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20+ Gifts for Board Game Lovers Under $30

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Looking for unique gifts for board gamer lovers this holiday season? We have you covered with this Board Game Gifts Guide — and they’re all under $30 to help you stick to your gift budget! (And be sure to check out all the latest Board Game Deals we’ve posted!)

Ultimate Gift Guide for the Board Game Lover

This Holiday Board Game Gifts Guide was thoughtfully put together by Meg on the MoneySavingMom team — who is a lifelong strategy board game player and is always on the hunt for the latest and greatest board games.

Are you looking for gifts for board game lovers this Christmas? Check out this list of unique board game gifts for all types of gamers that are sure to be a hit! And the best part about giving a board game is that it’s a gift that provides years of entertainment!

Note: Most of these games are usually less than $30, but prices do fluctuate quite a bit on board games. If one is slightly over $30, be sure to check the price history on CamelCamelCamel.com and wait for a better price — especially with Black Friday and holiday sales right around the corner! If it’s on this list, then it’s usually under $30!

Castles of Burgundy Game

Strategy Board Game Gifts

1. Castles of Burgundy — This game is like Catan on steroids, and it’s one of my all-time favorite strategy games. It has multiple levels and layers of strategy, and every single game plays completely differently. This is a great gift idea for an experienced strategy board gamer.

Board Game Gifts: Pandemic Game

2. Pandemic — This cooperative game is so unique and one of my favorite games to play with friends! I often find that it appeals to people who are typically “non-gamers” for some reason! It’s really unique because of the co-op factor.

Gifts for Board Game Lovers: Carcassonne Game

3. Carcassonne — This is a fun little tile placing game that has quick game play. You can usually play an entire game in about 30 minutes. This is one of my favorite games to play as a two-player game, and it travels well since the game pieces are simple.

7 Wonders Game

4. Seven Wonders — This is another game that’s way up at the top of my list. Again, it has multiple layers of strategy and every game plays completely differently. There are two things I love about this game that differ from most complex strategy games: It has really quick play time (30-45 minutes max) and it can be played with up to 7 players. (Most complex strategy games only support up to 4 players.)

Board Game Gifts: Splendor Game

5. Splendor — This is another really fun and quick strategy game that plays in under 30 minutes. This is my go-to game on a night when I’m really craving a good strategy board game but don’t have time to invest in an hour or two of game play before bed. I now have the expansions and absolutely love it. I’ve played it over and over again, and it never gets old.

Shards of Infinity Game

6. Shards of Infinity — This is a deck-building strategy game that I’ve become quite obsessed with over the past few months! It’s really unique and a quick game-play with two people. You can also play with more people, but the game play is a lot longer. Either way, it’s really fun and really different than your typical strategy game!

Othello Game

7. Othello — “A minute to learn…a lifetime to master!” The tagline describes it perfectly. It takes just a second to teach someone the basic premise of this game, but there’s a lot more to this game than meets the eye. If you know someone who loves strategy games like Chess where you need to be thinking rounds ahead of time, this is perfect for them. I love this quick two-player strategy game! And you could probably get kids to love this one, too!

Board Game Gifts: Azul Game

8. Azul — This is a game I picked up last year on a whim during a Black Friday sale after reading some of the reviews, and it’s turned out to be loads of fun! This is another one that “non-gaming people” still tend to really love. The tiles are beautiful and it’s a unique game — unlike anything else I have in my game closet. It’s also one that older kids could pick up on pretty easily.

Gifts for Board Game Lovers: Spy Alley Game

9. Spy Alley — Oh my goodness, the fun memories I have of this unique game! I used to play this game with a group of gaming friends each week, and it was SO much fun!! It’s sort of like Clue but with an international espionage twist.

Labyrinth Game

10. Labyrinth — This is a great strategy game to play with kids or as a family. It’s super simple to learn and involves pretty basic strategy. It’s a fun one, though! I like it when I’m more in the mood for a lighthearted strategy game.

Tsuro Game

11. Tsuro — This is another great strategy game to play with kids or as a family! It’s SO much fun, really easy to learn, and a quick game play! You can also play with up to 8 players, which is SUPER fun! The more players, the more challenging this game becomes. And if you end up liking it, there’s also a Tsuro of the Seas that adds some fun twists!

Board Game Gifts: Photosynthesis

12. Photosynthesis — This one has been on my list to buy for a really long time and I finally bought it this past year and started playing it. As a science lover, this game is so much fun. It’s all about planting trees and making sure they get enough sunlight to grow! You “shade” other players out if your trees get bigger. It’s a really cool concept, pretty easy for kids to learn to play, and such a unique game concept!

Gifts for Board Game Lovers: Santorini Game

13. Santorini — This game, based on Greek mythology, plays sort of like 3-dimensional checkers. It’s a really fun and quick strategy game to play with two players! Great for kids, too!

Balderdash Game

Party Board Games

14. Balderdash — This is one of my favorite party games! It requires so much creativity and I love seeing the unique ideas people come up with! If you’re looking for a unique party game that requires quite a bit of original thought and creativity, this is a great option!! This game plays best with about 5-6 players.

CodeNames Board Game

15. Code Names — This is a unique game, because it’s definitely a really social game but also requires a lot of thought and word creativity. This game has become one of my favorite games to play over the past year! It’s great to play with just 4 people, but you can play with up to 8-10 people! (You can technically play with more than that, but it gets kind of crazy.)

Gifts for Board Game Lovers: Ultimate Werewolf

16. Ultimate Werewolf — This is a super fun game to play in a crowd, and you can play with up to 10 people! The more, the merrier! Everyone is given a specific role with eyes closed, and everyone has to bluff and figure out who is who. It’s SO fun. This is one of my go-to games when a lot of people are gathered together to hang out.

Board Game Gifts: Dixit Board Game

17. Dixit — If I had to pick the most beautiful board game on the market, this would be it. The artwork in this game is just stunning, and the game play requires a lot of imagination. I always love playing this with people, because it’s so interesting to get a peek into different people’s personalities and how they view the world. It’s super easy game play, can be played with up to 6 players, and is another one that’s great for “non-gaming people.” And if you find you’re playing pretty often, you might consider getting one of the many expansion packs of cards!

Farkle Dice Game

18. Farkle — This is another fun one that can pretty much be player with as many people as you have. If you have more than 10 people, you can play in teams! It’s kind of like Yahtzee with a twist (but WAY more fun).

Gifts for Board Game Lovers: Catan Card Game

Stocking Stuffers for Game Lovers

19. Catan Card Game — This card game is perfect for Catan lovers, because unlike regular Catan, it can be played as a two-player game!

Dutch Blitz Card Game

20. Dutch Blitz — This is SUCH a fun card game! It’s fast-paced, competitive, and sure to get just about anyone who loves games hooked immediately. Our family has been playing this for over a decade, and we play it any time we meet up!

Collapsible Board Game Pieces

21. Collapsible Board Game Bowls — I would LOVE to receive this unique gift for board game lovers! I can’t tell you how often I pull little bowls out of the kitchen cabinet to use for game pieces when playing complex strategy games! These would be so convenient to have, and they’re easy to store since they’re collapsible!

Bananagrams Game

22. Bananagrams — Know someone who loves Scrabble? This is a fun, fast-paced twist! And it travels well. I take this on a lot of vacations to play with friends and family!

Bonus Ideas (Over $30)

Have a little extra wiggle room in your Christmas budget and willing to spend a bit more? Try one of these gifts for board game lovers:

Charterstone Game

23. Charterstone — This is the ultimate legacy board game — perfect for a longtime strategy game player who wants something different and unique. Once you enter the world of legacy games, you can’t ever go back. Legacy games are played with the same group of people over several rounds, and the game board and rules change as you play. This game is amazingly creative, innovative, and fun. I can’t sing the praises of it enough. It’s probably my favorite board game I have ever played. Ever.

Board Game Gifts: Pandemic Legacy

24. Pandemic Legacy — After playing Charterstone, I went on the search for more legacy games. And this one is another GREAT legacy game. If you love classic Pandemic, you’ll love this even more. It adds so many twists of fun and strategy!

Gifts for Board Game Lovers: Catan Game

25. Catan — No board game list could ever be complete without the classic Catan. If you know someone who is just getting intro strategy games, this is a go-to gift! If you know someone who already plays Catan frequently, I highly recommend the Cities & Knights expansion — which completely changes the game play and adds multiple additional levels of strategy. It’s my favorite way to play Catan these days!

Small World Strategy Board Game

26. Small World — This game comes from the brilliant Days of Wonder game creators and plays sort of like Risk, but involves less chance/luck and more strategy. It’s also confined to 10 rounds so that it doesn’t take a lifetime to play. 😉 Pretty much every game player I’ve ever introduced this game to fell in love with it after one round. And the artwork is super fun with all the different fantasy races (elves, orcs, dwarves, halflings, etc.).

Wingspan Birding Game

27. Wingspan — I’m a big bird watcher in real life, so this game for bird enthusiasts is SO cool and unique. It also features beautiful artwork and facts for each bird! This is a Stonemaier game — which are typically pretty complicated and take a while to learn to play — but like all Stonemaier games, it’s well worth it once you start playing regularly. Stonemaier makes some of the BEST board games on the market!

Scythe Board Game

28. Scythe — This game is extremely complex, but the absolute perfect gift idea for a really experienced strategy board game player. I got this game earlier this year and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite board games. For a while there, we played this game almost every single night. The game play is about 2-3 hours and takes a while to really get good at, but once you do, you’ll LOVE it!! Every game play is so different because of the multiple levels of strategy involved. And the steampunk design elements and theme are really cool.

Ticket to Ride Game

29. Ticket to Ride — While I do like this Days of Wonder game, I much prefer the Europe version for added layers of strategy. But for someone just getting started with strategy games, this is a wonderful board game to start with! I’ve gotten many people hooked on strategy games by starting them out with this one. This is also a really great game to play as a family!

More Holiday Gift Guides

Looking for other budget-friendly holiday gift guides? Don’t miss these:

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Can you think of any other great gifts for board game lovers? Let us know in the comments!

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24 Comments

  • Kristy says:

    As part of a gaming family, I really enjoyed this list. Great suggestions, too! I few that I would add: Love Letter, Hanabi (cooperative) – should get card holders to make life easier, and Sushi Go. If you enjoy deck-building “legacy” games, then the Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle is really fun! (I don’t really like Dominion a ton, but we love Harry Potter as a family. And, there is an expansion that has been very challenging as well.) I would also just double-down with Splendor. It’s possibly my favorite game ever – so clever, easy to learn, and just very fun every time to you play!

  • Kelly says:

    We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Ticket to Ride. It was worth every penny! We also like Blokus, which is another strategy game for 2-4 people. Even my 5 year old can play it.

  • B says:

    I love this list! Thank you. Favorites here include Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, 7 Wonders and Azul. I’m considering purchasing Wingspan since I’ve heard so many good things about it.

  • Kim says:

    Thank you for this super helpful list! As a non-strategy gaming mom with a son who’s starting to love them, I wanted to learn some new options for our home beyond Risk. Perfect timing – thank you!

  • Jená says:

    Wow, Meg! Thank you so much! We love playing board games as a family and with friends, but have admittedly gotten away from it as the kids have gotten older and their responsibilities have increased. I love your quick write-ups about each game – so helpful! I will definitely be looking into some of these games as Christmas gifts for my kids this year. Oh – a fun one we have enjoyed as a family is Qwirkle. It’s easy for kids to play. Thank you again for such a helpful post!

    • Beth says:

      I love Qwerkle too. Good for slightly younger kids and for not so die hard gamers. Thanks for this list-we own or have played quite a number of these. My daughter isn’t a huge gamer but my son and hubby are so thanks for saying which are family friendly!

    • Jordan says:

      Yay! We are so glad you found this useful. Meg has a great taste in games and has introduced me to quite a few of these! They are all really wonderful! And thanks for the suggestion. -Jordan, MSM Team

  • Rebekah says:

    Hi Meg, we are a gaming family (just getting into the teen years with our 5 kids) and we own and LOVE Ticket to Ride, Dominion, Catan, Azul, Dutch Blitz, Carcasonne, 7 Wonders and others on your lists.

    However, can you tell me more about Charterstone? Is it the kind of game that you KNOW you’re losing/winning throughout the game (think Catan) or more like a game where you can think you’re winning throughout the game and then find out that you lost. (Think: Dominion, Ticket to Ride, 7 Wonders)

    We’ve found that the fun in the game is much higher if we *think* we’re doing really well, have a great time playing, and then, well, kinda who cares if we ended up losing. Rather than a game like Catan where you can tell with one glance at the board if you’re getting slaughtered. ( :

    So … is Charterstone like that? Would I know for the whole game (or days or weeks …) that I’m losing? Or is it more of a surprise at the “end”?

    Thanks for your advice!!

    • Jordan says:

      Hi Rebekah, so Charterstone is a “legacy game.” This means that rules and mechanics will be introduced and changed throughout the course of the game. It is very dependent on the choices players make while playing. So Charterstone is a series of 12 “rounds or games” to determine who wins, and you can easily think you are doing really well or very poorly and things can change in the course of a round. It’s really unique because at the end of the game you have a unique board that is one of a kind based on the decisions you’ve made as you’ve played each round. This board is then replayable as a standalone worker placement game. Or you can flip the board over and order the recharge pack and play a whole new legacy version. -Jordan, MSM Team

  • Kelly says:

    These are great suggestions! We love Ticket to Ride but have not played any of the others. (Although, as a side note, I’m not sure I want to play Pandemic. Seems too much of a “reality game” right now. Ha!)

    • Jordan says:

      HAHAHAHA!! Pandemic is a really fun Co-Op game for the whole family or group of friends. It’s fun because it is the whole group playing against the board to win! -Jordan, MSM Team

  • Melie says:

    We love Forbidden Island and the sequels (Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Skies)! It’s a great introduction to cooperative games, and if both sides have it, it’s easy to play over video call. We’ve given it a handful of times as a gift and it’s been very well received.

    • Jordan says:

      That’s such a great idea to play it over video chat! My fiancée and I have been trying to come up with fun games to play with friends over video. Thanks so much for the suggestion! -Jordan, MSM Team

  • Sarah Schreffler says:

    We played Pandemic the first week of the lockdown. and periodically since. It’s not at all like reality and a lot of fun to BEAT THE VIRUS! Plus memories

    • Jordan says:

      Pandemic is a really fun game! I think it is really unique and a great game for the family since everyone is on the same team! -Jordan, MSM Team

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