Many of you already know about Print & Play games, but for those of you that don’t, it's the name we give games that you can get for free (or at least very cheap) by printing it all out yourself at home. That's right, publishers actually give away the assets of their game for free sometimes. But why on Earth would they do this, knowing full well that they make their money when you buy their games from the shops?
Well, some of them do it because they know that a certain proportion of gamers like me are a little on the lazy side and would prefer to buy the game rather than going through the hassle of printing out a load of paper, cutting bits out, littering the house with tiny paper confetti etc. It's probably the same reason papercraft, while awesome, isn't mainstream. I'd also argue that a lot of you reading this have a preference for good quality stuff, and would prefer to have a retail version of the game on your shelf over one of those cardboard folders usually reserved for primary school classrooms. Finally, everybody in the community knows that board games are more than just a distraction; they're a passion, and people don't mind paying to support great games. It is likely that the following listed companies understand this, but don't wish to exclude anyone from playing a game they poured their heart into, so they provide the material with the aim to bring this wonderful hobby to as many people as possible.
Whatever your situation, there are always times when your budget can't quite stretch to buying a new game, hence why I've created this list. Below I've collected five really cool and/or popular games with included download links, so you can start playing a new game today without even leaving the comfort of your own house. Enjoy!
Hive is the classic abstract strategy game of moving insects about and trying to capture your opponent’s Queen bee, and of all the games on this list, this is the easiest one to actually make. It’s printable on an actual single piece of paper for crying out loud, so they don’t get much simpler! The game itself is fairly cheap mind you, but if you really are tied down to a shoestring budget, which is a phrase I don’t quite understand because shoestrings are a luxury in this day and age, then this is a solid way to introduce board gaming into your life without spending a penny.
2. Cards Against Humanity
“Trees. They're like a good cancer, popping up all around the world, giving us life. Well f**k them I say. Burn them all!”
Apologies, you weren't prepared for that, but those are the sort of extremely controversial* things you’ll hear in a typical game of Cards Against Humanity. This is mostly just a game of madlibs except a lot more offensive. The only thing is, with the number of cards involved, it is gonna kill a lot of trees so actually yeah, maybe if that sentence above looks agreeable to you, then this is probably your kind of game. Also, we aren’t the biggest fans of the game here at C&G, but don’t let that put you off!
*crude and sometimes amusing
Link: CAH Website
If you’re not a fan of Darwin, look away now! Evolution is a fantastic game of rock, paper, scissors, horns, climbing, long neck, etc where you compete for the most food while trying to protect yourself from those nasty carnivorous types (it's not man though). You create new species, upgrade them and try to survive but it's so fun. Luckily, they’re also made available a print and play version, both in a free version and a premium version. We reviewed the game here if you’d like to check out first if it’s worth your time (spoiler: it is) but be warned, like CAH above, this is a printer heavy game so you know, print it at work or something.
Link: (FREE) BoardGameGeek
Link: (PREMIUM) North Star Games
4. Secret Hitler
Fascism! Jews! Hitler! These are all words associated with the second world war, and if you were told somebody was making a game about this hugely important and historic event, the last thing you’d expect would be this game. One of you plays as Hitler trying to pass fascist policies while the rest of his team try to protect him, meanwhile the Liberals try to stop them and sniff out the villainous player. Download it below. Enjoy the lizardy artwork. Don't do Hitler impressions in public.
5. ...And Then We Held Hands
Shut up! Yes, you. You heard what I said. No, I’m not being mean, I’m just explaining the rules of this game. This is a really intriguing non-verbal game in which two players must try to cooperatively navigate their way through a failing relationship and fix it by moving through emotional ‘nodes’, playing cards and completing objectives. The game looks sweet and the concept is certainly unique (or it was at the time, now we have games like Fog of Love and Pursuit of Happiness which are different takes on similar themes) and it’s very simple.
This game was created at Game Jam, a big event where loads of game makers both tabletop and video get together and create new things, based on a theme of some sort, in a really limited amount of time. This is the website, should you wish to know more or get involved: http://globalgamejam.org/
These are just five of the many print and play games out there, so feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below, and we may add them into the article (credited to you, of course). Happy free gaming!