Q: When is gaming not quite gaming but at the time actually gaming?
A: When you’re doing it with a board, or some cards.
While we’re sat before our monitors and TV screens, mashing keypads and strafing, while swapping insults with our online opponent/colleagues, it’s easy to forget that there is a whole lot more to gaming.
From Monopoly to the original version of Civilization, board games have been with us for many years; Chess is a good example of this, and that game itself is a variant on other games that came before it.
Online, you’ll find some great stores for buying board games of all kinds, so if you’re looking to break away from the console or PC, or even the handheld or mobile, this is the place to start.
When Is A Board Game Not A Board Game? When It’s A Table Top Game
It’s certainly worth prefacing what follows with a disclaimer.
Not all board games are created equal. Indeed, many of what you might think are board games are not, and some of those that you think are table top might actually be board games.
The websites and services that we feature here may or may not also sell table top games, cards, figurines and scenario hardware. If that’s what you’re into, then that’s your call and you’re welcome to use those sites to find what you’re looking for.
What we’re looking for, however, are games that require you to formulate a strategy to win, ones that are based on a board playing area and don’t rely on armies of figures to win. They should also require no weighty manuals wielded by gamemasters. Although iPad-based board games are fun, we’re also staying clear of those.
Top Five Online Stores For Board Games
Below you’ll find five great online stores that cater to lovers of board games, from Cluedo, Scrabble and Chess to games based on The Hobbit, adventures into space and even iPad-connected versions of Monopoly, which is always better when played with people in the same room, rather than online.
We’ve taken the time to check feedback on these sites, which all appear to have overall strong reputations.
Unlike the other stores listed here, The Captain Board Games focuses on, well, board games.
Games range from the basic, everyday family board games to those that are more advanced, with titles such as The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride on offer. By focussing on pure board games, this site really highlights just what is available in this type of game, and there really is a lot to see!
A beautifully laid-out site, the selection of board games covers a range of genres and features titles that you might not see in the other sites listed here. With board games in stock alongside the usual card, RPG and table-top games, Miniature Market can offer low prices on premium titles, and has a rather large stock of clearance items. They also buy back your old game gear for in-store credit.
Miniature Market also has a bricks and mortar store in Missouri, where in-store events take place. You can keep up to date with these by subscribing to the Miniature Market newsletter.
Combining the colours green and black, if the title of this online store doesn’t give you a clue as to its focus, the colour scheme, logo and layout will.
The majority of games on the homepage are sci-fi/fantasy based, and while this is obviously a core aspect of board, table-top and RPG gaming, the focus leaves you in no doubt as to the type of games you can expect to find here. A vast catalogue of games is on offer, along with card and dice-based games.
Visually the most complete site in this list, Cool Stuff Inc – known as CSI – has a good library of title and runs its own shows, events and podcast. CSI also offers customers the ability to send gift certificates and offers free shipping on purchases totalling $100 or more!
Although other game types are stocked, CSI offers regular sales and also accepts trade-ins.
With a vast collection of games across a range of genres, Board Game Bliss keeps its library up-to-date and even has a dedicated page for new gamers. Board Game Bliss has a “Daily Deal” feature in which a single game is discounted, a great way to dip your water into gaming without paying too much or grabbing that title you’ve been looking forward to buying.
Based in Canada, this site also ships to the US but for those of you not in North America you’ll need to contact them for international shipping prices.
Amazon & eBay
Not all board game stores are created equal. Some don’t have their own websites, and instead rely on the web’s two huge marketplaces, Amazon and eBay. If you’re planning to buy games from these places, you’ll find several advantages.
For instance, if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you’ll be able to get free, fast delivery on suitably-labelled products. You’ll also have the benefit of a respected feedback and review system, as well as the possibility of purchasing older versions of some games (updates can often frustrate gamers, after all).
With eBay, meanwhile, the protection of PayPal and the likelihood of you being able to purchase old games and components is strong. Although you may pay over the odds for some specialised pieces (we’re talking anything from Monopoly hotels to Hobbit counters, dice, even the boards themselves) there’s a strong possibility that you’ll find what you’re looking for on eBay.
Mind you, if you’re looking for real bargains, it might be an idea to download some free, printable games.
What’s Your Favourite Game Store?
You’ve got six choices there for grabbing some great board games, all of which are generally considered reliable. After all, we would hate to recommend something that didn’t work out for you.
However, as with any online purchase, we recommend that you spend time researching the product and the business before proceeding.
Of course, you may be reading all of this with your head quiet shaking. Perhaps you’ve beaten us to it, and found your own great online store for board games.
In the spirit of fair play, we’d love for you to share that information with us, in the comment space below…