemic card from the player deck, increase the Infection Rate marker and draw the bottom card from the infection deck and place three matching cubes in the city that is depicted on the card. After resolving an epidemic, reshuffle all the discarded infection cards and put them back on the bottom of the player deck.
Drawing an infection card: Draw the same amount of infection cards as the current Infection Rate and place a cube of the corresponding color in each city depicted on the cards.
End of game: The game ends and all players lose when either all of the cubes have been placed on the board, the Outbreaks marker reaches the last space, or the player deck runs out of cards. If all players successfully contain the diseases and cure them all before any of these conditions are met, then all players win the game.
5. Most Unique: Sushi Go! The Pick and Pass Card Game
- Player count: 3 to 5 players
- Duration: 20 minutes
- Ages: 8+
For a fun and cheap board game that is unlike any other, look no further than Sushi Go! The Pick and Pass Card Game. A card-drafting game, Sushi Go offers a unique experience unlike any other. In this game, you must draft cards to create a sushi feast that scores the most points!
Why we love it
We love Sushi Go for its combination of fast-paced drafting, simple yet unique game mechanics, and vibrant artwork. And best of all, it’s incredibly affordable, making it a great choice for those on a budget!
What sets this game apart from most board games is the fact that your hand is never the same hand. With different cards, different point values, and a rotating draft system, this game has plenty of different strategies and combinations that can lead to victory.
This game has an excellent level of replayability because it has just the right measure of luck and memorization. It’s an excellent way to teach kids risk assessment and sharpen their decision-making skills and memory.
We didn’t like how the tin box was easily dented and felt a bit flimsy. But for its price, we think it’s an absolute bargain and an awesome game to have in your collection.
Overall, this game is a great choice for those looking for an affordable yet unique board game experience! With its simple rules and vibrant artwork, Sushi Go! The Pick and Pass Card Game is a great game for the whole family. So gather around, pick some cards, and get ready for a sushi feast!
How to play
In Sushi Go!, there are three rounds in which players draft cards. To set up the game, shuffle the deck and deal out several cards to each player depending on the number of players. If you have three players, deal out nine cards to each player. If you have four players, deal out eight cards, and so on. Place the rest of the cards face down on the table, leaving space for a discard pile.
In the first round, all players pick a card from their hand simultaneously and then pass the rest of their cards to the player to their left. The players should put their chosen card face up on the table and continue picking a card from the hand that was passed to them. Once all players have chosen their card, the hand is passed again and the process is repeated until all cards are chosen.
At the end of each round, players total up their points to see who has the most. Players can score points for certain combinations, like for tempura and sashimi, you need a complete set to score bonus points.
For example, a complete tempura set consists of two tempura cards and will give you five points. If you only have tempura cards in your hand, but not the full set, then you won’t get any points.
After three rounds of drafting and scoring, the player with the most points wins the game! And don’t stress too much about being able to memorize all the scoring rules! Each card has a scoring guide printed on the bottom which makes the game easy to pick up and play.
👉 Do you want more information? Head over to our guide on Sushi Go!
How we picked and tested
PsyCat Games is built by people who know how to have fun! We’ve been researching parties and games since 2018 and have published 400+ articles on our website. That’s why we’re confident that we know what we’re talking about!
We want you to have the best time possible and not waste your money on a subpar product. That’s why we spend over three months testing over 20 different games with groups of kids, teens, and adults. We’ve ranked the games by the fun factor, player experience, and replayability!
Our ranking is subjective, but we’ve tried our best to be as impartial as possible. However, if you stumble upon a cheap board game that you think deserves a spot on our list, please reach out to us! We would love to hear from you.
PsyCat Games is supported by readers clicking on our affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we might earn a commission if you buy something through our links.
FAQ about Cheap Board Games
1. How much is a board game?
Board games can range anywhere in price from $10 to over $100, depending on the type of board game. In general though, you don’t have to break the bank to have fun. There are plenty of great board games that you can buy for under $20 and still get a ton of entertainment out of them.
If you don’t know which board game to choose, it’s always a good idea to check out reviews and ratings online. That way you can get a better idea of the game and see if it’s something that you would enjoy playing. You can also check out the company website for any board game to get more information about the game and its rules.
2. How many board games does the average person own?
This really depends on the person. Some people may own only a handful of games while others may have an extensive collection. However, it’s safe to say that the average person probably owns at least one board game, and if you’re into gaming, then the number could easily be in the double digits.
Ultimately how many board games a person owns is up to them, but it’s always fun to have a few games on hand for those days when you need some entertainment. If you’re planning to build up your collection, then the five games we mentioned earlier are great choices!
With these games, you can enjoy fun, strategic challenges while also staying within your budget. So why not start shopping for some of these fun and affordable board games today? You won’t regret it!