Nov 022012
 

The Halloween candy has been portioned out, the hectic rush of Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Sleeveless Drunken Shopping Tuesday have yet to hit us. So here, for your collecting pleasure are a whole bunch of relatively inexpensive gift ideas for the upcoming holiday season!

Last year I posted 50 board games and geek toys for (mostly) under $20.  This year, I’ve upped it to 60 geek gift ideas (board games, RPGs and related neat stuff) that will make great geek gifts all for mostly under $20. These make great gifts as they can be used over and over again. Click the picture to go directly to the purchasing site.

As an added bonus, I’ve added a bunch of games, toys, books and movies that I very much enjoy, but which don’t fall into the under $20 or game categories.

These less expensive games tend to be smaller, making them easier to store and lug around.  By way of disclosure, many of these are through amazon, and yes I get a small percentage of any sales.  This goes directly in to keeping this site alive.  Another trick, Amazon has free shipping for orders of $25 or more, but with Amazon prime, it’s free 2nd day shipping on many of these. Remember, if you’re a student, prime is free!

Games that have red prices cost over $20.  Games that are green are 20 bucks or less.  Click the images to go directly to Amazon and DriveThruRPG. All prices are subject to change at the unreadable whim of Amazon.com.

 Now, in no particular order, 60 games and table top gifts costing mostly under $20.

Frog Juice – $8.76

This is a family favorite in my home. My 8 year old and I spend at least three nights a week playing this before she goes to bed. Strategic enough to be fun, easy enough for an 8 year old to beat me. How would you create a magic spell? You might need some unicorn horn or some eye of newt, or maybe some bats or toadstools or star and moon dust. But be forewarned as you’re stirring up your potion–you’d better be wary of a black cat or the powerful All-Purpose Witch Wash! One of your opponents might even be brewing up an Uglifying Spell. (“Results guaranteed to crack mirrors at a single glance!”) All of these magical ingredients are part of Frog Juice, an imaginative card game for two to four players that uses fairy-tale elements from fair maids to frogs to create a game that both kids and adults will enjoy. This game of strategy includes 44 ingredient cards and 15 power cards, each with an illustration that looks like it came straight out of a fairy-tale book. Cards are played in the center of the game and then captured by other players by matching numerical values or by using stronger powers.

Slide 5 – $11.39

Based on the European card game sensation 6 Nimmt, Slide 5 is a quick-to-learn card game of luck and strategy. Players arrange their cards on the playing surface building “hills.” Once a hill gets 5 cards high, the 6th card will cause an “avalanche” and that player must take all of the cards in that row, leaving the sixth card to start a new hill. With all the players revealing the cards they wish to play at the same time, there’s always unpredictable fun and dilemma at every turn! For 2-10 players. Slide 5 is easy to learn and instantly addictive! Age: 8 + Manufacturer: Endless Games

Archaeology – The Card Game – $10.25

Discover the lost treasures of Egypt and make your fortune!  You are an archaeologist working the dig sites of the Egyptian desert. Search for the right pieces to complete torn parchments, broken pots, and other priceless artifacts. Trade shrewdly at the marketplace to increase the value of your collection. Sell your treasures to the museum for maximum profit.

But beware, the desert also has its dangers! A devastating sandstorm can throw your expedition into disarray, and cunning thieves lurk around the dig site ready to steal your prize discovery.

Werewolves of Millers Hollow – $11.14

Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow is a game that takes place in a small village which is haunted by werewolves. Each player is secretly assigned a role – Werewolf, Villager, or special character such as The Captain, The Hunter, the Witch, the Little Girl, The Seer and so on… There is also a Moderator player who controls the flow of the game. The game alternates between night and day phases. At night, the Werewolves secretly choose a Villager to kill. During the day, the Villager who was killed is revealed and is out of the game. The remaining Villagers (normal and special villagers alike) then deliberate and vote on a player they suspect is a Werewolf, helped (or hindered) by the clues the special characters add to the general deliberation. The chosen player is “lynched”, reveals his/her role and is out of the game. Werewolf is a social game that requires no equipment to play, and can accommodate almost any large group of players.

Mr. Jack (Pocket Edition) – $14.98

This time he won’t get away! Discover the pocket version of Mr. Jack the favorite investigation game of strategy game players! As in the board version a player takes on the role of the inspector trying to unmask Jack the Ripper while the other player takes on the role of the fleeing criminal. The difference is in the game mechanics: the infernal pursuit now takes place on a board that’s 3 squares to a side each square representing both a London street and one of the nine suspects. around the board are placed a Holmes a Watson and a police dog token. On each turn the first player (the inspector or Jack in turn) uses 4 action tokens which allow to move the investigator tokens to reorient the tiles or to draw a ”suspect card”. A suspect is visible only if the investigator can see that suspect in the streets in front of him. Suspects hidden by buildings are invisible. At the end of each turn the player in the role of Jack must say if the guilty character is visible or not. If that character isn’t visible Jack earns an hourglass. If the Jack player can earn 6 hourglasses that player wins the game (knowing that hourglasses are earned by remaining invisible and by drawing ”suspect” cards). The inspector wins if there’s only a single suspect left at the end of a turn.

Argyle & Crew – $9.25 print $2.99 PDF

Disclosure: This is my game, written and designed by me! It’s a great gift for RPGers with kids but know that it’s mine. It’s a collaborative storytelling adventure for kids. It’s a great pick up game for adults. The land of Skcos is inhabited by all manner of things, but primarily its inhabitants belong to a race of ever changing, always interesting creatures called Soppets. Soppets are a magical breed of intelligent, funny, thrill seeking socks. Yes, you read that correctly, Socks. Argyle & Crew is a free wheeling system powered by imagination. Rather than a character sheet like a traditional RPG, your character and it’s attributes are all based on a sock puppet, or in Skcos lingo, a Soppet. Each Soppet has several unique qualities which allow it to do extraordinary things! Argyle & Crew is great game for children as young as 4 years old. Short scenarios and active participation keep things lively! Useful as a learning tool not just for gaming, but for life lessons, Argyle & Crew can easily be used in a classroom setting. Professionals working on counseling children can find this game equally useful for indirectly or directly exploring past experiences and future anxieties. Use the additional rules for older children or adults and expand the game from a fun, play driven activity to a fully developed RPG. PDF version.

Sleeping Queens – $9.42

Imagine a place where there?s a queen of all pancakes, a king of cookies and a pack of over-protective dragons? If this sounds like something out of a dream, it actually is! Sleeping Queens was invented by 6-year-old Miranda Evarts, who thought up the game one night when she couldn?t fall asleep. She awoke the next morning and with help from her older sister, Madeleine and her parents, Denise and Max created this wonderfully whimsical world of napping nobles. As you immerse yourself in the Evarts? fantasyland, you will find a game that helps develop memory, strategy, and elementary arithmetic skills. Just be careful when playing potion cards or you could wind up putting all the players to sleep! HOW TO PLAY: Rise and Shine! The Pancake Queen, the Ladybug Queen and ten of their closest friends have fallen under a sleeping spell and it’s your job to wake them up. Use strategy, quick thinking and a little luck to rouse these napping nobles from their royal slumbers. Play a knight to steal a queen or take a chance on a juggling jester. But watch out for wicked potions and dastardly dragons!

Roll Through the Ages – $25.23

In Roll Through the Ages, players roll seven special dice in order to collect workers and commodities to develop their civilization. Symbols on the dice represent workers, food, goods, money, and disaster. The goal of Roll Through the Ages is to score the most points by becoming the most advanced and prestigious civilization by acquiring cities, monuments, and developments while at the same time avoiding disasters. Each player starts with three cities and each city must be feed lest famine ensue which costs the player points. Players try to build up their infrastructure and build monuments that are worth more and more points. Once all monuments or developments are built by a player, points are counted and the civilization with the most wins. Build a thriving Bronze Age civilization in under an hour with Roll Through the Ages!

Zombie Blood Energy Drink – $0.92

Too cheap to pass up! For the zombie trying to get off the diet of brains and more brains, the makers of the Blood Energy Potion have just the ticket – the Zombie Blood Energy Potion! This fruity green potion has all the nutrients the walking dead (or the walking alive) need to get through their day! Packed in a bag that looks like a hospital blood bag, this is the energy drink every zombie needs! Caution: May cause death, undeath, a strong desire for brains, wakefulness and a shambling walk. Also a great pad to get your order up to $25.

No Thanks – $9.99

Good card games can be so simple: either take a card or pay a chip. Anyone can make that decision, right? However, there’s a catch – in fact there are two. Nobody wants the cards, not even for free, because they give you points in a game where you need to have the fewest points to win. And the chips? They are scarce, very scarce.

 

Skip Bo – $8.77

A member of Mattel’s popular family of Uno card games, Skip-Bo resembles speed (or spit) in the same way that Uno takes after crazy eights. Out of a 162-card deck, two to six players are each dealt 20-card “stockpiles”; the first one to deplete their pile wins. Competing either alone or in teams, players draw from a central pile and stack their cards sequentially onto one of four “build” piles (for example, an eight onto a seven, a three onto a two), using plentiful Skip-Bo wild cards to break up static situations. Deceptively simple and ingeniously designed, this classic game offers plenty of strategizing opportunities, or it can just make a nice backdrop to socializing and munching on potato chips.

Gamers: Dorkness Rising – $9.99 HD download

The epitome of indie film geeky goodness – they get everything right about the hobby, the folks who play it and the real magic that can happen. Read my review here on TitC.  Struggling writer Lodge (Nathan Rice) isn’t asking for much: he wants his gaming group to finish playtesting his table-top adventure, rather than killing, looting, and debauching his fantasy world. Desperate to save the integrity of his story from the whims of his players’ crazy characters-a horny bard, wild sorceress, and cryptic monk-Lodge allows Joanna (Carol Roscoe), Cass’s (Brian Lewis) ex-girlfriend, to join the game. With Joanna’s help, the group’s characters trek deep into the fantasy game world to retrieve the Mask of Death from the evil necromancer Mort Kemnon (Geoff Gibbs). Will their choices in the game save their friendships in real life . . . or will Mort Kemnon triumph unopposed?  HD Download.

 

Biblios – $23.99

You are an abbot of a medieval monastery competing with other abbots to amass the greatest library of sacred books. To do so you need to have both the workers and resources to run a well-functioning scriptorium. An auction style card game great for 2-4 players.

 

 

Haggis – $13.00 (non-edible)

Haggis is a climbing card game for 2 or 3 players in the same family as Tichu, Zheng Fen and Big Two. Haggis features traditional elements of card combinations, bombs, with scoring for cards in hand and scoring for cards collected in tricks. Innovative wild cards create tension in every hand. Sean Ross designed Haggis over a number of years, extensively testing over thousands of hands to create a very engaging and balanced game. Gary Simpson has done a masterful job on the original artwork, that has to be seen to be appreciated.

 

Onirim – $12.58

Onirim is a solo/cooperative card game: you (and a partner) must work (together) against the game, and gather the 8 Door cards before the deck runs out; you can obtain those Door cards either by playing cards of the same color three turns in a row, or by discarding -under specific circumstances- one of your powerful Key cards. In both cases you will have to decide the best use of each card in your hand, and carefully play around the Nightmares. Those cards are hidden in the deck and will trigger painful dilemmas when drawn…

 

Bag O Zombies – $9.28

Looking for a stocking stuffer? Why not stuff a stocking full of 100 glow in the dark zombies? Imagine the fun as candy and other small gifts are carefully separated from the zombie horde! They can be used in various zombie games, with a bit of glue as an alternative to glow in the dark stars or for next year’s holiday window scene! Really, in this day and age, who wouldn’t like 100 glow in the dark zombies?

Citadels – $18.79

Nominated for the German Game of the Year in 2000, Citadels has finally arrived in an English-language edition. Game enthusiasts of all genres will be enchanted by this wonderful game of bluffing, deduction, and city-building. Wrapped in a medieval theme and gorgeously illustrated, players seek to be the first to complete a grand city of their own. Each game round players secretly take the roles of either the King, Magician, Architect, Assassin, Thief, Bishop, General, or Merchant and seek to use the powers of such offices in their efforts to win the game. As an additional bonus, the English version will ship with 10 new cards designed by Bruno Faidutti himself. These cards feature new locations and new characters to make your game of Citadels even more diverse than the original German version. The game is for 2 to 7 players and it takes 20-60 minutes to play.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box – $30.27

Take your first steps into an exciting world of fantasy adventure with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box! Within you”ll find simple rules to create and customize your own hero, as well as a robust system to run your character through challenging adventures and deadly battles against villainous monsters like goblins and dragons! The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box is packed with everything you need to get started with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, an imaginative tabletop fantasy adventure game for 2-5 players. Scores of monsters, challenges, and advice give gamers the tools to create their own worlds and adventure, providing countless hours of gaming excitement. With streamlined rules and a focus on action-packed heroic adventure, this deluxe boxed set is the ideal introduction to the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and the best starting point for a lifetime of pulse-pounding adventure!

Aye, Dark Overlord – $19.35

Tell lies! Shift the blame! Save yourself from the anger of the Evil Genius! You are returning to the Tower of Dark Sorcery after the umpteenth failed mission. His Excellency will certainly be displeased which can only result in the most awful pain and suffering for his hapless minions. If only there were some way you could convince him that it’s not your fault… Aye Dark Overlord! is a hilarious party game of lying through your teeth. Convince your Dark Overlord that it was not your fault his evil plan failed but that of your inept companions! But watch out; they probably have the exact same idea… This all new edition from Fantasy Flight Games includes everything from the first release plus an all new set of rules plus updated and improved components.

Pandemic – $30.04

This game is one of the go-to board games for getting people hooked on board games. Four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. Players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks. For example the Operation Specialist can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases. The Scientist needs only 4 cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal 5. But the diseases are outbreaking fast and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while also towards cures. A truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose.

The Resistance – $15.84

The Resistance is an intense social deduction game for 5-10 players. While it shares similarities with games like Werewolf, Mafia and even Battlestar Galactica it has many very unique features such as a quick 30 minute play time, no moderator required and no player elimination. Set in the near future, The Resistance pits a small group of resistance fighters against a powerful and corrupt government. The resistance has launched a series of bold and daring missions to bring the government to its knees. Unfortunately spies have infiltrated the resistance ranks, ready to sabotage the carefully crafted plans. Even a single spy can take down a resistance mission team, choose your teams carefully or forever lose your chance for freedom. The Resistance artfully balances pure deduction elements with the social elements into a game that creates the adrenaline filled moments of high stakes poker but in a full interactive and social event. Its not for the faint of heart, or slow of mind – but if you are quick on your feet you’ll be proud of your hard fought victories.

Lunch Money – $19.48

This card games simulates being little girls running around the playground beating up each other and stealing their lunch money. Once you get past the strange theme, there’s a fun little game where players beat each other senseless with cards like ‘Poke in the Eye’, ‘Uppercut’, and ‘Humiliation.’ Not for the weak willed, this game is mean. The last player still standing wins.

 

Fluxx 4.0 – $12.48

There are 4 kinds of cards in Fluxx: * Keepers: You put these out on the table in front of you when you play them. * Goals: When someone plays a goal, it stays in the center of the table until a new goal takes its place. To win, you simply need to do whatever the goal says. Most of the time, the goal requires you to have a couple of particular Keepers on the table in front of you. As soon as any player achieves the current goal, that player wins! * New Rules: This is where the fun really starts. When the game begins, the only rules are that you draw 1 card per turn and play 1 card per turn. But when you play a New Rule, these rules are either changed or added to. New Rules change the number of cards drawn and played per turn as well as the number of cards you are allowed to hold in your hand, the number of Keepers you can have, bonuses for players who have particular Keepers, and more. * Actions: These are 1 time use cards that let you do fun stuff like stealing someone else’s Keeper, getting rid of a rule you don’t like, drawing more cards, and so on.

Monopoly Deal – $10.00


The fast-paced, addictive card game where your luck can change in the play of a card! Collect 3 complete property sets, but beware Debt Collectors, Forced Deals and the dreaded Deal Breakers, which could change your fortunes at any time!  This is one of those games that’s been on my shelf for a while but just never got played. Finally, while doing our Extra Life fundraiser thing for 24 hours straight, we broke it open. It was far, far better than I was expecting. Gone are the days of staring at a monopoly board while my 9 year old agonizes over purchasing a property! Fast paced, fun, strategic – my whole family enjoys this game.

 

Munchkin – $18.60


Munchkin is a stand-alone card game designed by Steve Jackson that “simulates” well, sorta’ a fantasy-themed RPG oh, ok, D n D in a simple, card-based game that’s chock full o’ silliness. Everyone begins the game as a 1st level human with no class heh-heh and via cards, they acquire Races Elf, Dwarf, etc., classes thief, Wizard, Cleric, etc., Items, armor, potions and more that they use to combat hideous monsters like the 4th level Undead Horse, the 10th level net troll and the 14th level unspeakably awful, indescribable horror very nasty, indeed. The object of the game is to reach Level 10 and levels are acquired via the slaying of monsters and the selling of acquired treasure 1,000 gold pieces equals one level. Very silly and a lot of fun.

Bang! – $15.64

When a man with a pistol meets a man with a Winchester, you might say that the one with the pistol is a dead man, unless his pistol is a Volcanic, In the wild west, the Outlaws hunt the Sheriff, the Sheriff hunts the Outlaws, and the Renegade plots in secret, ready to join one side or the other. Before long, bullets start to fly, Which gunmen are Deputies, ready to sacrifice themselves for the Sheriff? And which are the merciless Outlaws, looking to gun him down? Great game of bluffing for three or more players. Load up and take ‘em out!

Zombie Dice – $11.15

Eat brains. Don’t get shotgunned. You are a zombie. You want brains. More brains than any of your zombie buddies. Zombie Dice is a quick and easy game for gamers and non-gamers alike. The 13 custom dice represent victims. Push your luck to eat their brains, but stop rolling before the shotgun blasts end your turn! Zombie Dice is a dice game for 3 to 8 players. Each game takes 10 to 20 minutes, and can be taught in a single round.

 

Poo – $14.99

It’s been a tough day in the monkey cage and something in the food tonight wasn’t quite right. In monkey world, there’s only one thing that can be done about it – fling poo! Poo is a fast-paced card game for two to eight players, requiring anywhere from five to fifteen minutes to play. It’s fast and furious – something you can play while waiting in line or on lunch break. Each player takes on the role of a monkey. You fling poo and mess with each other until only one monkey is left standing. That monkey, of course, is the cleanest one. Each turn, every player gets to draw and play a card, usually either to fling poo at another player or to clean himself off. Out of turn, each player gets to play cards to defend himself or foil other players’ poo flinging. It’s quick, easy and a favorite for my wife and I to play to kill 15 minutes.

Bananagrams – $14.95

The bananagram game that will drive you bananas. The award-winning word game that needs no pencil, paper, or board. Fast and fun. Players race against each other to build crossword grids and use all their letter tiles first. Great for travel. My oldest loves this game, and my youngest who’s just starting to read is getting into it as well!

 

 

Bohnanza – $14.51

Ever imagined you were a bean farmer? Sure, who hasn’t? You got your red beans, your green beans, your black-eyed beans, your coffee beans… But where to plant them? In this card game, smart sowing lets you reap big rewards. Plant the beans you do want, and trade the beans you don’t want to the other players. Adding to the realism of the game, the one who ends up with the most money wins! Comes with 154 Bean Cards, 7 Third Bean Field Cards and a rule booklet. Imported from Germany. For 2 to 7 players. My wife kicks my ass regularly at this one. Bluffing, trading, making a case for this bean or that bean  – awesome game!

 

Death Angel – $17.93

Purge the Xenos Threat!The Space Hulk Sin of Damnation has succumbed to a vicious Genestealer infestation. Now you must purge the vile alien…Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game is a cooperative card game for 1-6 players. Set in the grim Warhammer 40,000 universe, Death Angel pits a squad of Blood Angel Space Marines against a growing alien horde. It will take strategic teamwork to make it out alive.Pick your combat group, fall into formation, and prepare for the Genestealer swarms! I have this game and I yearn to play it but as of yet I haven’ t had the chance.

 

 

Battle Line – $17.59

Ancient battles were fought in organized formations. The leaders of both sides directed their forces along the battle line to gain tactical advantage in order to overwhelm their opponent in the center, breakthrough one of his flanks, or hold their position until the time came for a decisive move. How will you muster your battle line? Your objective is to create powerful formations on your side of the nine Flags, in order to beat the formations on your opponent’s side of the respective Flags. The first player to win three adjacent Flags (a Breakthrough) or any five Flags (an Envelopment) achieves victory.

Gloom – $18.31

In the Gloom card game, you assume control of the fate of an eccentric family of misfits and misanthropes. The goal of the game is sad, but simple: you want your characters to suffer the greatest tragedies possible before passing on to the well-deserved respite of death. You’ll play horrible mishaps like Pursued by Poodles or Mocked by Midgets on your own characters to lower their Self-Worth scores, while trying to cheer your opponents’ characters with marriages and other happy occasions that pile on positive points. The player with the lowest total Family Value wins. Great storytelling game!

Carcassonne – $21.17

Carcassonne is a clever tile-laying game. The southern French city of Carcassonne is famous for its unique roman and medieval fortifications. The players develop the area around Carcassonne and deploy their followers on the roads, in the cities, in the cloisters, and in the fields. The skill of the players to develop the area will determine who is victorious. The game is for ages 8 and up and 2 to 5 players. this has been a favorite game in my household for years now. It always finds its way back to the table.

Tichu – $11.48

Players who love new and interesting card games will love Tichu. It is simple to learn: one need only get rid of his cards. The basic game is played by two pairs of two partners each with the players of each team sitting opposite one another. During the game, the partners try to help each other score points and opportunities to lead. The game is played over several hands with the goal to be the first team to score a total of 1000 points. Although Tichu is primarily a partnership game for four, with the two packs of cards, Tichu is well suited for large groups, too.

 

Forbidden Island – $13.93

My 9 year old loves this game. My wife loves this game. I love this game! It’s a great honor to introduce the latest creation by cooperative game master, Matt Leacock. There are so many things we love about this unique game: from the rich illustrations, to the collaborative nature of play, to the innovative set of rules, to the infinite possibilities generated by the tiles and cards. Don’t be surprised if your pulse starts pounding faster soon after you start playing – it’s a game that instantly generates an electrifying atmosphere of tension and excitement. Dare to discover Forbidden Island. Join a team of fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of this perilous paradise. Your team will have to work together and make some pulse-pounding maneuvers, as the island will sink beneath every step. Race to collect the treasures and make a triumphant escape before you are swallowed into the watery abyss.

Guillotine – $13.62

This irreverent and humorous card game takes place during the French Revolution. Players represent rival guillotine operators vying for the best collection of noble heads over three rounds. You want top bragging rights, so you’d better collect the most prestigious noggins. Will you be skillful enough to bribe the guards and collect Marie Antoinette? Or will you lose points for beheading the Hero of the People.

 

Munchkin Axe Cop – $18.38

Axe Cop is a cop. With an axe. And he knows how to use it. Axe Cop is the hit webcomic written by Malachai Nicolle (age 5) and drawn by his brother Ethan (age 29). Along with his friends Dinosaur Soldier and Sockarang, Axe Cop fights crime by fighting the bad guys and chopping their heads off. Fans know Axe Cop, it’s a webcomic (www.axecop.com) and a comic book series from Dark Horse. There’s only one game that can match the anything-goes feeling of Axe Cop: Munchkin. Chop the bad guys’ heads off and take their stuff. I love the comics and I love Munchkin. Together… awesome!

Saboteur – $12.34

 

You and your Dwarven brethren dig for gold in the depths of a mine. Suddenly, a pick-axe breaks and the light from the lantern goes out. The saboteur has struck again – but which of your fellow players is a saboteur? Discover the traitor in your midst while questing for gold in this path-laying card game for 3-10 suspicious dwarves.

 

Cthulhu Gloom $19.69

From Dunwich to Innsmouth from the halls of Miskatonic University to the Charles Dexter Ward at Arkham Asylum trouble is in the air. The stars are almost right and terrors from beyond space and time are beginning to break through. When Cthulhu rises we’re all doomed – but whose downfall will be the most entertaining? In Cthulhu Gloom you control a group of Lovecraftian protagonists and guide them down a path of horror and madness to an untimely death – while keeping your opponents happy healthy and annoyingly alive. When one group finally falls prey to the interdimensional doom that awaits us all the player whose characters have suffered the most wins. Fully compatible with Gloom and its expansions Cthulhu Gloom features new Story and Transformation cards that introduce new mechanics and actions to the game.

 

Family Business – $13.13

Be the boss in this fast-paced card game of survival on the mean streets. “Family Business” pits mobsters against each other – all working to make sure theirs is the last family standing! Your gang members get placed on the Hit List. Can your “Family Influence” save them? Will they “Take it on the Lam”, seek “Police Protection”, or perhaps up the ante with a “Double Contract”? Family Business is fast, furious, and fun! Your goad is survival! What’s in the cards for your game? My wife and I really love this game. It takes about 20 minutes to play with two players, and about 40 minutes with four. We bring it to family gatherings all the time.

 Glory To Rome – $25.04 

It may not be the glorious and saga-filled new Black Box edition, but the game play is the same! In 64 A.D., a great fire originating from the slums of Rome quickly spreads to destroy much of the city, including the imperial palace. Upon hearing news of the fire, Emperor Nero Caesar races back to Rome from his private estate in Antium and sets up shelters for the displaced population. Reporting directly to Nero, you are responsible for rebuilding the structures lost in the fire and restoring Glory to Rome. Glory to Rome is a card-based city building and resource management game with a novel mechanism. Each card may act as a building, a patron, a raw material, or a valuable resource, frequently forcing players into difficult decisions regarding how each card should be used. In addition, much of the game is played from the discard pool, giving players some control over what cards are accessible to opponents. Scoring is a combination of completing buildings and storing resources, with end-of-game bonuses for storing a diverse assortment. Game length is player-controlled, and is triggered in a few different ways. The lighthearted artwork and slim rulebook belie the strong strategic and tactical elements of Glory to Rome.

Eminent Domain – $27.99

By far my favorite deck building game, and ranking very high in my top 10 games of any type. Deep strategy in a simple package! Eminent Domain is an empire building game in which your empire’s abilities are based on a deck of Role cards. At the beginning of the game each player has the same deck of cards. Every turn you must choose a role to execute and in doing so you will add one of those Role cards to your deck. When executing a role,you may Boost its affect by playing cards out of your hand matching the role you have chosen. For instance, the more research done by your empire, the better your empire gets at doing research – because there will be more research cards in your deck!

 

Lost Cities – $17.81

For the daring and adventurous, there are many lost cities to explore in the Lost Cities Card Game from Rio Grande Games. Send expeditions to the Himalayas, the ever-shifting sands of the desert, the Brazilian rain forest, ancient volcanoes and even deep into Neptunes realm. With limited resources, players must choose which expeditions to begin. Those with high confidence may want to up the stakes: increasing the rewards for success, but risking more should the expedition fail. The player who finds the right balance will find victory! Lose yourself in the excitement of this engaging strategy game!

Loch Ness – $27.20

A kid friendly euro-game which my kids very much enjoy! Check out my full review for more. For decades reporters from the around the world have been on the hunt for the Loch Ness monster. But lately reports of sightings of Nessie have been increasing. Such reports naturally have drawn such reporters as the attractive belinda viewing from New York, the half-belgian claude McMirror, the clever Filosa Sharp, as well as her Londoner competitor Jack Nesstee and even Nils the Blitzen from Denmark to the loch. Equipped with the most modern equipment and techniques, these daring reporters have traveled to Scotland, in order to capture the elusive nessie on im for their newspapers. But the 5 will experience some surprises. For 2-5 players. Plays in 30-45 minutes.

 

Jambo – $17.46

The card game Jambo from Rio Grande Games is a fun game of strategy. Jambo! is the friendly greeting Swahili traders offered their customers in Central Africa before colonization. The players are traders in this day, competing to be the first to earn 60 gold by selling tea, hide, fruits, salt, silk and trinkets. Cards represent goods, people (who can help you or hinder your opponent) and animals (which add a bit of spice to the game). Players take turns with up to 5 actions per turn until one player reaches the goal and wins the game!

 

Kinkaku-Ji Nano Blocks – $14.07

This just looks amazingly awesome! I’m a old time Lego fan but something about affordable and tiny constructions like this really flip my switch. You don’t have to be an engineer to construct with nanoblock. With these micro-sized building blocks, 3D buildings take shape right beneath your fingers and in the palm of your hand. Watch in amazement as buildings are erected to even the tiniest detail. With assorted size and colored pieces, create detailed replicas of world famous buildings. Includes detailed color instructions. Not designed for children under age 8. Collect all 3 as any of the nanoblock Sights to See Collection would be the perfect gift for any inspiring designer, architect, or collector

 

Catan: Junior – $28.21

This game… I love this game! It’s the first game I could play with both of my kids that I’m willing to play again and again. No Candyland here! For my slightly gushing full review click here. A Catan adventure for fledgling swashbucklers. Explore the Seas Catan: Junior introduces a modified playing style of the classic game giving younger players the opportunity to experience the world of Catan. Designed for players as young as 5 and is a perfect introduction to the Catan series of games for kids and families. Catan: Junior takes place on a ring of islands where 2 to 4 players build hideouts, and the mysterious Spooky Island, where the Ghost Captain lives. Each island generates a specific resource: wood, goats, molasses or swords and players can acquire gold. Each player starts with two pirate hideouts, then builds ships in order to expand their network. The more hideouts you build, the more resources you may receive. You use your resources to build ships, hideouts or get help from Coco the Parrot. Just watch out for the dreaded Ghost Captain. Be the first player to control seven pirate hideouts and you win the game.

 

Lost Temple – $27.50

Another game we play a lot at home. Select a roll or three and go tromping through the jungle! Great for kids and adults to play together. In Lost Temple players go on a trek into the jungle armed with a machete to cut a path and emeralds to enlist the assistance of the native population. Who will be the first to reach their destination? Nine characters with unique individual skills are at your disposal to help you, Unique racing game with a balanced mix of bluff, chaos and tactics, Unravel and thwart the plans of your opponents., Quick short turns and a lot of direct player interaction, Can be played with up to eight players – game speed remains high and possibilities remain unlimited (and still great with even just two players).

 

Dixit – $25.03

Dixit is a really cool storytelling game that works well with hardcore gamers and novices. My kids have enjoyed a few rounds of this as well. The players have hands of oversized cards with various artistic pictures. The active player secretly selects one of his cards and gives a very brief description. The other players secretly select their own cards which match the description. The chosen cards are shuffled and revealed, then players vote on which was chosen by the active player. Each correct answer gives points to the guesser and the active player. Each incorrect answer gives points to the player who submitted the guessed card. However, if all of the guesses are correct — or none of them are — then the active player gets no points and all the other players get points. The game ends when the deck is empty. The greatest total wins the game.

 

Enchanted Forest – $17.14

Here’s a great game for a family with kids as young as five. It involves a bit of strategic thinking, a good memory and lots of luck which means even the youngest can win. Plus, I really like the tactile feel of this game with trees sticking up off of the board. Combining memory and strategy, Ravensburger’s Enchanted Forest is a challenging game in an engaging medieval setting. Designed for two to six players, each participant ventures across the map in search of items from your favorite fairy tales. These items include the gingerbread man from Hansel and Gretel, one of the dwarves’ hats from Snow White,  Cinderella’s glass slippers, and many more.

 

Martinique - $8.18

Number 61 on our list is a suggestion from another Reddit user! Z-man’s Martinique. An ancient legend says a great pirate treasure is buried on the island of Martinique. Pirates would have attacked various merchant vessels, confiscated their loads and eventually sunk the ships. Afterwards they would have brought the stolen jewels, objects and coins to the island to bury the treasure over there. Many have tried to find the Lost Treasure, but nobody has succeeded so far. You are the captain of a pirate ship heading for Martinique. After dropping anchor in the morning, you set off in a rowboat towards the island with four of your most loyal pirates to find the Lost Treasure. Will you unravel the legend and add your name to the illustrious list of great pirates and rulers of the seven seas? Game Contents: 1 game board, 8 wooden pirates, 1 linen bag, 96 souvenir tiles, 16 map tiles, 3 joker tiles, 2 counters and rules.

 

Innovation – $19.30

Another suggestion – Innovation makes it to #62! A journey through innovations from the stone age through modern times. Each player builds a civilization based on various technologies ideas and cultural advancements all represented by cards. Each of these cards has a unique power which will allow further advancement point scoring or even attacking other civilizations. Be careful though as other civilizations may be able to benefit from your ideas as well! To win you must score achievements which you can attain by amassing points or by meeting certain criteria with the innovations you have built. Plan your civilization well and outmaneuver your opponents and you will achieve victory.

Chessex Pound of Dice – $20.86

#62 could be an invaluable resource to any gamer. There are approximately 100 factory-second dice in this bag.(Number of dice will vary with the mix- four-siders are lighter than other shapes, for example.) These dice are mixed in a variety of styles & colors. Every bag does not necessarily have every style & color. Sizes may include 6, 8, 10, 12, 20 & 30-sided dice (and, possibly, other sizes) in colors that include (but are not limited to) speckled, marble, rainbow, opaque and translucent. This assortment features one complete 7-die polyhedral set of never-released speckled dice, available ONLY in the Pound O’ Dice assortment.

There you have it folks! I hope you enjoy these and have a chance to bulk up your collection for (going to the obvious dwarven delver joke) short money! Now, on to some honorable mentions.

G-Core – The Superhero RPG System – $9.50

#63 arrives for all of us who want to be heroes. It’s G-Core! Welcome to G-Core: The Super Hero Role-Playing System!
Inspired by classic superhero gaming, this book provides players with everything they need to start their own games! From Origins to Powers, G-Core allows players to create the hero of their dreams in a matter of minutes! From short adventures to long campaigns, G-Core provides refreshing rules that give the die-hard gamer their crunch, while allowing little kids the ease needed for them to keep coming back for more!

Things that may not quite be board games, or certainly are not under $20 but are still awesome in my book

Lego Battle of Helm’s Deep – $90.80

It’s freaking Helm’s Deep. HELM’S DEEP.

The Helm’s Deep fortress set features a 6-inch-high outer wall, a 9-inch tower with horn, and an inner throne room. When the three pieces are connected together, this set measures 20 inches wide. To faithfully recreate the famous battle, the fortress boasts an opening main gate, side-door attack function, catapult, and exploding wall. But beware, as there is also a siege ladder and bomb that the relentless Uruk-hai warriors can use to breach the wall’s defenses. Also comes with 8 mini-figs and 1,368 Lego pieces.

Mage Knight – $60.00

I first saw this game in a WizKids demo at Total Confusion last year. It’s massively incredible. A board game lovers wet dream. Created by the Renowned Game Designer, Vlaada Chvatil, Mage Knight is a game of Epic Exploration and Conquest that mixes character development, intrigue, and the clashing of swords to create a truly unique gaming experience. Enter the mysterious world of the Atlantean Empire as 1 of 4 Heroes (or villians) in this expansive world that allows players to conquer lands, steer the wheels of history and give birth to legends in this exciting all in one board game. Choose to play competitively or cooperatively with other players as you roam the countryside affecting your own reputation by beingeither the benevolent leader or brutal tyrant. Accumulate Fame and experience that translate into more powerful Spells and abilities, then use your power to influence units to join your ranks. Will you play the Hero and gain favor among the people or will you destroy monasteries to steal Legendary artifacts hidden within? I don’t own this yet but I honestly yearn to make a copy my own.

The Secret World of Arrietty – $20.00

I love everything that Studio Ghibli has done, and my kids love it just as much as I do. Nothing beats a family movie night with these movies in the queue because everyone enjoys them. I saw this in the theater with my family – it’s a great, touching and wonderfully animated movie! Discover The Secret World Of Arrietty where your imagination comes to life! The studio that brought you Ponyo and the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away (2002, best animated feature) once again delivers a heartwarming tale of friendship and courage.In a secret world hidden beneath the floorboards, little people called Borrowers live quietly among us. But when tenacious and tiny Arrietty is discovered by Shawn, a human boy, their secret and forbidden friendship blossoms into an extraordinary adventure.Featuring the voices of the Disney Channel’s Bridgit Mendler, David Henrie, and comedic all-stars Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, and Carol Burnett, and based on the award-winning novel The Borrowers.

Battletech 25th Anniversary Introductory Box Set – $48.00

Giant mecha still send shivers down my spine. Between the original Battletech on my table and Robotech on the tube, I was a happy 15 year old! Strap yourself into the ultimate suit of armor: the BattleMech. Thirty feet tall and weighing up to a hundred tons, this humanoid engine of destruction is a walking arsenal with enough firepower to level a city block. The BattleTech game system takes you into the world of the 31st Century, where war has become a way of life. You are a MechWarrior. You are in command of the most powerful machine on the battlefield, and hold the fate of empires in your hand! Minis included.

 

Talisman 4th Edition – $40.83

The original board game that got me into this hobby in the first place was Talisman, 2nd edition. I played the hell out of that game. Now, FFG has the 4th edition out, rescued from Black Isle Games and it’s a fantastic rendition of the Talisman spirit! You can read my complete and very long review for more concise information. Talisman is one of those games that are just damned fun to play.  It’s simple enough that anyone who enjoys playing games can pick it up easily and enjoy the game.  Its complex enough that you can implement real strategies depending on which character you’re playing in your quest to dominate the world.  It is reminiscent of many fantasy based RPGs, yet it’s a board game.  You have characters that you play, dice to roll, and various cards to do different things to you and the other players.  It can be cut-throat and joyfully random as well.  Plus, you can get turned in to a toad, a feature I very much enjoy.

Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus 16 Ton Megaset – $41.00

Ah, the Pythons! I still have very fond memories of watching this show on PBS with my dad. Here you’ll find every episode of the Python’s BBC career along with a whole ton of extras and live performances! Pythonites will want to own this definitive megaset that contains all 45 episodes (in chronological order) of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. This “persistently silly” collection encompasses three-and-a-half seasons of dead parrots, cross-dressing lumberjacks, loonies, upper class twits, and spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, and spam. Click past the occasional clunker and go directly to such signature sketches as the Ministry of Silly Walks, the Spanish Inquisition, the Fish-Slapping Dance, the Dead Parrot Sketch, the Lumberjack Song, the Cheese Shop, the Argument Clinic, and Nudge, Nudge. Taken as a whole, one marvels at how Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam thoroughly subverted television convention with “something completely different,” like sketches with no punch lines (“Your average TV viewer isn’t going to understand this”).

The Player of Games – $10.90

Iain M. Banks (and also Iain Banks – same guy) is one of my favorite authors. And his loosely connected Culture series is by far my favorite science fiction series. Player of Games is the second Culture novel I read, and still remains my favorite. Care to guess why? The Culture – a human/machine symbiotic society – has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game…a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life – and very possibly his death.

 

Day by Day Armageddon – $10.20

This is one of the first zombie books I read and actually enjoyed! Well thought out, well paced and plotted. There are a few rough edges to the book itself but as a whole, it’s thoroughly enjoyable! Sporadic news reports indicate chaos and violence spreading through U.S. cities. An unknown evil is sweeping the planet. The dead are rising to claim the Earth as the new dominant species in the food chain.This is the handwritten journal depicting one man’s struggle for survival. Trapped in the midst of global disaster, he must make decisions; choices that ultimately mean life, or the eternal curse to walk as one of them. Enter if you will into his world. The world of the undead. If you’re wondering whether the treatment of weapons, survival and combat would be realistic? J.L. Bourne is an active duty military officer and currently resides in the Washington D.C. area. He has completed numerous tours of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, logging more than sixty combat missions over Iraq, earning three Air Medal Strike/Flight awards.

Mal Reynold’s Pistol replica  – $79.99

Mal freaking Reynold’s gun! Mal’s favorite weapon just got shinier! This metal-plated, screen-accurate, 1:1 scale prop replica of the iconic sidearm carried by Captain Malcolm Reynolds of the Firefly-class transport Serenity is a must-have for Firefly and Serenity collectors. This non-firing reproduction of Mal’s gun was created using a mold of the original stunt pistol carried by actor Nathan Fillion. The weapon replica is highly detailed, from the grips to the trigger to the barrel, and measures 14-inches long. It includes a black display base and two “floating” acrylic risers that are perfect for showcasing your Malcolm Reynolds Metal-Plated Pistol Replica.

Robotech: The Complete Series – $38.99

I loved the Robotech series brought to the US by Harmony Gold in all its bastardized glory. As a kid, two episodes came on just as I was getting home from 5th grade and I couldn’t have been more sucked in by a television series.  2028 minutes of Robotech episodes and specials. ROBOTECH is a sweeping science-fiction anime epic of humans defending their home world against alien domination. The saga is told through the eyes of characters caught up in a series of wars that erupts when a mysterious spacecraft crash-lands on Earth at the turn of the millennium. The secrets of alien knowledge aboard this vessel were unlocked, leading to the development of “Robotechnology” and the creation of a vast arsenal of robotic “mecha” to defend the Earth against the alien threats that would eventually strike to lay claim to the mysterious power source known as “protoculture.”

 

Kittens in a Blender – $25ish

By what I can only say is ‘popular request’ I’ve added this game. It looks interesting, I’ve heard of it before, and I find it utterly amusing that it’s a game about cats going in a blender, with the recommended age of 6+. Anyhoo, this post made it to Reddit this morning, and the first (currently only) comment is about this game. Then someone emails me. Next, comes a tweet. Fine! Here’s Kitten’s in a Blender. Which I’ll probably buy now too. This fast-paced card game has players working to save all of their own kittens before the unthinkable occurs. But sometimes, the only way to save your precious litter of kittens is to let those curious little cats learn the lesson of why you should never play in a blender! Featuring adorable art and tons of lighthearted, cut-throat player interaction, Kittens in a Blender is quick to learn and easy to play!

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About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

  8 Responses to “60 games and geek goodies for (mostly) under $20 and a whole bunch of honorable mentions”

  1. I wish I had all of these! Oh, and you should play death Angel. It has a single player option, so you should be playing it now. I’ll wait for you to tell me how awesome it is…

  2. Death Angel is one of those games I picked up off this list last year and just haven’t had the chance to play! It’s on my short list though.

  3. […] Wars (Prototype #2 is on the way!) and we delve into a few games from my annual holiday panic 60 games for mostly under $20 […]

  4. Thanks for this list! Some of them we have, some I’m going to grab. Board games are SO much fun and they’re difficult to find at any retail giants these days. They’re especially great as Christmas gifts, when there is always lots of family and friends to join in the fun.

    I was surprised Dominion didn’t make it anywhere on your list though. All the same, a great list. Thanks again.

  5. Hey Christy,

    Thanks! Dominion isn’t on the list for the same reason that Catan isn’t – it’s fairly well know. I’ll probably add both to the next iteration as you can get them for under/near $20 in some cases.

  6. […] games – Check out this great list of games and geek goodies for under $20. PC gamers will dig indie and big names RPGs from Steam, and console […]

  7. […] 60 Games and Geek Goodies for (mostly) Under $20! […]

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