Gaming on The Cheap: Popular Board Games [by Fergus MacPherson]

Gaming on The Cheap: popular Board Games

How to save money and still play games

With the current swell in interest in Tabletop Gaming, from your classic board games to card games and pen and paper roleplaying games. There seems to be a new game coming out every week.

When even a relatively simple board game starting at the £30 mark in most retailers it means that you need to guard your pennies carefully and take every chance you can get to try before you buy or even pick up a cheaper version of a game.

So we are going to list off some of the best ways to save money whilst still getting to play some fantastic games.

Thanks to the rise of platforms like Steam it has become a more and more appealing idea for board game manufacturer to create digital versions of some of their most beloved games.

These versions of the games are often a great way to not only play the games you love on the cheap but also introduce new players as the computer takes care of tracking some of the more complex rules.

Talisman: Digital Edition

Physical Edition Price: £43.37

Digital Edition Price: £5.59

Talisman really is one of those games that impresses when it is all set out. From the large, colourful map of fantasy lands to the detailed minis of brave adventurers, it truly is a sight to behold.

Of course that all come at a cost and so if you are looking to play the classic game of magical questing then you are going to be spending something in the area of £40 to £50.

Which is where the Digital Edition comes in, clocking in at only £5.59 it is a steal compared to the physical version. Add in the top notch conversion job that has gone into the Digital Edition, from flashy animations to high resolution recreations of the artwork and it becomes even more of a steal.

Sweetening the deal is the online multiplayer that lets you enjoy a game with friends and family no matter where you all are and you have one hell of a package.

Digital is also the only place you will be able to pick up the Warhammer 40k “Horus Heresy” flavoured version of the game since the sad demise of Fantasy Flight and Games Workshops relationship.


Twilight Struggle

Physical Edition Price: £38.87

Digital Edition Price: £10.99


Arguably one of the most beloved board games of all time, Twilight Struggle casts the players in the opposing roles of the US and USSR during the Cold War.

The uniquely structured game, where the passage of each turn will see the advantage swing between both players, often leaving one with the challenge of trying to make the most of a bad situation is definitely not the kind of game to break out for post christmas dinner fun. However it is one of the most tense and rewarding to play games around.

The PC port, originally Kickstarted is a bit more expensive and one could argue that it is a little bare bones. There is little in the way of flash to the game, with only the soundbites and odd bits of stock footage giving any kind of nod to the games new format.

However that hardly distracts from the game and it has made the transition over to the digital realm pretty painlessly. With the computer helping you to keep track of the oftentimes complex goings on and once again we have Online Multiplayer in the mix as well.

Consider the daunting complexity of the game this is the best way to try it out before you take the plunge on the physical edition of this complex and tense board game.

The Witcher Adventure Game

Physical Edition Price: £46.49

Digital Edition Price: £6.99

The Witcher series has had something of rocky history. Starting out as a series of Polish fantasy novels it found international attention when it was turned into a PC game by the then unknown CD Projekt. Whilst that first game failed to set the world alight the series has gotten better with each new game and the popularity has only grown with time.

So it was hardly surprising that a board game would eventually arrive on the scene. The structure of the game is somewhat similar to that of Talisman. Casting the players as one of four heroes from the series as they travel around, completing quests and striving for victory.

The physical edition is a treat for the eyes, the minis alone are nearly worth the price for me, and the PC rendition continues that high standard. With polished menus and animations this is a game that looks the part in every way you could want. The music, taken from the main series games, only adds to the charm of this version of the game.

Once again the online multiplayer sweetens the deal.

Honourable Mentions

Here are a few of the other Board Games that you can pick up on the PC right now.

Ticket to Ride

Physical Edition Price: £28.55

Digital Edition Price: £6.99

Another classic of family board game night this Digital version works a charm.

Settlers of Catan

Physical Edition Price: £26.80

Digital Edition Price: FREE

This digital conversion of the classic game of trade and competition has taken a interesting Free 2 Play model.


Digital Price: £14.99

This Digital Only game casts the players as animals vying for the throne of the mad and dying King. Earning acclaim for fun gameplay and stunning visuals this is well worth a look.

Nothing is Cheaper than Free!


So it is more than likely that the game you really want to play is not on the list above. Indeed there are plenty of board games that are unlikely to ever make the leap to the digital realm.

So what are you supposed to do when you don’t have the cash to buy a game or simply don’t want to take the risk of spending a large sum on something that might turn out to be, to put it lightly not very good?


Tabletop Simulator

Price: £14.99

Tabletop Simulator really is exactly what it says on the tin, a programme that will simulate a tabletop and the things you can put on that table.

Built to allow for easy modding the programme has become a hotbed of not only brand new and exciting board games but also digital conversions of pre existing ones.

Taking a glance at the Steam Workshop you can grab a digital rendition of the recently released Dark Souls: The Board Game along with the parts needed to play the cartoonishly expensive Kingdom Death: Monster (The expansions for KD:M are $100!).

All of this is only a single button press away and it is a easy, if slightly clunky, task to set up the boards for these games. The game supports multiplayer and VOIP so you can chat and play with your friends.

The major downside of the programme is born from just how utilitarian it is. Since everything on the table has physics it can be all too easy to accidentally sweep pieces off of the board or set off a chain reaction that ruins the board state. Its funny the first time it happens in the same way it is funny the first time you hit the button that flips the table but once you actually try to play a proper game it can wear on you.

However that is a minor downside when you consider being able to try out games before you take the plunge on actually buying them or in some cases this is the only way to play games that are no longer in print.

If you want to dig deeper into the software you will find powerful tools for scripting some of the busy work of board gaming, from shuffling decks and dealing cards to calculation damage values.


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