Save Money On Expensive Board Games With These Self-Printed Alternatives

James Bruce 28-12-2012

board game alternativesChristmas is coming, and that means getting together with friends and family around a good board game. But board games can be expensive, and many of you will only play them once or twice at most. Instead of buying something new this Yuletide, how about printing your own instead? Here’s my pick of 5 awesome printable games to suit all tastes, mostly drawn from personal experience, and BoardGameGeek’s extensive list of Print and Play games.


Be sure to check out Angela’s picks from February 9 Awesome Free Printable Board Games Here are some great free printable board games and printable card games to get you started in your new hobby. Read More  too, as none of these are repeated there.

Cards Against Humanity

A warped and decidedly adult version of the classic Apple to Apples, Cards Against Humanity is about as non-politically correct as they come. Religious types, children, the elderly, and anyone easily offended by anything should probably stay away. Players take it in turns to act as the Card Czar and choose one topic card – a kind of fill in the blanks – while others choose responses. The Card Czar shuffles and reads through all the cards, chooses their favorite, and the player is awarded a point.

board game alternatives

Sold for $60 on Amazon, you can download it from the official site (it’s Creative Commons Sharealike), and print for free on regular paper or card stock.

Here’s an idea of the gameplay from Beer and Board Games. And yes, it is NSFW.


You can even have a go online, though it’s not quite as hilarious without someone reading them out each time. I still wasted a good 30 minutes of time I was supposed to be using to write this article round-up though. And I won :)

Zombie in my Pocket

A solitaire game for those moments when grandma has way too much sherry, the kids are off playing with their new toys and your significant other has dozed off, Zombie in my Pocket – winner of the 2010 Golden Geek award – has you exploring a house and garden in an attempt to find and then bury the Zombie totem in the graveyard. Clever mechanics mean quite a varied experience with just a few cards, as time progresses the events on the cards change and are reshuffled.

Here’s a picture of it just as I lost (the figurine is mine, not printable obviously). I reached the graveyard, began to bury the totem, just as 6 zombies pounced on me. Despite having a board with nails to defend myself, I only killed 2 zombies, resulting in the loss of my remaining 4 health points, and complete Zombie takeover. A tense moment, indeed.

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Grab the complete package here (login required) and print on just 4 sheets.

If you enjoy this kind of Zombie apocalypse – either solo or in groups – but find yourself wanting something more in-depth, I strongly suggest you check out the Zombicide miniatures board game, which I funded on Kickstarter last year. You can even design and print your own board layouts and scenarios with a free the level designer app.

The Thing

Winner of 2011 Golden Geek Print and Play Award, The Thing is an unofficial narrative card game which closely resembles the 1982 horror movie. Some cards are gory and explicit, and is best played with 4 players. It’s an immense print job though, in full color, so strictly for fans and hardcore card gamers.

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A 41 card deck that’s not so much a game as an open game system; there are in fact many different games you can play with the basic set, just as there are for regular playing cards. The Deckset is structurally quite different though, one defining aspect being that some cards have multiple suits. A full deck, and various rules can be downloaded here.

print board game


Here’s a good video overview of the system.


Pirates and Plunder

Described as Carcassonne for those who can’t afford the actual game, Pirates and Plunder is basically a clone of the famous tile-laying game. Pick a tile, place it in a valid location, and score points by claiming trade routes, ports and islands. However, it also adds some battle mechanics, so it’s not a complete rip-off. Definitely give it a go if you don’t already own Carcassonne – there are only about 5 sheets of tiles, plus a few more for tokens; though your blue and green ink might run out quickly. Download here.

board game alternatives

That’s all from me today; I do hope you have (or have already had) a fantastic Christmas and get a chance to play some of these great games (with or without family, as you see fit). My personal pick would be cards against humanity, though you would certainly need the right audience for that, so best wait until granny has gone home. Also, apologies to my editors for having basically spent the entire day playing games.

Related topics: Board Game, Printables, Save Money.

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  1. Garey Boone
    December 28, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I'm going to take a couple of these to Staples and have them printed it'll be a helluva lot cheaper than printing at home. Great article by the way things like board games and eating at the dinner table are a treasure I hope that my kids carry on in life to their kids as well.

  2. Adam Borries
    December 28, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Love it! I'm a big board game geek, so I always have a selection with me a family gatherings. Even so, these look interesting. Especially Pirates and Plunder, with the combat aspect, looks intriguing. Thanks!

  3. Timothy Liem
    December 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    interesting games! why can't we play these games together instead of those crappy electronic games on tablets? we can strengthen the bonds between friends and family even more. miss those times..

  4. Jay Broms
    December 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Save money?? Do you guys know how much ink costs these days?

  5. Alan Wade
    December 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    " Christmas is coming, and that means getting together with friends and family "
    Are you talking about 2013 ?????

    • Gordon Hay
      December 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      Yes Alan there are 362 days 'til Christmas and would you believe some people have already got their decorations and lights up!

    • James bruce
      December 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Damn these week in advance publication schedules. I should have prefaced with "correct at time of writing" ;)