Print and Play Board Games?
March 17, 2015 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations for free to low cost print-to-play card and board games.

I'm getting married, and we're thinking of having board games as our wedding favors. Printing isn't a worry, since we know a guy, but purchasing cost is. Does anyone have any recommendations for board games that are fun, not too difficult to learn, and cheap?

Other Considerations:

1. We're going to get pennies/loose change and a giant bag o'dice for markers/dice. If it requires a lot of setup, it's probably out. No stickers, since we're not really interested in spending time sticking stickers on dice as prep.
2. By cheap, I mean less than $5 a set max, not including printing costs (again, we got that covered).
3. If we don't have to print it, so much the better, but I realize the price point is too low for a lot of that to count.
4. If it's not technically a board/card game, but does have some sort of board/card element, that works too. For example, we'll probably have a couple Parsely games floating around, but not all of our friends and family are dorks who spent a lot of time playing text RPGs, so it has limited appeal. I just want there to be a physical element they can take home with them.
5. We'll also be including packs of normal playing cards along with the other card/board games.
posted by dinty_moore to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I've never actually printed and played anything but this Reddit thread seems a pretty good resource and if you Google "print and play bgg" (the "BGG" stands for BoardGameGeek) you'll get loads of suggestions.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:28 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've played some cheapass games. Devil Bunny Needs a Ham and Unexploded Cow and Falling are the ones I remember because we played them enough.
posted by cmm at 8:38 PM on March 17, 2015

Best answer: Definitely Unexploded Cow.

Werewolf ( is always fun. :)
posted by joycehealy at 8:47 PM on March 17, 2015

The Delve Dice game is cute, a simple solo push your luck faux adventure thing. They are sort of like somewhere between a solo dungeon and a placemat kind of game. The rules fit on a page and you could retheme it to be more meaningful to you without much problem. There are a lot of fanmade variants. ("The Utopia Engine" mentioned in the Reddit thread above is like a super coked up version of this kind of game.)

Some people really liked the Zombie in my Pocket games. (Also solitaire.)

Here's a geeklist with ones on BGG that have recorded plays.
posted by nom de poop at 12:17 AM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: For sheer minimalism, I've found 11123 fascinating, but haven't had a chance to play with anyone else yet.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:53 AM on March 18, 2015

Yowza! Thanks for the pointer to the Parsely games! I'll have to see about buying the whole set some time! I have chilled with the early-2000s indie RPG scene as well as the 80s/90s interactive fiction scene and this is kind of the intersection of the mostest space hoboest stuff ever!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:58 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My friends and I unsed to spend hours playing a card game called Modern Naval Battles. A few years ago it was re-named Cold War Naval Battles and offered up for free on the designers web site. All you need to play other than the cards is some dice, and it is great fun.
posted by Crocosaurus at 4:08 AM on March 18, 2015

Zombie in My Pocket. Or Dungeon in a Tin.
posted by jbickers at 5:44 AM on March 18, 2015

Response by poster: I'm currently leaning away from solo games because of the setting - getting all your friends and family together and then encouraging them to play solo games seems like the wrong way to do things (and would probably just lead to a lot of folks hoverplaying other people's games).

Also, for whatever reason, print and play games tend to really like stickers on dice, which we really don't have time to mess around with. We found the reddit link, but quickly got frustrated as to how many of them had a sticker component.

Thanks for the responses! The best part about this is having an excuse to playtest a bunch of new games. Also the whole getting married bit.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:08 AM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: We've recently discovered Ghoulash (the paper game) and love it! We printed two of each board, and laminated them. There are even more boards on Board Game Geek's page for Ghoulash under files.
posted by stormyteal at 7:26 AM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: Discount Salmon
posted by rhapsodie at 8:00 AM on March 18, 2015

Cards against Humanity is free to download.
posted by Mitheral at 8:28 AM on March 18, 2015

mentioned above, but here's a link to Cheapass Games free board and card games. I haven't played many of them but the poker suite looks interesting.
posted by oakroom at 12:42 PM on March 18, 2015

Mitheral: I find that Cards Against Humanity encourages players to punch down instead of up a little too much. I agree that it's kind of a Rorshach test for what the players find funny, but it also encourages a lot of very specific meme humour that I'm not in the mood to address directly right now.

It's a pretty good pattern for a game (and was inspired by Apples to Apples), and there are efforts to make less problematic versions out there.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:21 PM on March 18, 2015

Response by poster: I actually have a personal CAH deck that includes more custom 'punching up' cards (things like 'I like to respond to dick pics with ______'), but I really try to play that with a specific group of people I trust, and an all ages wedding reception is not what I'd consider an appropriate venue.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:38 PM on March 18, 2015

Kill Doctor Lucky at that cheapass games link is excellent, fyi
posted by lizbunny at 7:02 PM on March 18, 2015

Best answer: At 7 bucks online, Hanabi is a little too spendy for your budget.

But I feel like Hanabi could be converted to a variety of themes, if you have graphic design chops. And lo, behance delivers. On the other hand, maybe a game that can be described as 'everyone sit down and shut up for 30 minutes' is not a great wedding favor if you intend these to be enjoyed at the reception.

So here's a wacky, random idea: Looney Labs Pyramids. They have a variety of games, but one popular one is called 'Zendo', where one 'zen master' constructs two sculptures using the pyramids, one that follows a rule they've secretly come up with, and another that doesn't. Players then take turns constructing sculptures, grading or guessing until someone guesses a rule that the zen master can't construct a counterexample of.

It has some nice features: you can combine pyramid sets to play bigger games, and it's amenable to distracted play in social environments. It's not hyper competitive, and scales to large groups. The rules are (mostly) simple. The biggest risk is a zen master choosing a difficult secret rule, which can be ameliorated by providing some sample rules for a novice zen master to secretly choose from.

There are print & play options for pyramids. But that sounds like a lot of work cutting, folding and taping. On the other hand, Looney Lab's price sheet lists stashes at 5 bucks a stash (15 pyramids) to retailers. I imagine if you wrote them saying you wanted to buy a dozen stashes of rainbow and a dozen xeno stashes for wedding favors, they might cut you a deal. If not, you can also try a racket where you print out a list of retailers, and bring the Looney price sheet with you to all of them and ask if they'll cut you a deal for a bulk order. Of course, 5 dollars cuts them out of all margins, so you have to expect they'll ask for something like 6 dollars if you haggle excellently. And they'll wisely ask for some money up front, cuz if you bail they're still on the hook for the purchase.

Oh, and note that these are injection molded plastic. Also sharp pointy plastic. So probably not a great thing to hand out to children unsupervised.

If that's a concern, I still like the idea of buying in bulk -- card & board games have a 50 percent profit margin on average, so all the 10 dollar games are actually 5 bucks or so. For example, Love Letter's MSRP is 10 bucks, and you can find discounters who will mark it down to 7 for a single copy. You might be able to whittle it down to 5, or close enough. There's actually a series of games from the designer similar to Love Letter, if you want the option for guests to leave with different favors. I know of two others released in the US, and I think there's more on the way. And if you really want to use that printer friend of your's offer, you could maybe find a retheming, or tweak one on your own to include the bride, groom, and family.
posted by pwnguin at 12:00 AM on March 20, 2015

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