10 Awesome board games that are in stock in 2022, affordable and widely available (unlike that kickstarter that gave you FOMO)
Posted On February 24, 2022
The more I dive into board games, the more I witness (and experience myself) the huge FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) involved with this hobby. More and more successful games are only released through crowdfunding, see one great campaign on kickstarter or gamefound, and are then impossible to find in retail.
Everybody’s raving about this or that game (and I’m guilty of it with Final girl), but hype is sometimes… just hype. I spent hundreds of dollars on some kickstarter games that turned out to be just “ok” after my excitation had gone down. None of them were terribly bad, but I can say for sure that most of them were sold to me as more than what I actually experienced, simply because of all the buzz surrounding their release.
The entire industry is guilty of this honestly (*cough* reviewers who get a $300 kickstarter game review-copy for free don’t realize the impact of calling it a “must have” *cough*), we’re all attracted to new stuff, but the reality is that, there are tons of games out there, that are completely available, offer tons of content and variety. Just because they’re a bit older doesn’t mean they became bad all of a sudden.
And, more importantly, because they’ve been available for a long time, and have gone through many reprints, they’re all reasonably priced. You can get up to 10 games for the same cost of that one “all in” pledge of that one miniature game that you’ll never get on the table because your playing group finds it attractive but boring.
So here goes, for 10 highly praised games that are easy to find on retail. Please note that my links below are affiliate links to Amazon, you don’t pay anything extra but I get a small commission if you purchase through these links.
1. Gloomhaven and Jaws of the Lion ($140 and $35 respectively)
Alright, let’s start with the elephant in the room: 5 years after its initial release, Gloomhaven remains the king of board games, at least according to boardgamegeek’s ranking. I’ve played it and absolutely love this game, definitely a unique experience for me.
But today, if I was being honest and had to start the gloomhaven experience, I’d go with Jaws of the lion. At about $35, this game is a steal! There’s easily 50h of content in the box for 1 to 4 players, and don’t be fooled: it’s the same rules, same universe, different scenarios, but definitely not what I would call a watered-down or diluted experience. Buying Jaws of the Lion before gloomhaven is like playing Doom before Doom Eternal. It just makes sense.
Another “all time high” ranked game on BoardGameGeek is pandemic legacy. In this cooperative legacy game, your team of scientists are trying to fend of a disease spreading through the entire world. A scenario spreading through an entire in-game year changes the rules and your characters between each mission.
If you don’t like Legacy games, most “pandemic” titles are also extremely fun and widely available at retailers.
Allegedly, Pandemic Legacy Season 0 is the best of the 3 “Legacy” titles, but you can’t go wrong with the first one. In Season 0, instead of scientists fighting a virus, you are CIA agents during the Cold War, trying to prevent a bioweapon from being unleashed.
3. Terraforming Mars ($60) & Ares Expedition ($35)
The current “best-in-class” of euro games, Terraforming mars has been on the top of many “best” lists since its release in 2016. The game is pretty much a staple of board gaming now and always available at retailers. Its price hasn’t been going down as much as I’d like to, but a recent alternative, “Ares Expedition”, scratches the “terraforming” itch at a much lower price. Some people think Ares Expedition is actually better because it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Both games are available on retailers at the time of this writing.
Another cooperative game, on the “heavier” side complexity wise, Spirit Island is one of my favorite games, because of the diversity of spirits you can choose to play with, and how significantly they change each game. In Spirit Island, 1 to 4 players work together as “gods” trying to fend off invaders who are ravaging their island and its inhabitants.
The only issue I have with spirit Island is that it’s sometimes difficult to understand how close to victory we might be, sometimes leading to some anticlimactic endings. But other than that, what a fun game, with so much replayability in the base box.
One thing you’ll want to know about Scythe is that despite the appearances, it is nowhere close to a wargame. There are cool mech miniatures, but it is a mid-weight, worker placement, euro game, with a bit more interaction, in my experience, than your typical euro game.
Despite its success, Scythe is not for everyone. Make sure you watch some gameplay videos before buying it. But for the cost of the base box, you’re getting a lot of table presence, which in itself is super cool.
A 2 Player Battle/strategy card game which has received numerous awards, and according to most people, the only way to properly play 7 Wonders with 2 players. The base game is on the cheap side, and more than enough to get a lot of replay value.
This game is so popular that even people who are not into board gaming have heard of it. In Wingspan, you play as a bird enthusiast, trying to attract the “best” birds in your aviary. This is once again, a very “Euro” game with engine building mechanics, which is absolutely gorgeous.
As long as Fantasy flight are in business, I don’t see this gem of a living card game getting out of print, especially since a revised edition just came out!
Arkham Horror the Card game pits 1 to 4 investigators against evil creatures and madness. It’s a very tough game, and it will get expensive in the long run if you buy every “expansion”, but the base game offers enough gameplay to know if you’ll want to purchase more after the first few missions. I’ve personally played pretty much all of the campaigns by now (a friend’s copy, not mine), and I love it, from the gameplay mechanics to the art and atmosphere.
“Pull ingredients from your stock to make your pot bubble, but hopefully not explode!”. Quacks has quickly become a “modern classic” of board games and will probably be around for a long time.
Every year the city of Quedlinburg holds a festival, where the greatest Apothecaries and Quacksalbers (Quack doctors) compete against each other over several days to prove that they are the greatest potion brewer of the land.
It is a drafting game for 2–4 players. Players start with the same core ingredients represented by tokens held in a cloth bag. Players draw tokens from the bag until they either decide to stop, or their potion explodes – whichever comes first. After each round each Quacksalber will win prestige and/or money for the potions they brewed (those with potions that didn’t explode get both). Money is used to purchase more ingredients that will assist them to brew even greater potion the following day.
The “Unlock!” series is possibly not as high rated as the rest of this list, but I personally love it, and it’s been in print for some time now, with new, standalone content coming out regularly. I believe the Franchise is here to stay, and you can pick up any of those and play right away. It doesn’t really matter which box you choose, except personal preference for a theme.
Unlock games are cooperative adventure games using a eck of card. They are very reminiscent of old school “point and click” adventure games, in which you try to combine various objects together (in this case, represented on the cards), in order to open a door, find a secret passage, create new items, or, more generally, progress in the adventure.
Each game lasts a bit less than one hour, but in my experience it’s been a very intense and fun hour every single time. Note that once the game is “done”, you can’t “unsee” it and therefore you can’t replay it. You can then resell it or give it to a friend 🙂
You can buy 9 games mentioned in this list, and still end up paying less than an “all in” pledge of a kickstarter campaign such as the recent Marvel Zombicide. Is it a good deal for you? That’s up to you to to decide of course. The amount of gameplay and “happiness” you can derive from playing many games versus going “all in” on one single game, will of course depend on how much you actually like the games in question! In my case, I found that being patient, waiting for sales on available games, turned out to be more rewarding than my FOMO kickstarter behavior.