Board games are awesome. This is an indisputable truth, but what’s also true is that board games are expensive. That often takes them out of the range of being good gifts, as most people don’t tend to drop £100 on copies of Frostpunk: The Board Game for random friends. But they don’t always have to cost the Earth! In this quick article, we’re going to share some awesome board games that cost under £20 at the time of writing (that’s around $25 for you American folks).
1. Codenames – £14.95
Codenames is a fantastic team game for 2-8 players (but we definitely recommend 4+) that sees the players forming teams of spies, led by spymasters who attempt to lead their team towards specific words laid out in a grid without accidentally picking the opposing team’s codewords… or getting assassinated.
Codenames is a word-association and logic game that is quick to play in less than 20 minutes per round, and makes a great quick party game. Not into parties and competition? Codenames Duet is the 2-player coop version, which is also cheap at £16.99.
2. One Deck Dungeon – £18.49
One Deck Dungeon is a great tiny cooperative dungeon crawler that we absolutely love, and we’ve even got an article titled Should You Buy One Deck Dungeon? that you should absolutely have a look at if you’re interested in a little more detail on this dice-rolling, dungeon-crawling, RPG adventure. One Deck Dungeon is our go-to travel game as RPG fans who like playing our games in other places, and it’s absolutely a game we’ve recommended to anyone asking for cheap, small games with a ton of replay value.
3. Muffin Time £16.99
Great for parties and playing with non-gamers who still think Uno and Monopoly are fun games, Muffin Time is a great gateway game that’s chaotic and fun to play for 2-6 players. The linked copy even includes two fantastic expansions for the base game, so it’s crazy value for money.
If you’re an old internet-dweller like us, you might remember the ASDF movies (I like trains.), and Muffin Time absolutely has that same random hilarious energy, mainly because it’s created by the same person – Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell. It’s literally impossible to finish a game of Muffin Time without your face hurting from grinning and laughing, and that more than earns it a spot on the list.
4. Coup – £12.65
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Coup is a game about bluffing, deduction, and deceit that pits the players against each other to cheat their way to victory without getting caught. Your objective is to eliminate each other as fast as possible by gathering coins, while trying to figure out what roles the other players are playing so that you know how to catch them in the act when they try to do something they’re not allowed to do. Getting caught cheating loses you a life, but successfully bluffing your way out yields massive advantages over the rest of the group. Games of Coup are intense and highly strategic, and feel more like high-stakes poker than Muffin Time’s casual, random fun.
5. Port Royal – £10.99
Port Royal is another competitive card game where you compete as harbourmasters trying to earn as much money as possible from ships sailing into the harbour. The core of the game is pushing your luck – drawing more and more cards from the deck until you draw two ships of the same colour, driving everyone away. Do you get out while you’re ahead? Push until you go bust, or focus on hiring the right people to make your chosen strategy work? Port Royal is a game that’s easy to pick up and play for 2-5 players, and can really give your brain a strategic workout.
6. The Mind – £9.95
The Mind has a simple but brilliant concept – how good are you at reading the minds of your friends? Each player is dealt cards numbered from 1 to 100, and all you have to do is put them on the table in ascending order. There are no turns, whoever thinks they have the next highest card can simply jump in when they feel the time is right. You’re working entirely cooperatively, and your only goal is to get your cards down in the right order together.
Sounds easy, right? Here’s the kicker – nobody is allowed to talk, signal or in any way communicate with everyone else. You have to play cards, and only play cards. Your first game will go terribly. Your second game… you’ll start to make progress. Eventually you’ll fall into this strange rhythm where somehow, through some unknown connection, you’ll start getting it right. With quick 15-minute games and a pocket-sized box, The Mind is another great travel game that can be played with anyone with minimal instruction being necessary.
It feels weird recommending a board game that’s played in absolute silence when the hobby is so inherently social, but The Mind just… works. It’s almost more of an experience than a game, and the feeling of connection you get when everything starts to click is hard to compare with anything else.
7. Patchwork – £17.49
Patchwork is a competitive, yet relaxing 2-player game of tile placement that sees you competing with each other to create the nicest patchwork quilt. Fantastic for introducing older fans to board games that often have a much more aggressive theme, Patchwork is one of the most well-loved titles out there. Players take turns paying buttons to buy new pieces for their quilt, spend time to stitch them together, and score points at the end to see whose quilt was best.
Don’t let the cozy theme fool you, however, Patchwork can quickly turn into a real head-scratcher of a puzzle as you try to figure out which pieces you need and which your opponent will be reaching for next! Games are nice and quick at 15-30 minutes, and the core mechanics are quick and easy to pick up, so the whole family can compete with each other.
8. Sushi Go Party! – £18.14
Full disclosure… I don’t like Sushi. I know, that’s considered a criminal offence by many people I know, but I at least absolutely adore Sushi Go Party!
A competitive game for 2-8 players, you compete over the course of 20 minutes to collect the highest scoring sets by passing cards around the table until there are no cards left to pass. The theme is that the cards are sushi dishes going around on a conveyor and you and your friends are grabbing the best dishes before they go past. It’s a great game for families, casual play, and generally just having a good time, and it’s sure to be a hit with any sushi lovers just getting into board games. Though I deeply enjoy this game even as someone who hates sushi, so it’s clearly just that good!
Wrapping up (plus a few more games!)
Hopefully those games will help you pick out the perfect board game gifts to buy for your friends and family (so that you can play them too), without breaking the bank!
If you’re still looking for something, here’s a few more quick options that are still great games to check out, but didn’t quite make the cut for the main list, as we have to stop writing at some point!