Amazon Black Friday has started in earnest. Most of the deals aren’t available yet (more will be released each day), but the one exception is the board games category. Amazon has dropped the price on dozens of popular board games and board game expansions. These include favorites like Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, Catan, Carcassonne, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Azul, Wingspan and more. However, there are also several more niche games that we’ve rarely seen discounted, like Everdell, Agricola, Pandemic Legacy, Paleo, and more. So if your board game collection could use some freshening up, then peruse the list right here. We’ll add more deals as we see them go live.
Ark Nova Board Game for $58.99
Ark Nova is a recently released (April 2022) board game. Ever since its release, it has climbed the ranks and garnered a reputation of being one of the best strategy board games. The premise of Ark Nova seems simple enough. You are in control of a modern zoo and it’s your job to take care of the animals, take on conservation and research projects, attract and entertain the customers, and basically run the most successful zoo in the game. In terms of gameplay mechanics, this is primarily a card building game. There are a total of 255 unique cards in the game. With these cards you can add more animals to your zoo, build special enclosures, delegate tasks to your hired specialists, or raise funds. Ark Nova is not really a casual board game; BoardGameGeek ranks it as a “medium-heavy” game similar to other ambitious titles like Gloomhaven, Terraforming Mars, or Scythe. You’ll need a good 1-2 hours for each play session and probably more the first time you play, but you’ll be rewarded with an economic and environmental sim that will keep you engaged for several playthroughs.
Pandemic Legacy Season 2 for $42.99
We can’t talk about Pandemic without talking about Legacy — it took the board gaming world by storm when the first season was released back in 2015, and for good reason. Pandemic Legacy takes the globetrotting disease fighting of the original game and turns it into a multi-game campaign with a number of surprise twists, as well as physical permanence. As you play through each session — representing a full month of game time — your game will begin to change.
Paleo for $44.99
At first glance, this game of stone-age survival doesn’t look anything special. You create a deck of cards for the scenario you want to play and distribute them between the players. Then you take it in turns to flip a card from your pile and face the challenges thereon with the skills and stone tools available to your tiny tribe. The magic happens when tribes come together, pooling their resources to overcome one tough encounter, but doing so loses them the chance to interact with the other tribe’s card. All at once, this mirrors a real slice of stone-age life, agonizing over passing up opportunities in order to secure an important prize, while giving players real emergent cooperation in how much they choose to aid each other. The survival narrative and variety of scenarios are just the icing on the rock cake.
King of Tokyo for $26.49
The best way to describe King of Tokyo is “Yahtzee meets Godzilla.” In this monster mash-up, players control one of a stable of greatest-hits monsters straight out of science fiction past. The goal is to take control of Tokyo while fending off the other monsters. Attacks and special abilities are carried out through dice rolls which lends a bit of suspense to the giant-sized boxing matches. Of course, controlling Tokyo makes you a target, and no monster can stay in the city for too long without taking lots of damage. It’s up to you to recognize when to retreat and when to press the attack, but beware: other monsters are out there and waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
Cascadia for $29.99
There are few games with quite the wide appeal of Cascadia. For starters, it’s got a wholesome theme of exploring the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. The mechanics are very simple, involving you picking one of four pairs of animal token and terrain hex to add to your growing map. The aim is to satisfy a random range of scoring cards by getting animals into particular patterns, and they range in difficulty from an easy family version to challenging gamer-level objectives. There’s even a fun solo campaign where you’re tasked with crossing off a range of variants and objectives. If there ever was a game for absolutely everyone, this is it.
Machi Koro for $20.49
Hey, remember that game Sim City? Well, what if, instead of being a computer game, it was somehow made into a card game? That’s Machi Koro for you. The comparison to Sim City isn’t quite as one-to-one, but the goals of both are the same: build a city and help it flourish, growing it into the largest city in the region. The competitive twist, coupled with the card playing mechanic, makes this a super fun way to build up a metropolis at the expense of whoever else is sitting at the table.
More Amazon Black Friday Board Game Deals
Amazon Black Friday Board Game Expansion Deals
These expansion packs are not standalone, meaning you will need to purchase the base game. These packs are meant to add even more content to the core game by adding more maps, units, cards, or gameplay mechanisms. If you absolutely love a specific board game, it often makes more sense to get an expansion pack to increase its replay value than buying an entirely new game, especially since it usually costs less.
What to Consider When Shopping for the Best Board Games
There’s so much choice in modern board gaming that picking a game can be overwhelming, not to mention expensive! So to help winnow down the selection, here are a few things to look out for when making your picks.
Perhaps the most important one is whether it’s likely to see much play. Aspects of this are fairly obvious: whether it appeals to your friends, what’s the target age, if it’s a long game, will you have time for it, and so on. But there’s still more to these facets than may be immediately apparent. You may feel comfortable learning a very complex game, for example, but will your fellow players, and will you be able to teach it? Do you want a game to play with your partner, or your wider family, or does it need to be flexible enough to cater for both crowds?
Even then, these are often vexed questions. The play times listed on box sides are often hopelessly optimistic. Similarly, a game’s advertised player count can be very different from the ideal. A good tool to clear this up is the game information database boardgamegeek.com. If you search on a game there then, at the top of the page you’ll find, beneath the player count, a “best” suggestion for the optimal player count according to the site’s users.
There are other many other considerations. Some games take up a lot of table space, for example, which is no good if you play on a coffee or smaller board game table. Others can take a long time to set up and put away. These issues are often mentioned in a review if they’re problematic. And they can stack: you may be able to play a much longer game, for example, if you have space to pause and leave it out on the table to resume later.
Some genres of game require greater research than others. Increasingly, games are being released as lifestyle choices with a steady stream of expansions and new content. Which is great if it appeals to you, but you need to know what you’re getting into. Other games merge into miniature modelling which is a whole other hobby in it’s own right. Editions and versions are another thing worth checking out as many modern games come in standard and deluxe editions or may, in fact, be reprints of older titles.
You also need to think about how a game might fit in with your existing collection, both aesthetically and physically. For the former, consider what makes it different enough, mechanically or thematically, from games you already own to make it worthwhile. For the latter, remember that board games are big, and you’ll need to find space to store it!